11 May 2008

Welcome new readers!

Well, Dean's pointing me to Tillerman's group writing project has pointed other Tillerheads to this blog and pointed me to a bunch of other interesting blogs. Am I finally discovering what is really meant by the term 'blogosphere'? I appreciate the comments from Team Gherkin and EVK4. Sometimes the littlest connections via things like boat names or shared gybing ineptitude or similar local waters bring on a real feeling of community. Thanks, Tillerman, for hookin' us up!

Check these out:
Tillerman's Proper Course
Team Gherkin
EVK4 SuperBlog
Andrew Sadler

10 May 2008

Gybes better, tacks not so much.

Well, the gybing and capsizing practice from last week is sure paying off. My local Vanguard 15 fleet allowed me to mix it up with them this past Friday. Very kind of them to welcome me onto the starting line sans Vanguard. I'm trying to be sensitive to not turning their tight one-design Friday's into an open melee. Both for them and for me. I love crewing on their boats, and the post race parking lot chatter is focused on tactics and techniques that worked best that night rather than on which boats were most favored by the particular wind and current conditions. But about the gybing practice. Wow, I felt so much more confident in the boat knowing that I could throw down a gybe when I wanted and get the boat back upright if needed. this was especially useful in the pre-start maneuvering and for a quick gybe rounding the top mark to get over the the favored side of the downwind leg. Certainly more practice needed to get really good at it, but I'm on my way.

Next up, tacking. Chasing the Vanguards around revealed how slow my tacks are. I was clearly giving up two or more boat lengths every time I flopped over.

06 May 2008


Dean turned me one to another great sailing blog, Proper Course. Definitely worth a read. A recent post calls for a group writing project on learning experiences. I think Dean realized that a lot of what I blog about is just that; so, I sent a couple links in. Should be fun to see what others are learning through their sailing experiences.

05 May 2008

Learning is gud.

A few weeks (months?) back, I wrote about the need to suck it up and learn new things. This past Friday, I had a chance to really put that into practice. With a couple of big regattas planned this Summer in potentially very windy venues, I was getting a bit worried about my ability to gybe the Megabyte (recently named "Feraligatr" by my son) in a blow and recover from the inevitable capsize once in a while. Well, I studied up on Laser gybing techniques online and in books, visualized the movements in the Megabyte, and then went out for some practice. I hit the Carquinez straits in about 12 to 15 knots, sailed up wind for a while, turned around, and repeatedly gybed back and forth about 20 times (until I eventually ran aground!)

After a bit, the wind started to build, and I headed out across the straits. Got some great practice sitting well aft and getting the feel for helm and trim balance as I surfed past a couple of Hobie trimaran thingies like they were standing still. Then, with my new found gybing confidence, I started throwing a few down eventually crashing when I missed a behind the back tiller hand-off. OK, then, time to start the capsize recovery practice! No problem. Back in the boat and going in a minute or so. I returned to the marina and then repeatedly capsized in front of the dock practicing various maneuvers for getting the thing back up. I feel much better now. A few more practice sessions, and I'll be ready to push the boat in whatever Whiskeytown Lake throws at us.

If that wasn't enough, the Fleet 76 crowd started showing up an hour or so later. Turns out Marcel needed crew; so, it was back out on the water for some more learnin'. It was great to observe Marcel's focus and approach on the race course. He's always looking for the wind advantage, always tuned in to what's happening around him, and always seeking that last bit of speed even when he's got the race won. Great stuff. I'll put some of that to use the next time I'm out racing.