Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tying Two On

I have been experimenting lately with 2 techniques you probably know about or use -  to hopefully keep the vang and mainsheet a bit more manageable.

For the vang, this means tying the end of the vang tail just under the front end of the toe strap so that it is always easily reachable even when entirely off and the rope handle is up by the mast or when it is on and sometimes flops over the side during a tack.

For the mainsheet, it is, instead of making a stopper knot, tying the end to the back of the toe strap, the  theory being that it will never tie itself into an overhand knot or worse.

Overall I like the vang being much more easily reachable and plan to stick to that.  But I am not yet entirely convinced about tying the mainsheet.  I thought it would be good since it thought it would guarantee no possible knots - but that only applies to knots where the end goes through a loop and makes an overhand or worse knot.  There could still be loops (I think the term is bights?) that can get entangled. And that if my major gripe - there seem to be a lot more loops forming - and reaching to go around my foot.

Do you tie your mainsheet or just knot it?  Which works best?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

French Review of the Aero

Tillerman has shown keen interest in the Aero and ordered one.  He has blogged several times about it and it does seem to be a very attractive new boat.

A leading French boating magazine, Bateaux, has reviewed the Aero in its September issue and for those of you not subscribed to it, I thought a few excerpts might be interesting.

The review is summed up in the 2 photos above. The top one says "8 knots of wind, finesse is everything" and the bottom one says "18 knots of wind, fitness is everything."

The reviewer starts by saying he always preferred the more extreme "fun" sports like windsurfing, kitesurfing and sport catamarans and that Lasers hadn't convinced him to change. However, an opportunity to test the Aero seemed to him a good opportunity to reconsider and, after testing, he concluded that it is a good "toy" to add to his collection for satisfying his board sports desires.

In his "verdict" he lists the pluses
  • lightweight which facilitates logistics and spices up the sailing
  • intuitive, reactive and fun
  • comfortable hiking position 
and negatives
  • upwind performance in higher wind
  • you will have to be patient for regattas to develop
He stresses how sensitive the boat is.  At the slightest puff, there is impressive acceleration. Adjusting the mainsheet by one centimetre has a big impact and you must move around delicately.  As in windsurfing, your body becomes a part of the rig and you must sheet in and out constantly. You must constantly adjust the boom-vang.

Close-hauled, the sail is quickly powered up and in a sustained wind progress is harder. You shouldn't hesitate to bear off a few degrees and he said he would trade his 9 m sail for a 7 m one better suited for his size. 

He praises the ease of righting it after a capsize, but says it is so easy you have to be careful not to tip it over the other way.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bonus for the Laser Masters

Those of you who are planning to go to Hyères for the Laser Masters and can spare a day or 2 before the races start on 5 October should seriously consider taking a day excursion to St. Tropez and catch a bit of an amazing regatta -  Les Voiles de St Tropez.  Its last 2 days of racing are 3 and 4 October which are registration days for the Lasers.

This is a regatta which brings together 300 boats - split between classic and modern.  Take a look at the Regatta website and drool over the beautiful J class, JI class and others.  St Tropez is only about 40 Km from Hyères although you will need a car since St Tropez has no train station.

I realise that some of you dedicated types (such as you folks who have been spending a lot of quality time with your special hiking bench) may be too busy with last-minute training/practicing to consider this, but it should be a great opportunity to see something a bit different from Lasers.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

An American Pointed-Nose Scow in France

Sometimes it pays off to be in the right place at the right time.  Last week I was visiting my friend who owns a boatyard on the Golfe de Morbihan in Brittany and noticed an amazing looking wooden boat being rigged up.

I inquired about it and ended up getting a ride in it the next day.

It belongs to a French collector who has, over the years, bought more than 120 American classic boats, bringing them all back to France, fixing them up, selling some and puttering around in others. Not only sailboats, but classic Lymans, Chris Crafts and other motorboats, including one similar to the one in Some Like It Hot.

The boat in question is from upstate New York and was built in the 1950's. It is a pointed-nose scow, but I dont know anything about it beyond that - perhaps an alert reader can help.

Notice the curious place of the forestay attachment - just behind the blue tape in the photo below.  And equally curious is the backstay which is attached to a pole angling out of the stern.  As if everything is shifted astern.

The next day I was lucky enough to go out for a ride with the owner, his wife and daughter and, at the helm, a Frenchman who was part of the original France I America's Cup crew and has since been a big part of the French and international sailing scene.   Can anyone identify him?

My job was to trim the jib sheet, with the helm telling me "Choquez, choquez" (sheet out) or "bordez, bordez" (sheet in) and occasionally switching to "Sheet in a beet, pleaze".  In addition, I helped raise and lower the bilge boards on each tack.  The wind was a bit under 10 knots which was fun but if it had been a bit more it would have been perfect.  This was a shakeout cruise and the owner made a number of adjustments.  We did not try out the kite.

The scow is beautifully restored (with the addition of a bit of modern electronics).  Everything is adjustable  and many of the lines are hidden below the deck.   The backstay goes to a pulley at the end of the hollow metal pole at the stern and then into the pole and below deck, coming up near a jam cleat.  Also, since there is no self-bailer, there are two electric bilge pumps which, when turned on, eject the bilge water onto the aft part of the deck to flow over the sides.

While we were out we saw the Indomptable, a dredge fishing boat from 1947 that is a tourist attraction today.  We easily caught up with it and passed it like it was standing still - although I am sure our boat could not have dragged the nets the Indomptable once did.

It was a lovely, incredible day with beautiful weather, some sympathique new friends and a ride I will not soon forget.

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