Saturday, August 01, 2015

2015 International 14 North Americans at the Gorge - Drone Footage

Amazing video footage from a drone of  the I-14s racing at the Gorge last weekend.

The RS Aeros - also sailing their NAs on the same circle - make a brief appearance but the I-14s are the stars of this show. What spectacular boats!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Learning to Sail the RS Aero on the Interwebs

One of the joys of learning to sail in a new class of sailboat these days is that it is so easy to find and share information online. We can all watch seminars by the experts and learn boat specific skills by watching the videos they post. So different from when I was trying to learn to sail the Laser back in the 1980s. In those day I had to study books (with still photos) by experts such as Dick Tillman and Ed Baird.

So thanks to Matt Thursfield who recently ran a coaching day for his fleet at Chelmarsh Sailing Club in the UK and produced the coaching video (above) which has some excellent tips.

If you are an RS Aero sailor wanting to progress rapidly up the learning curve - and keep in touch with news about RS Aero events and what other RS Aero sailor are doing - then you need to tap in to these online resources.

Join the RS Aero Class Facebook group.

Check out the RS Aero Class website - and especially participate in the forum there.

Sailors in North America should also join the RS Aero Class North America Facebook group.

And if you are a new RS Aero owner wanting the best primer on all things Aero, do watch the RS Aero Primer video by Peter Barton. the RS Aero class manager.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Photo Quiz

OK. Enough of posts about RS Aeros.

This throwback Thursday photo was taken back in the days when my "other boat" was a Sunfish.

That's me in the stripy shirt.

Where am I?

What year is it?

Who is the guy in the white T-shirt?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Other Boats at the Gorge Dinghy Invitational

As well as the fleet of 22 RS Aeros holding our North Americans, there were three other classes participating in the Gorge Dinghy Invitational in Oregon this weekend. The race committee used a finish line to starboard of the committee boat to keep finishing and starting boats separated. And although the start line was "open" and could be crossed at any time during the race, they did suggest to fleets that it would probably not be a good idea to attempt to sail downwind through the start line while another fleet was starting!

Even so, you had to stay alert at all times while racing and in between races for the boats from other classes, which all added to the fun.

There were 7 Weta trimarans, some sailed singlehanded and some double-handed. They usually started just before or just after the RS Aeros and were of similar speed to us.


There were 9 505s.


Ands there were 18 I-14s who were also holding their North Americans at this event.


I was personally most concerned about avoiding the I-14s. With two crew on the trapeze and a huge asymmetric spinnaker they were seriously fast downwind and, in spite of the suggestion from the race committee, in several races they came tanking along downwind through our start line just as we were starting.  

I did have some fun in one light wind race as an I-14 rapidly closed on me and a couple of other Aeros from astern on a downwind leg. I kindly opened up a gap between myself and the other two Aeros so that the I-14 could pass to leeward of me and to windward of the other Aeros. As his wind shadow cut off the wind from my two competitors the skipper of the I-14 looked across at me and said, "You owe us a beer for that one!" 

Children can be so cruel at my age.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tiller Extensions on the Beach

While I was in Oregon this weekend playing in a little boat, Tillerwoman went to the beach with the Massachusetts tiller extensions.

The photo reminded me of this photo from a 2013 post.


1, 2, 3.

1, 2, 3, 4.

There's another tiller extension in the 2015 photo who wasn't there before!

How did that happen?

RS Aero North Americans

This weekend I went out to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon to sail in the first ever RS Aero North Americans.

To be honest I had such a good time and I am still on such a high that if I tried to write a post today on how I feel about the trip, all you would get is a confusing babble of superlatives.

So today, I will just stick to the facts and let pictures tell the story.

The event was sponsored by West Coast Sailing - "the ultimate dinghy sailing store." Here is their fleet of RS Aero charter boats about to head out to the Gorge on Friday. Most of the 22 sailors brought their own boats but those of us who flew in from England, the east coast or Hawaii chartered from West Coast Sailing.

Here we all are watching Peter Barton go over the finer points of how to rig, tune and sail the RS Aero.

And then it was out on the water for two practice sessions racing around a short course with lunch and a debrief in between them. Friday was sunny and hot with the breeze around 15 -20 knots. That's me in 1516.

Saturday was a little cooler with some occasional showers.  We raced on a zig-zag course with two gybe marks. The winds built during the day up to the point where the race committee decided after four races that we should take a break on shore for safety reasons. I heard that the International 14 sailors (who were also holding their NAs at the Gorge) refused to go out again, so racing was abandoned for the day.

Sunday was a mixed bag of winds of various strengths including a near dead calm in the middle of the day. "The weather's never like this here!" we were told. Another four races were completed sailing windward-leeward courses.

Here are Peter Barton 1515 and Dan Falk 1384 at the front of the fleet.

Here is me in 1516 somewhat further back in the fleet. Do I need more vang?

OK. There you have it. Not too many babbling superlatives, I hope.

Coming soon, posts on...

Something I "achieved" on Saturday for the first time in my life, although not really in a good way.

7 best things about the RS Aero North Americans. (Or some other random number.)

13 reasons to go to Oregon and sail the Gorge. (Or some other random number.)

What to say to people who ask you how the Aero compares to the Laser.

What next for the RS Aero in North America?

Oh, so that's how it's supposed to feel?

A brewery review.

Aero aerobatics.

Aero tweaks.


Thanks to Todd Riccardi and Sean Trew for the photos.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

This is Us - Throwback Thursday

I'm going away this weekend - without Tillerwoman - to go sailing in the RS Aero North Americans.

Usually she comes with me, even on my sailing trips.

But she is staying home this weekend - to till her garden. Right this moment she is trying to work out how to deter the deer from eating her tomatoes. We were attacked last night!

It's probably just as well she isn't coming this time. I expect the evenings on this trip will be taken up with sailing talk as 20+ RS Aero sailors from all over the country meet up for the first time and get to talk with each other and with the class manager and the west coast dealer and an RS Sailing sales manager about our shared passion - the RS Aero. She wouldn't enjoy that.

So for Throwback Thursday - here's a rare photo of the two of us, sailing together a few years ago.

This is us.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How You Can Learn 13 Essential RS Aero Go Faster Tips - And Much More

So here I am - an RS Aero owner for a couple of months - and later this week I am flying out to Oregon to compete in the first RS Aero North Americans in the Columbia River Gorge.

Am I crazy?


Although the good news is that most of the other sailors there won't have been Aero owners much longer than I have.

But the bad news is that some of them are very accomplished Laser sailors from the Pacific North-West who are also very familiar with the conditions in the Gorge. I fully expect to be seeing the transoms of those guys disappearing into the distance in every race.

So I may be crazy to be competing in this regatta, but the other reason I am flying 2,500 miles to race a boat that I don't yet know how to sail properly, is that on Friday there is a one day Aero clinic being run by Peter Barton, the RS Aero International Class Manager. Peter is the guy who has been running most of the lift-off days at Aero events in the UK (and then usually sailing in those events himself and winning them.) So the trip is a great opportunity to accelerate my Aero learning curve and learn all about Aero rigging and tuning and boat-handling and go-faster tips from a real expert.

Peter Barton
RS Aero Class Manager
Balls of steel

But what about Aero sailors who have not yet had the opportunity to attend one of Peter's clinics?

Well there is a way you can learn at least some of what Peter teaches at his clinics.

First of all you need to go and join the RS Aero Class Facebook group. You should do this anyway. It is an excellent source for RS Aero news and tips.

Then scroll down the Facebook page for the group and find the Aero Primer video that somebody recorded of Peter in Lymington and posted on June 29. It has almost 90 minutes of great advice on all those questions you have about Aero rigging and tuning and technique. (The quality of the video is not professional standard but it's perfectly OK for the purpose.)

You will learn (among many other things)...

How tight the battens should be.

How tight your toe strap should be.

Where to sit in the boat in very light winds.

What the maximum vang setting should be.

The correct way to take out your daggerboard.

How to set up the boat for upwind sailing in various conditions.

How Peter sails with only 3 different settings for his cunningham.

4 ways to depower in heavy winds (one of which won't occur to most Laser sailors.)

How technique for sailing an Aero downwind differs from what you would do in a Laser.

Where your feet should be in the toe-strap when reaching in very windy conditions

Where to position that splice in the continuous outhaul and downhaul lines.

What to do with the daggerboard to promote planing.

Sheeting technique for gybes.



Update - 23 July. Thanks to the wizardry of the technical team at Karlos Productions the video is now also available on YouTube.

I expect I will have some adventures to post about next week.

Although I hope it won't be quite as exciting as when the Lasers experienced the Blowout of the Blowout.

I know that at least one of the sailors in this video has ordered an Aero and will be racing in the Aero NAs this weekend.

He's going back for more!

And you thought I was crazy?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Classic Laser in France

I bought my first Laser #93933 - orange hull and orange sail - in the early 1980s.

It seems I must have been obsessed with Laser sailing right from the start because here is photographic evidence that I even found a way to bring my Laser along on family vacations.

Before kids (and before Lasers) my wife and I owned a frame tent and would have camping vacations every summer... in the English Lake District, North Wales, Brittany... When our eldest son was one year old we took the ferry to Santander in Spain and went camping in the Pyrenees with him.

Once we had two sons and a Laser we still went camping but instead of using our own tent we started going to sites that had pre-erected tents. That meant I could put the Laser on the roof of our trusty station wagon instead of the box holding all our camping gear.

I think we went at least twice with the Laser to campsites by the sides of lakes in south-western France between Biarritz and Bordeaux. I sailed the Laser on my own on the lakes but also took the boys for rides, with them sitting in front of the mast like the kids in that photo.

The boy in the photo (nearest the bow) is my younger son. I have no idea who the girl was - just some random girl from the campsite that the boys befriended, I guess.

Note the original Laser rigging including 3:1 vang. Aaah! Those were the days.

I do remember sailing the Laser one day on one of the camping holidays in France, playing around going upwind hiking flat out and - just for the hell of it - dipping my head in the water and seeing how long I could sail along like that with my head under water.

It seems I have always been strange.

I did do a bit of research to see if the holiday company we used - I think it was Eurocamp - is still running the same kind of operation. I discovered that they do offer holidays on campsites in south-west France but now every camp site has to have an "aquatic park" which looks something like this.

Apparently the simple quiet life of camping by a lake and playing with Dad on his boat are not enough excitement for modern British kids.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

US Youth Sailing Championships 2015 - Drone's Eye View

All last week the US Youth Sailing Championships were being held on Mount Hope Bay - right in front of the Tillercottage. There were Lasers and Radials and 420s and F16s and 29ers. Must have been over 100 boats. What a magnificent sight!

Check out this video which has some excellent drone footage of the youth champs. One of those little white dots on the hillside is my house!

On Thursday I drove to Bristol to go for a run on the East Bay Bike Path. As I crossed over the Sakonnet Bridge I saw boats sailing down towards Stone Bridge, probably from the Tiverton YC youth program. Over in Portsmouth I saw more sailing dinghies on Island Park Cove, probably also from TYC. Crossing Mount Hope Bridge I had a good view of the US Youth Champs again with a Laser start in progress just off Common Fence Point not far from Roger Williams University the host of the event. In Bristol Harbor there were more dinghies - from the Bristol YC junior program I assumed.

As I slogged up the bike path I saw a huge fleet of Optimists on Upper Narragansett Bay - a regatta I guess. Then as the path went up the side of the Warren River I saw more Optimists and some two-man dinghies - almost certainly Barrington YC's junior program.

They say sailing is in decline but it didn't look like it on Thursday.