Mittwoch, Januar 31, 2007

Who is your sailing hero?

Picture by Jim Bolland (see my Linklist for more information about this artist)

Tillerman made me aware of Gary Jobson´s site the other day and I must admit, Gary Jobson is one of my heros of the "old days". Exactly, the America´s Cup of the eighties. I have been in Newport 1983, watching the final AC races, when "Liberty" with Dennis Conner at the helm lost to "Australia II" with John Bertrand, being Skipper. One day on High Street in a bookshop, Gary J. was signing his latest book "Racing Edge", written by Ted Turner & Gary Jobson. A book which helped me many years later in my match racing career. Gary Jobson wrote me a note into the book: "Smooth Sailing to Manfred". And though, I had only learned my English in school, these two words I felt, is all about it!

Whenever things go wrong with me, be it in sailing or other things, I say to myself: Smooth Sailing, and that has been also what I wished Gary in a mail when he had a rough time, health wise. The Curmudgeon (Scuttlebutt) published Jobsons e-mail address and all the well wishers must have helped that this great sportsman is back on the water. A true hero indeed. Use my linklist for your best advantage. Today it is Gary Jobson whom you should pay a visit.

Car Breakdown hindered DN Racing in Sweden-no sailing!

Still a little bit frustrated I was not in the mood to write about last weekends "would be iceboating". Our Swedish friends had called for a DN regatta in Västeras. The weather report looked pretty good for Saturday. Sunday maybe snow and not much wind. I got notice from a couple of friends from the Netherlands and Poland that they would be at the start line. Packed up everything in the Camper and on the way home to pick up K, I realized that there was a lack of oil in the cars system. Filled up 2 liter at the nearby Gas station but still no sign of enough oil. Looked under the car. The filter leaked like a strainer. I called the emergency service as it was a minute to 18.00h. Closing time. Got the car there, half way towed due to noises which made me shut off the engine. Got a new filter, oil and a good-bye from the technicians and after 800m realized white vapour from the exhaust. Big white clouds behind me. Stopped immediately. K. who is a good runner, got her car from home and we towed the Camper back. Garage closed and my hope to make it to Sweden disappeared. Saturday I got text messages about the wonderful site in Sweden, the racing, 42 participants and everything. Good friends tried to cheer me up or to disappoint me. You never know, when in winter mode. We make a lot of fun about each other and ourselves. Anybody interested in the reports (German language) see under links > Die Eissegelseite dt.< and go to DN Yacht in the menue bar left.

Freitag, Januar 26, 2007

Boatshow Visit and other matters

Just back from a visit to the biggest "European" boatshow. The "boot" in Düsseldorf. Not exhibiting with my company, I was visiting the show for two days to meet some customers and their products in the spotlight. To give a quick review is nearly impossible. Way too many impressions. Be it the smart looking BRENTA30, the beautiful lines of the HANSE 430 (Epoxy built), the Tender 08 on the Volkswagen Marine stand or some giant Motor Yachts. The one on the photo did amaze me. Why on earth do you bring such a boat to a boatshow like Düsseldorf? Are there any "would-be-customers" walking around with their ladies and when they see this thing, just say: "hmm, Darling, shall we buy this?"After having bought the Bladerider on the Hamburg boatshow early in November, my budget is limited... But I was looking for a pair of boatshoes and I happen to see the (not so new) Lopolights. They are qualified to be used in Germany now and I need new (sailing/anchor) lights for "Samantha". Lopolight offers a smart solution: Sailing light to be switched into anchor light. The sailing light also lightens the Windex. I had to buy this for the next seasons doublehand-overnighters. I know, politically it is not quite right. The commercial ships do NOT like sailboats with lights on the top of their masts. The light is difficult to see within all the other lights from the bridge above. Someone even told me that you can be rammed whilst anchoring. Skippers look at the light in abt.18m height and think you are still very far away. Fish stories? Uuuhps, nearly forgot to mention. I was very much attracted by the PBO yacht rigging from Easy Rigging. Saving 50% weight compared to your wires is quite something. The product looked well sorted. Haven´t had a look on their website but for anyone interested:

Friends found some black Ice in Sweden. Might go there tonight for another trainings weekend and some short races. The Swedish fleet is having their races up in Västeras but the forecast is for snow in that area. Catch up with you later, have to check the weather reports.

Montag, Januar 22, 2007

Finally we found some Ice

Being a DN Iceboater with so much love for the sport I really got nervous finding myself in mid January and no ice anywhere around. Hope was fuelled from the webcams in Italy at Lake Rescia on the website:
  • German Icesailing. Trouble was that we did not find a scout who would drive there to measure the ice thickness and to check the surface quality. Webcams can be fake. Some people just pin a picture in front...

    Anyway the good pictures from the cams left us with no choice. We had to travel down there. Anyone interesting to read the full story including regatta results, though it is in German language, should visit the German iceboating website and look under DN Yacht. There you can find my full report. It helps you improving on your German as I constantly try to improve on my English knowledge by reading your sites.

    The pictures shown here were taken on the weekend. The "dull looking site", I took on Friday from the balcony of the hotel. No sailing due to rain and way to much wind out there. Normally you find the mountains all snowed in but this years weather (sofar) is far from being normal. Saturday and Sunday we had good racing in beautiful sunshine and I only lost on countback to one of our German competitors, who will compete in the DN Worlds in three weeks time to be held in Minnesota, USA. I will not be there, though the trip might be shorter than our adventure this past weekend, riding the 150km/h storm "Kyrill" on the German Autobahn A7.
    Manfred, DN G-99.
  • Freitag, Januar 19, 2007

    DN - Auf dem Weg zum Reschensee, ITA

    Wir rasen durch die Nacht. Auf dem Weg zum Reschensee. 1098 km entfernt von Schleswig. Über Deutschland tobt einer der schwersten Orkane der letzten Jahre. Eben mussten wir von der Autobahn runter. Bei Gießen. Totalsperrung. Erst hatten wir gedacht, wir haben und verfahren, also wieder rauf auf die Autobahn in Gegenrichtung, dann kehrt an der ersten Ausfahrt und das ganze noch mal. Tatsächlich wir wurden sanft von der Autobahn heruntergelottst (mittlels hell blinkenden Schildern) und sollten nun der Umleitung U52 folgen. Doch das ging auch nicht lange gut. Einige Ortschaften waren abgeriegelt.

    70 km bergauf-bergab durch Waldgebiete mit viel Schrott auf der Strasse fanden wir endlich wieder zur BAB zurück. Nun fliest der Verkehr um 23.44h Der VW Bus schwankt wie ein Schiff im Sturm aber unser Steuermann fängt ihn immer wieder ab.... ganz harte Böe. Die stieg von der Seite ein.

    Wir wollen in Nesselwang übernachten. Der Schlüssel befindet sich in einem grünen Briefkasten.

    Unterwegs haben wir noch einige DN Freunde angemorst. Die meisten glaubten nicht, dass wir unterwegs seien. Krogo klang dann aber sehr überzeugend. Man kann schließlich nicht auf der EM starten und vorher nicht im Boot gesessen zu haben. Und ausserdem, wie häufig hatten wir schon zu Hause fürchterliches Wetter und tausend km weiter schien die Sonne und das Eis blinkte.. Warten wir es ab.

    Der vollständige Bericht befindet sich unter DN Yacht auf der Homepage:
  • German Icesailing.
  • Dienstag, Januar 16, 2007

    Last Sailing in the Old Year

    Yes mates, I wished I would have gone iceboating between X-mas and the new Year but even if we drew the circle around 1500km, there was no ice nor did the weather maps show any promise of minus temperatures except on the arctic circle. Writing about DN Iceboating is why I started this blog. Some sailing friends from Down Under, who had always promised to visit and go sailing with me in winter, should know what they were missing. But there is hope, watch this space around 15th of March, when we are about sailing our European Championship. I might have shown DN sailing to one of the heroes of modern dinghy sailing. From Down Under. But first it must get cold.

    Back to the theme: I got a mail call from Rolf in Switzerland who is marketing an interesting range of boats, all built by Lion Yachts. The smaller one, the Humphries H-22, we once built ourselves during boatshows and it happened to be a lovely little Sportsboat. Fast and furios in a blow. Always safe to sail. It had to go because the fleet got too big to cope with. The other boat Rolf is selling caught my interest already last year. The AXion 33.5.
  • AXion homepage A design from John Corby, England and being built in epoxy. The boat already had amazing results down at Lake Constance and Rolf had asked via a circular letter to people interested in the boat, if they liked to crew in a regatta held in Antibes at the end of December. Yes, of course, had been my response. Can I bring a crew? No problem. There we were. Flying into Nice, got collected by a friend who loaned us a nice little Smart (how you lock this car, when the top opens automatically is another story, preferably on an Autoblog) and met the crew of "Imperator" on the pier at December 27th. The boat looks racy, don´t you think?........

    The weather was nice, not very much wind and therefore there was only one race per day during four days. Competition came from a lot of different boats, X-35, X-99, Beneteaus 44.7, 40.7 and a separate Sportsboat class with nine H-22´s competing. All boats squeezed together on a small starting line with a shoreline on the left in a short distance. In the first race it was obvious to start at the buoy end, which we did but not with best timing. I was sheeting the jib and later the gennaker and felt responsible for a bit of tactics. I thought we would have to dug many sterns but this incredible boat pulled out with great speed after we got settled and minutes after the start we had to tack due to the shore and we only had to pass 2 sterns. Saw some nice breeze lines out at the sea, catched it and arrived at the weather mark, close to Nice airport way ahead the fleet. It must have been 15 minutes. I forgot to start my watch as the distance was not seconds, but minutes. The wind died on the long way home to the finish line in front of Antibes harbour and we started to drift half way from the finish. Boats from the back end catched up. The wind turned around 180°, headsails up again and we pulled away with the first new breeze. First ship home and we won on corrected time. Big time.

    Day two saw some good breeze at the start which later calmed and became a drifter. The weather mark had been set close to Cannes this time. The French race committee had set a mark a mile to weather which was followed by a long downwind leg along the shore to the mark off Cannes. It all went well until we rounded the mark again in dying wind. We opted for the shore again and others drifted out to sea. They got the new breeze (180° shift at noon again) setting in first and some of them rolled us during the downwind tacking. We were fighting back as quick as we got some nice sailable breeze and just squeezed in as second ship home. Corrected we were 4th. The next competitor on the score board had managed two 2nd places thus we had to beat him in the next race.

    Day three saw us meeting at the boat without the owner, who had other responsibilities. We had small troubles interpreting the French way of signalling and about the course which was set as an up-and-down. We managed a good start and stayed in front. I remember that the big white gennaker on the boat pulled us fast downwind with a bit of tweaking the tackline. Crew weight on the rail did not help much in rolling the boat to windward. It is just plain stiff. First across the line and first on corrected time was a boost for the morale, the owner and the marketing of the AXion 33.5. Day four was a windless day and we could´nt either loose or show the öpotential of the boat. We won the regatta on a countback and I am still wondering what makes this 33 footer so incredibly fast. It could not have been my sheeting, ej?

    Later K. and I spend some nice days strolling through the old and picturesque St. Paul, through the big marinas on the Cote and through St. Tropez. Boat spotting. We saw boats which you normally only see in the glossy mag´s. Ships like "Ice", "Carinthia IV", "Borkum Riff", "Stormy Weather", a couple of 12mR´s and 100foot Swans and the much admired "Mari Cha IV". It was worth of not going iceboating but now I just can´t wait and my friends are luring me into defending my title as Bavarian Champion down at Lake Rescia (see picture above) in the north of Italy. The webcam today looks nice. Black Ice. No snow. Just what we like in winter. But without training?
  • Freitag, Januar 05, 2007

    New Sails

    In my August theme "Where do you sail" I had mentioned that I need fuller sails for my Bull 7000 due to a lack of power in light air and choppy sea. I am working on this issue now and as always the big question to me is about: "who shall make these sails...". I have many friends in the sailmaking business, some had been fine competitors, some I had sailed together with, which makes the decision rather difficult. Some I had distributed myself but at the end of the day it comes down to: "who can provide the best service and who has a knowledge in the class".

    For my Bull 7000, I have always trusted my English friends at Sobstad as they have sailed the Bull very successfully themselves. That has been the reason why I have ordered the headsails always from them. You can see from some nice features that they really have a knowledge about, how the boat is best being rigged. Subtle detailing. The mainsail on this boat is another story, as I have a carbon mast in the boat after the aluminium mast broke some years ago. We burried the bow into a steep wave trying to pass a 44ft X-Yacht in strong wind. We did not release the Top Gennaker immediately as we should have, and so the disaster started. The top of the mast kept on sailing, the boat, deep into the stern wave of the boat which we chased, stopped.

    The new "kind of DIY" carbon mast is very stiff, maybe we used a little bit too much carbon as a safety factor and the stiffness gave us some problems with the first new mainsail. This one for obvious reasons, had been ordered locally. Our friends at HOLM Segel, just around the corner, had to re-measure and to re-cut the luff twice as I had always seen the sail as a test sail for the new rig configuration: Taller mast and shorter boom was my aim. Now it is time to do something better. Of course a lighter mainsail made of kevlar and maybe some carbonfibre to follow the loadpaths. This normally is difficult or better impossible to get from your sailmaker around the corner. But there is development happening in the market and this year the Dimension-Polyant brand offered the 4th Dimension pre-fabricated highTech sails to smaller sailmakers to service their customers. This is the way to go. The "local sailmakers" can purchase loadpath optimized sails in one piece but without all the necessary clews, rings, reefs and such. They put on the luff and the leechcord and will fit the sail to their customers special requirements. In my case, a square head, loose foot and high tension cunningham which shall open the top when pulled.

    There is lot´s more about sails and adjustments which I have learned during my sailing experiences. One thing for sure which amazed me lately had been the new and very strong boom vang which I saw on an exhibition Laser. This nice piece of equipment allowed me to pull until the boom hit the afterdeck of the boat. Without much muscles. Compared to the new Laser, which K. could have used during the Christmas break in the Med (no wind at all, story following later), that fitting on the exhibition boat was so much better that I will try to get it for my own downhaul. Not only an eye-opener but also a leech-opener. American made.