Montag, September 29, 2008

Busy sailing schedule over the Weekend

I have put three days of sailing behind me. A lot of fun meeting with friends from different classes and on Friday evening with a boat, that I had never sailed before. The Optimist Dinghy. Yes, I have folded 190cm into this little pram and it did not feel as bad as I thought. It all started with a promise or better a birthday present which I had given to K. last week. She got a voucher to take part in the local women Opti regatta and I promised to organise everything. From the fully rigged boat right on the pier to jump in, to babysitting our little one. I was able to delegate the boat logistics to some members of our little sailing club (HSVS) where K. is giving sailing lessons to the beginners and they came with a whole group of supporters and sailing the Opti around the corner to the SSC. And yes, I was very nervous watching the race. There are some talents in the Club. A last minute starter had been the actual German Ladies Matchrace Champion. K. rounded the first windward mark in the top position and had been rolled by one of the top helmsladies (OK, lady skipper sounds better to me). We were able to see that her rig was not set right for the light conditions. The boom looked much too high. She climbed back at the next weather leg, ducked the leading boat at the mark (see the picture, klick on it) and ran away from the group. She had reset the rig and with the fuller mainsail the boat just glided away. K. won the regatta and I was proud that she made some good decisions on the course and I have to fear that the helm on our boat will be hers next year.

Next it was the mens turn with the Optis. Older than 40 years or above 100kg is the rule. There was just one starter and therefore the ladies catched most of the men hanging around at the club and it was also my turn now. The baby had behaved well and it was OK for me to sail in the race. No excuse worked. I had never before sat in an Optimist Dinghy and I thought it would not work. But I was wrong. The lower legs need to be either outside the boat or you have to knee in the boat and lean forward across the bulkhead as much as possible. Both seemed to work. My start was good. Front row but halfway up the beat I was rolled by Norbert. A little higher and faster he was sailing. More boats passed me on the first downwind leg and the course was shortened much to my delight. My good friend Robert passed me 5 meters in front of the finish and I came 5th. Only 9 starters but it was OK for me.

Saturday we sailed the Blue Ribbon of the Schlei Fjord. A distance race. Up to the first bridge and than back home. The start happened in medium fog. We could just see the starting marker but I think I was way below it at the signal. It was a downwind start, something I never seem to manage well. My friend Jürgen with his Melges 24 just ran away from the fleet in the light air. He was so much in front 2 minutes after the start that he was not even blanketed. We had to jibe and jibe again but we never really freed ourselves from the main bulk. The Bull just did not wanted to sail faster than 5.2 kn. We never came into sailing an apparent wind. The boat did not glide through the water. Therefore we misjudged a few things, we did not change into the light weather sheets and we ran out of good mood. I realized that I should have hauled the boat and cleaned the underwater after a good long season in the water with only some Wednesday night sailing. I am not taking these things serious any more. Therefore I cannot expect good placings. We lost distance on all angles of sail. Upwind it felt strange when the speedo stopped at 5.2 and the pressure increased but not the speed. Nobody else to blame but me. At the end we finished in 12th position. Corrected result under Yardstick: 30th. After nearly 4 hours of sailing in light to medium wind we finished 27 minutes behind the first boat across the line, a Melges 24. The Bull team can do much better, I am sure.

Sunday we did sail the yearly Laser City Championship. I can remember the Nr. of my boat: 84048. Interesting to know that I get this Laser borrowed from Hartmuth, who with 84 years of age is not participating in the Laser regattas anymore. But he did sail the Blue Ribbon with his beautiful H-35. The Laser regatta is another story and will follow some day later.

Dienstag, September 23, 2008

2 Days of Sailing on Different Platforms

Did the beer can race on Wednesday night, the 17th with the Bull. Only looked up the result now and we came 2nd. First time that the new X-34 won with their YS of 93. We are sailing with YS 96 and we did hang on their transom for a long time only to have a "bad concentration phase" in the middle of the run. It was low and slow with the asymetric and we decided only very late to change into the lightweight sheets. After that we could hold our speed but "Luise" had sailed away. Also with a new crew it has been difficult to fly the tackline and at the same time to roll the boat and gennaker with a loose tack. It has to be hand sheeted in the light air as the gennie wants to collapse if not trimmed right. The job looks very easy but needs an experienced hand. We had fun and nice evening out and that counts the most.

The following weekend saw a Moth regatta at a Lake near Oldenburg which is called "Zwischenahner Meer". 10 skippers had entered at the deadline but only 5 appeared at race day. Most had excused that the weather was not up to "foiling conditions" but I think it is not fair for a Sailing Club, a race committee not to come. The social aspect of a race is still important as we are all not opting for an Olympic berth. We need the clubs to organize the racing for us and should not let them down only because Windfinder or Windguru are telling us that the breeze will be zero to two Bft. Anyway all five of us had very good fun and good racing with a PRO doing a good job in the tricky breeze. (Pic nr. 3 shows part of the fleet preparing for the start) We were able to sail 3 races on the Saturday, none on Sunday.
The nonfoilers were leading the way. Actually the last race had been a match race between Harald (from Lake Konstanz, pic on the upper right) and Hans from the Netherlands (pic top left). I was able to hold my third position, (Pic nr. 4) fighting off Sven (Pic at bottom right - early on the line, killing time) who is normally winning the German events. Uwe, who had a few good moments must have had a bit of bad luck with the wind. In race two he passed me on the last upwind, gaining from a hundred meters behind to leading by 20 meters only to loose it at the last 10m from the finish line. I had opted for a one tack aproach, coming from the left, whilst Uwe had opted for 2 more tacks into what he saw would be better breeze but had swung into the left and favoured me.

What´s up to match the hundred days of sailing? Not much and this goal will be up again next year for me. Next weekend we are sailing for the blue ribbon on Saturday and the Laser City Championship on Sunday. A couple of good sailors are coming into town. I am borrowing Hartmuts boat as I did over the last years. Hartmut is abt 77 by now and does some Laser sailing
but not in the race. His boat has a darkbrown colour and I am not sure if this was a series gelcoat. Have to take some elastic with me and some ropes. Hope that all the battens will be there.

Mittwoch, September 17, 2008

No Moths at the Newport Boatshow but other Beauties...

Been to Newport over the weekend for the boatshow. Have been there on a special mission which is not completed by now, therefore not much to say about it. Met some guys whom I know through the SA forum. They all shared their opinions about the things, which interested me the most and it was a good thing to discuss with knowledgeable people from the sailing community.

One evening, when it has not been raining in Newport (ha ha) my bro and I strolled around Newport Shipyard. We had seen some really tall masts from the distance and needed to know to which boats they might belong to. We came across many superyachts which you normally only see in the “couch table mags” and two stunning yachts shall be featured here on my blog. The first one is the much discussed “SPEEDBOAT”, now in a new colour sheme, sponsored by Virgin Money. There was nobody on the boat. Seems that there is no weather window in sight to beat the Atlantic record. Her actual mission under the new charter. This boat is a “must see” for people who are interested in the development of things. It will be interesting to see if BIGGER is also faster. I mean BIGGER than a VO70 but with features alike. I was told by one of the sailmakers, whom I met during the show, that the square head of the SPEEDBOATS mainsail is abt 7m wide. I mean 7m horizontal at the top. What sort of batten will you need to put the top of the sail into good use? Will it open when you pull with all your hydraulic magic on the downhaul?

Many questions arose and it all lead us to another great boat from an area of life when no hydraulic or other machine assisted power could be used for trimming one of the big yachts. She looks all the business, she presents the glory of former years. The ELEONORA. What a beauty. The main boom sticking way out over her stern. All the woodwork gleaming in the late afternoon light. A pity that I only had my mobile with me but the sights of these two yachts, coming from opposite ends of the yachting history, being berthed nearly side by side, will stay with me for a long time. I like my readers to share the views.

Montag, September 08, 2008

Small high´s and big low´s at the Skiff Days

This boat immediately tells you if you have done enough practising as well as maintenance work. It doesn´t matter if you have an idea of reading the wind, or to know something about tactics, if you haven´t done your homework, it will show you already minutes after the start. OK, I should not write as pessimistic as this sounds. Not all had been bad, but I am still disappointed about my own result in the "long distance race". I did not even finish. Being second last boat and dead slow on the run I decided that enough was enough and turned the bow around to sail home. It was not possible anymore to see the front runners in the Moth class. I could name my boat the "lame duck" as it has no name at present. But this name is more appropriate for myself, as I have steered it around the course. And I am responsible for the set up. Less height than my fellow competitors, therefore a bit slower. Less deep running on foils, therefore lots more miles. Anyone with ideas to get me out of this, please comment. I have to hit the road now and might write a more positive report later about the "Kohlhoff Skiff Days", held in Kiel on the inner Fjord last weekend. Great organisation. Good fun for everyone. Watchful eyes can see me doing a port start with my GER 3170. Not bad, but than came the header... and a lull on the left.

Mittwoch, September 03, 2008

Sailing a Pram...

Not much going on recently on the sailing side of life except an afternoon of Mothing and a Saturday race with one of the local traditional fishing prams. They handed over the helm to me 10 minutes into the start sequence and I had to get to grips with this slow 3 mast boat in about zero breeze. Not that I haven´t sailed a Folkboat or a Dragon but this thing leaked and the sails did not even look like your average cruising boat sails do. But I always felt that I should give it a try. For the comradeship with the neightbors and the social event in our little club at the Schlei. The photo shows our little three mast pram with a classic wooden dinghy behind.

There were 5 of those tradition-conscious boats on the line plus about 20 Optimist prams at the same time. A downwind start. I love it. (not really) The fishing prams come in a wide variety. From one mast to three mast boats. Sails are similar to the Opti´s. Except that the sprits are very heavy as is the whole set-up. With the least maneuvers as possible before the start, we ran down an Optikid. No harm, no damage and we gave him a nice push at the signal. This put ourselves into second best starting position. (There is a price for the best start which my crew dearly wanted, but I missed it) Blading the sails out with the help of oars, Falck, Gonne and Ulli worked their way into trimming the boat. At the same time we had to bail and I commanded not to move much around. We found a nice breeze close to the shoreline. We passed the monastery and sailed close to the harbour wall. It was stop and go with all the prams. With a little luck we arrived at the first turning mark in second position. A well tuned and rigged one mast boat in front and one close behind us. Now the upwind leg home. Slow in this lazy Sunday afternoon breeze. The single mast boats tacked back to the shoreline. We opted for the long haul on to the other side of the fjord. Found some breeze and did not disturb the slow pace of ur boat by tacking. And as in many races we looked brilliant at some time and coming closer to the finish we looked less than average. Everything was possible between second and fourth place. We just had to get the layline right and tack into a little lift. When it looked good we did. Our closest competitor, rigged with two masts took our stern and tacked 5 meters further to windward. After about five minutes he rolled us. I had started to luff as a counter move but slowed the boat down too much. Couldn´t get her going again and nearly missed the finish at the lower end, coming in at fourth position. But hej, they cheered us. This old three mast pram had been sitting in the shed nearly unsailable for a year and only with the help of two long retired boatbuilders, and lots of tar, the boat had been brought back into sailable conditions. Thank you guys for a fantastic afternoon.