Mittwoch, August 29, 2007

Der Durchbruch - Foilen statt heulen

The breakthrough:
I had my best foiling evening yesterday from 18.30h - 20.30h. Than the wind dropped and with Koos (Flying a Moth for starters ) tipp of releasing the wand I got home nicely. It was kind of a breakthrough for me yesterday. Undisturbed airtime, less capzising, a lot of fun. Going downwind: BIG fun. upwind: Lot´s to learn. Trying the "Veal-heel": I am splashing into the water on the windward site but get back into the boat better than before.

Due to the damaged swivel which might not have hold the wand into place (angle wise) the boat felt sticky and did not want to fly the days before. Thus not much learning. Now with my new (self made, see photo) carbon swivel the boat feels like new. A pity, I did not measure wind, nor GPS speed yesterday.
Never swim around the bow, you might damage the wand mechanism.

Elbows and knees need better protection. Hurts a lot today. Maybe I should sand the deck a little bit.

Montag, August 27, 2007

Deutschland Cup X-79

The first real regatta this year. Kind of a German Championship for this "old" class of boats. The first one from the now famous X-Yachts of Denmark. A very sportive boat at it´s time, now sailed by a lot of racing enthusiasts both in North Germany and Denmark. The yearly championship regatta is being sailed (I am writing this on the 2nd days evening) on the Schlei this year. Not far away from home. Our boatowner, Chris, is working in Munich and he had planned his holiday around this regatta. We are sailing the boat with five people. Just under the max crew-weight. Kerstin is doing the bow and I am helming the boat. Chris is doing the pit and Sönke and Kristin are working the ropes. Not easy to coordinate when you have not done it together before. This boat is equipped with working backstays and lots of ropes. Counting in our favor are the new sails and the short introduction into the special settings (Check stays to be pulled hard on the leeward side) from class president Bernd, but it did not help much in the beginning. My first two starts where not at the front row and we managed a 9th and a 6th. We got to grips with things and put in another 6th place and a 4th. I fouled two times (starboard ./. port) at the weather mark and did my turns and everything was programmed for a better next day. No port-tack lane into the weather mark again. The boats are too close together and the other guys are sailing smart. On Saturday we did better on the course, no incidents but got black flagged in the third race. We also had some technical problems, like slipping halyards and problems with the rigging but tomorrow is another day with a better prepared boat. We are sitting in 7th place right now. The party is on and I will finish this report tomorrow or Monday. One thing for sure: This is sailracing at it´s best.

Final Report from the Sunday racing written Monday night.
It was blowing cats and dogs as we used to say here in Germany. 23kn and gusting. Every owner choose to take the No.3 jib (Blade jib) The start was perfect for us and we had good speed to windward. Maybe the tweaking of the rig and other parts last night helped with this. Coming into the weather mark very close as second boat with lots of room to the third placed X-79 we saw another OCS on the RIB. We could not believe this as we were low on the line and in middle were you have some line sag. Anyway it is a decision by the race committee and no reason for us to complain. This ought to be fun but me and the crew felt a bit depressed about it. The spinnaker hoist had to be called off though we were keen to try it out in the very strong breeze. But as we had to give room to all other boats and we had to get to grips with the situation we stowed the spinnaker away and sailed forth an back for an hour and a half to wait for the next start. Definitely no fun. The wind howling, the mainsail making noise and the mood down. I tried to cheer my crew up for the last race of the day. An even more conservative start at the leeward end saw us coming into the weather mark as close second again. During the hoist we lost 2 boats and on the run another one. Fourth boat around the leeward gate with a very good and tight manouver we tried to work into a better position but the competition showed us the way around on our homewater. A fourth place left us with no way of improving from our first days result. We left the championship with a seventh place which, with two OCS was OK for the morale. We promised ourselves to put in some practice for next years championship, have the boat a little better prepared and to start with fun and enthusiasm. Maybe in Warnemünde next year. The boat will be put back into the shed until than. Chris has to go back to work in Munich and he will sail an UFO22 in Italy over the winter. The picture is showing us on the X-79 "Intermezzo" with the CTM logo in the spinnaker during race 3. Thanks to Flix for this shot.

Sonntag, August 26, 2007

Breathless in Australia, but "King of the Schlei"...

Last week we had set up a little Moth training on the Schlei, the "Fjord" which is connected to the Baltic Sea where I live. A friend, Peter, came along with his pregnant wife Mellie and three sons (10,12,14 years old), and they brought with them: a Laser, a 29er, a RIB and a Bladerider Moth. You guess it, the Bladerider belongs to the father and the two of us wanted to practice a little bit together. For the followers of the Bladerider story and namely the one who regularly read Rohan Veals Blog you might remember Peter as the German guy who forgot to breath when he was out for the first time on the "flying machine" at Black Rock, Australia. Peter is distributor for RONSTAN and other Marine Hardware. He had been out on the boat for only 2 sessions before and I had 5 whilst the last one (I haven´t reported about it....) had been less exiting. To say the least. It was blowing 12-15 kn, I thought I could handle it but the boat showed me the "middle finger". OK, there was no other one out there that evening, no one to rescue me, just in case and I realized pretty soon that the boat would drift away from me after a capsize, drifting away quicker than I was able to swim. Therefore I might have been a little bit too "ängstlich". Also I had the feeling that the boat was sticky. Did not really want to fly.

OK, came last week with two Bladeriders out in a nice breeze, Peter has shown lots of talent. His airtime was only to be stopped by the shoreline and necessary maneuvers whilst my airtime was limited and my day out shortcut by a broken swivel. No spare part available gave me such frustration in the early afternoon that I was not able to do something about it and I only watched Peter flying past, than Kerstin on Peters boat and the absolute shocker: The 12 and the 14 years old just did it. No fuzzing around. Getting on the boat, taking off and doing some nice runs. Amazing and a prove that the product is a good one. Absolute beginners just doing it! In hindsight I think that the swivel on my boat broke, because some of us, mabye me, might have catched the wand under water whilst swimming around the bow. The wand is fixed in a Teflon swivel and after a while this part broke and the wand could not "get me up". Later that afternoon I took the part into my workshop, found a nice little solid carbon block, flexed it into shape, drilled the necessary holes and back to the boat and fixed it. There was still the Thursday left for two boat sailing. Bladerider also confirmed immediate despatch of a spare part. Thursday there was only very light wind but we were so keen to sail that we got both boats out and did a bit of light air practice. It was fun. It seemed that we both had read Koos Blog: Flying a Moth for starters who gave the tip to free the daggerboard foil and take the wand out of the water. Lowriding the Moth in these conditions needs concentration and is some kind á fun. Some pumping action, some OK and some bad tacks and than we got stuck on the downwind home. We called for the RIB and each of us put a wing up on one side of the powerboat, set on it and drove home to the club. De-rigging, packing up and a promise to do it again. It is fun with one Moth but it doubles the fun with two! By the way: the picture above shows Peter at his third day out! Click on the picture and look at the GPS speed.

Donnerstag, August 16, 2007

Uneventful days in sailing but a great Concert

Day five and six went quite uneventful with the Moth. There was a lack of wind and we do not take much fun out of lowriding in light air and spoiling our mood with "no-move" tacks. On day six, Bjoern hit an underwater object, some stones or an old bridge, and we have to repair (mostly filling and fairing) the horizontal daggerboard foil. It speaks for the quality of the product that not more has happened.

Some readers here might be interested to hear that I visited the "Rolling Stones" concert last night in Hamburg. The show was performed in the big Hamburg Arena. What a great stage they had build. The sound was fantastic and Mick Jagger and his "boys", all above 60, as dynamic as ever. At the end of a nearly 2 hours show with great background musicians (Liza Fisher) Mick ran from the left side of the stage to the most right side. A sprint of abt. 200m and he kept on singing. Great. OK, it was not the usual bra and slip throwing from the girls, just one bra, but everyone was kept in good mood and the show ended with a real BIGGER BANG. Coming to your town or near to you, you should visit it.

Freitag, August 10, 2007

More Airtime...

Sharing the Bladerider with three people and only having time in the evening is not helping personnel progress as "time in the boat" is limited. On the other side: What can you do or are you able to improve, when you are totally exhausted both from the exiting experience and the powerful work-out which the boat gives to you. Remember the story on Rohan´s website about our German friend Peter, who forgot to breathe during his first outing on the Foiler-Moth. They had to bring him to the shore.

We have not forgotten to breathe but two or three 30 - 45 minute sessions where enough to get us a large grin in the face and to be exhausted and happy from the new experience on and in the water. In the meantime we had recovered in the standby motorboat, took drinks and photos and enjoyed the sight of the fellow colleague, (flying) who always tried to put in a show. Very often we were shouting and cheering full of appreciation and enjoyment.

Somewhere I read that you will need 4 days to overcome the first hard part to enter the boat and to get going well. To have some real fun. It was our goal to overcome the first 4 days and than start to go up-and downwind and that is what we did yesterday. By the way, Kerstin only needed one day, Bjoern abt. 2 days and I needed the full three days. Due to the weight and only 6-8kn of wind, Bjoern and myself did not have as much airtime as Kerstin but we started to enjoy the up-wind sailing in the low rider mode. It is pretty fast and so much fun to be in control. Why haven´t I started Mothing more early. The 60kg lightweight singlehander-skiff "Seggerling", which I owe, is a dog against the Bladerider. OK, I am not spending time _in the water_ with it, but it feels heavy. Will everything feel heavy now?

Day four: Back to yesterday. You can see from the three shots (from top to bottom) that we much enjoyed our airtime. Bjoern does some good reaching on the foils. Kerstin does some fast apparent down-wind-sailing and I tried the Veal-heel and capzised to windward. I always capsize to windward, trying, what seems to be common in the class. Healing over to windward. A good day for all of us. Oh, and again I forgot to mount the Velocitek. Nothing broke, the water nice and warm, sun shining, just a little lack of wind for the boys.

Instead of going cruising the upcoming weekend, we will put in more hours in the Bladerider and we do hope the weather cooperates. The next racing (hasn´t this been the intention of this blog??) will be in the X-79 class at the end of August. We will sail the German Championship close to home. An opportunity we could not miss.

Dienstag, August 07, 2007

Flying the Moth...or not...

Intro: Regular readers might have noticed that besides my dinghy and keelboat activities, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Bladerider Moth. This very interesting boat had been ordered by me and my CTM team during hanseboot show at exact 10.01h. One minute after the official opening of the show did we place an order with Rohan. I must say, the waiting was long but worth it. It arrived last week and the Bladrider looks the business! All these shining carbon parts are fitting beautifully into our workshop. But that is not the intention of the boat. We want to go sailing.

First Day: Friday 3rd. Late afternoon.
We have assembled it with ease and taken to the water on Friday evening last week. We were three and had a powerboat standby for rescuing if necessary. Being the boss it was my turn at first and I think, it threw me off at least ten times until I managed to sit and sheet in. We were in a wind shadow but my movements had not been coordinated. Lowriding was not easy for me and a couple capsizes later Bjoern jumped into the water. Being an avid A-Cat sailor he managed it better than me, to get on board. Weighting abt. 100kg he did a couple capsizes with easy righting and than he "flew". Wow! A spectacular capzise and some exhausting swimming he handed the "Brute Machine" over to me again. With wind in the sail I managed decent waterstarts, pull your body on to the boat whilst sheeting in and keep the balance whilst the boat starts sailing. Grab the tiller, bear away and get on the wing. I was slipping off the wing with my Musto Wetsuit. No way of sitting there. Had to organize my legs, tiller and sheet. Got sailing the thing. Got it into the air. Flying for about a not true, for 10 seconds. The wand came out of the water and than the bow first into the pond. Autsch. I remember I managed a slow, slow tack and a decent lowrider mode jibe. That was OK for me for the day. I handed over to Bjoern and after some: "I start flying" and capzising, the boom broke. De-rigging on the water was not easy with all the screws on the shackles. No screwdriver on hand. We got the boat home and the boom into our composite workshop.

Second Day:
The boom being repaired overnight and some hooks installed instead of screwed on shackles, we also limited the amount of rudderway with elastic. The rudder should hold itself in the middle which makes starting more easy. And it was. Wearing shorts over the wetsuit helped me getting organized on the trampoline. Getting on to the boat being no problem on the second day. Sailing in lowrider mode not a problem. We did not measure the wind, we did not mount the Velocitec but Bjoern and myself had some good success with 30-60sec airtime. Dropping off mostly to windward with the bow too high. Time to think about the adjustments maybe. Body movements forward etc.
After our go and being exhausted from swimming and righting we handed the boat to the girl. Kerstin climbed the Moth and moved like a cat. Lowriding looked easy, she did not capsize and got it on a "flight" with ease. So excited she was that she steered into the wind and capsized after a flight half across our homewater. Unbelievable. Than the righting became a little problem for her, she got exhausted and handed the boat over to us. Impressive how we improved by the hour. More time on the boat, less time swimming. We also had our computer guru with us. Arne, a cat sailor also had a go. First he just climbed the boat without problems, sailed well in lowrider mode and later when he had some airtime he dropped off the boat and the Bladerider kept on sailing. We had to catch it with our little powerboat. We would not recommend the elastic on the rudder for people sailing alone without assistance. We will demount it later when we have more experience but at present it is a hit. Nothing broken on the day, some very happy faces, smiles all over and we put the boat back in the shed. Lot´s of bruises and blue patches on legs and arms but fun it was.

Third Day:
Sunday there was no wind and besides ourselves really wanting to have another go we kept our cool and did not even try it. It would have been frustrating in drifter conditions. Monday evening after work we had another go. The Bladerider hard core Team: Kerstin, Bjoern and myself. Everybody showed good improvement, airtime and quick righting maneuvers. Not that we sailed like the team riders in the many promotion videos, no no. But everyone had decent airtime. I could handle it quite well on starboard tack but always dropped of to windward on the port tack. Worth mentioning is our ability to sail upwind and downwind and Kerstin showed a really good stunt flying the machine high and dry and capsizing it in front of the boatshed. That was the best and longest controlled foiling of all the sessions so far. Today we are healing our wounds, the sore muscles need to relax and some minor boatwork has to be done. We will try again mid of the week. I have to re-read the manual and start thinking about the adjustments. The decision to buy a company Bladerider is a good one. Some like to fly, some like to assemble and to repair the beautiful carbon parts. I know it is too early to go racing for me but we will catch up on our foiling skills pretty soon.

Freitag, August 03, 2007

Vote for Andrew McDougall

You must have heart of him: He is being called Amac by his Aussie friends. The man, the brain behind the Bladerider, a series-production-boat which placed first, second and other top placings in the recent World Championship at Lake Garda. The man on the photo in my last post. I have heart that Andrew spent many nights preparing, upgrading or just repairing boats and he still managed a 6th place in a hotly contested WC. And no, I am not bringing up the age issue. Having a decade more on my back and trying to go out with the brand new Bladerider for the first time today, I will know later today how it feels. I´ll keep you guys out there updated. In the meantime please go to: Seahorse Mag and vote for this great sportsman. A man who brought a vision into production.

For more International Moth newbie information go to: Flying a Moth for starters Fun to read and lot´s of valuable information to the newcomer of flying-this-thing.

The long absence from this blog was due to my sailing holiday in the Baltic Sea. Lot´s of trouble to get away, to get started but in the end we left our homewaters a week after the ETS had been set. Nevertheless some awesome experience, lots of wind and two days of rain from early morning till midnight. Some stories might be told later.