Wednesday, January 21, 2015


"My name is Oli Tweddell, and I sail for Australia."

Watch the video. Is this hard core… or what?

Baydog says it's on his bucket list to sail a Finn - like Oli.

Should I challenge Baydog to a Finn race?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Happy Frogma Day

10 years ago today, 20 January 2005, a lady started a blog…

The first line of the first post was, "I am a sea kayaker."

And the title of that post was what's a frogma?

10 years on Frogma is still going strong.

The author styles herself as Bonnie K. Frogma but I have a sneaking suspicion that that name may not be exactly her real name.

Bonnie describes her blog as "The Continuing Adventures of a Woman and her Trusty Kayak in New York Harbor, the Hudson River, and Beyond (with occasional political rants just to keep things lively!)

It's much more than a kayaking blog. There's music. There are lots of photos of NYC and other places to which Bonnie travels. There's food. Lots of food. Especially spam.

And other good stuff. Even some sailing occasionally. Always interesting. Always entertaining.

Frogma has been a real inspiration to me in my own puny blogging efforts. So, in honor of Bonnie's ten years of blogging success, let us all celebrate in traditional kayaker style by putting on neoprene helmets and dunking our heads in ice-cold water.

I declare that 20 January shall henceforth be known as Frogma Day.

Monday, January 19, 2015

RS Aero Spotlight - Ultra-light!

Just in case we hadn't yet appreciated how much lighter the RS Aero is than certain other older designs of mass-market single handers, here is another spotlight video from RS Sailing about that topic.

I was interested to see how the sailors in the video were carrying the Aero on their car the right way up with dolly attached and with the rig etc. inside the boat. Never seen that before with those "older designs of mass-market single handers."

And for all of my readers who are native French speakers (or know how to use Google Translate)  here is a link to an interesting (and long) discussion about the new single handers - Aero, D-Zero, Melges 14 - on Forums Breizhskiff. Apparently one of the contributors Cédric F reads this blog. At least I think that's what, "Je suis fan du blog de ce laseriste (et futur Aeronaute ?)" means. And it also explains why I have been getting lots of hits lately on my post about the RS Aero Rigging Guide which Cédric F apparently doesn't entirely agree with.

Hmmm. Maybe I should change the blurb in the "Who am I?" box on my sidebar to "Laseriste et futur Aeronaute?"

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Laser? RS Aero? Melges 14? Finn???? Foiling Moth?????? 

Too many choices.

Sailing is too complicated.

What I really need is a Quadrofoil.

The blurb says...

Quadrofoil is an electric hydrofoiling personal watercraft (PWC), which provides the most economically efficient and completely environmentally friendly mode of recreational marine transportation. Due to hydrofoiling and patented steering technolog, riding feels like flying onwater and provides an entirely new and thrilling water experience.
The watercraft operates quietly and doesn’t produce any waves or emissions, which makes it suitable for lakes, rivers, seas as well as marine protected areas, where most motor boats and personal watercrafts are prohibited. It has a top speed up to 40 km/h (21 knots) and a range of up to 100 km (54 nautical miles) and can be fully charged in under 2 hours.

I need one.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Is the Melges 14 a Clone of the Australian NS 14?

Melges 14


One of my readers says that the Melges 14 is "close enough to be a clone" of the Australian NS 14 dinghy. Apparently some of the NS14s are sailed single-handed with mainsail only.

What do you think?

Melges 14

Fear not dear reader, I am not going to be attempting to master the foiling Moth, in spite of what you may have read earlier this week on this blog and in certain rash statements in the Twitterverse. I know my limits.

But I can definitely see myself adding another single hander to the Tillerfleet in 2015. Something a bit more modern in design than my Laser (which I will not be abandoning either.) The RS Aero made quite a splash in the UK last year and I was able to test it out when I visited Minorca Sailing in October. Some friends and I have deposits down on RS Aeros and are eagerly awaiting the day when we can have a demo in New England waters and perhaps join others in building a local fleet.

But now there is the Melges 14 - another entry in the 13-14ft single hander market, and this time from an American manufacturer. Looks like they are launching it at the Chicago Boat Show this week.

We could debate the technical merits of the RS Aero and the Melges 14 - and no doubt we will on various online forums if nowhere else. But there are other questions. Is there room for two new single-handers in the US market?  If Melges concentrate on their home market in 2015 (as RS Sailing did with their home market - the UK- with the Aero in 2014) will the Melges 14 outsell the Aero in the US and become the defacto new generation single-hander here, whether or not it is technically superior?

The game is on.

Here's a video.

What do you think?

Monday, January 12, 2015

RS Aero Rigging Guide

I may not be an RS Aero owner yet but I have been watching with interest the launch of the boat around the world and especially its huge success in the UK. More on that in another post.

It's clear that RS Sailing know exactly how to successfully design, build and bring to market a new sailing dinghy, and they have the process worked out down to the smallest details. As an example, I found, via a link on the RS Aero Class website, the RS Aero Rigging Manual, the 59 page instruction book that is mainly about how to set up and rig your boat the first time.

I suppose that you, like me, have suffered in the past with instruction manuals. "Easy self assembly" are words we dread to see when we purchase any product. I have puzzled for hours over instructions for the assembly of everything from boat trailers to garden furniture, model airplanes to IKEA furniture. Almost all of them seem to be poorly translated from the original Chinese (or Swedish) and have incomprehensible diagrams that seem to bear no relation to the items in the box. I usually prevail (stubbornness is one of my more admirable traits) but I had to admit defeat recently with a tent that someone in the family had bought my granddaughter for Xmas.

I also remember recently offering to help a poor fellow at the sailing club who had just taken delivery of a new sailboat with which I have more than a slight familiarity. He couldn't work out how to rig the damn thing with the bits of string in the box and zero instructions. After puzzling over it for a while I had to give up; I couldn't figure out either how to possibly rig the beast with those particular bits of string.

Where was I ? Where am I? Oh yes. The RS Aero Rigging Manual.

Now I haven't actually used it to rig an RS Aero yet but the manual is so well organized and clear and superbly illustrated that it should be a piece of cake (provided, of course, that the right bits of string are in the box.) By the way, have you noticed that LEGO, no matter how complex the kit, ALWAYS manages to get exactly the right bits in the box. How do they do that? If you discover you are short of a piece it's always because your kid has already used it in the wrong step. But I digress. Again.

Here are just a couple of examples of the clarity, level of detail and quality of illustrations.

Hey, that's a trick I could use on my Laser too. I never thought of using cable ties to compress that spring that holds up the mainsheet block. Or am I the last sailor on the planet to learn this trick?

And there are five whole pages (only one of which is below) that guide you through the process of rigging the outhaul and downhaul so that you don't get your knickers -I mean strings - in a twist.

Whoops. Anyone spot the deliberate mistake in step 16? Well, nobody's perfect.

It really is a very impressive job. They even call a vang a vang and not a kicker.

There are also a few paragraphs on how to launch and sail the boat… and look at this, an explanation on how to do a capsize recovery.

I wish I had seen that before my struggles to do an "over the side" capsize recovery in Minorca. Yes, it is possible to "capsize the boat back on top of oneself in spite of the form stability."  After over 30 years of doing countless successful capsize recoveries in a Laser without that problem, I didn't even think to test out whether "this can be counteracted with a little mainsheet tension somewhat like water starting a sailboard."


I need another session on an Aero to practice my "water starts."

Seriously, congratulations to whoever produced this rigging manual. Great job!