Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wing and Moth Worlds update

As most of you know, there has been quite a bit of controversy in regards to the legality of the wings in the Moth Class. Look through the SA forum here to get a feel for how polarized people feel about it
But in the mean time the class has now officially decided to let the wings measure in at the Worlds, and that takes some worries of our plate for the time being....
Yesterday marked the first day I spent a couple of hours sailing with the wing. After a morning session with my soft sail I took Wing #1 out for a spin. For all you Wing newbies out there, here are a few high lights of how it feels and what it does:
  • Weight wise it's really similar to a standard soft sail rig, so the dynamics are pretty similar (inertia)
  • You only really play with two controls: Main sheet and camber and on both there is hardly any load (my hands were really happy about that)
  • It was pretty shifty and gusty (5-12 knots) and it was really easy to change gears by just adjusting the camber of the sail (one small line with almost no load on it). The Softsail guys kept on having to work the vang and cunno.
  • Boat handling is a lot easier because you have more space to get across the boat, A LOT more space.
  • Speed wise the wing is performing well upwind in anything over 10 knots, but we haven't quite figured it out downwind.
  • Rigging and De-rigging takes 2 minutes
  • It looks cool

We are currently giving Wing #3 the finishing touches and when Bear arrives back from the Sydney-Hobart, we should be able to get all three wings out at once. Should be a good look.
In the mean time the rest of the fleet hasn't slept either. There are canting rigs out there, some more chopped off foils, crazy wand systems... the list goes on.
On the water, Scott Babbage and Nathan Outteridge are looking quick around the course.

Time to get up and get some cereal in me. It promises to another long day in  Belmont!
Chris out

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Houston, we have lift off!

So I got to Belmont on the 22nd (a couple of days ago), by airplane, train, bus and walking.... Bora,, Bear and  Matt had already unpacked the container and put their boats together. Since then we have been furiously working on sorting out the wings. Unfortunately Bear had to leave yesterday for Sydney as he will be sailing on the Volvo 70 Ichiban (ex- Brunel) and wasn't with us when we took the first second generation wing for a spin. Bear's rigging controls all worked beautifully and the wing is an absolute work of art!
Here are a couple of pics and a video at the end...
Stepping the wing for the first time to sort out control. Bora, Matt and Bear

The Master at work....
Chris out

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bacio wins first first Miami Winter Series Event

The Audi Melges 20 Winter Series have started with a bang for us! It was great to get back in the boat again since our last event on Lake Geneva at the beginning of October. We had two days of practice on Thursday and Wednesday to shake off the cobwebs, which we used mainly to work on maneuvers and starting. Our boatspeed has never really been an issue so it's a bit on the back burner right now. New on the team for this season we will have Jamie Kimball joining us for a couple of events, substituting for Mitchell (Michael's son) when school or his Laser radial sailing has priority over the Melges 20 schedule.
With an incredible 26 boats on the starting line and various teams practicing hard in November and December we were really excited about this regatta. Obviously the competition had stepped it up and as the number 1 ranked team in the USA they were coming after us!
On Saturday there was only very little wind on Biscayne bay and the Race Committee found a small window of opportunity to get one race in. It started with 4 knots (class minimum) and by the end of the first run it had more or less fizzled out again. John Arendhorst's "Blink" with Scott Nixon and Dani Gamache showed great overall performance to take the race win ahead of Mary-Ann Ward and class new comer Ryan Devos.
Light air action on "Blink"
We, on the other hand, only looked good in the beginning. Showing great speed for the first two legs, but then we picked the wrong side of the course for the second upwind and lost over 9 places on one upwind! Puh, tough one... Luckily, we rallied back on the last down wind to finish 9th.
Needlessly to say, not quite the start to the Winter Series we had envisioned.
But better times were on their way with some solid breeze in the forecast for Sunday's racing. And Aelous delivered on his promise.

Three more races were held on Sunday in increasing breezes with gusts over 20 knots. Just what the doctor had ordered! Luckily we had just received our new SLAM team gear from Filippo Bovio (US SLAM destributor) so we were all set to go.
Now it was time for Bacio (Italian for "Kiss" by the way) to pull out the plugs. Again it was Ryan Devos with Morgan Reeser and Drew Weirda that was challenging for the top spot in the first race, but eventually we reeled them in and scored our first win.
As the wind increased for the the last two races, more and more teams struggled with boat handling and we capitalized on superior upwind and downwind speed to take two more bullets and the overall win. This also allowed us to win the most important race, the one back to the hoist at Shake-a-Leg before all the Etchells would come in.
Chris, Michael and Jamie
 Obviously a great start for "Bacio" for the Audi Melges 20 Winter Series. Full Results can be found here.
Our thanks go out to the Audi Melges 20 Class and their superb class secretary Joy Dunigan for organizing a great event and also to SLAM and Filippo Bovio for our outfitting our team.
All Pictures by Joy Dunigan

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Stay on the long tack!

My roommate Steve Hunt has a couple of important tactical guidelines that he teaches his high school sailors. One of them is to stay on the lifted tack towards the mark. Today's racing conditions were challenging to say the least and his advice was spot on. The breeze was coming exactly offshore and this provided for some very shifty winds. We saw a 40 degree range in direction and velocity was between 8 and 20 knots. In our team huddle before the first race I told my team that we were aiming for three top 6 finishes and that we were going to achieve this by not getting caught out to one side of the race course in order to still be able to capitalize on all the shifts which became more and more random towards the shore line (the windward mark was 100 yards from the beach). The plan worked out and we rounded the first windward mark twice in 1st and once in 2nd!
With a 7th and two 2nds we won the day and finished 6th overall (on count back with Jeff Ecklund's Star).
Our team steadily improved over the last couple of days and it has been another interesting and rewarding learning experience for me. I would in particular like to thank our "Pit " Linda Lindquest-Bishop for some good advice in regards to our team communication and role distributions.
Obviously my thanks go out to all of our team members for having put a great effort into getting Delta its first really good result on the score board. Bob Hughes (our alternative driver for Saturday and Sunday) Morgan Reeser and Willem Vanwaay kept our boat fast and we all know that the best tactician is called "Boat Speed"!!!!
Last but not least I'd like to thank Doug and Dalton Devos and their awesome shore crew for enabling us to sail this great event.
For me its off to Miami tomorrow, getting ready for the first Melges 20 event of the winter. I'll once again be sailing with Michael Kiss on "Bacio". Can't wait to bomb around Biscayne Bay!
Chris out

Full results can be found here

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Good and the Bad...

Farlet Fontenot, our coach, put it in the best possible way today: Chris, your fortune is that you are sailing with some really great sailors and your problem is that you are sailing with some really great sailors. Sounds confusing, but he totally nailed it...... I will explain: 
As I mentioned in yesterday's post we have some new people on Delta. Some really GOOD new people. Willem Vanwaay (former Bliksem Trimmer) is trimming and we have Morgan Reeser doing Main for us and also providing great tactical insight being a Ft Lauderdale resident. For me as a tactician it's a two sided sword. I tremendously respect Morgan as a very accomplished sailor, having known him from back in the days when we both used to sail 470s. So when he does provide his tactical opinion and it doesn't concur with my own current tactical plan I start second guessing myself. I need to learn to trust my instincts while considering other opinions, no matter who it is. After all, in the end it is my call.
I feel truly very lucky for being in this situation and having the opportunity to grow as a sailor with such good people around me. Not something which should be taken for granted.
We ended the day with a 3rd and a 12th and are now laying in 10th overall, fairly close to 6th. Tomorrow we are expecting westerly breezes which are known be very shifty. So I'm sure we'll have some more interesting tactical discussions on board!

Chris out

Friday, December 3, 2010

Team Confidence rules...

The Melges 32 Circuit has started off again and the fleet has regathered in Fort Lauderdale for the Gold Cup. It's a three day event and we have a solid 21 boats on the starting line. There have been a few crew mix ups since the Worlds and our two teams, Volpe (Dick and Ryan Devos) and Delta (Doug and Dalton Devos) were able to pick up some really good sailors. Sam Rogers has joined Volpe as a trimmer and on Delta we have Morgan Reeser doing Main and Willem Vanway trimming. Yes, some really good people....I have switched into the tactician spot and now have to carry the blame if we go the wrong way. :-)
Unfortunately Doug and Dalton couldn't make this event and we've had to scramble to fill Delta's driver's seat. As a very worthy helmswoman we today had Linda Lindquist and for Saturday /Sunday we'll have Bob Hughes (Heartbreaker) filling in. We also have a new bowguy, Roy McPhail who has his hands full with the massive Melges32 kites. That said, we have 50% new crew on our Delta team, not our regular driver and are also currently working on a new Kite retrieval system (Take down à la 49er style). We did have two days of practice but our confidence in executing tight maneuvers under pressure is obviously not where it should be, yet!
We sailed three races today in glamorous wind conditions and Linda did a great job. We put her in some pretty tight spots and she stayed cool through out the whole day. We even pulled off a pin end start perfectly! With an 11th, 9th and a 12th we are now currently in 11th place overall. Volpe, with Ed Baird doing tactics and Ryan Devos on the helm, had a really good day and are currently in 2nd overall. Full results can be found here.
So for tomorrow Bob Hughes will be on the helm and we're looking forward to some more tight racing in sunny Florida.
Chris out