17 May 2011

25 Plus, What, Me Worried?

With another Friday afternoon off, it was time to get some more Weta tacking and gybing practice. Iain was back in school; so, I headed for the more wide-open and chillier waters of Carquinez Strait for a nice afternoon solo sail. I had expected maybe 12 knots of breeze, but according to Dean who spied the online wind meters and then came down to see how I was doing, it was 20ish, gusting 25+. Add to that a max ebb (boosted by snow melt) running directly counter to the wind, and it was, um, cranking out there. So much for my plans to work on the subtitles of tacking and gybing. It was time for some go-fast-without-wiping-out drills. Actually, I probably do need to wipe out so that I'll really know where the edge is, but as the only boat on the water I'd leave that lesson for another day.

Upwind was the usual, controlled ride flying above the waves from my perch out on the ama. Nice! The only letdown was the lack of lift from from the "cruising" foils I rigged on this day. The significantly larger and more shapely race foils were laid up in the garage midway through a tuneup. Off the wind was a total rush, or I should say, "gush." The wind-against-tide thing was standing up nearly vertical waves out in the windiest and deepest middle section of the strait. A couple of times I fell out of sync and instead of steering around and over the big ones, plowed right through. The boat just disappeared into a wash of foam before popping out the back side, shedding it off, and rocketing off for the next one.

It still amazes me how manageable and comfortable this 14-foot singlehander is at speed in a good blow. Blasting upwind without hiking and shredding downwind without a thought of deathrolling. Yeah, there are some creative ways to get a trimaran upset, but so far I haven't had any trouble staying out of those modes. Well done Messrs. Kitchen

13 May 2011

Reluctantly Delighted

Everybody likes to sail, right? Of course they do. They all just may now know it, yet. This is the case with my 11yo son. OK, I admit I've done a couple things with him on board that may have been somewhat frightening--a particular gybe, which my wife won't let me forget, comes to mind. Still, the son does seem to enjoy sailing--even tells me so while we're out on the water. He's just apprehensive about getting out there in the first place.

In the interest of injecting a bit more variety and family fun into the Weta fleet, we're trying to promote certain regattas as Friends & Family events. For the fleet here in Northern California, we'll start with the tamer lake events such as Whiskeytown and High Sierra before trying to coerce the reluctant into a wild mid-Summer regatta on the Bay (which, of course, anybody should love to do.)

Now although Iain hasn't officially said, "Yes" yet, he'll be my crew at Whiskeytown. So, he needs some time in the boat to get ready for racing. Last Friday, thanks to a CA schools furlow day, he and I splashed into the local puddle, Contra Loma Reservoir, for some tacking, gybing, and kite furling/unfurling practice. He did great, remarkably well in fact, having never handled the sheets and control lines before. Heck, he even seemed to be enjoying it. We tooled around the lake for a while, up and down, back and forth. The Weta is a bit fast for this pond causing us to change directions often--perfect for our practice session. Eventually, we made our way back to the dock, and as we were pulling the boat up onto its dolly, Iain said, "That was really fun, Dad."

"Cool. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Would you like to go again?"
"Sure!," he replied.
"So then," I asked, "do you want to race with me at Whiskeytown?"
"Umm, I'll let you know on that."