Monday, September 22, 2008

An Impromtu Sail

I keep all the essentials on the boat now... foulies, gloves, radio... beer... just in case the opportunity should arise and I actually get to go sailing. I headed down to the boat yesterday to tidy up a bit, I had just thrown everything down below after the last race and didn't really care where things landed. But I do like a tidy boat and it was starting to bug me that I have left things in such a shamble. As I entered the harbor area I watched Peter and Suzi raise their sails and head out for a sail. I raced down to my gate and got out of the car and noticed 3 other folkboats out sailing... did I miss the memo? Was there an event or race I was about to miss? I stood on my stern and Peter and Parker cruised by, Peter gave a pleasant hello and no, they were just out for a sail... imagine that, sailing for fun. Just sailing, no racing? Hmmm. As I stood there thinking about this novel concept I notices a nice 10 knot breeze with a lot of south in it. Should I? By myself? Single handed race is coming up... oh, the heck with it, I'm going. I started my stop watch and began the set up process. Halyards in position, sails on position, untie the tiller, uncoil the mainsheet, ease all the control lines, remove the fenders... etc. I have the best slip in the world for single handing. I can tie off the bow head to wind, put up the sails, back wind the jib and spin 180 degrees without even going back into the cockpit. So I did. I took off without too much thought and it only took me 14 minutes from thought to departure. As I turned the corner at the wave organ I had already set the jib. I pulled in the main sheet and balanced the helm. I didn't check the tide book, but it was obviously flooding. Perfect day for a one tack beat up to the Golden Gate Bridge. The current will make it take a while and I won't even get the rail wet, smooth water, steady breeze and wait, what's this... a beer in the cup holder right under my bum? Outstanding. Where are those Latitude 38 photographers when you want them?
I made it under the bridge, closer to the north tower than I usually make it under similar conditions, but I did take sick pleasure in out pointing some random Ericson cruiser... they dropped below me and then tacked away. I bore off and headed toward Sausalito and saw US 65 Kirsten and Bob Grigsby out for a sail. I tacked and sailed a parallel course reaching back toward the city front, jibed at the rocks and back out toward Alcatraz. On the way to my usual terrorizing of the swimmers in Aquatic Park I saw US 56 with Rich Haslacher and Mark Schlicter. They asked me where my crew was... not today, it was solo day. The wind started pipping up to 20 mph, but it was still very manageable as I headed into Aquatic Park. Just before I entered I saw another Folkboat beating to weather from Alcatraz, but thought it was a red hull, might be Chris Herrmann? If it was him, I'm sure he'll have seen me and follow me into the cove. Well, he followed me in the cove, but it wasn't Chris. I think it was Mike Reinath in US 72, Don Wilson's old boat. Looking good, I might add, as we duelled around and did 3 or 4 laps... got me to thinking how much fun it would be to hold a Folkboat Match race regatta in the Aquatic Park... I'm sure the swimmers would love this. Left the Park and headed back to the marina. Just as I was about to tack for the end of the wave organ I heard this snapping noise... nothing like the sound of a mast coming down and I see this seagull fluttering away then regain his flying composure... stupid dumb rat with wings snapped my weather vane on top of the mast! Every year I break one of those things... Svendsen should carry them in 6 packs. It was probably the same bird who had a gastrointestinal nightmare on my deck earlier that day. Nasty big ol' bird poop all over the deck. Took a while to scrub that off. As I head into the harbor I sail into a flock of Optimus (or should it be Optimi?) from the jr sailing program at the St. Francis. As I weave through the heard, I notice two of them following me. I dock the boat and bring her into the slip and look up and it's Mots! Richard Keldsen's son has really got a handle on that little boat. He cruised right up to the dock and asked me what I was doing. How cool is that? He reached back and forth a few times and showed off his tacking skills for a while then took off with his friend on another boat. I put the boat away, rolled up the main (which has always been the hardest thing to do by myself) and jib, washed her down, checked everything over and walked away knowing I only need a couple of hours to go for a quick sail and really enjoy myself... wouldn't be so easy in any other boat of 25 feet. The Folkboat really is a user friends craft, especially on the bay and even by yourself. Even though summer is officially over today, take a day or an afternoon soon and go sailing. It's still ok to play hookie once in a while and winter is coming... I had really good dreams last night... even with the stupid seagull snapping the weather vane. Try it, you don't have to always race you know.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Season Is Over... Now What?

Yeah, it's been a while since I made a posting... got a little burned out. Some complain that I put too many pictures of my daughter... others say I put too much about the sailing. Well, this blog is about both, so get used to it. This picture is from breakfast at the Dipsea... we saw Fred and Hilary Andersen this morning...
This is a self portrait from up on top of Tam during that hot spell we had... you know the one we always get when all the tourists finally leave? Oh, by the way... when planning a trip to the bay area make it for September or October... that's when our summer really is. They call it Fall, but our seasons really work like this: Winter is like your Spring, Spring is like your winter without the snow or cold, summer is like winter but with a boat load of fog and wind, Fall is like summer should be and then winter is like your Fall. Get it? Point is, make your travel arrangements for our Fall... everyone has gone and the weather improves.
Baker beach is getting a lot of attention from the Park and Rec department. It's no longer a refuge for the homeless and scary naked people... you know the ones you don't actually want to see naked? Why is it the nude beaches are always full of the people who shouldn't be?
We took Annika down the new and improved Baker beach and she tried to eat some rocks.
Yes, those are hose clamps... The mast didn't quite make it through the racing season like I had hoped and prayed it would. I had to gouge out the rotted wood after a big wind day almost ripped the goose neck fitting right off the mast... it was closer to disaster than I ever wish to get. So, I cleaned it out, epoxy resin sealed it and filled with a 2 part epoxy. I sanded it, but I can't seam to find any green paint, but I have another plan for this anyway... I knew this was coming and I put it off for one season... I plan to take the mast out this winter and strip all that green paint off and see what I have under it, make repairs, seal it and repaint it. But instead of green I'm going to go with an off white, closer to the color of the hull to better reflect the sun's heat and I'm also going to get schooled by Roger Rapp and use a linear polyurethane to really do the job right. So, after I shave down the mast to make it lighter, I'm going to build it back up to protect it... worse case scenario, I use my new mast I have stored at Peter Jeal's.
The other side of the teak cockpit combing decided to split... It's nice to sit on, but seems to be a little high maintenance... nothing a little epoxy can't fix.
My last Folkbad Centralen fender... one of the 13 different crew members I rotated this season didn't know how to tie a knot and, well... it floated away with tide. If anyone wants to be the coolest person on the plant, send me three of these in green for Christmas. I'll pay you back.
So, the season ended and we won the Wednesday Evening series by virtue of tie breaker. Going into the last race we were tied on points with none other than Wilson. Kurt had done some clever math and figured that if we were in the top 3 we just had to be one boat ahead to win or if we could sucker Wilson into 4th place or higher it wouldn't matter where we finished they would both be throw outs and we would win the series because the previous week we won and by doing so, we had more first place finishes and well, that's how a tie breaker is decided.
In the last race we had a horrible start and we were in the back of the fleet heading to shore, in a flood. If we followed everyone in we were doomed so we took many, many, many sterns and go out of phase with the fleet. On our next tack we cleared the cluster f*&k of boats jockeying for position and actually made Wilson take our stern... the wind had gotten very light on shore and we managed to stay in what little pressure there was... we got lucky. Wilson kept going out for better pressure, we went in and tacked and at the windward mark we were leading the race. I'm really not sure how that happened. Wilson was behind us and I was going to be damned if I let him have inside position at the leeward mark and we lead him in shore where the pressure was light... he chose where we went. A few boats passed us on the out side, Peter Jeal on our inside was pleading for us to jibe, but, being on starboard and having overlap doesn't put him in a position to dictate course. Wilson jibes, we jibe... Peter gets away. Good. One more boat passing us meant Wilson was in 4th and we are still ahead of him. As we round the leeward mark, I stuff the bow head to wind to assure that he doesn't get up on our hip in any clear air. He puts his bow down to foot and go below us and for me that was the critical moment of success. For the next up wind leg nothing else mattered but maintaining a tight cover. We were so far off the wind that we were reaching, but with those MP sails I had up, the lighter off wind stuff made us faster. We made several tacks and just sat on him like a sack of potatoes. Maybe not the best of analogies, but it's all I can think of. As we were heading downwind, Wilson calls out to us, "Clearly you did your math. If you let us catch up we'll throw you some beers." I didn't mean to slow down, but at this point it didn't matter, we were middle of the fleet and there was no time for him to get into 3rd. As he pulled along side, I asked him to be a man of his word... here comes the beer! After that at the leeward rounding.... Apparently, Danielle didn't see us, but we had inside overlap at the leeward mark and she didn't give enough room for all of us and we played a little bumper boats making a Wilson sandwich. We all threw up flags only to make sure there was no damage and I've learned my lesson about not putting up the flag in a timely manner. We ended up 6th and Wilson 10th, but at that point it was time for a cerebration.
Now the regular season ended and with 4 races to go we were tied on points, but didn't have as many first places as Wilson, so we needed to be ahead of him on points or we would be second. I stopped writing about all this because it was I was burned out on blogging and I wasn't wanting to give up any psychological advantage explaining the situation... but now it's over. Wilson out sailed us. Plain and simple he is the better sailor this season. He seems to have a higher gear when he needs it or gets focused or something. I've been close enough to him to figure out this whole Vang sheeting thing to windward and when and how he uses it, so I'm going to put my head into it this off season and see if I can neutralize this last advantage I think he has. We also shot ourselves in the foot several times this season. In the first of four races to go we smoked the fleet and had a 2 minute lead at the first rounding... held it at the leeward rounding, but the Knox area curse got me again. The rule of thumb is, in a flood go right till it gets light... I followed conventional wisdom and let Wilson sail into what I thought was certain death. Should have just covered, but last time I did that we both sailed into a whole and he pulled out of it better and beat us. It was the most humiliating thing for me this season to have that big a lead sucked up like a cherry soda on a hot summer's day. I was so deflated I could barely finish the race. We finished 1,2... again. The second race a bad start and Wilson with a good lead meant we were battling for 2nd place and end up 3rd. All was not lost, with two races to go we were down 3 points. If we could manage two bullets and Wilson got a total of 6 points on the day we would win the season. Second to last race, he covered. We were 5th he was 4th, season over. The last race we led until the final beat, I made a tactical error and he snuck in at the line and we finished bang, bang, first and second, but it didn't matter... we were 2nd over-all for the season.
My congratulations to Team Wilson for an excellent, highly competitive season.
All in all, it was a very good year... Despite having 13 different crew members and never having the same two crew from race to race, we managed to stay competitive the whole season... I have to say I will always look back on this season as the season of missed opportunity. We got the boat going fast and I felt a great deal of confidence even after giving up the Woodies in the first race to an unfortunate cover by... oh, who cares who it was. Another goal has been checked off the list. I'll have my name on the same trophy my father has his name on 13 times. Mike G, Bjorn and I had a 7th in the Gold Cup, the best Finish by an American team ever, Svend still thinks his was more impressive since his 11th place was out of 100 boats... Ok, Svend you are still the man... and a 2nd in the folkboat fleet for the season is no small accomplishment. Our fleet has stepped up the intensity and many boats are making it harder and harder each race to be in the top 3. With a little luck and some buyers of imported used folkboats, our fleet can and will be at 20 on the line again. For now, it's back to the drawing board and time to start to prepare for next season... dad always said, "The season is won or lost in the boat yard." I guess it's time to fix what needs to be fixed and prepare those little things for when the inevitable breakdowns occurs.
Now, where did I put that snowboard?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Chiquita II? For Sale in the U.S.?

I love the spirit of our European friends... they totally get it when it comes to helping us improve the quality of our fleet and have fun at the same time. Here is how the game works... bring a high quality used Folkboat to the US, by-pass any in country qualifications for our SF Cup, race it for one week then sell it and get out of town... hopefully for us, without a trophy. But, not so bad if they do win, it means we got a good boat here now and for the future of our fleet. This makes coming here even more attractive to our European friends because then they don't have to concern themselves so much with getting a not so up to speed current racing Folkboat.

These picures are of a boat that is potentially coming to SF next year if we can line up the buyer. This is one of 3, possible 4 boats that could be imported in the next year. I put this one out there for comment and consideration because it the most tangible prospect at this time. I've made myself the unofficial and unpaid brocker of used Folkboats and would be happy to facilitate the deal... there will be an interview process. Folkboats don't get sold to those who are not worthy. Below all the pictures is some details about this boat. In my opinion, this boat will be what we call a turn key... ready to race with little, if any major maintenance.

Here comes the deal as told by Torben: We will bring this boat, lets call her Chiquita II, to San Fran in 2009 to sail the Internationals on this boat and afterwards leave it in San Fran.When we bring this boat to San Fran it will be an excat copy (even the age of this boat) of the famous and notorious Chiquita you know from the Gold Cup. Even better, it will be the first stage of development (regarding the configuration of winches, traveler etc.) after sailing Chiquita for two seasons.What we will do to this boat:- doing the body; this means that we are getting all the old paint off, getting the primer on and getting the body as smooth as you know it from Chiquita. We will not paint her…- the cockpit layout will bet he same as on Chiquita (maybe some improvements we dicovered after sailing Chiquita for two seasons); this means we will move the traveler and the winches slightly forward- new traveler with new blocs, Harken base- H-Tracks on the cabin- new alloy boom, for main and jib- new sheets- we will step our new mast which we sailed for the first time at the Gold Cup 2008. It is a stiff mast from Schütte in Niendorf with all brand new gear, brand new blocs, brand new shrouds mounted on it- we will leave our new set of sails which we will use for the Internationals with the boat- we will sail this boat in Germany to see if everything is working at some weekend races in Berlin, Eckernförde, Kiel and the Kieler Woche. After the Kieler Woche which is the last week of June we will ship her to san Fran- well before we will do all this we need a fix buyer and a kind of disposit or initial payment- the only thing we will not do, is doing a paint job, neither the deck nor inside the cockpit and cabinSo what do you think about it? Except of the hull (you know these overdimensioned Folkboat hulls only too well, age doesn’t matter…) you are getting a brand new boat, brand new equipment, new mast, new sails and a perfect body, you are getting a race proven bullet at a price of EUR 25.000,-!!!

You asked what is wrong with the other boat for EUR 23.000,-. Well to get her ready to race you have to do the body, get a new traveler, some equipment, a new alloy boom, new sails and if you take a closer look at the pictures: you will need a new mast as well… thats out opinion regarding this boat.

I hate to say it, but this is a good deal... I just hope Peter Jeal doesn't buy it.