Sunday, October 19, 2008

Double Fisting Wood Chips at Sycamore Park

We bring little Annika to Sycamore Park in Mill Valley on a Sunday morning and what does she do? Double fists the wood chips and runs away knowing Mom or Dad are going to take them out of her hands before she can eat them. I'll admit it, wood tastes good.
We put her in the swing and she squealed.
How's that for a happy baby.
We took turns putting our face about 3 inches from where she would swing to and say, "boo." She loved it... and so did Cassandra and I.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Champion of Champion's Race

I get home form work one day and get this email about the WBRA Champion of Champion's Race and I think to myself, Oh.. the YRA screwed up the results again and they think I won the Weekend Series. I skim through the invitation and see that two boats from each of the WBRA fleets (IOD, Knarr, Bird and Folkboat) were invited to participate in this one of kind race. Cool. I'll do it. Otherwise I'm not sure I'd get another day on the water until next spring and the weather has been so good lately. I show up after the usual routine of getting the sandwiches and beverages and rush into the club to turn in my entry form (40 minutes before the first gun). Kurt is already in the club looking for the bulletin board, but I can't find it and we need to get going. As we were leaving Mike Peterson was turning in his entry form... better late than never.
This was a no brainer to participate in for me because the Island YC decided to use the GGYC for their race deck and well... This picture is taken 30 feet from where the first picture of the club was taken.. yes, that's my car parked illegally.
From the previous picture, I turned and walked down the dock to the boat and from the cockpit, this is the rear deck of the GGYC.
Kurt brought his Special Danish spirits and Risley joined us. We scrubbed the bottom with a couple of brushes, while I hung my fat ass off the shroud... this made access to the bottom a little too easy. Maybe I should ease off the Hawaiian style chips? First gun went off and we were still at the dock. We rushed to get the sails on and got outta there as quick as... I hate metaphors.
We turned the corner at the wave organ and hardened up the sails... the leads were set right and the boat really does well in the medium light condition. It was supposed to pipe up so we put up the Doyal jib instead of the MP and everything felt ok.
First race we had the course wrong, but in a handicap race where you have the "slowest" boat, it doesn't matter, just follow the crowd. Problem was we beat a Knarr to the first windward mark... I won't mention who it was (M.P.) but let's put it this way, that wasn't supposed to happen. We did have a great start. We sat on one Knarr and the other was back off the line a bit. We went out for the better current but too far and M.P. beat us the the leeward rounding. Unfortunately for them, they sailed into a header, we got lift and on the first crossing we had actually passed a Knarr up wind... unheard of. We were sailing a parallel course for most of the up wind, actually holding quite well when the confusion occurred. Some silly swimming event had just dumped some 100 swimmer in the water up near our windward mark and there was much discussion from the swimmers group for us to abandon our race. M.P. must have been looking for an out because they bore off back to the starting line thinking the race had been abandoned. We never heard such news and kept going as if the race was still on. We would have beat them on corrected time anyway. The course was 16,6,16,6 and finish... two laps in late flood with a tad bit of early ebb at the windward mark. I really thought there was only one race, I didn't read the sailing instructions. We finished the race some 5 minutes behind Tom Reed but had no clue if we had actually won the race or not... and this why I think handicap racing is silly. Oh, and right before the finish I broke my custom made carbon fiber tiller extension I had made from an old fishing pole. Risley scrounged around and found a thin baton and some electrical tape and we braced it up much like you would a broken arm or leg if you were administering first aid... it held up nicely for the rest of the day.
2nd race was a Bay Tour... Blackhauler(16) to Harding (17) to Blossom (18), back to Blackhauler down to Fort Mason (6) and finish... a 13.5 mile race with a reaching leg. On the first beat we all right together which is great for us and looking back, foolishly I went inside Anita on the shore side, not really knowing if we were breaking the rules... The crew read the S.I.'s and it wasn't read that this was out of bounds... Tom Reed put up his protest flag, but we kept going because it wasn't in the S.I.'s. After the rounding we had a reaching leg to 17 (Harding Rock). Reaching legs are great if you have a spinnaker, but in a folkboat, it's quite boring. It's a parade, no action really happens and it's about making sure you don't let the current sweep you down below the mark so you don't have to battle against tide to make it. We stayed high and reached down to it, M.P. did not, was too low for too long and we beat them to the 2nd mark. wow. Both the Knarrs went to the north of Alcatraz and the IOD (Jim) and I went the southerly route thinking... better current, way better pressure, but greater distance. We were right this time. We pulled up closer to Tom Reed, and put some distance on M.P. It wasn't until the Jerimiah O'Brian that M.P. finally passed us.
Now the fun part really begins...
Turns out there were a few other fleets enjoying the city front racing with us. The St. Francis was holding some master mariners race with all the old sloops and yawls and whatever other boats made of wood that were still sea worthy. The Finns we also holding some major event and so were the Stars. It was like a swarm of locust when there start was perfectly timed with our beat up the city front. They all hugged the shore like ants and we basically held our distance, but as the ebb grew so did the distance from shore they began to venture. The 2nd race ended in amazing style... as we were coming away from shore from the East end harbor, the Star boats were bearing down on us. The Finns were all coming downwind after finishing their race and it was awesome! 30-40 Stars, 30-40 Finns and us, right dab smack in the middle. I'm still amazed we survived. We were on port and on a lay line for the point just past the wave organ when the most amazing thing happened. Several Finns went inside between us and the rocks (like ants) two Stars tacked before forcing us onto starboard because taking their sterns would have been impossible, too many boats! As more boats returned on starboard we were either clear ahead or clear astern and never altered course or speed. We just went straight though it all completely and totally unscathed. A Finn did, in an attempt to avoid a Star, Turtle and lost it's rudder. But everyone stuck around to help him retrieve it and put it back on amongst the chaos.
So, at this point we know we are toast even if we do actually win because we went inside Anita Rock and they are going to protest... they said it was mentioned at the skipper's meeting... I really ought to start going to those.
3rd race another long one, but only one lap. 16, 18 finish. The winds were up to 20 by this point and we were really in the groove as a team. We port tack started just because and since the ebb was almost all the way out it really didn't matter where we started. Our goal was just clear air. We all fought it out to the weather mark and it was actually tight until about 3/4ths up the course. We weren't so far behind and we didn't give up very much on the downwind. We jibed after crossing the tide line and sailed a very long down wind leg past Alcatraz to the base of Treasure Island. By this time the ebb against the wind made the bay look as intimidating as a double black diamond run with moguls, but these were moving and the wind was blowing and the tiny ship was tossed.... a 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour....
I forgot sunblock so by this point my face was fried and I was getting rather tired and very happy to see the race end. We got really wet and bumped around on this last race and I was sure Cassandra did not expect me to be gone all day. We got to the dock, put the boat away, had a beverage or two and went up to the club to see the results...
We got 3 firsts.
But, we went inside a restricted area.
The way it happened it would have had no bearing on the results had we gone around it, it was that close. But the rules are the rules and we discovered after actually reading the S.I.'s that it was restricted... the only honorable thing to do was to withdraw from the 2nd race and take last place plus 1. Our score was now 7, Tom Reed's was now 5 and he won. I guess I could have been the guy who said... there was nothing to say, we went the wrong way. I'd rather give up the trophy and keep the respect of Tom Reed and my WBRA competitors than ignore the truth and win an empty victory. There is no honor in it, so...
Congratulations Tom... Champion of Champions 2008.

I've always looked at like this, If I were a better sailor my name would be on the trophy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bridge Constuction View From a Folkboat

OK, these pictures are mostly for Lars Landen in Sweden... he really, really, really likes bridge construction.

During the last race of the fun weekend we raced back from the Estuary to the City Front... As we left the Estuary Peter and Susi were leading, Tom and Leann we're 2nd and we were having technical difficulties. I found a shackle clip on the deck as we were leaving and half way through the first race of the day my crew figured out it was supposed to be attached to the shackle that holds the jib halyard down... we averted disaster by putting it back in place before the pin decided to slip out. In between the Estuary mouth and the Bay Bridge Jason discovers another missing clip to a shackle on the main sheet block below the boom. I'm not sure how this held in place as long as it did, but we found another clip and put it back before we lost the main sheet... I see now why people tape those things up like they do.
I checked the tides... it was flooding and Peter and Tom both went the usual south east path around T.I. We had nothing to lose and went to the north. We took a couple of pictures and hoped they would get stuck in a hole. It didn't happen, but I'm sure for a while they were both thinking about the possibility that we could still come out ahead. That's all we were able to accomplish. We ended up getting beat by Fred and Hilary and ended up 4th "back to the barn."

At least we didn't have to tack as much as they did up the city front.

The Mysterious Mike Goebel

Who is this guy? Where did he come from? How did he get so good at sailing so fast? What has he done with all of the Folkboat Association's money?
Why is he travelled down so much? What's he looking at?
Just what is he looking at?
Where does he get off wearing those rock star sunglasses? He's no rock star, maybe in his mind...
I guess he's just staring off at what we all do when we are sailing around the bay.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Fun Weekend Racing at the Encinal Yacht Club

If you weren't there, you missed it. We had fun. Let's see, boats #15, 56, 72, 74, 102, 105,111,113,117,122. Ten boats and we could have easily had 15. Notably absent was our president, vice president, treasurer's boat (Mike was there and sailed down with me), our Race Chairman (his excuse is valid, for the moment, but his son could have made it?) and Richard Keldsen... No Vince, no Otto, no Adrian, no Bill D., no Dan or Danielle... seems rather we could have had 20!!!!! That's it, I'm calling all y'all out for a fight. I mean race. It was fun. All who attended agreed the location and sailing conditions were the best. There was much talk about doing it again next year even though it is our SF Cup year.
Mike and Dora Webber in Calafia held down the party scene and seemed to be the center of attention for all the social lights in attendance.
Leann didn't want her picture taken so I did it anyway. She looks better without make up anyway. Tom, who was right there, agreed.
I promised to have only one beer... at a time!
Freddy is a stud... carrying a motor onto the bow takes serious concentration... who uses those things anyway? Stinky, yucky, smelly, heavy... dad always said, "You'll never learn to sail if you use an engine." I'm not saying Freddy doesn't know how to sail... don't come away from this thinking that's what I meant. I'm just saying they are stinky, yucky, smelly, heavy, bulky, awkward, expensive pieces of machinery that are completely unnecessary when you keep your boat in the SF Marina and the current is in your favor. Freddy will probably kick my ass for writing all this, but he won't read it... we all know how he feels about email and computers. He's probably smarter than all of us for not spending so much time on them... which reminds me of another thing my dad used to say. These word come form the same man that worked for IBM for 34 years... "Computers are the biggest waste of time on the planet." I translate this to mean, get up off your butt, stop staring at a screen and go do something constructive, preferable something physical that keeps your senses alive for the short amount of time we actually spend on this planet.

So, I know you're busy... we are all busy. But sailing keeps us young... just ask Bob Frey Sr.

The Over 60 Skipper's Race

After the single handed race, I get back to the dock, I'm tying off the bow... I'm not even finished and I see this pair of shoes really close to me. I look up and see Bob Frey Sr. He's just watched to first two races of the day and my boat has finished first twice... he says, "Hey Eric, there's been some talk about an over 60 skipper's race and I was wondering, could borrow your boat?" He looked so excited to get out there and race, how could I say no? Bob Frey is an excellent sailor, a legend in the fleet, his son was going to come with and he's really good too... all I had to do was let them talk it out in the back of the boat, trim the jib and work the foredeck... sweet.
In the pre-start youcould see all the old habbits and rituals coming back to him and he started getting more and more agressive. He was so pumped and kept asking questions about the course, where the weather mark was, who was keeping the time... He said, "Ready about, helm's over" and I knew Bob Frey Sr. was back in the saddle again.
Wasn't the best start, the wind came up just in time to bring most of us way too far down the line and Bob Jr. made it clear we were jibing and getting out of there with 24 seconds til the start. It worked. We were in clear air and in the middle of a group, but we were surging forward nicely and got ahead of most of them. We were third at the windward mark and below is the picture of how it looked from the bow.

We pulled the classic up and under move at the leeward mark which gave Bob Sr. quite a thrill, he just trusted us that we were clear of Roger Rapp's stern and stuck the bow right in between the channel marker and Roger's stern and well, it was tight at the mark, but Roger went too wide and had some issues. We chased down Ed Welch and by the time we got to the windward mark we were leading.
Ed was off to our starboard and losing ground in same wind, but worse current and we held him off until the finish.

Bob was an old pro on the helm, he really just felt the conditions so well, very often holding the sweet spot going to weather for long periods of time without correction. Not bad for the oldest guy out there... 80 is the new 60 for sure. Thanks Bob, that was fun.

The Single Handed Race - 2008

Sorry, only one picture... I had my hands full. The Estuary in Alameda is such the perfect place to hold this race, flat water, medium light winds and not as ferocious currents. The race started off well enough, except Tom Reed Sr. shot off the front and Peter Jeal was slightly ahead of me as we all tacked over to port immediately after the start... the line was really badly favored at the pin end. I had some trouble getting my jib in by myself, but managed to settle in for a give and take kind of windward beat... sometimes I was gaining, sometime I was losing, but at the windward mark Tom was a ways ahead and Peter and I were close, but he was ahead of me (see above picture for visual on where Tom and Peter were, can't believe I actually pulled out the camera for this shot). We rounded the leeward mark (a channel marker) and headed back up for a 2nd loop around. Peter tacked over to starboard and later I found out his jib sheets got fouled and this really screwed him up. He fell back to 3rd and mixed it up with the rest of the fleet. Meanwhile, Tom sr was making good progress, but got headed a bunch and I managed to find a consistent lift that he never got. As we approached the windward mark Tom was straight ahead of me, but had over stood the mark on the latest of wind shifts. I tacked at the same time as he did thinking like my Swedish friend Donald Bratt once told me... tack early and hope for a lift. It worked. I got inside of him and fiercely protected my inside position in the classic style that Bill Madison would use. Tom muttered something about over taking boat and proper course, but he didn't have overlap and I didn't see a rule violation and he didn't put up a flag... he's probably right though. He's only a 7 time Folkboat season champion and not too shabby in the Knarr fleet now (3 time seaon champion). A minor tacking duel in good pressure and I ended up first, Tom 2nd and Peter 3rd. Those MP sails were the best purchase I've ever made... perfect for the light condition, too bad you can't get that same cut any more.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Youngest Ladies Race Champion in Folkboat History

She's 15, almost 16 scared to drive in a car with her mom, but she beat the pants off her on Saturday's "ladies race". Introducing the youngest ladies race champion in folkboat fleet history... Kate Andersen. So, we're standing on the dock shootin' the breeze and it occurred to me that young Kate might want to take a turn at the helm. I speak up and say, "are you racing in the ladies race?" She says no. I ask her if she wants to race my boat and she accepts... I think. Up to this point I've known Kate for years, but she hasn't really said much to me always hiding behind her mom. Well, enough already let's go race. Now she has to talk because we are racing together and she's driving my boat! I usually don't let too many people who don't talk to me much drive my boat, let alone someone without even a driver's licence! But this was the fun weekend, it didn't count for season and it was in the estuary and her dad Fred could fix anything she broke... why not?
Mike Goebel and I crewed for Kate and got her all pumped up and we left the dock. She was clearly a bit nervous, but she races FJ's and Lasers... really not all that different from folkboats... especially if you have two guys trimming and coaching who, well... know a little bit anyway. We start pretty even with everyone and pull away like magic, get her to the windward mark first and by the above picture... quite a bit. We held the lead the whole race and won in convincing fashion. There would be no contributing to the delinquency of Kate, although we tried... Gatorade would have to suffice.
After the race Leann tried to throw her in the water to celebrate her first win....
But they settled for along hug instead. Congratulations Kate! She still hardly said 6 words to me. At least now she has good reason to come to the awards dinner in November and my daughter has a new goal. Yes, I know she's only 13 months old, but if we start training now.....