Dienstag, Juli 29, 2008

Somer i Danmark. Moth racing in Horsens.

What a fantastic Moth racing weekend lays behind us. Two days of blazing around on foils against great competitors in an environment which could not be any better. First of all, the weather. Summer is back and as you can see from the headline, this is what makes people happy in Denmark. This is also the slogan for a great holiday country with quality food, camp sites and houses for rent. The Horsens Seijlclub had again called for the Moths to hold their annual summer regatta. The Horsens Fjord had been the location for a Moth Euro and a Worlds before. So it must be good there. The people must know what they are doing and it was an easy decision to enter for this regatta.

The hard core of the North German Bladerider fleet showed up together with three Danes and Leo from Berlin. This mixed up for a small competitive fleet of 7 Foiling Moths. This should be a good reality check for me as announced in the thread before. The wind had picked up to 4 Bft on the Saturday late morning (look at the picture) and the starting flag had been raised at 11.00h. Three laps up-and-down the Horsens Fjord, start near the marina was on the menue. Sven and Christian showed the way around the course with Leo close behind. My height had not been enough to hold them and I also need to find some more speed. But not all was bad for me. I sailed away with ease from Søren who had always been close to me during Kieler Woche. I was even able to lap him and the three guys in front did not lap me! Capsizing was not on my agenda for the first two races but than I got a bit tired and checked the water temperature more than once. I did not feel fit for a third round and waited a bit in the right hand downwind corner for Sven to lap me and sailed into the finish afterwards. Sven, Christian, Leo and me in front of the Danes. Not bad. Søren had organized a splendid evening dinner at the Yachtclub which should have at least 1 star for the cooking. Atmosphere was great. The little ones playing: "catch the crabs" or "playing the dog" and the grown ups sharing stories and red wine.

Sunday was the same pecking order, bar race one, when Christian beat Sven on the last downwind run. He did a better layline localization and Sven had to jibe two more times. Everything is possible with the right determination. The wind was just a fraction lighter as on Saturday and I felt very comfortable on the downwind runs. I enjoyed the sailing immensely and could not get the grin out of my face. Even in the second lap of the third race when I decided that enough was enough, I took "time out during a weed check" on the layline and waited for Sven again to lap me. It took long. Than jumping back on to the boat and foiling through the finish. My energy level down to zero. What a day. What a weekend. The sailing hours which I had put in are starting to show results.

The set-up of my boat is so much better than it had been in Kiel, though I doubt I could have placed any better. Just look for the results of Adam, Steen, Martin, Sven and others who sailed Kiel week before the Worlds. These guys are a good benchmark, though I heart last weekend that the top guys, like John Harris and Amac are "double as fast" as the ones mentioned here. I have to see this to believe it. Anyway, the speed potential of a foiling Moth is not only in the boat. It is mostly the sailor, once his set up is alright. I am hooked, I will go for more.

Click on picture and they will get bigger
Pic 1: Ramp in Horsens
Pic 2: Me through the Finish
Pic 3: Christian in front of Sven at Finish

Mittwoch, Juli 23, 2008

Hunting the Tillerman

The great Tillerman on Proper Course has motivated me to start a kind of private sailcounter. As I am not a compie genius and are not able to install something as pretty as he did (with changing pictures), I had started to count my days out on the water through my blog entries. I have to add 3 more days from last week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I went out on the Moth and had some great sailing. It happened to be my second and last holiday week. I have now switched from just foiling around (OK, still going up and downwind mostly) to some serious upwind and downwind between two markers. It is not easy for me with this fast little craft to get the laylines right. I have cheated to myself three or four times at the windward mark, whilst my downwind rounding had been very wide or assisted by a capsize some times. Still a lot of work to do I realized. Too many tacks which have to be avoided. More concentration necessary about reading the wind on the course. About which side is favoured and than go-for-it. Much different to keel boat sailing when you can tack on windshifts easy, when you must tack to hold your position. Also the little Moth can be sailed high or low with big differences in speed and during Kiel Week I was amazed by how low the top guys were sailing their boats. And how much faster. I will go for another reality check this coming weekend. The Moth regatta in Horsens, DK is on. All Mothies are welcome.

Back to the practicing last week. Monday was OK with wind around the 10-12kn mark. Tuesday it was very gusty, average wind around 15-18kn with some aggressive gusts coming down from the west. Incredible speeds around the 20kn mark. Incredible capsizes. Some bad bruises appeared after the sailing and it was not the most fun day. On Wednesday I checked the boat thoroughly, rigged a new mainsheet and new shockcord and did some maintenance work. The boat must have liked it as it gave me the best day out so far. 12kn average wind speed. Three hours out and just one capsize. Lots of up-and down with decent laylines and mark roundings. One jibe where I got a glimpse of how a proper foiling jibe must be finished. A great day but than in the evening a bad cold started to take my mood down. I was bound for the house until Monday.

Uhhps, this was post supposed to be about "hunting the Tillerman". Adding the three days from last week I actually have sailed 44 days this year. Tillerman has done 51 days as I can see from his sailcounter. He seems to count only the Laser days. He wants to sail 100 days this year. A goal which is not out of reach and should not be out of reach for me. Just that I count every sailing day. Not only the days in the Moth. I would be too far behind. But being in a regular job, having responsibilities for a couple people and things, I am doing better than all the years before. Thanks to the Tillerman for dragging me into this contest...

Samstag, Juli 12, 2008

Eventful Days in the Moth and the Bull

Being on holiday this week and staying home, I was playing with the Moth after the frustrations of loosing the foil from the centerboard last week. On Monday I had some good time out here on the Schlei until I lost my rudder foil. In hindsight I think there must be an old fishing net or a rope where I hooked in and sheared the foil off. It happened quickly and I did not come to a halt. Frustrating after the boat felt so nice and quick. The good thing is that I am prepared for these misshapes. I have a second set of foils (ordered for the aim to help out people in Kiel when the dealership between Bladerider and Christian Brand was not settled) and as you can recognize that this helped me immensely this week. First the wing from the centerboard, now the wing from the rudder. My stocks of spares is running down as Felix still has a few important parts which can break or need to be replaced when abused or used a lot. Enough of this, back to sailing. Tuesday searching the shores for the foil with no success. Wind around the 15kn mark gave me good practice on the adjusted set up (2 turns in) Ride height in the waves not too much. Downwind I think I am sailing way too conservative. Should risk more, should steer more aggressive. But all in all some gains here and there. I have the feeling that my tacks are improving faster than my still "nonfoiling jibes".

Wednesday evening the wind was on for the last beer-can-race before the school holidays and with K. not available and my crew at the 14´s worlds, I asked young Adrian if he would crew me. He is out on his Europe dinghy at many evenings and very much interested in all aspects of sailing. No wonder, his father is a designer and engineer of yachts and commercial ships. OK, here we go. I helmed the start and the first beat and Adrian took over after rounding the weathermark middle of the fleet. We were overpowered, overcanvased or simply put: we did not have enough weight on the rail. The two of us. Around the mark, I rigged the boom, hoisted the kite, got it up without watering it. A bit of sailing on the port tack and than we had to jibe. We wiped out. Hard. Layed flat. Dropped the halyard and had luck that we, or better the others, avoided to hit us, to break our 2m bowsprit which stuck out on the front end like a sword. After I had peeled all the wet 60msq of gennaker back into the hatch we needed time to catch our breath. We were last boat by now and sailed without the red monster but after a while hoisted it again to dry it out and to catch some boats. Aren´t we racing here? Adrian excused himself for the manueuver but what for... I should have given him better advise about NOT to give much rudder with this boat. Just let it jibe and go deep again in the heavy air... Able to catch a few boats during the race, no more broaching (!) as Adrian seems to be a quick learner. We came 8th on corrected time with a total of 10 boats surviving this windy race. 18-22kn from the west. Gusting.

Thursday had still some nice breeze on with rain showers. Summer seems to have gone here in the North. Out with the Moth again with the spare foils. Tried to follow some friends on their downwind spinnaker runs (X-34) but capsized too much and could not pass them. They cheered me when I crashed in the close distance. Maybe they get the idea that this is part of the game. Part of the fun. But not for me. Before getting overly exhausted I finished my sailing and went for the hot shower.

Friday I´ve been sailing again and this time an old windsurfing friend (he did an Olympic campaign in the DIV II board for the ´76 games) came along on a RIB with a bunch of juniors. He is a sports teacher at one of the famous German residential schools nearby. A school which has 29ers, 49ers and also runs open gaff cutters for the beginners. I was able to pull away from the loaded RIB in the gusts. Thomas promised to come back and to wear a wet suit next time he sees me out on the water. I heart him giving a lot of explanations about how this boat "can fly". He surely wants to give the Foiler Moth a try. Hej, Christian! this is one for you. Give a test-sail-day to the sailing squad at Luisenlund. After Thomas and the kids had left I did some up and downs to practice my layline approach. I find it difficult in the Moth with the (my!) wide angles, sailing upwind. The last round was a good one. A really, really nice downwind run (deep, very deep on foils without capsizing) and a smooth rounding. I packed it in after that. Have to stow that in my memory! This good day even got better. After I had finished the shower the door bell rang and it was Adrian who had found my rudder foil on the beach!"heyitwasgreat!"

Mittwoch, Juli 09, 2008

Sunday was great!

The Sunday of last weekend was great. We had our annual club regatta over the weekend. The local sailing clubs, who are all suffering from participations in their own regattas had combined their efforts and organized one great event. About 50 boats participating from the OD classes, H-35, and X-79 to a field of 38 Yardstick boats varying from the fast Melges 24 (2) to Folkboats, H-Boats and the bigger X-34´s. It was supposed to be a family regatta, which for some racers meant that the families take part in the BBQ and dance festivities in the evening only. We participated with our little Bull 7000, shown here in the picture, during a reach on the Sunday.

Where have I been… oh yes, Sunday and "Heyitwasgreat.", the Tillerman group writing project. I will only touch Saturdays race lightly. To begin with, I had promised K. who is pregnant in her 7th month a light wind and some fun in the club. My regular crew must prepare their boat for the International14´s WC in Warnemünde and we did not want to miss the chance to sail with the local fleet and to see how we are going alone. We had decided early on that K. would take the helm and I do the crewwork. Fiddling with ropes and the gennaker is not easy with the big belly. There were a couple of events, mainly me reefing in and out as the wind had not stayed at the 10knots which I had promised but increased to abt. 20kn in periods. And always when we had to go upwind according to my feeling. I had to reef in and shake it out later. No gloves and fingers burning. I had rigged the gennaker sheet the wrong way and it was all my fault that we lost precious time. We finished the race corrected in 8th position.

The “Heyitwasgreat” Day.
Come Sunday and the Schleifjord looked very calm in the morning. We got towed out. People started to throw waterbombs during the waiting period and it looked like a great summer day. At around 12.00h the wind came up and PRO G.N. immediately laid the marks and gave the 5min signal. K. did a great start and we were holding our position between the 2 Melges up to the weather mark. She got the shifts right and seemed to be “in the zone”. Around the weather mark, the “kite up” and we were able to sail lower than the Melges with our articulating bowsprit. We did great through the narrow passage (Palörde), though the M24´s had catched a gust just in front of us which we were not able to hook in. It gave them a little advantage. The two of us now slightly overpowered in the gusts but able to hang in with the gennaker up. On the next upwind leg, I hiked like hell and K. kept the speedo permanently around the 6kn mark. It was our day. The big boats already far in the distance behind us. We had another great beat though the Melges were slowly walking away from us but not like Saturday. They had all their 4-5 crew hiking out hard. We lost about 3 min to the first M24, whilst on the Saturday it had been about 15min. Difficult to describe the smooth sailing, which we had on the day. Hopefully the little one, the unborn, got an idea of the great harmony which we had and which brought the best of sailing out of both of us. It only sunk in later that we might have won this race on corrected time as our Melges friends had reported to us after the finish. Yes, the price giving gave us the recognition. 1st place of the day and third overall. We went home tired but happy and… “heyitwasgreat”. If you want to see the results, here is the link: Result list

Freitag, Juli 04, 2008

...why did I loose my vertical foil?

Not a good Tuesday for sailing the Moth. Weather wise it was OK. The wind had shifted to the East. Nice and warm in the evening at around 19.00h when I hit the water. 10 - 13 kn. Everything went smooth with the set up and I felt ready to try again some foiling jibes. Not that I am managing this maneuver by now but after a bit of foiling high and dry the boat did not want to come up on the foils after a tack. Strange feeling. The bow deep in the pond. Me crawling to the back of the tramp but no change. The boat did not come up. Checking the ball joint, which connects the wand to the centerboard, it was OK. Back to shore. My worst thoughts had happened. The foil had disappeared. It took the thread of the stainless steel rod with it and pulled the M6 screw out of the carbon thread. Even today I have no idea how that could happen. There was no grounding and no feeling of hooking in to a net from the local fishermen. Just strange.

What made it really disappointing is the fact that on Sunday I had a really pleasant sail with this set of foils (the first ones, delivered with the boat. The ones which I had leant out till last week) and I thought that I should make notes about the set up, the angles etc. OK, I took a photo and marked the two sets. Now there is some work to do. Hope that our friends at Bladerider are able to supply spares soon. Another breakdown and I can skip the planned regatta activities.

Wednesday night race with the Bull (the little blue one on the pic.) was an interesting one. The thermal wind from the east made the windsurfers happy. In the "channel" we had about 5 Bft gusting a bit higher. With the "boys", Jan and Söhnke it felt OK. A little bit light on crew weight, therefore a reef and the small jib. A decent start because an early starter gave us some problems first. Lot´s of flogging mainsail around us. Most boats did not put a reef in. Even we got some big hits and nearly laid flat on the water but after a while got the hang of it. Got the boat going against the longer waterline boats. The X-34´s and the X-99 were gone when we came into the narrow navigable water. We had to fight more than usual as we nearly got stuck in the "crowd". With a draft of 1,70m against the 1,30m-1,40m going H-Boats and Folkboats we had to get it right. And we came out this narrow path as second boat from the tight bunch. We were than able to sail longer stretches, only two tacks on the laylines and got around the weather mark in fourth position. Henning with his X-79 had sailed clever and fast and was in front of us. We had a good ride with the gennaker and came close to the X-79 looking out for the wing mark. What we saw was ugly. No mark but the 99´and the 34´had entangled with each other and the buoy. They dragged it downwind. Henning and I decided, enough is enough and rounded an imaginary buoy and on to a tight reach. After that another beat into the wind and than the long downwind. Gennaker up and we made 11kn easy. In the gusts the speedo climbed up to 13kn. Should shake the reef out but we did not know what to expect in the "channel". Windsurfers were blasting forth and back. We came close to the X-34 and the crew hoisted their kite. Only to broach after it was set. We flew to the downwind mark, had a good round with our typical windward drop and were able to hold the first position into the finish. Abt. 2.45min in front of the X-79, our toughest competitor. It gave us a first place on corrected time and some confidence that we can do it with the Bull also in the heavy stuff. Thanks to my crew. The "boys" have learned a lot since we first sailed the Bull together ten years ago. Wishing them all the luck they need in the upcoming Int. 14 Skiff World Championship in Warnemünde next week.

3 days of sailing for my (not installed) sailing counter.