Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ditte Goes For A Hike on Tamalpias

Ditte came to SF and either wanted to sail on the bay or go for a hike. Coincidentally it was the first race of our annual Mid Winter Series which I never do. But if Ditte is coming and wants to sail, who am I to say no to crew like her? Or maybe I would just crew for her! Whatever. She brought a bottle of this mentholated infused vodka... wow. I think I have found what goes in my flask next time I go snowboarding. (I'm almost out already, anybody coming over wanna bring me a bottle of this? I'll take you sailing)
Just in time, my crew Kurt Hemmingsen has made me appreciate the finer things in life and perhaps a bit too often. This was needed as we often toasted a bullet with a shot... it was a very good season too.
Anyway, we decided to take a hike on Tam as we have already done the sailing thing on the bay before, but taking my friends who have never been up on our local hill is a real joy for me. So, we got out our hiking boots and took a 2 hour loop we know around the scenic Mt.Tamalpias. Good times, good times... we saw a coyote and the usual squirrel, birds and babbling brooks... pretty good weather for November, huh? It was in the mid 60's with a light breeze... two days earlier it was in the mid 70's! Gotta love Cali in the Fall.

After the hike we went down to the club to watch the last legs of the race. At first we were quite pleased with our decision... no wind and the ebb was beginning to suck the boats out the gate. But then the wind kicked in for the last 30 minutes of the race and the boats were able to finish. It would have been fun to go sail, but I think in the end we made the right call.... mid winter sailing here is possible, just not always very much fun. It's either an anchor drill until the tide changes or blowing like stink and stormy. I don't think I'll ever develop the patients for light wind sailing.

Have You Ever Questioned The Strength of Your Chainplates?

Well, most people don't, but this year the subject reared it's ugly head again. Chris Herrmann is a competent sailor or this would have been a dismasting.
When you hear that "pang!" sound and you can't understand why the boat seems weird it's probably too late and down comes the mast. It's one of those things that most guys think, oh it'll never happen to me... but eventually it is coming for us all. So much stress and tension is put on this part of the boat it's no wonder they occasionally fail.
The repair ain't cheap either. To pay someone to do it would cost a fortune, to do it yourself and do it wrong would cost even more, so pay someone skilled the first time and be done with it... shouldn't happen a second time. This same thing happened to USA 102 and all Svendsen built boats are vulnerable to this failure. It was on my mind ever day I owned USA 105 and I've posted blogs concerning my Andreasen built boat too.
It seems to me that once the metal is bent it loses it's strength at that bent point... and this repair only allows for that failure point again. I hope I'm wrong, but if I were to design this, the metal would be straighter and a support with something like G-10 would be epoxied into place first to allow the metal to be bolted into place, then glassed over.
We'll see how long this one holds.

SFBFA Awards Dinner 2009

Rick Wolf was a tremendous folkboat sailor whom the Wednesday evening series trophy is named. He brought the boat, USA 76, over in 1956 and raced her until his death aboard the boat. The boat was sold to Jerry Langkhammerer, then sold to Bill Madison. The boat is still active and took 2nd place in the single handed race... way to go Bill! The trophy came to be mine for one year when we won the series and I recieved it in less than polished condition.
It sat on the mantel in the condition I received it, but when the time came for me to bring it in I thought it deserved a little more respect. So I polished it up and brought it with me to the awards dinner to pass over to Dave Wilson who won the series on a tie breaker with Peter Jeal. Turns out the last race, had we not won it, Peter would have won the series. Hmmm... how do you choose the lesser of those two evils? Ok, they aren't evil, but we do seem to enjoy beating each other.
For most of the year I used the trophy as a candy bowl... I'm sure it's been used in other ways, but for me this seemed the most appropriate.
It was tough to give up... my dad started winning it in 1971, the year I was born and won it 6 straight years. He put sailing on hold for two years to build his own boat and won it again the next season 1979. In all, 13 times he won this series.
So far, I've got it once and I'm sure I'll win this one again. This year we had to settle for 3rd and 2nd place for the season. I did manage to win the single handed race again and a 2nd place at the SF Cup... all in all a good season.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

SF Cup 2009 - the pictures and some of the stories

Cassandra's photos:
Peter Lyons' photos
Race #1 and #2 - Race #5 - Race #7 -

Going into this regatta... I actually almost didn't want to enter it. The school year had started and I'd be missing three days of work in the 2nd week of school, not too cool. But, this is my sport, this is what I do and how could they not understand? I'd just tell them the truth and be OK with it. Nope, felt guilty the whole time. The kids I teach need stability, they need that presence everyday or they think you don't care, then the job gets really tough, like it wasn't tough enough before. I told the kids exactly what I was doing and many had no concept of sailing, let alone racing. They asked things such as... 'How do you start? Do the boats all line up on the start line, then go?' 'Do you get scared when the boat tips over?' 'How do you make the boat go without an engine?' ...Uh, right. When we have a few hours I'll get back to you all on those questions. But I told them I have a good chance of winning and I'd be back on Thursday and give them an update. I really didn't think they would care or remember why I wasn't there. Man, was I wrong.
The first two races went almost as I saw them in my dreams... Olympic Circle, Christoph leading, Wilson second and us third. And going into the regatta I felt like we were the 3rd best boat out there with a chance of winning the whole thing. The only difference in the first day results from my dreams was in the 2nd race when a bad leeward rounding by Wilson, a clearly boat end favored line and Tom Reed jr. changed everything. When Wilson went the wrong way and went really slow I felt like I had to capitalize right then and there thinking every point is going to matter in this regatta... so, I sat on him... hard, for probably too long. By the time we tacked and realized how skewed the finish line was it didn't matter. I was convinced we would be two, Wilson three and Christoph, well... gone and that I was battling Wilson for 2nd place in the regatta. Christoph was covering the two of us and somehow let Tommy in to win the race. Christoph got the two and we got the 3rd place, Wilson forth and we netted a double gain. We were 3rd around the leeward gate and third at the finish, no gain no loss. But Christoph got a 2 so we were one point closer to him and by putting Wilson in 4th (almost 5th or 6th, it was that close) we ended up tied with him for the day instead of two points behind. I won't go into the details, but Wilson wasn't happy with me when we got to the docks. But it was sound tactical racing and like I said, we were the 3rd best boat with a chance and this was a chink in the armor for both Christoph and Wilson... I'd do it again if I had to.
My favorite race was race 3... local knowledge was king on the city front and we needed it too. Medium winds, building Ebb on the shore, last of the flood outside in the middle of the bay. Was it too late to go out and chase it on the downwind? That was the guessing game at the windward mark. But leading up the windward mark on the first beat was my best move of the regatta. After a not so good start and being in about 6th maybe 7th on port approaching the lay line, I look around and notice all the boats ahead of us are Euro's and I did an insta-tack knowing they had no idea just how strong the ebb was actually pushing us up to the mark. Just like that we went to 3rd and really close behind the leaders. Christoph was ahead but going straight down wind directly into the current. We broke left and at the critical moment I restrained my urge to wave bye bye to Christoph (Torben really, as I really enjoy his competitive arrogance and we'd been... talking for some time even before the regatta). I still wasn't sure it was going to work out, but when I saw Tom Reed jr (with sr. on board) going the same hard line out to the current, I knew I had done the right thing. We were launched. Lead the whole way from then on and beat the 2nd place boat by 2:30... yes, we timed it. Two 3rd's and first?! We were so in this regatta and I really felt at that point we had a legit chance of winning the whole thing. The bummer of the story is Wilson. Lucky. Yeah, I said it. Lucky. HE was deep in that race, way back and on the second down wind went deep into shore and gambled. Got the wind pressure and went from damn near last to 3rd!
The next race, as so often was the case this year, Wilson had just that much more than us and beat us to the first crossing and the windward mark. He gained enough separation to not really be affected by us and was gone. Christoph was OCS, but then went home for the day? We were all baffled by this. With his skills, rocket ship of a boat and talented crew they could have salvaged a top 5 finish. The outside flood was gone at this point and hugging the shore was the next best strategy. Per Jorgensen was right on my ass all the way down the city front, we had no chance to break away, it was a parade. But we were 2nd and should have stayed there. At the leeward gate I made a gybe too early and let Per get past us. So, we ended up 3rd despite one of my own countrymen unnecessarily sitting on me for a bunch of the 2nd beat. Even with the screw up, it only cost one position and that would come back to haunt me later. Score at this point: Christoph 1,2,2,ocs. Wilson 2,4,3,1. Us 3,3,1,3.
Races #5 and #6 at Knox. I don't remember race #5, I just know we were 3rd, Wilson won and we held off Christoph. Race #6 I remember... the wind was fading at the leeward rounding and we were all bunching up. We had passed Per Jorgensen to take the lead and I was thinking right gate the whole way down. But Sean was adamant about left gate and I had him on board for just this type of moment where I needed to focus on making the boat go and for someone else to tell me what to do. It worked in that we stayed ahead of Christoph and Per Jorgensen who was becoming more and more of a threat, but Per Buch went right gate and beat us to the finish and not by much! Another point I'd love to have back because Wilson had a bad race and ended up 10th. Now things are interesting. We havent had a bad race and we have 15 point going into the last day no matter what we do on the course. With a throw out coming the worst we do is a 3rd. Wilson and Christoph don't have this luxury going into the last race, but the points are so close... here's how it broke down; We were tied with Christoph and if we were in the top 5 we had to be ahead of him to the finish. If we could sucker Wilson into 4th place or higher we'd win the regatta. Or if we were 1st, Wilson would have to be 3rd or he's win on all the possible tie breakers. That 2 I gave up to Per really hurt and the 1st I gave up to the other Per really, really hurt. Well, none of that mattered because we had a bad start, my fault. I was fighting for the boat end and so was everyone else. I should have been farther down the line like Brock who got launched and was leading the race for much of it. The race happened and we salvaged 4th place at the 2nd windward mark. Wilson had passed Christoph by staying high and doing the old Banana line to the gate (better pressure and on the last third of the run the current swings you down to the mark... local knowledge on the bay, nice move Wilson). The kicker to all this is the last leeward rounding. Right gate is favored and as Brock makes his rounding and punches up hard to protect, Christoph rides up his stern and hits him, then hits the mark! I can't believe my eyes. I had all but given up at this point and now we just have to sail clean while he does his turns and we get 3rd in the race and 2nd for the regatta. For some reason Brock goes left and when we cross at the finish line we nipped him by a hair to get 2nd in the race. But a mute point as one point at this point doesn't matter. Wilson wins by 2 points and earned it. I sailed the best I could with a two year old jib and that's how it ended.
When I got back to work every time I'd turn around I'd get asked by one of my students, How'd you do? I had to tell them 2nd place and they actually showed empathy... although one kid made mention that I was the first loser.
My sailing goals have not changed, I still want my name on all the trophies my father has his on and with that 2nd place I did something he had not. His best finish in the SF Cup was 3rd, so notch that one on the belt and keep on working toward that ever elusive season championship... then I can rest.
The 2009 SF CUP Results:

Monday, November 02, 2009

Meet George in USA 116 - Emma

The weather has been... awesome! 70+ degrees in the city and not super windy and it's November! So, me and the girls headed down to the boat to soak in what could be the last of the great weather. As we sat and enjoyed the tranquility, blazing around the point comes George in USA 116.
The very northerly wind made starboard the fun tack coming up the harbor and George made it look like he'd been doing it for years.
George just took over 116 and has been putting some serious time into her and it really shows.
He's all signed up for the midwinters and has crew too? He may be better than I thought and definitely the right guy for this boat.
He claimed to be, "whipping his crew into shape" for the first midwinter race coming up this next weekend. I had him out on my boat for the last races of the season on Oct 17th... hope I didn't give away too many secrets.

Getting into the slip without an engine? No problem. Again, George makes it look like he's been doing this for years... I'm officially not worried about this guy any more.

My dream of 20 boats on the line just got one closer.... sweet.