Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Less than 40 days to the start of the Barcelona World race.

It is now less than 40 days to the start of the Barcelona world race.  This race is double handed in open 60's.  All the high end teams look like they are ready to roll for this one.

It looks like there will be decent online coverage if the following recently released promo video is any example.


Also, Sail just noticed that there are sailing video's on line.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book review

Since it is the off season, it's a good time for some sailing reading.  Here's two books I like.

The first is "Getting Started in Sailboat Racing" by Adam Cort and Richard Stearns.  This is the book I use as a reference for teaching introduction to racing. The book is written as a guide for the competent sailor to make their first steps into racing.  As a result the style is very simple and straight forward.  They do not use any jargon or exotic language, and they explain every aspect of racing very thoroughly.   The diagrams are simple and complete and add to the text extremely well.  At the end of each chapter there is a question and answer section that discuses the topics covered and ensures the reader understands the topic.  The authors have also inserted some humor in the form of banter between them selves that plays out over the course of the book.  All in all I think that this is the best book to read to prepare for your first race. 

The second book is "The Blue Book of Sailing"  by Adam Cort.  In this book the author sets out to discuss the "22 keys to sailing Mastery".  He discusses topics relevant to both keel boats and dinghies, ranging from using sail trim to aid steering and docking under sail and power.  He does this in the same simple and straight forward manner that makes the book a pleasure to read.  He tackles some heavy theory and does it with simplicity and flair.  Adam Courts humor and wit also shine through in this book.  I heartily recommend that any dingy or keel boat sailor read this book as well.

Both books are available from the Vancouver Public Library, or at least they will be as soon as I return them.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Revised "Rules of boating"

I have been talking about the three rules of boating with my cruising students.  I just watched a video of a couple prepping for an ocean passage and I like what they said on the subject.  So I modified my rules of boating.  My official "Three rules of boating" are now:

1) Don't hit anything.

2) Keep the people on the inside of the boat.

3) Keep the water out the outside of the boat.

Here's a link to an offshore sailors article that continues on this theme.  Being an offshore sailor, he adds some items to the priorities.  His are:

What Really Matters

  • Keep the water out
  • Keep the crew on the boat
  • Keep the keel side down
  • Keep the mast up
  • Keep the rudder on

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sailing videos

The dingy racing season in Vancouver is now officially closed.  I was the PRO for one day and mark setter for the second day of the closing event of the year, the blue nose regatta.  The event is hosted by the club I work for, the Kitsilano Yacht Club.  Here's the video I took of the event.

I also found a good video about the sinking of the Concordia in February of this year.  The Concordia was a floating high school program that was run on a tall ship.  Man I wish I had been interested enough in sailing when I was in High School to do something like that. 

The start of the Rue du Rum race in France has been the major new item in the sailing world.  Here's a clip from the Anarchy on the water coverage of the event:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Armchair sailing

With the off season setting in, some of us will be sailing less and spectating more.  There is now some excellent web coverage of large events. 

Personally I will be watching several interesting sailing events that are taking place this winter.  The first is the Velux 5 oceans.  This event is raced in open 60's that were built before 2003 and are designed to minimize their environmental impact.  As I have previously mentioned Derek Hatfield, racing "Active House" is the Canadian entry.  As I type this the two leading boats have entered the trade winds on the southern side of the doldrums and are powering away from Derek, who is stuck still stuck in light air.  Two other boats are behind Derek, further North in the Atlantic.  Here's the link for the race viewer:

 Another interesting race that is taking place this winter is the Barcelona World Race.  This one is in Open 60’s, but with double handed crews.  The advantages and disadvantages are explained in the magazine section of the website.  The end result is that the boat can be pushed harder with two crew than with one.  In fact, in the last race in Alex Thompson and Andrew Cape set the 24 hr speed record for open 60’s, Including those raced with full crews.  It was an interesting race last time, and probably will be again this time out.  Here’s the link:

Down in Australia the 18 footer season has just started.  This is an annual tradition in Australia.  The boats race every Sunday on Sydney harbor, dodging ferry traffic pleasure boats, and the occasional freighter.   They are 18 feet long and have three trapezes and an enormous spinnaker.  There is excellent video shot from the 18 footer .tv website’s dedicated camera cat.  They have completed two races already, and more to come.  Check it out at:

Good video coverage of the Extreme 40 catamaran series that finished in September is available on the class website.  The class is quite possibly the most exciting, spectator friendly sailing event around.  The boats are fast, the courses are short and wipeouts, crashes, and close racing abound.  With both on boat and multiple off boat camera’s the action is always well documented.  Check it out at:

Hopefully that will keep your sailing itch scratched without having to get cold and wet.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Worst mark rounding ever

I just saw a video of the worst mark rounding ever.  Here's the link:

From the same source, here's quite possibly the most polite mark rounding ever

What is it like at your club race night?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Canadian Ocean Racer starts Velux 5 oceans race

Our Canadian ocean racer has started the Velux 5 oceans race.  The race is run in 5 ocean sprints.  From La Rochelle France to Cape Town South Africa, then to Wellington New Zealand, Salvador Brazil, Charlton Carolina, and back to La Rochelle in June of 2011

It's been a long hard road for Derek to get where he is.   Here's the short story:

First he Built an Open 40 at his parents home on the east coast of Canada.  He funded the build from his own money, but was unable to secure a title sponsor for the boat.  To pay for gear and racing expenses he solicited donations from Canadians.  In exchange he gave donors a piece of branded gear and painted their name on the hull.  He campaigned the boat under the name of "Spirit of Canada"  In 2003 he entered the "Around alone" race.  Unfortunately he was dis masted rounding cape horn.  He spent several months in Brazil acquiring a new rig and installing it.  Then he went back out and finished the race.  What I found remarkable about this was that when the race finished, Derek was still at sea.  He attended the closing ceremonies virtually, and when he did finish he was awarded 3rd place in class II.  From this success he started fund raising to Build an Open 60.  The fund raising, and the build wasn't complete until 2008, when Derek entered "Spirit of Canada" in the Vende Globe race, again with funds raised from Canadian sailors and yacht clubs.  The Vende is the single handed ocean race with no stops.  Derek was dis masted in a vicious storm shortly after the start, and along with several other competitors returned to the start to make repairs and restart the race.  He was able to make good progress and catch back up with some of the fleet when he again suffered rig damage.  This time a spreader and some shrouds failed.  He abandoned racing, jury rigged a repair and sailed into Australia.  He made repairs and sold off the boat to cover the loans he had taken out to pay his expenses to a Canadian Consortium who renamed her "O Canada" and are expected to race her in the next year or so.

That brings us up to the present.  Having been bitten by the ocean racing bug Derek didn't give up campaigning.  He entered the current edition of "Around Alone", now called the Velux 5 oceans after it's new sponsor.  The new innovation in this edition is the Eco 60 class of Yacht, which consists of open 60's built before 2003 and requires skippers to produce the smallest ecological foot print possible during the race.  Derek is going around with electricity generated by wind and solar and is caring no diesel fuel at all.  This time around Derek has a title sponsor, "Active House"  They have provided Derek with the funds to ensure the boat is in excellent shape and to pay for new sails immediately before the start.  In the past Derek has raced with the gear and sails he could afford and didn't always have the best of equipment.  As the boat is now painted in the Active House colors there is not a place for the names of the donors on the outside of the hull.  They are now painted on the inside of the cabin roof where Derek will see them daily and remember all those who have supported him.

As I write this Derek and Active House are headed for the equator and the Doldrums.  He didn't have a great first couple of days at sea and made a couple of tactical errors that placed him to the east of his competitors and in lighter wind.  The Duldums should slow the other boats and hopfully Derick can play his cards correctly and make some gains.

Here's some links for more info

Saturday, October 9, 2010

America's cup goes in a new direction

I have written a bit about some of the happenings in the America's cup.  I think things have solidified enough for me to venture an opinion on the prospects for the 34th cup.

First, the boats look really cool.  The goal seems to be to contest the America's cup in the most advanced sailboat available.  They will run 40 foot cats with rigid wing rigs for the first year, then up to 70 foot cats, again with wing rigs for the rest of the lead up events and the final event.  The boats are expected to be the fastest and most powerful boat available.  They are designed to be very very fast, but also may be hard to control.  They will definitely be different from what has been sailed in the past.  They look interesting enough for me to start thinking about sailing cats in 2011.  My club has a Nacra 570 and an F 18.  Both cool, fast cats but not nearly as crazy as the big boys.  Last year I thought Tasers were the coolest thing around but I am now looking forward to playing with cats.  I think other sailors who are exposed to the wing rigged boats may think about moving away from mono hulls and into cats as well.  Some of the pro teams don't seem to feel the same way though as they have decades of experience and time invested in mono hulls and don't want to play the new game.  It looks like it will be a draw with some teams leaving and new teams forming to replace them.  

The racing format will be designed for T.V.  This can only be a good thing.  T.V. coverage of a sailing event with fast, exciting boats?  Close to land, with Formula 1 style camera work?  I'll be watching that!  I don't see how this could be bad, but some of the existing teams do.  They say the format is unproven, and is unlikely to economically viable.  From the example of the VX 40 cat series that has good T.V. coverage and is run in an accesable venue I think it will work out just fine.

The defender has tried to set up the series with a mind to controlling costs.  They have done this by including a lot of services in the initial entry fee.  You pay one fee and you get a 40 foot boat to race the first year, a base at each venue and weather resources at each venue.  They are also making rules to limit support staff and the size of the sailing team.  Makes for a steep entry fee, but lower operating costs.  Previous additions of the cup required an enormous budget and huge resources to run a campaign.  I think its a positive sign that they are attempting to address the issue at all. 

So far it looks like a few teams have chosen to take their mono hull experience and compete in the Audi Med cup in TP52s rather than run a cup campaign.  This can also be a good thing as it keeps a good series of races in very high performance mono hulls, and allows the America's cup to develop into a venue for extremely high performance catamarans.  I think the commentator who said that the teams that don't get in this year and balk at the cost now may never go back to cup racing latter as the cost will be even higher as teams start to develop and the standard of racing goes up.  If they chose to enter the cup in its current format they will likely get the most level playing field there ever has been.  At this time there are only a few sailors with experience designing, building and racing these boats.  Admittedly they all work for the defender right now, but at least all the challengers are all in the same boat.  They all need to go find cat sailors and get them on board asap. 

All in all I think that the event will be good for the sport of sailing.  Anything that gets T.V. time is going to get exposed to more people.  More exposure that can only result in more interest in sailing.  Especially if people see sailing as being a fast paced, exciting sport rather than as as dull, uninteresting and hard to understand.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This month in sailing...

I found some interesting sailing stories while randomly surfing this month.

The most interesting one for me personally is that Derick Hatfield has sailed "Active House" across the Atlantic and has made it to the start of the Velux 5 oceans race.  This time he even has funds to get some new gear and give the boat some TLC before the race.  Check out this link at:

I also saw a story about the 470 Canadians, on the CYA website.  That was interesting to me because The Learning Facilitator I took my first level of dinghy instructor from was in the event.  While I was there I read an interesting race report from the medal race of the paralympic 2.4mr class.  The event was won by Canadian, Paul Tingley. 
The major sailing news story of the month is the boat selection for the 34th America's cup.  The defender, BMW oracle, has chosen large multi hull with a rigid wing sail.  This is good because the boats are much faster and can race closer to shore, making the event more spectator friendly.  The bad part is they have chosen a boat that none of the other teams except for themselves have any experience sailing.  This could be an entirely self centered decision designed to ensure they keep the cup for as long as possible in the same way the American teams manipulated the rules to ensure they kept the cup through the 80's.  It still remains to be seen if the other teams buy in to the format and choose to pay the entry fee to play.  This time the fee is bloody steep, but it includes a 40 foot version of the boat that teams will compete in for the first year of the preliminary competitions.  Should be interesting to see how it works out.  Here's the official site:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Canadian C class cat sailors win "Little America's cup"

Earlier this month Canadian Fred Eton won the "Little America's cup".

This event is run in the fastest cats around.  Minimal profile, dagger like twin hulls with a wing rig make for an insanely efficient and powerful boat.  Boat speeds easily double the wind speed.  For example they will do well over 20 knots with 8 knots of breeze.  Nothing else matches them.

The C class cats have suddenly getting the notice that there incredible performance deserves due to the recent decision of the current holder of the America's cup, BMW Oracle to run the next event in multi hulls with a wing rig, the same as they ran with in AC 34.  Last time Oracle built a massive 90 foot trimaran with a wing rig, and the defender Alingi built a spider thin 90 foot lightweight catamaran with conventional sails.  The event wasn't much of a race as the wing rig was so much more powerful that the event was over quickly when Oracle easily won three straight races.

Now the C class sailors are suddenly the only guys who know how to build these type of boats and sail them fast.  All the existing AC teams are going to want to put one of these sailors on their team.  I hope they make them pay for through the nose for their experience.  The class that once was an open group of friendly sailors sharing developments and helping each other go faster is probably going to enter the super secretive world of America's cup design.

There is an excellent show on CNN that covers the C class cat championships.  Check out the link below:


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Canadian offshore sailor heads for the start line

Derrick Hatfield, our Canadian offshore sailor has secured a title sponsor for his Velux 5 oceans race.  

The boat formally know as "Spirit of Canada" has been re branded to reflect her new title sponsor, Active House.  Active house is a corporation involved in designing houses that produce more energy and resources than they use.

Now that he has the funds secured, Derrick is headed off to the start line of the Velux 5 Oceans race.  The race starts on Oct 17th from La Rochelle, France and consist for 5 ocean sprints with stops in port between legs. 

There is a position plotter on the Spirit of Canada website, and there will be frequent updates on the Velux 5 oceans event website

See the links below for photo's and more info:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sailing Movies

Yes sailing movies do exist.  My favorite one is “Wind”.

It has a decent plot, an interesting story, and most importantly some of the best on water sailing action I have ever seen on film.  This one is is a must see for dedicated sailing fans.

The few other sailing films out there are not that great.  Charlie St. Cloud, released this year, looks rather lacking in the plot department.  The trailer does seem to have a couple of good sailing sequences though.  Unfortunately I think I’m just going to rent it, and watch it with the remote in hand and fast forward through the crap.   Here is the link to the trailer anyway.

The other big “sailing movie” is Morning Light.  Produced by Disney, it is a project of Roy Disney’s that involves holding trials to select a crew of youth to sail his TP52 in the transpac race.  It has lots of good sailing footage, but it is really a documentary about the project, and not a movie in it’s self.  I found it disappointing, but watchable once.

While surfing around for sailing movie trailer’s. I found this one. It is a documentary of how a remote island adopted windsurfing as an activity for its youth and ended up becoming a way of improving the lives of the community.  This one I would like to see when it comes out. 

So yes sailing movies do exist, but so far there is only one good one.  Share it around!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Efficient Tasar handling info

The following is a handout I did for my sailing club for a clinic I did this summer.

Efficient Tasar handling 

Boat handling procedure for Tacking:

Count down to the tack.  Say 3,2,1 tacking.
Push:  at “tacking”, Lightly push the tiller away from you
Step:  Step completely across the cockpit to the opposite side of the boat with your stern foot.
Duck:  Duck the boom
Switch sides.  Beginners do your tiller hand exchange behind your back as you cross the boat.   Intermediate sailors do the hand exchange after the tack is completed.  Drop the old traveler sheet and pick up the new one as you cross the boat. and sit on the new windward deck.
Straighten:  Straighten the tiller
Hand exchange:  Intermediate sailors reach down and cleat the traveller, then move the tiller from behind your back to the microphone grip or the panhandle grip.

When the helm says 3, move to the center of the cockpit and hold one jib sheet in each hand.
As the bow crosses the wind, (as soon as the jib luffs) release the loaded jib sheet and immediately use that hand to rotate the mast while you pull the jib in on the new leeward side with the other hand.
Move to windward to balance the boat.

Sail trim in four modes. 
All Adjustments are very small.  Trim as little as possible.

Sail shape controls: Start with the out haul set so that there is one hand width of space between the boom and and foot of the main sail. When the boat is difficult to keep flat with both sailors hiking, de-power by tightening the outhaul and reducing the draft of the sail.  In very high wind also pull on some cunning ham.  All settings will depend on the total crew weight.

Drifting. (0-2 knots)  Traveller up to windward, main sheet out until the boom is back in the center.  (Induce maximum twist in the sail.)  Crew fully to leeward, helm close to center to induce leeward heel.  Sheet out the  jib so the leading edge of the foot follows the curve of the hull. Move like a ninja.  Excessive movement will bounce the wind out of the sails.

Light wind. (3-8 knots)  Sail has some power  Crew moves along thwart, and out to hike in gusts as necessary.  Trim jib sheet so that the foot of the jib is full and not pulled flat. Set the traveller a bit above center.  Trim the traveller so that the leach streamers are both streaming.  Trim the main sheet so the top windward tell tail is streaming 60 % of the time.  In this mode, some authors say to trim the main sheet so the position of the boom matches the angle of the top batten.

Fully powered up. (8-15 knots)  Still trim the main by the tell tails and leach streamers.  Setting unlikely to change.  Crew hike as hard as they can comfortably maintain.  Helm controls the heel of the boat by simultaneously lowering the traveler slightly and head up slightly in gusts to help keep the boat flat and moving fast. Crew does not move in response to changes in the attitude of the boat.

De-power mode.  Wind 15-25 knots.  Taut main sheet.  Leave the traveller below centre at all times.  Keep the main sheet in hand and ease it in gusts.  Helm and crew hike as hard as they can and hope it’s enough.   Move like a sumo wrestler.  Get to the new high side rapidly and force it down asap.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Two Canadians in the Medal race at ISAF Sailing World Cup

CTwo Canadians have made the medal race at the Final ISAF sailing world cup event, Scandia Sail for Gold.   

See link for details

There should be decent video on the event website after the races run tomorrow, mid day GMT

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Upcoming events at KYC

Upcoming events at KYC

The KYC 505 fleet is holding a mentor night.  We invite all students who have achieved bronze 4 to come out and sail a 505 with KYC members.  If you are a White III and you are interested in sailing a 505, contact me and we can discuss your proficiency.
Following the sailing, there will be a meeting to discuss the refurbishment of a 505 that was donated to KYC to serve in our training fleet.
Meet at KYC to rig up at 5:30, or earlier if you are able.
There are other interesting projects coming up in the near future.  Stay tuned for announcements about:
Commodore's Cup sailing schools regatta begins Aug. 30th
Fall Learn to sail Sept. 11,12,18,19
Fall Learn to race Sept 19th ,25th and Oct 3rd , regatta on Oct. 10th
2011 Spring School Learn to Sail and Learn to Race.  Leads up to an intercollegiate regatta at the end of May 2011

Friday, August 6, 2010

Canadian Olympic sailors

The Canadian Olympic sailors have a new support organization called Wind Athletes Canada.  They have sailors prepping for the 2012 games in England.

They have a cool video of  David Hayes, Kevin Stittle and Mariano Benitez windsurfing from Thornbury to Collingwood via Christian Island, and while you're there you should surf around and check out the site.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cool multimedia coverage of 505 worlds

The 505 world championships are on in Aarhus, Denmark.  505's are a high performance dinghy with 1 trapeze and a large spinnaker.

The class association is doing an excellent job of providing up to date coverage on there website.
Check out the multimedia "Mash Up" on the event website.

They have really embraced the whole social media thing.  They have coverage through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and others.  They have tracking of the boats, with live updating from the race course, video updating, pictures, you name it.  This may be the first sailing event with enough info available to make it worth watching live as it happens over the net.  Yay internet!

Video highlights are also available from (Video on Demand sailing TV site)

Personally, I think I'll mostly watch the highlight video podcast.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

English Bay Scramble - The craziest race on the bay

A unique local race called the English Bay Scramble is coming up August 14th.

It may be the only race where it pays to take a different course than your competitors, because there is no set course!  You can sail around any two marks in any order, then through the start/finish, then around the rest.  The winner is usually determined by their strategy, rather than having a good handicap rating.  The race has been won by little boats like Cal 20's or M242's or on windy years by bigger cruisers.

It's all up in the air after the start gun, with boats dispersing all over the bay, coming together at the marks, then scattering again.  Makes for a very chaotic day.  Totally un spectator friendly, but cool and really fun for the racers.

See the link below for info:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

505 Mentor Night

Coming up is a mentor night for the 505's at KYC. This is for KYC students or members with White Sail III or above who have trapeze and spinnaker experience. This is your chance to get out on a 505 and sail a racing machine! Next date is August 17th, 530 pm. Email to sign up.

Social sailing days with KYC Lightning fleet

 social sailing days with the Lightning fleet at KYC are coming up. Come give sailing a try or check out a Lightning. 

days are: Aug 1st, Aug 15th and Aug 28th. 11am start with destination to be set by the people who turn out. Possible 
destinations include: Caulfeild Cove (AKA Tiddly Cove), Dundarave 
Wharf, Ambleside, the deck at Bridges (requires paddling past 
Burrard Bridge).

Anyone, whether you are a KYC member or not, is very welcome to participate, with prior arrangement. If you'd like more information on how to participate, email me at

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why sailing rocks

I want to start with a statement that most would disagree with. Sailing rocks because it is affordable. Most look at the pretty boats moored at expensive marinas and just assume that our sport is out of their league. The "Yacht Club" sailing model with those gorgeous sailing machines in large marina's is not the only one out there. Sailing clubs and co-ops are affordable alternatives. They represent one of the many methods of sharing the cost of ownership.

In the Vancouver area we have several options. Most of these are based out of the Jericho Sailing Center. In the interest of disclosure I should tell you that I have been a member there for several years. The center operates much like a community center. Individual and club memberships are available. Each individual member owns their own boat, while the clubs share a fleet with their members. Two clubs I've been a member of, Viking and Discovery, include access to cruising keel boats as well as a small fleet of dinghies. Membership with the JSCA is much more affordable than storing a boat at a marina, but it does mean you are limited to a boat that you can winch up and down the ramp. The Hollyburn Sailing Club on the north shore of English Bay is another club setup fairly similar to JSCA with both private owners and a co-op fleet.

Shared ownership is another option. I know several families that own boats together and keep them at the Kitsilano Yacht Club. Again in the interest of disclosure I should say that I work at KYC as the Sailing Director. Most boats at the club are owned by more than one person and some have up to four partners. This makes the cost of ownership considerably cheaper. KYC also has a dinghy pass that allows members to sail the training program's boats.

Storing the boat on dry land is one of the ways to control cost. This works well for dinghies, but does put some limits on what you can own. If you want something you could do some cruising in there are several good options, all of which are light enough to be raised up by a crane or winch and stored on the hard. Personally I like the J24 the best. It has accommodations and a galley below and still manages to perform nicely under sail. Google Martin 242 or Siren 20 for two other options.

The point of this entry has been to talk about affordable options available to get out sailing. Personally I have sailed at co-op dinghy clubs here in BC and in Manitoba. There are clubs available on most lakes and rivers in the country. Good examples are the Glenmore Sailing Club in Calgary and the Toronto Island Sailing Club. You can find more searching the internet for sailing clubs in your area or check out the CYA webpage for sailing clubs.

I have really enjoyed sailing from a club. I like that I get access to a varied fleet, so I can choose a boat to suit my crew or the weather conditions that day. I also really like that I always have somebody to sail with. As soon as you join you are part of a group of active sailors and rarely lack a sailing partner. It's also really nice to have people to share the boat maintenance chores with! All in all I think sailing clubs are the way to go and I'm sure you can find one near you.