Friday, November 30, 2007

The Best Sailing Post of the Year

Tillerman asks for nominations for the best sailing post of the year.

My nomination for this honor is this post from Stan Schreyer. I remember sailing against Stan on the Charles River back in college. At the time, Stan was a hotshot dinghy sailor for the BU Sailing Team (known as the BUDS). Stan was easy to spot because he had an unusual green lifejacket. Anyway, following a Tornado Olympic campaign for the Atlanta Games, Stan is now skippering the Tommy Hilfiger Extreme 40 catamaran.

Stan's nominated post is about the Centomiglia Race. The post combines great descriptions of racing action:
We had some equipment problems during this part of the race, as our jib sheet ripped off of the clew board on the sail. We were able to put it in another hole on the clew board, which quickly ripped out. So we lashed it through the remaining 5 holes in the clew board, and hoped that this would spread the load out. Fortunately, our fix held for the rest of the race. But our jib issues did not stop with the clew board. We were also ripping the jib luff out of the foil on the forestay. Only about the bottom 6 inches had gone by the time we noticed, and we were able to punch some holes in the luff of the sail, and sew it to the forestay before it ripped out any further. This was not an easy job though, as it required us to send someone out onto the spinnaker pole, and climb up the forestay bridle to the point where the sewing needed to be done. We were fortunate that we were able to get this fix done without incident. About the time were doing the fix, we were sailing through the bulk of the monohulls in the race, which had started before us that morning. While sewing the job to the forestay, I would catch an occasional glimpse of a monohull on its ear, or struggling with their own breakdowns. The race had gone from boring to out of control in only a few short minutes.
Great photos:

Photo by Roberto Vuilleumier/

And even some interesting discussions of wind on lakes to keep Tillerman happy:
We had a light (about 4 knot) southerly as we started the race, which meant we had our spinnakers up as we crossed the starting line. After about 15 minutes, the northerly overpowered the southerly in one of the fastest 180 wind transitions I had ever seen. There was virtually no transition zone between the two breezes, one instant we were in a 4 knot southerly, the next, we were furling our gennekar because we were going upwind in a 4 knot northerly. The 4 knots became 8 knots, which became 12 knots, and in about 8 minutes time we were sailing upwind in an 18 knot Northerly breeze. The breeze continued to build as we sailed up the lake, and it probably topped out over 25 knots sustained (and puffs that were higher) as we sailed through one particularly narrow area on the lake.
Stan doesn't post that often, but his post deserves to be nominated as a top ten post of the year.

From left, Randy Smythe, Jonathon Farrar, Mark van Gelderen, At van Barneveld , Stan Schreyer, and Roberto Benamati.
Photo by Roberto Vuilleumier/

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

So, what's does "having" a regatta mean?

The Deed of Gift says:
Any organized Yacht Club of a foreign country, incorporated, patented, or licensed by the legislature, admiralty, or other executive department, having for its annual regatta an ocean water course on the sea, or on an arm of the sea, or one which combines both, shall always be entitled to the right of sailing a match of this Cup, with a yacht or vessel propelled by sails only and constructed in the country to which the Challenging Club [Challenger of Record] belongs, against any one yacht or vessel constructed in the country of the Club holding the Cup.

According to this guy, "having an annual regatta" means that the regatta has happened in the past and will continue to happen in the future. I agree. When I discussed this earlier, I noted that the important part of the dispute between GGYC and SNG/CNEV was whether their Optimist regatta would be sufficient to comply with the Deed of Gift's requirement of "having an annual regatta."

Having read many court opinions over the last four years, I am glad to see that Justice Cahn's opinion is clearly written and leaves no doubt as to the result.

"The court concludes that CNEV's challenge is invalid, and that GGYC is Challenger of Record pursuant to the Deed."

It's time for a yacht race.

Where'd the Sea Go?

I have no idea where this photo was taken. It appears to be the wreck of a large ship sitting in a desert. Anyone have any ideas?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wind Dam

The Wind Dam is a proposed energy project by Chetwoods Associates. The sail is 25 meters high and 75 meters wide, and funnels the wind into a turbine. If the project is approved, the wind dam will be built in a gorge near northern Russia’s Lake Ladoga.

The Wind Dam Project uses a giant spinnaker sail suspended in a mountain gorge near Northern Russia’s Lake Ladoga. The £2.5 million dam will include a unique cup-shaped spinnaker sail, an original design, which will capture and harness wind to generate renewable energy by funneling wind through an attached turbine.

The spinnaker shape is similar to the mainsail of a yacht, and is thought to be particularly effective in capturing the wind with it’s kite-like properties. Project architect Laurie Chetwood stated that the shape of the sail was influenced by functionality and a desire to produce something “sculptural”. “The sail looks like a bird dipping its beak into the water, which will be much less of a blot on this beautiful and unblemished landscape…It is also highly effective at capturing the wind because it replicates the work of a dam and doesn’t let the wind escape in the way it does using traditional propellers.”

If the project is approved by next year, the wind dam will be approximately 25m high and will span 75m wide. Chetwood Associates is also looking at applying for planning permission for another project in a nearby gorge of the Lake Ladoga region. If all moves forward, we could be sailing into the future with solutions that are as poetic and imaginative as they are practical and environmentally grounding.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Fish for Christmas

To stop Polish and Romanian immigrants from taking fish from rivers and lakes for their Christmas dinner, the UK Environmental Agency put up this pictographic warning:

To any peckish Poles or ravenous Romanians, the message could not be clearer.

Keep off our fish.

Three roadsign-style warnings were launched yesterday to stop Eastern European immigrants from spearing, taking home and cooking coarse fish from our rivers, lakes and canals.

The initiative is timely because carp and pike are a traditional Christmas dish in Poland and officials fear an increase in fish rustling over the next few weeks.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Earth Set

The image above was taken by the KAGUYA's onboard high definition television (HDTV) for space use developed by NHK. The moving image data acquired by the KAGUYA was received at the JAXA Usuda Deep Space Center, and processed by NHK. This still image was cut out from a moving image taken by the HDTV onboard the KAGUYA at 12:07 p.m. on November 7, 2007 (Japan Standard Time, JST,) then sent to the JAXA Usuda Deep Space Center.

In the image, the Moon's surface is near the South Pole, and we can see the Australian Continent (center left) and the Asian Continent (lower right) on the Earth. (In this image, the upper side of the Earth is the Southern Hemisphere, thus the Australian Continent looks upside-down.)

Fish on Friday

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Edmund Fitzgerald

I discovered this song in college when one of my friends introduced me to Gordon Lightfoot's music.

The Edmund Fitzgerald was a lake freighter that sank on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. Gordon Lightfoot immortalized the incident in a song in 1976. Joseph Fulton made this video remix of the song in tribute to those who died on the Edmund Fitzgerald 32 years ago today.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bananas on the Beach

Wednesday, thousands of bananas washed up in the Netherlands on two North Sea islands. At least six containers fell off a cargo ship in a storm and at least one burst open.

A half-mile stretch of beach on Terschelling island, 70 miles north of Amsterdam, was littered with bunches of unripe fruit from Cuba. Bananas also washed up on neighboring Ameland island.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sailing in Boston

Tillerman's "sailing in the city" series is going well. So far the following cities are represented:

Sailing in Boston
Sailing in Cape Town
Sailing in New York
Sailing in San Diego
Sailing in Stockholm
Sailing in Sydney

Here's another photo of downtown Boston showing the moorings in front of Lewis Wharf and the Boston Harbor Sailing Club. The Custom House Tower is visible among the taller buildings, and in the background you can see the Charles River Basin.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sailing in the City

Tillerman asks for some photos of sailing in the city. Having spent many years of my life (and a lot of Tillerman's money) sailing at MIT, I thought I should post some of the best photos I could find of sailing on the Charles River. This won' t be the first time I have posted photos of sailing on the River Chuck...last November I posted an image from the very windy 2006 Schell Trophy.

Here's a photo taken during this year's Schell regatta, which MIT won, showing Tech dinghies racing upwind and FJs coming downwind in front of the Prudential Tower and 111 Huntingdon on the Boston shore of the Charles River.

Next is a great photo taken from the MIT Sailing Pavilion, the birthplace of college sailing, looking towards downtown Boston. The boats on the dock are Tech dinghies, the boats in the water are FJs.

Via The Tech.

For comparison, the photo below was taken in the 1940's from about the same angle. You can see that the Boston skyline has changed considerably in 60 years. In the 1940's, the tallest feature on the skyline was the 496 foot Custom House Tower. The profile of Beacon Hill is now obscured by the skyscrapers of the Financial District.

Via MIT Sailing and the MIT Museum.

Finally, a great photo I found on Flickr of the MIT Sailing Pavilion docks taken looking towards the Citgo sign, Fenway Park, and Boston University. The boats on the dock are MIT's FJs, which are color coded for team racing.

Via Flickr.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Crash of the Week: Windsurfer

Via Flickr.

"Windsurfing off the south coast of Mersea Island, Essex, in the huge mouth of the River Blackwater estuary."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Ship's Cat

Tillerman's comment on my Halloween post was enigmatic: "The cat has to go." I assume he was referring to my wife's cat, which is completely useless and constantly annoys me.

Inspired to find a story of a useful cat that related to sailing, I found this story about Simon of the HMS Amethyst.
In May 1948, a gangly green-eyed black-and-white Tom cat was found wandering alone and hungry on Hong Kong's Stonecutters Island by the Amethyst's captain, Lieutenant-Commander Bernard Skinner, and so it was that two year-old Able Seacat Simon joined the ship's complement. Cats had long been popular as shipboard mascots in the Royal Navy, not least for their pest-control skills, but also because of their remarkable ability to adapt to new surroundings in a manner which will surprise only those who have never chosen to share their lives with them.
In 1949, the ship was attacked on the Yangtse River in China by communists. Simon was wounded, but not found for days. The injured sailors had been evacuated, so the ship’s doctor nursed Simon’s facial burns and shrapnel wounds. As Simon recovered he resumed rat catching, but also added the duty of visiting sick and wounded sailors. Upon return to Hong Kong, Simon was presented with a campaign ribbon and news that he would receive a Dicken Medal, an award for animal gallantry. When the Amethyst reached England, Simon had to go into quarantine. He developed an infection and died just before his planned formal medal ceremony. The veterinarian believed the young cat would have recovered if his war wounds hadn’t weakened him. Simon was buried in a specially-made casket with full naval honors.