Monday, April 13, 2015

Rowing Photo Quiz

I did row one year when I was at university.

But I don't really understand rowing.

Can anyone explain to me why the cox in this four is in the middle of the boat?

And bonus points if you can tell me…

At what event was this photo taken?

What year was it?

What did this team win?

What are the names of all the ladies?

Where can I buy one of those hats?

What did the stroke have for breakfast?

Related post - My Rowing Career.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sons of a Son of a Sailor

All three of our grandsons spent the day at our house yesterday.

Life is good.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Rhode Island From Above

Some people retire to Florida.

We retired to Rhode Island.

No regrets.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Winter is Over?

The Sharon High School Sailing Team sailing on Lake Massapaog
(with a couple of the Tiller extensions in the foreground)
on an 80 degree day in March 2012.

The Sharon High School Sailing Team sailing on Lake Massapoag
while there is still ice at the edge of the lake
in April 2015.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Throwback Snowday

Here it is.

The last tiny patch of snow on our property, tucked away in the shade of a north facing wall.

I expect it will be gone by morning.

Ten weeks ago I was dealing with this.

I don't know where Tillerwoman was.

I hereby declare winter is officially over at the Tillercottage.

Let the sailing season commence.

I think I'll go and burn my socks now.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Sailing the RS Aero in Bristol - and Plans for the Summer

The ice has gone from the bays, the snow has almost disappeared and it almost feels as if spring has finally arrived in Rhode Island.

I described in A Laser and an RS Aero in Newport how my friend persuaded our local dealer to lend us a demo RS Aero and how he sailed it on a couple of days in Newport while I tagged along in my Laser.

The picture from that post (above) created a small stir in the RS Sailing social media community with comments like, "Epic levels of commitment. We salute you!" Well, it did until some over-achiever from Norway upped the stakes by posting this picture (below) with a caption about "getting ready for Easter sailing" and a claim that he was part of the "most northerly Aero class."

If I ever get the chance to race this Norwegian guy in an Aero, I'm going to CRUSH him!

Anyway, we have taken the Aero out three more times in Bristol Harbor since then. By "we" I mean the three of us who agreed over a dinner and (more than a few beers) to put down deposits on RS Aeros a year ago just after it was launched in the UK. As I had had the chance to sail the Aero in Europe last year I have been letting my two friends have first dibs on sailing the Aero here in New England, but on Monday this week I thought they had had enough time in the boat and monopolized it myself. As I blasted upwind from the beach in a juicy south-easterly I couldn't resist shouting out to anyone close enough to hear me (i.e. nobody) - "I want one!" - meaning that the boat is still as good as I remembered it from Minorca and I still want to buy one. Thankfully my two friends feel the same way so we are looking forward to taking delivery of our three Aeros in a few weeks.

We all plan to keep our Lasers and continue to race them too. At least initially we will race our Aeros with the Sunfish and Lasers at Lake Whippersnapper on Saturday afternoons, and also in the regatta there at the end of May. Several other sailors at that club have expressed interest in trying out the Aero so we hope we can build a larger fleet there. And we will race our Lasers in Duxbury on Sundays and whatever other Laser regattas around New England we feel like doing. And one of my friends, maybe even both of them, are planning to go to the Laser Masters Worlds in Canada this year too.

I should really write a whole separate post about the pros and cons of owning just a Laser, or a Laser and another class of dinghy, and I probably will.

And I should really write a whole separate post about why I am buying a new class of dinghy that hardly anybody in the US is sailing yet, and I probably will.

Where was I? Where am I ? Oh yes. Sailing the RS Aero.

My friends and I don't really know how to sail the RS Aero properly yet. There is no published tuning guide. Every time we sail it we come back with more questions. Why is the Laser faster than the Aero in those conditions on that point of sail? Should we be sheeting at a different angle? Do we need more vang? Was the outhaul too loose or too tight? Should we be heeling more - or less? Etc. Etc. Etc.

But we are gradually figuring it out. And that's part of the fun.

What we really need is a clinic where someone who has figured it out already can teach is in one day what it will take us months to work out by ourselves.

And, as luck would have it, there is going to be a one day clinic in the US in July, run by the RS Aero Class Manager, Peter Barton from the UK. It will be on the Friday before the RS Aero US Nationals at the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. It's too good an opportunity to miss. So I have told the powers-that-be that I am going to the clinic and will be sailing the Nationals too. And if that Norwegian shows his face I am going to CRUSH him.

Sailing the Gorge has been on my bucket list for some time.

I thought one day I would sail there in my Laser.

But instead I have committed to sail in a national championship at the Gorge (a notoriously windy and wavy venue) in a boat I don't even own yet and which I have, as of today, no idea how to sail properly.

Am I crazy?

Thanks to George Yioulos at West Coast Sailing and Scott Hardy at Boat Locker for their generous support and encouragement to me to sail the Gorge.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Speedlink - Take the Tiller

I'm always pleased when I come across a new blog that offers writing of real depth and quality to aficionados of the sailing blogosphere. A recent find, and one of of my favorite sailing blogs right now, is Take the Tiller which is written by Deborah Bennett Elfers.

Deborah has been writing on a variety of sailing topics but one of her major themes is about how to improve as a sailor - which as my regular readers know is something I have been striving (and mostly failing) to do for 35 years now.

I particularly enjoyed her recent post  What Makes A Great Sailor — Practice, or Talent? which explores the roles of mindset, motivation and practice and includes a couple of recommendations of books that support Deborah's approach to growth as a sailor. Much inspiration and food for thought! I'm currently reading one of her book recommendations on my Kindle. I suspect I will end up writing two or three blog posts on the same theme myself as I mull over and try to apply the lessons of the post and the book.

Deborah sails a Herreshoff Twelve out of Marion, Massachusetts and her family comes from Duxbury (also in Massachusetts) both of which are among my favorite places to sail around here, so I wouldn't be surprised if our paths cross some time in the future.

In the meantime, I will continue to draw inspiration from her blog. Check it out. Take the Tiller.

I looked on Google Images for a "tiller" to illustrate this post. This is all I could find. It's really of no use to me. Please take it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Where am I?

It's Throwback Thursday.

Where am I?

When was this photo taken?

Is that a Sunfish? Of course not. But what is it?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ocean Kayak Hikes Lakes… Oil?

It's been a while since we had a Maps on Monday post. Courtesy of my usual source Amazing Maps (@Amazing_Maps on Twitter) here is a map of the most popular word used in online dating profiles by US state.

It's no surprise to me that the two states in which I spend most of my time, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, both have the word OCEAN. I guess I chose the right place for my retirement?

Although I would probably be quite happy in Oregon, Idaho or Vermont (KAYAK), Washington (HIKES) or New Hampshire (LAKES) too.

But OIL? Who puts "oil" in their online dating profile? Whatever rocks your boat, bubba.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Laser and an RS Aero in Newport

The New England winters can drive you crazy.

There have been the record-breaking cold temperatures in February and the record-breaking total snowfall this winter. Not to mention the small matter of the sea freezing over.

And there has been the little matter that it's now a year since two of my friends and I put down deposits on RS Aeros and my friends hadn't even seen an Aero yet, much less had the chance to try one. I was the lucky one having sailed the Aero on several days during my vacation at Minorca Sailing last October.

So, we were all getting cabin fever and Aero deprivation fever, until one of my friends, the sailor formerly known as Email Dude, had the crazy idea of persuading our local RS Sailing dealer to lend us a demo RS Aero for a few weeks so that we can all test it out and we can show it off to other sailors who we think will be interested in it too. In March! In New England! Was he mad?

So, we jumped in the car and drove over to Bridgeport CT to see Scott Hardy at the Boat Locker who was very friendly and helpful, and over lunch Email Dude persuaded Scott what a great idea it would be for him to lend us his demo RS Aero, so Email Dude went back a few days later and brought back the Aero to our area. 

So, then we had to sail it.

Lake Whippersnapper in Massachusetts where Email Dude often sails was (and is) still covered in about 2 feet of ice.

Bristol Harbor in Rhode Island, where we often sail was also frozen over. Did I mention it has been a terrible winter?

No Tuesday night sailing in Bristol this week!

So, on the first suitable day we went to Newport.

On Friday of the week before last, and the following Monday, we took our boats to Newport and I sailed my Laser while Email Dude checked out the Aero.

Email Dude dodging the snow to launch the Aero

What a blast! On a Friday afternoon and a Monday morning we had Brenton Cove and Newport Harbor and even the Eastern Passage south of the Pell Bridge, totally to ourselves.

It was eerie.

There are always other boats at Newport.

It's the frigging yachting capital of the world, for Pete's sake.

I have never ever sailed in Newport when there haven't been any other boats on the water.

Where is everyone?

I guess it was about 10-12 knots on the Friday and somewhat less than that on the Monday. We tested the Aero out against the Laser on all points of sail and various wind strengths. And sometimes the Aero was faster and sometimes the Laser was faster but it really didn't prove much because Email Dude was clearly still learning the very different skills need to sail an Aero. But it was fun.

After the session on Monday, I borrowed the Aero for a few minutes and tested out my capsize recovery skills which had been something of an issue in Minorca. Having watched a lot of videos about how to re-enter the boat from the water after a capsize, I was ready to try again. Unfortunately I only proved that it's hard for an overweight, unfit, geriatric sailor to re-enter the boat over the gunwale like he does in a Laser.

Me attempting to enter the boat over the windward side and totally failing

Me righting the boat again after my spectacular fail

Me getting used to the idea that re-entry over the transom is a lot easier

Maybe later this year I will meet up with that clever Peter Barton chappie who has been running all the RS Aero clinics in the UK and he can teach me what I am doing wrong?

Today, we were going to run a demo day to show off the Aero to some other sailors in Duxbury.

But it was snowing and there was no wind.

So we called it off.

Such is life in New England in the spring!