New sailing course: How to Race Offshore

September 29, 2012 § 3 Comments

New sailing course: How to Race Offshore

I’ve proposed and am working on a new course for the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center (MCSC). It will be one of the winter classes in 2012/13, debuting in early March (approximately). Check back here for schedule information, and if you have ideas, things you’d like to hear, or want the presentation file (when it is available), email me at nickhayes@savingsailing.com.

Here is the abstract:

How to Race Offshore
Entering and competing in a serious offshore race like the Queen’s Cup, Hook or Mac Race, is not for the faint of heart. It’s a serious commitment of time and money, demanding thoughtful planning, rigorous attention to detail and safety, and a multifaceted strategy that considers weather, competitors and the strengths and weaknesses of the boat and its team.
This new course is designed to help you decide if you want to pursue offshore racing, what to expect if you do, how to set realistic goals, and how to give you and your team the best chance of doing well while having fun and staying safe.
We will touch on many of the key offshore subjects: team selection, boat preparations, provisioning, navigation, watches, roles and responsibilities, nutrition and hydration, safety racing strategies and tactics, weather routing, and preparing for and handling emergencies.

Presentation files from other courses that I teach as an MCSC volunteer are linked below. Feel free to download, use and share them as you see fit. And if you have edits or corrections, please let me know.

Sailing with other people’s kids

September 3, 2012 § 1 Comment

First published in the September 2012 issue of Spinsheet Magazine

Spinsheet - Dan Phelps, family sailing, kids and sailing, saving sailing

Image courtesy: Spinsheet, credit Dan Phelps.

It was two in the morning, blowing at least twenty-five knots, when a huge breaking wave hit us on our starboard stern and threw the boat sideways. The boom buried and we were knocked flat in a full broach. Tim was seated aft on the port side and slid underneath the lifelines feet first. He was shoulder deep in the water hanging on to a winch with one arm. Someone blew the guy and the kite ran free. As it collapsed, the boat recovered and in a flash, Tim used the upward momentum to one-arm his way back on deck. A few minutes later we had the kite wrestled aboard, and we went with a smaller headsail.

An ashen-faced Tim, a kid that we’d picked up earlier in the season from the club junior program, leaned over and pleaded, “Don’t tell my mom.”

Earlier that day, a modest broad reach had gradually built to a playful 10-knot surf, and then, at about midnight, a full blown, nuking, bare-knuckle run made more tempestuous by an 9-foot following sea. Syrena’s bow would nudge down and briefly hesitate as her stern lifted on the leading edge of a breaker, and she’d launch and careen down the face of the wave sending spray to the height of the first spreaders on both sides, sometimes for many minutes. Each surf broke another speed record. We consistently saw mid-teens, and we peaked near 20-knots on one wet slalom. This was what our B-32, a little ULDB (Ultra Light Displacement Boat), was designed to do.

We were racing hard, but we had both eyes on safety. As the wind piped up, we made certain that every person was wearing full weather gear, a PFD, a light and whistle, a harness, and we were all tethered to jack-lines. We were de-powered, running with our chicken-chute strapped down, and the boat loved it, like an unleashed puppy, until the roque wave took us down.

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Hooked for life

July 25, 2012 § 2 Comments

Originally published on www.sailinganarchy.com, July 2012

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There will be a thousand sailing stories told about this year’s Mac and Hook races. Undoubtedly, most will be about the pain and suffering of sitting and spinning in the large windless holes that spotted the lake on day two. And someone will probably declare that lives were saved by ruling out J-30s (among a few other seaworthy keelboats) from one of the races. The other race, I’m sure, is pleased to have them.

But the biggest story, in my view, mustn’t go unnoticed, and it is that the overall winners of the 2012 Hook Race were a father and son team double-handing their mid-70s era Peterson 34 to the best corrected time in any division. Stu and Sam Keys, of Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin, are the supreme, albeit unexpected, champs. The ultimate Hookers. No matter that this year’s fleet was the most competitive in years, featuring Art Mitchel’s Golden Goose (Farr 36 OD) with a 6 second/mile scratch boat handicap, no less than four overall winners in the fleet, and at least two 2-time overall winners in division one, Rick Trisco’s Tango in Blue and my own Syrena.

It would be easy to assume that conditions might have favored the Keys’ boat Thunder, but that would be a large mistake. « Read the rest of this entry »

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