Sunday, August 31, 2008

Golden Moments

Following through on a comment Gui made to the US Yahoo! Group listserve - "If you're an average Joe, and you're not planning to put the time in (~1-2 days/week), you simply won't learn how to sail the damn thing." (was he talking about this Joe?) - I went sailing for about three hours today. Breeze was perfect - 8-15 knots. Most of the time I was in Willoughby Bay (flat water with a shifty, puffy breeze) but I did get beyond the Spit and sailed out to the channel. I figured the steadier and stronger 15 knot breeze against the 2 knot ebb tidal current was a good approximation of the Gorge. The added wash from the Labor Day motor boat traffic added to the bumps and thrills. No problems on the reaches but still not getting good wand feedback on the deep downwind angles in big (2-3 foot) waves. In general, though, my straight line technique is getting to the point where the improvements are in small increments. My turns still are rough and I haven't yet pulled off a smooth foiling jibe. I'll keep sailing and hopefully get there eventually.

After the sail, Susan and I went back to NYCC for an evening reception honoring gold medal winner Anna Tunnicliff. It was neat meeting Anna and holding the medal (boy, it's heavy - solid gold and white jade - I wonder how eight of them felt around Michael Phelps' neck?) The shinding was nicely done with free food and drink and lots of local folks. Old Dominion University was well represented with, of course, Anna, current sailing coach Mitch Brindley, and former coach Gary Bodie (now the US Sailing Team coach.) I also chatted with another of Anna's coaches, John Bertrand, whom I had first met in 1977 when he was competing at the US Laser Nationals in Fort Lauderdale and I was heading to Hayling Island to compete in the 1977 Moth Worlds. It's amazing how things tend to come full circle.

Chatting with Anna I mentioned moths, and she said that her husband Brad Funk will be sailing at the '09 Gorge worlds on a BR. Anna herself has been thinking of competing, but she said that she needs to stay off the moth because the more she sails it the less likely she'll want to get back on the Radial. Duh! She does plan on sailing for another gold (in the Laser) at Weymouth in 2012. I'm glad she'll benefit from all the slipwork improvements the construction of which we suffered through. From 1977, the year I graduated from ODU, to talking with our gold medal winner tonight who plans on competing in Weymouth in 2012, it was a nice trip down memory lane.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ice Cream Truck

Wanna hear?
You know how when the ice cream truck comes into the neighborhood all the kids swarm around? It was just like that this morning. The Norfolk Yacht and Country Club was holding their annual Labor Day regatta and Susan and I showed up to sail in the moth class. I rolled the foiler around to the ramp area and immediately half a dozen kids left their Optis and ran to see what was up. One asked, "Is that a Bladerider?," and I responded that it wasn't 'cause I couldn't afford a BR. I said that my boat was a Hungry Beaver design. He said he had heard of the Hungry Beaver (must have been an Annapolis kid?) At any rate, after I rigged the boat on the lawn near the club patio it really attracted alot of attention. One little green fleeter said, and I'm not making this up, "Man, is that a real foiler? I've waited all my life to see one of those!"

Friday, August 29, 2008

All Hail, Glenn!

I welcome the wise and honorable third judge to the World Championship Mothblog panel. Matt and Andrew, while eminent umpires in their own right, will only be strengthened by Glenn's inclusion, in their united resolve to discern correctly the premiere blog in all of the mothosphere.

Of course, all realize that inclusion in (or temporary removal from) the sidebar hotlinks on the world site should not bias the decision about the quantity and quality of posts on competing blogs, all trying to be "interesting and informative" and to be "vaguely about Moth sailing/activities."

See y'all in the Gorge!

Joe :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How Many Degrees of Freedom?

Still trying to get the wand/cable/rod/flap system to produce maximum control and minimum drag. I read, I think it was from Gui, that the Bladerider main foil flap has a range of about nine degrees. Nine degrees?!? If that's the case (maybe a BR owner could actually measure the angular travel) I'm wondering how can the negative lift be so effective? Obviously the positive lift can be controlled with overall angle of attack, and once set perhaps a few degrees down and a few degrees up (5?) would be sufficient to keep the boat from jumping out of the water.

I've running with about 35 degrees total from max down (wand aft) to max up (wand forward with bell crank at maximum forward rotation. Maybe I've got way too much flap rotation...or not enough overall angle of attack, or a foil with a whole lot more drag than the BR, or...

I'm obviously still in the chaotic orbit of try, check, try, check, try, check. The next chance to sail the boat is Saturday at the Norfolk Yacht and CC Labor Day regatta. Here's hoping for breeze enough not to wallow. I'd really like to wow the juniors (heck, they get a kick out of seeing the classic moths bang around.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hindsight is 20/20

I'm still beating myself up over the shipping costs to get the boat to Weymouth and back home - $4447.47 - and that doesn't include the cost of lumber, glue, fasteners, etc. to build the crate. What's even more discouraging is that today I got a quote for a set of blades and foils from Amac - AU$3964.50 or about US$3400. So for a thousand dollars less I could have a professional set of foils and blades from one of the fastest sailors in the world AND I could have avoided the frustration of waiting in miserable Portland, with its concrete and continuous piledriving, for five days looking at over 25 knots on the the wind gauge....

Of course, as the title of the post indicates, hindsight is 20/20. So, yeah, knowing what I know now I wish I could unwind the past two months and write a check today to KA Sail Australia and wait contentedly for a top-of-the-line foil set. As it it is and will be for the next few months, I'll be liquidating some assets (will my beloved Miata have to go???) and scraping together enough to pay the SEKO debt and hopefully find enough left over to get an AMAC foil set. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

School Daze

School is back in session so my days are pretty full teaching. I do however plan on sailing as many weekends until the weather turns too cold (no, I don't have any intention of buying a "steamer" and do the frostbite stuff...)

This afternoon the second shoe fell on the shipping costs for the Weymouth trip - $2840.84 for the return leg to Norfolk. It turns out that the whole world's experience would have ended up costing, due to entry fee and shipping alone, over $700 per race, and that's assuming I competed in all seven races. Would anybody agree that $700 per race is even sensible? (And since each race averaged about 60 minutes, the cost to participate would have been almost $12 per minute...) How wacked out am I?

So, yeah, I'm in a daze. The shipping bill gets paid and I write it off as live and learn. I know for sure if I can convince Susan not to burn the boat that we'll be driving to Oregon next year for the worlds. No more air freight for me! I wonder how much it would have cost to send the boat over and back via surface.....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Working the numbers

Hi Scott:

Pics are below. The numbers are again:

(1) cable travel from wand aft to wand forward
(2) rod travel that corresponds to above
(3) total flap angluar travel that corresponds to above.

I measured my boat this afternoon (hull on its side supported with a sawhorse, could also be achieved with the rig on) and these are my numbers:

(1) 32 mm
(2) 31 mm
(3) ~36.5 degrees.

Thanks for any input.....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Little Things

Today Susan and I again went sailing for a couple of hours. Breeze was about 10-12 knots with a few holes. I was interested to see how my recent modifications affected the boat's performance. The biggest change was the vang and cunningham cleat mounts. I had the Ronstan floppy blocks simply hose-clamped to the mast stub. The modification was to place a small wedge under the bottom of each cleat to making cleating easier and to replace the stainless steel hose clamps with some uni carbon. The before and after shots show the change. The sailing difference was profound. I should have done this before but it was only after talking with Gui and seeing Mike's set up that I was convinced that the change was worthwhile. Interestingly enough, Bill is happy with his cleats mounted with no wedge.

A second change I made was the gantry fairing. The photo shows a closeup view. I'm glad I made the change, even if there isn't a huge difference it makes me a little more content knowing there's some semblance of smooth flow just before take off and when I touch down.

Another change I made that I'm sure will help in the long run is to give up on sealing the outer wing tubes. The original design had the wing longitudinals sealed to provide some buoyancy when capsized. The idea is sound and seems to work fine until the seal breaks and water migrates into the tube. The pinholes are small enough that any water that enters won't flow back out and the outer wing tube gains weight. Extra weight is definitely not fast. My change was to remove the tube plugs and not try to seal them completely. The longitudinals are fitted into their sockets with some waterproof grease to help prevent water incursion when capsized, but since the tubes are open, any water that manages to get in will flow aft into the back rack tube and then down to the centerline where I drilled a drain hole. So far so good. Eventually as my skills improve I might need a little less flotation and I might be able to remove the foam from the tramps, reducing even more weight.

The latest item on the punch list is to make a thin shim for the centerboard. When fitted into its slot there is now a small amount of play and I'm sure that at speed the board is vibrating. I plan on making it fit as tight into its slot as possible; the shims should help.

Little things, little improvements, all adding up to a better experience.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gorge Photos Published

Here a link that has 55 photos taken at the US Nationals last weekend in the Gorge. The work is that of San Diego's Sean Trew at Pacific Fog Photos. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lame duck

Well, my class presidency is expiring. Nige will take the ball next year and run with it. I'm glad the IMCA-USA is back up and in operation after a 30 year hibernation. Frankly, the only reason that I accepted the president's position is that I wanted to sail a home made boat at this year's worlds with a USA sail number (requiring a ISAF plaque, etc.) Despite my efforts I think that home builders are still second tier when it comes to easily accessing the class organization. The guys with a home built boat are by and large still trying to figure out how to get a working set up, and then how to optimize it. If you buy a BR you just show up and race. The boat is hunky dory out of the box and there's even a published trouble shooting guide. Match your set-up to those of the fast boys and then just sail.

Maybe the blue man group on the right coast (Bill, Gui and I) consists of folks that want to do it the hard way. Maybe we just can't find the big bucks for the production equipment (although if truth be told, I'm afraid to add up my mothing expenses from when the project started to now. As Big George said, it's like raising kids - you really don't want to know how much it costs.) At any rate, we're for sure behind the likes of Bora and crowd. I'll keep plugging away and showing the boat. Even my less than polished efforts garner lots of enthusiastic comments. "So maybe this duck isn't so lame after all," he says as he flys off into the sunset...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Anna wins Gold!

From the US Sailing Press Release (Debbie Anderson):

Qingdao, China (August 19, 2008) – Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) finished in second place in today’s Laser Radial medal race to claim gold at her first Olympic Games. Having never won a race in the eight-day series, Tunnicliffe sailed with consistency to win by the tightest of margins.

Tunnicliffe entered the 10-boat, light air medal race defending gold, but after turning back at the start for an individual recall she had potentially taken herself out of the running. She said she wasn’t positive whether she was over early or not, but she wanted to be safe. Her setback left her fighting to keep silver around the first lap, and by the bottom mark she had lost one boat and rounded in second to last. On that last upwind leg, she said, “I saw a puff on the left and said, ‘Well, here it goes.’ It was a risk, but it was a risk worth taking.”

Tunnicliffe shot up to third place at the next mark, putting her in gold and sending the crowd on land into frenzied cheers. She finished the race in second, her fans went ballistic and she had clinched the Olympic gold medal.

The local connection is that Anna is a graduate of Old Dominion University in Norfolk where she helped ODU win four national titles, was first team All American and, as a senior, was named Female College Sailor of the Year. Little known is that Anna, and her husband and training partner Brad Funk, also a ODU alum, were knocking around in Bladeriders in South Florida this past winter. Who knows? Maybe our gold medal winner will transition from the Laser Radial to an International Moth.

Monday, August 18, 2008

It ain't fair!

The bottom of my gantry, that is. I've been dragging the bottom in the light stuff so decided to try to smooth out the flow in the marginal conditions. I started building a full foam and carbon sheath over the tubes but decided that the weight and volume are more than I need. Besides, there is the problem of deciding whether or not to seal the fairing so that it provides flotation while capsized.

Mod 2 is a minimal fairing around the lower three inches or so. Certainly lighter and no worry about sealing the structure. Strength is still from the tubes so the fairing is mostly foam and micro-balloons with a light skin of carbon. In hind sight an engineered structure like the BR gantry would be best, maybe an over-the-winter project.

Congrats to Bora, Si and Hans on their performance at the Gorge. There is a new favorite for the '09 world's overall championship and for the junior award. Oh yeah, isn't it a pisser to travel a third of the way around the world only to have a bunch of the scheduled races cancelled due to weather. Feast or famine, either extreme is a pain, eh, Si?

US Nationals Report- Final Results

Photo above by Sean Trew at Pacific Fog Photos.

Wind all over the compass until after the time limit to start the last race. No racing Sunday so the results from yesterday stand. Top three are Bora, Si, Hans.

Here's a very nice wrap up from Charlie McKee:
It is hard to put into words the positive energy and enthusiasm in the US Moth fleet right now. 18 boats gathered at Cascade Locks, 16 of them racing in the regatta held at the site of the 2009 Moth World Championships. Considering that the first moth regatta in the US in many years happened only 5 months ago and had 6 boats, the growth has been explosive and shows no signs of abating. Many of the competitors have only had their Moth's for a few weeks or months, and the learning curve was steep. While the regatta itself was sailed in predominantly light to moderate conditions, the pre (and post) regatta sailing featured some "classic Gorge" sailing in flat water and 15-22 knots winds from both the west and east.

The US fleet was graced with the presence of former World Champ Simon Payne from the UK, who flew in and sailed a brand new Prowler loaned to him by Tom Driscoll, and also by former World Champ and Bladerider guru Rohan Veal, who stopped by for a few days to lend a hand and check out the scene. But the star of the show was Detroit's Bora Gulari, who put on a truly dominating performance to win the regatta with 9 straight 1st place finishes. Sometimes behind, sometimes under pressure after a few miscues or when Rohan stepped into a boat for a race, Bora always came through in the end. His boat was flying high, perfectly tuned, and smoothly sailed in all conditions. While some competitors could keep up with Bora downwind or upwind in the light, his upwind speed when overpowered was crushing. It was an eye-opening and awe inspiring reminder to the fleet just how there is to go still.

Simon sailed well but had a somewhat inconsistent series to finish 2nd. The rapidly expanding Pacific NW fleet was well represented with 7 boats, with Seattle's Dalton Bergan and Gorge local Morgan Larson (showing up for the regatta with only a few days of Moth sailing under his belt) particularly impressive. But the most impressive performance aside from Bora was undoubtedly 16 year old Hans Henken, who finished in 3rd place behind Bora and Simon. Good starts and tactics, solid boathandling, and excellent downwind speed put him on the podium for the 2nd time in a month, following his bronze medal in the World Youth Champs in the 29er Class. George Peet ended up 4th (with very impressive performance in the strong winds before the regatta), with Dalton Bergan finishing 5th.

Although the regatta itself did not make the most of the wind that was available, there were still 9 races over the first 2 days (and several more unofficial races after sailing had been abandoned on sunday). For a first view by the Moth Class of next year's Worlds site, the regatta was a great success. For the week as a whole all 7 days saw foilable wind. 6 of the 7 days had part of the day 15-22 knots and part of the day 7-15 knots. In spite of the unseasonably hot weather (100 + degrees) Cascade Locks proved itself as the most reliable sailing conditions in the Gorge, with 2 days of beautiful easterlies while most of the river wallowed in little or no wind. The fleet is very excited to welcome the rest of the world to Cascade Locks in 2009 for what should prove to be a spectacular showcase for the resurgent Moth Class.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dead Calm Starts Day 2

Not a breath until 1:00 p.m. By 2:00 the southwest thermal fills in at 10 knots.

Results and commentary again from Nige:

Saturday we postponed for a couple of hours waiting for the breeze to fill before sailing an exhausting (speaking for myself here) 6 races in a perfect 8-12kt westerly.

Bora lead the way again but was at least pushed a little on some first beats. Great racing within the chasing 10 boat pack with ton of position changes throughout the races. Hans switched it on to pull up to third but Si Payne's first day results kept him in second.

Postiion helm r1 r2 r3 r4 r5 r6 r7 r8 r9 total net
1 Bora Gulari 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 3 2
2 Simon Payne 3 3 8 5 2 3 3 3 7 37 29
3 Hans Henken 5 7 4 10 3 2 8 2 2 43 33
4 George Peet 4 2 7 8 8 6 2 6 3 46 38
5 Dalton Bergan 6 6 5 3 5 4 4 8 6 47 39
6 Morgan Larson 7 4 2 6 9 7 5 5 4 49 40
7 Charlie McKee 2 11 10 2 6 5 9 9 9 63 52
8 Chris Williams 11 13 12 4 4 10 6 4 5 69 56
9 Sean 'Doogie' Couvreaux 8 9 67 7 9 7 7 8 68 59
10 Nigel Oswald 10 5 3 11 10 8 10 11 10 78 67
11 Jack Driscoll 12 8 13 14 12 12 14 12 11 108 94
12 Ian Andrewes 9 10 (17 DF) 12 13 13 11 10 (17 DC) 112 95
13 Andy Mills 14 14 9 9 11 14 13 15 12 111 96
14 Devin Bader 13 12 11 13 14 11 12 13 (17 DF) 116 99
15 Bates McKee (17 DC) (17 DC) 14 (17 DC) 16 (17 RF) 15 16 13 142 125
16 Andrew Walker (17 DC) (17 DC) (17 DC) 15 15 15 16 14 (17 DF) 143 126

Friday, August 15, 2008

Blast Furnace

The first day of racing at the US Nationals was a blast furnace: over 102 degrees F/39 degrees C. Direction easterly (unusual in the summer.) Too bad the boys from Dubai couldn't make it, they would have felt right at home.

Results and commentary courtesy of Nige:

Interesting day today, sweet 20kt easterly this morning but we postponed for three hours and headed out just before the wind started dying. Unlucky timing. 3 races in 6-12kts and lots of invisible holes. Bora had a clean sweep but I think I was the only person to beat him to a first mark (he found one of those holes in the last race). The rest are having some tight racing, skill level has definitely increased throughout the fleet since the PCC's.

Postiion helm r1 r2 r3 total net
1 Bora Gulari 1 1 1 3 2
2 Morgan Larson 7 4 2 13 6
3 George Peet 4 2 7 13 6
4 Simon Payne 3 3 8 14 6
5 Nigel Oswald 10 5 3 18 8
6 Hans Henken 5 7 4 16 9
7 Dalton Bergan 6 6 5 17 11
8 Charlie McKee 2 11 10 23 12
9 Sean 'Doogie' Couvreaux 8 9 6 23 14
10 Ian Andrewes 9 10 16 35 19
11 Jack Driscoll 12 8 13 33 20
12 Andy Mills 14 14 9 37 23
13 Devin Bader 13 12 11 36 23
14 Chris Williams 11 13 12 36 23
15 Bates McKee 16 16 14 46 30

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A couple of interesting e-mails

Rod Minchner, one of my classic moth buddies, found the you-tube video of me in Weymouth. The sequences were taken on two (or three) different days. The last bit with the day-glo windbreaker was on the last day of racing. After the numerous capsizes on the previous day I wanted to make sure I was visible for the rescue boats! I ended up coming in early on Friday because I didn't have any rudder foil control and couldn't get the boat downwind in the 20+knots. With the audio on you can hear the incessant pile driving as the construction preparing for the 2012 sailing olympics was well underway.

I also got a link from George Albaugh about a Europe for sale on e-bay. He writes:
This is one of Meg Gaillard's Europes, although she is not the
seller--Meg sold off her equipment years ago. It's hard to say which one this is since she used the same sail number, USA 112, on all of her boats leading up to the 2004 Olympic games. The boat is located in Florida.
In a subsequent e-mail, Geroge writes that he thinks that the seller, isleofwightlen, " a guy named Lennie Parker. This guy contacted me after noting the 112 sail number on my Europe when he saw a pic of the boat racing last January down at Gulf Port. He e-mailed me to say that he had the "real" 112. I invited him to sail with Paul Lindenberg at Melbourne Beach last spring but he indicated that while he could sail he wasn't good enough to race. He apparently has two of Meg's pre-Olympic boats--one in Deerfield Beach and one back in the UK. He also says he has half ownership of an old tall rigged Aussie Scow back in the UK--all this and the guy doesn't race? Go figure..."

I find it's interesting that the real reason he's selling the Europe is to buy an International moth. A foiler?

Oh yeah, our Nationals start tomorrow. Updates as I get them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gorge Winds: a Honkin' History?

Here's a link to the wind observation archives for the month of July. I finally found a photo of the Stokes sailing in the 29er's nationals that I referenced in this post. The comment Gordie made was that it was "honkin'." Well, the data shows winds on Friday between 12:15 and 5:30 to be 20 to 25 mph, with gusts another 5 above that. On Saturday, the winds were averaging a little less than 20 mph, gusting to about 23, again with pretty consistent strength between 10:30 and 5:30. On Sunday, the winds were about 17 mph all day with the highest gust to be less than 25mph.

Looking at the wind graphs for the entire month of July I see these three days to be about average. The site, under a tab about "local info" says this about our venue (remember Stevenson is across the river from Cascade Locks, but is referring to our sailing waters.)
Stevenson Overview
Stevenson is without a doubt the overall windiest spot in the Gorge as it receives both moderate westerlies and strong easterlies year round. Best sailing conditions generally develop in the early fall w/ the combination of strong east winds (30-40 mph) and warm river temps. Several launch sites are available near this sensor w/ Bob's Beach being the most popular. Bob's features grass rigging, a small parking area and covered changing facilities as well as an easy launch into the river. Remember that wind and current are moving the same direction on an easterly so it is necessary to point hard upwind on your initial reach. Parking is generally not an issue as a large number of overflow spots exist to the east. Two additional launch sites lie just to the east of Bob's and offer decent launching w/ less crowd.

We can forget about the easterlies since they're a fall-winter phenomenon. Referring to their wind sensor they say:
Sensor Notes
Excellent sensor position for both its west and east wind indication, gauge is located at the end of a pier jutting about 200 ft. into the river. Located about 250 ft. east of Bob's Beach and 1/2 mile west of the Boat Ramp. The site is somewhat shadowed on NE'erly winds but the overall effect on windspeeds is minimal. This location is generally regarded as the windiest spot in the Gorge as far as number of days better than 5.0 m's (both east and west wind) is concerned.
Google maps shows a satellite photo of Stevenson and by dragging the window south the pier is clearly visible (my guessing somewhere around a potential leeward mark location.)

View Larger Map

And lastly, here's a sketch showing the relative locations of Stevenson, WA (point A) and Cascade Locks, OR (point B). I've indicated the launch beach and the wind sensor. Also, I've drawn in a one mile segment to give a sense of the course length. With a SW wind the leg would be along the river axis, but most of the breezes recorded on the archive graphs are west or westsouthwest, so we will be sailing slightly off-axis. Perhaps someone familiar with the race committe practice at this venue could enlighten me. Doogie?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Weather, or not

I almost hate to look at weather forecasts given the miserable wind conditions at the worlds, but here goes. Source for the info is, a subscription service that has a data station at Stevenson, Washington, almost directly across from the Cascade Locks area. The link gives the forecast for today, with a discussion by a meteorologist. Generally not bad.

So how about Wednesday, Thursday and Friday? Here's the extended discussion. Not so hot (or, maybe too hot!) Let's hope things normalize by the time the Nationals start!

Lastly, for what it's worth, some windgraphs of the observations at Stevenson for the past eleven days, starting with August 1 on top and ending with August 11 on the bottom. They is what they is, and we sail in what we got, not what we want. Enjoy!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Si, senior

So Si Payne is coming to the Gorge to compete in the US Nationals, and will be sailing a new Prowler courtesy of Tom Driscoll. As a senior class member and former (2006) world champ Si's presence certainly adds a cache to the fleet. His skill in the light to moderate stuff is evident in this video

(what, you can't foil standing up?) and after his showing at Weymouth he claims to have been working on his skills at the upper wind range. He certainly is the presumptive favorite to win the master's award, and I think he will end up in the top three overall. So yes, Si's performance will be a good benchmark for the state of west coast mothing.

One note, though. Given the approximate 7% hispanic population of the Portland area there are about 35,000 people within 50 miles of the venue that would think I've added one letter and left off two diacritical marks in the title of this blog entry. Yes, siree.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

HBs at West River

I made the four hour trip up to West River Sailing Club, just south of Annapolis for a little sailing and comraderie with fellow mothies, including Mike and Barbara Parsons. Mike brought both his classic Mistral and his yet to be launched Stevo foiler. The hope was to borrow a rig from Gui and have his initial splash. All told there were five classics and four foilers.

I also brought a classic as well as my foiler, hoping to trick the wind gods into thinking I wanted a light breeze (so that naturally it would blow.) The problem was I rigged up the foiler. I should have rigged the classic and then inevitably we would have had a good foiling wind. As it was, the breeze came in with starts and fits -- big holes and shifts. Occasionally we'd get puffs of around 12 knots but then have them abruptly drop off to less than 5. Lots of diving into the center.

This was the first time the two Hungry Beavers (Bill's and mine) were on the water at the same time. The few instances when we were sailing in the same puff Bill was slightly faster. But the wind was so inconsistent that it really mattered who got the wind and the shift first. No racing for us, just sailing around. The classics did get in a couple of races with Rod and Mike trading firsts. After about an hour Gui arrived and rigged up his Mad Cow variant. He definitely has the boat handling skills over Bill and I as he was pulling off foiling jibes in the marginal conditions. Around 4:00 Gui helped Mike rig up his boat. As the wind started to drop and the tide continued to fall I cashed out and called it a day. Mike, Bill and Gui went back out with the lightning from the thunderstorms on the horizon. I packed up and started the four hour drive back home. No details on Mike's initial sail, but the last I saw he was doing a lot of swimming. Trying a new boat out in breeze less than 5 knots must be frustrating.

Earlier Bill and I were talking about foils. A couple of comments stuck with me: (1) he is sure that surface finish is very important, and (2) he thinks his rudder lifting foil is too thick for the lift we are asking from it, and could prpbably be paired down for less drag. Bill has spent a good bit of time on his main foil (primarily on the surface finish: fairing, reducing flap gap, filling pinholes, painting, etc.) and improved the lift to drag ratio about 15% . I know this is an area where I'm sadly deficient. Well, I've got a year to get my foils in shape. I'm also thinking of spending some big bucks and buy a professionaly made foil set.

Oh yeah, The "HBs" in the post title could refer to Hungry Beavers, but it certainly refers to Home Builds. Of the nine moth boats sailing today there was nary a single production boat -- all home builds. Yeah, we looked like a bunch of ragamuffins, but we had fun!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Flying Birds

In the tongue-in-cheek spirit of Major Tony Hibbert, I wonder who can claim to be the oldest women (and youngest girl) to have flown. Sam 'Baberider' England has received a lot of press, but she's probably not the oldest, and certainly not the youngest. I remember Tamra writing on the US site about juniors in San Diego trading off with a couple of Bladeriders and I believe there was a junior girl in the bunch. So who is the youngest?

I started thinking about this when looking at the Moth records page on the world site that Doug maintains. Susan and I were sailing this afternoon, she in Aftermath and I in Try-Foil. The conditions were marginal - 6-8 knots - and I only got in a couple of good foiling runs, but Susan said she had a ball in her boat.

When I asked if she wanted to try the foiler she declined, and it wouldn't have been fun for her anyway (needing to pump, dive in to the center, etc.) But if the conditions were more favorable (steady 10 - 12) I'm sure she would give it a go. So, if she manages to fly, would a 51 year old lay claim to the "oldest bird?"

Friday, August 8, 2008

Velocitick, tick, tick...

Velocitek has posted the GPS tracks for the two fastest runs at Weymouth. While there's no true wind direction shown, supposing the two tacks are approximately at the same angle to the wind direction, it's easy to measure the true wind angle. Tracing the tracks, approximating each with a straight line, pulling out the protractor I measure the jibe angle as 110 degrees. Making a couple of subtractions yields a TWA of 145 degrees. With a true wind speed of 25 knots and a boat speed of 25 knots, a little trig yields an apparent wind speed of 15 knots at an angle of 72.5 degrees off the bow. Interesting, but completely useless. If you're trying to get the highest speed, you're going to be heading in the direction that makes the sail plan most powerful and the boat most controllable -- higher in the lulls and lower in the puffs. If you're racing on a reach you need to get to the mark, whatever its heading. If racing downwind it's the VMG that matters, not the boat speed. Of course, the Velocitek can calculate the VMG given a wind direction vector.

Speaking of Velocitek, my S10 unit seems to have given up the ghost. It's a shame because the S10 is much smaller and lighter than their current SC-1 unit. But however light it may be, right now it's dead weight. Elaine Ryan at Velocitek said their two year warranty will be honored, even though they have stopped supporting the S10 model. She's offered to cut a check refunding my purchase price of the S10 ($199) or to give me a $250 discount on buying a replacement SC-1. I haven't decided yet on which option to pursue, but the refund will help knock down a bit of the Weymouth debt.

Speaking of debt, Scott claims an out of pocket expense of Australian$27.5K on his latest moth campaign, not even counting $11,000+ in sponsorship. Makes my complaining looks sorta weak. He's also got his take on the moth as an Olympic class, an interesting perspective. I've added his blog to my list on the right.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Get Smart! CONTROL vs. KAOS

Would you believe?

I think this television show (and now, movie) is a metaphor for my moth escapades. During today's sail the main foil rod pulled out of the tapped barrel in the flap, so I had no ability to generate negative flap angle. Normally a recipe for disastrous stacks, but fortunately the wind was only 10-14 knots. I managed to sail about 2 miles on a broad reach controlling ride height by my fore and aft weight placement. Surprisingly, everything went fine. I suppose that the AoA of the main foil with zero flap angle is just about right for these conditions. Of course, with more wind and more speed the ability to generate a negative flap angle is required. So back to the shop to re-engineer the mechanism.

My push rod is a 1/16" diameter stainless steel rod I bought from McMaster Carr. I used a tap and die set to cut threads in the rod and in a piece of brass that I embedded in the bottom of the flap. I do have another piece of 1/16" ss rod so I may just replace the rod with a newly treaded one. However, something tells me that it's the brass threading that has stripped out and that will require opening up the carbon on the bottom of the flap to remove the old brass and insert a newly tapped piece.

I understand that BR uses a 2.4 mm rod, and I may bump up my rod to the 0.094" diameter (the English equivalent) but then I need to buy a new tap and die for that size rod....

It's hard reigning in chaos!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Karl's Comment

In Moth Chronicles today Karl writes "It appears increasingly that the only people with enough time to do development work of any real value and sail at a high level are people who neither build nor blog. It doesn't hurt to be independently wealthy either..."

So I got to thinking about how wealthy is wealthy. Forgetting the development aspect for a minute and just looking at the price to buy a world-class production boat, I dragged out a 1975 price list from John Claridge, builder of arguably the top-of-the-line custom skiffs of that time. His 'Stage 5' Magnum 2, described in a glossy brochure as
A Complete Boat ready to win -- For the person who is financially able to take full advantage of John's experience this stage is an excellent value. All boats are fitted out with tried and tested gear, including alloy spars, self-bailer, ratchet main-sheet block, Saunders fully battened mainsail, etc., the excellent quality of finish, for which Claridge Boats are well known, colour to choice.
Cost was listed as 570GBP. Add the 12.5% V.A.T. and the total is 641.25GBP "ex works, Lymington." I then went to an on-line inflation calculator for dollars and pounds which shows that 641.25GBP in 1975 is approximately equivalent to $6000 in 2007, or about one third of the cost of a new Bladerider.

So, yeah, I know that this ain't 1975 and the carbon foilers of today are not the ply boats of yesteryear, but this difference still points out we are attracting a sailor with a significantly different income level. When boats are cheap, developemnt is easy. Now not only is the bar raised and the cost of Karl's "development work of real value" beyond most of us, the price even to play with the "standard" boat is three times what it was back in the day. Is it any wonder that the average Joe home builder (without the CNC and software) is in a definite minority?

I'm not going to fret. The boat's together and I'm going sailing. And, hey, as for the wealthy dudes and dudettes, at least by moving the empty crate into the garage, I can simulate the BR factory team repair stand....

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Loose Nut at the end of the Tiller

One of the challenges in building your own boat is to create systems that work (usually copying those on production boats) using materials at hand. The picture above shows my inner tiller mechanism I have to control the AoA of the rudder foil. The piece on the left shows the forward end of the inner tiller; the entire piece is about 28 inches long. On the aft end (out of the photo) is a slot for the rudder pin, a slot that also extends through the outer tiller. The pin attaches top and bottom to the fixed gantry. As the inner tiller moves fore and aft, the rudder cassette moves and alters the AoA of the foil. To force the inner tiller fore and aft is the worm gear show in the photo. It consists of a captive nut, a 1/4"-20 ss machine screw which is fixed in a "spool", that in turn is turned by twisting the hiking stick. The spool is held captive in the tiller by two sleeves, fixed by set screws through the outer tiller. Since the spool can't move fore and aft, any rotation of the machine screw will pull or push the inner tiller. And everything was working for a while....

Sometime either Thursday or Friday at Weymouth, the "captive" nut broke loose from the inner tiller, resulting in no fore and aft control of the rudder foil. Needless to say, the boat was unmanagable in the 20+ knots of breeze we had. I went out Friday for the last day of racing, but couldn't get the boat downwind -- it kept jumping out with violent stacks. My guess is that the water pressure was pushing the rudder aft and hence generating a negative angle of attack on the rudder foil which pulled the stern down and created a positive AoA on the main foil that the flap could not counter. At any rate, I had to come back in and counted four DNC's for Friday's races.

So the first order of business is to reset the nut so that it can't come loose. I've notched the points of the hex nut with a hacksaw to allow the thickened epoxy to key onto the nut. I've also put a flat piece of carbon (with a hole for the bolt) over the nut. Hopefully, these will keep the nut where it belongs. Of course I've learned that it's always the weak link that breaks, so if this problem is fixed, then there maybe a failure somewhere else....such is the life of the home builder: learn to sail the beast and also how to keep it together. I guess the bright side is that I don't have to rely on the factory repair team to fix every little glitch.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Two photos say it all. Enough of internet mothing, I've got boats to build...or at least assemble.

Artist: Buffett Jimmy
Song: Boats To Build
Album: License to Chill
(with Alan Jackson)

It's time for a change
I'm tired of that same ol same
The same ol words the same ol lines
The same ol tricks and the same ol rhymes

Days precious days
Roll in and out like waves
I got boards to bend I got planks to nail
I got charts to make I got seas to sail

I'm gonna build me a boat
With these two hands
It'll be a fair curve
From a noble plan
Let the chips fall where they will
Cause I've got boats to build

Sails are just like wings
The wind can make em sing
Songs of life songs of hope
Songs to keep your dreams afloat
I'm gonna build me a boat
With these two hands
It'll be a fair curve
From a noble plan
Let the chips fall where they will
Cause I've got boats to build

Shores distant shores
There's where I'm headed for
Got the stars to guide my way
Sail into the light of day

I'm gonna build me a boat
With these two hands
It'll be a fair curve
From a noble plan
Let the chips fall where they will
Cause I've got boats to build

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Aftermath and 29ers in the Gorge

Today I sailed my wife's classic moth, Aftermath, up at Ware River. I couldn't justify paying the $40 entry fee for racing in a Portsmouth Handicap start so just knocked around for an hour or so. Sailing in a lowrider after foiling is like going back to the time before you got the addiction. It was a time of ignorance and innocence, but after the experience of foiling, anything else is wanting.

I also chatted with Kerry Stokes, an Opti mom who was sitting onshore watching the sailing on the junior course. Her husband is Gordie Stokes, a guy who was racing international moths back in the day (he, too, had competed at the Ware River worlds in 1976,) and is now sailing a 29er with one their sons, Kav. Gordie and Kav are doing the summer sailing excursion bit: last week they were at the 29er Nationals at the Gorge and this week they are up at another regatta in Buzzards Bay. Of course I wanted to know about their Gorge experience, and Kerry reports that it was "honking." Now, what's 'honking' to a sailor from the Chesapeake might just be a typical afternoon breeze to someone from SF Bay, so I'd take the comment with a grain of salt. There's nothing like real numbers to put the strength of breeze where it belongs. Too bad there's not a Windsonic anemometer at Cascade Locks like there was at Portland Harbor. Maybe by next year there will be. Kerry also commented about her husband's wonderful camping experience at the Gorge, punctuated at regular intervals by the passing trains. Whether or not train rumblings at the Gorge will compare with the cow mooings, seagull cawings, and general wind-shaking, tent-rattling we experienced this year at Pebble Bank is yet to be determined.

But back to Aftermath. There's an interesting story behind this boat. I got her as part of a deal from George Albaugh back around 2001. I had been racing my classic Mistral for a few years and had built a widened Sprite for Merv Wescoat to the classic restrictions (five foot beam with no wings) the winter of 1997/98. Both boats utilized a roll tank system that is documented here: The Bousquet Roll Tank system on a Skol moth. George wanted me to build a similar deck layout on a glass Shelley that he had and for payment he passed along a second Shelley he had found in a New Jersey garage. I then tore off the old deck (it was pretty rotten), raised the sheer forward and re-decked it with a high foredeck and my roll tanks aft.

The black-white demarcation shows the aftermath of the modification: everything white was built by Wm. McCutcheon on the Isle of Wight in the UK in the 1960's and everything black was my addition some thirty odd years later. So why the increase in sheer? The rebuild was for Susan, my wife. She requested a comfortable boat with plenty of head clearance. At the time, the classic moth had a restriction on boom height: no more than 12 inches above the deck. So, to increase the head clearance I simply raised the deck. The increase in sheer was to make the boat drier. The original design by John Shelley (a variation on his I-14 of the same era) had a claim to fame in that it was one of the first designs that could plane to weather in the right hands. The boat had a low deck and I imagine a good bit of spray would come aboard (as evidenced by the two thru-hull bailers in the cockpit floor.) My modifications of increased sheer, highly cambered fordeck and small footwell-type of cockpit allow the boat to stay dry in almost any wind condition. At any rate, Susan never needs a bailer as she enjoys "sailing around the buoys" in the classic fleet.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sailing Away from the Safe Harbor

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover"

So am I bummed about the benefit vs. cost of my trip to England? Well, a little, and I suppose I'm disappointed a bit, but I also know that if I didn't go I would have regretted it down the way. Yeah, staying home would have been safe, but as Michael Lillie writes in one of his songs: "Ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for..."

For those who don't know, I had a bout with Hodgkin's Disease about 25 years ago. So having been a bit closer to death than most, I tend to look at life differently than I might otherwise. I try to experience lots of things and push beyond the bounds of what I'm comfortable with. An example would be the trip Susan and I made in 2004 when we rode a tandem bike across the country.

Here's another quote that tends to motivate me:

"...but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money — booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”
-- WILLIAM HUTCHINSON MURRAY, OBE from near the end of The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951).

So, yeah, if you're thinking about coming to the Worlds in the Gorge next year, I say go for it! I plan on being there, God willing, and hope to see you. If you don't make it because it's out of your comfort zone, you may regret your decision later.