Thursday, 23 February 2012

February sailing

People always think I'm a little odd for wanting to sail right through the year, and quite often I'd agree with them. However, apart from the wooly hat temerature, the sailing last Sunday, when the picture above was taken by Alistair Baird, was perfect. Great planing breeze, with gusts strong enough to really give a rush, but not a swim, the sun out to make it seem like summer - perfect!

 Intereting looking at the boat set up here, too, from the outside. Looks like I need to do something about the joint between the mast sections, where the creases are being formed. In the medium breeze I must have just powered up - the kicking strap is pretty slack to allow the boom to rise as I go looking for power in the next lull, or the leech hooks because of the battenless sail and I stop dead.

We will be looking at such things at the Coaching Weekend!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Minisail training, 24/25 March 2012

Just a month to go to the Minisail training session at Whitefriars SC, run in conjunction with the Classic and Vintage Racing Dinghy Association and the British Moths.

I thought this blog might be a good place to look at what we want to achieve for Minisail sailors and their boats on the weekend, in conjunction with the forum.

I have 2 main aims for the weekend, both pretty basic. Firstly, I want to make sure that everyone who owns a Minisail is rigging it correctly. They are a very simple boat, but very easy to rig in strange ways, some of which make the boat a really horrible sailing experience, rather than a fun  little go cart.

So we will be looking at all the boats, making changes where neccessary, and making suggestions for longer term changes that may involve buying the odd fitting or 2 - but not that we go all out for Harken race rigging - that would cost 3 times what most of us paid for our boats!

Secondly, I'd like to see everybody get more confident in their boat handling, reading of the wind and use of controls. This in turn will lead to sailing becoming more enjoyable and less worrying, and then to the boat going faster through the water!

Looking at it in this way, it doesn't matter whether you are a sailing beginner or an experienced racer - you'll be adding to your knowledge whatever your starting point, and the whole Minisail fleet will see a boost in speed, which in turn will raise our profile and encourage others to come and join us!

The cost of the weekend is £8 per day, and if you can only make one day, that will be fine.

The timetable looks like this:

9.00 Club open for early arrivals
10.00 Arriving, unpacking boats ready to rig
10.30 Briefing – what you hope to get from the weekend (I hope we will have an idea of this beforehand)
1045 Boat rigging, with advice from experts as to getting the best set up for your boat, where needed, showing how sail controls work
11.45 Changed and on water for a short pre-lunch race
12.15 Lunch, with discussion (& video) of what we have seen whilst sailing
13.15 Mini races for starting/first beat/running practice. Windward-leeward courses Video recording
15.00 Break, with video playback
15.30 ½ hour race to see how things have progressed
16.00 Pack away
17.00 Final get together of day at club
17.30 Pub for well earned dinner
10.00 Briefing, looking at what can be improved from Saturday, what we will be doing
10.30 On water for mini races, looking at different points of sailing – Triangular courses, video recording.
12.30 Lunch with debrief on the morning
13.30 Longer races, putting everything together that has been learned
15.30 Packing boats away
16.30 Final debrief and goodbyes

Friday, 10 February 2012

Across the Pond

The Minisail isn't just a UK class, as Scot Spencer reports:

The “British Invasion” of the USA was more than just ROCK STARS!   Not only did the so-called British Invasion of the 1960‘s and early 70’s include the likes of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, it included an amazing little boat called the Minisail.  Imported from England to the U.S. in the early 1970’s by George O’day’s  Gemico Corp., an unknown number of fiberglass MiniSail Monacos still ply the waters “across the pond”.
Here is the story of one such boat: 

Purchased by my brother in 1972 my little rock star sailboat made it into my hands sometime in the late 70’s.  I recently asked my brother why he purchased a MiniSail vs. a Sunfish or Force 5  and his exact response was “because it was cheaper than a Laser!”  I had never though of it as being a competitor to the Laser (especially since it was the Sunfish that intrigued Ian Procter) but maybe the rectangular cockpit made it seem so in 1972.  He remembers paying $450 for it.

She started her American life at Avon Sailboats, a small sailboat dealer near the Detroit suburb in which we lived and with my brother’s help made her way to our garage.  I remember him building an intricate hoist that was supposed to allow him to store the boat on the ceiling of the garage then lower it down onto a waiting car to be transported.  It never worked quite as easily as hoped.

During the first four years of her life she was sailed mostly on lakes a short drive from Detroit but did make one fateful visit to Lake Michigan. On that trip she turned turtle and the lower half of the mast somehow came detached and fell to the bottom of this Great Lake.  From that time forward she has been sporting a silver lower mast and gold upper mast and boom.

In 1976 my family purchased a small lakeside cabin in Northern Michigan (commonly referred to as God’s Country).  This is where she would call home for the next 35 years.  I sailed her regularly as a teenager mostly trying to make her go fast in heavy air and informally racing my friends on their Sunfish (I always won).  It is a fun little boat in heavy air but I always struggled maintaining balance in light or shifting air.   Lately my two sons have been putting her to good use fooling around in the lake and learning how to sail.  Learning how to get back in the boat after a capsize is part of learning how to sail!