Mastering Local Sailing Conditions (Like Doug Drake Did)

September 30, 2013 § 1 Comment

Mastering Local Sailing Conditions

You can swipe your iPad’s weather app, or your can go out on the water and feel the sea breeze, like the master Doug Drake did. Read about it in this month’s Spinsheet. Click here: http://issuu.com/cdeere/docs/oct_ss_2013/59?e=1086782/5034887

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.

Family Sailing Photos

July 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

First published in the CYC Blinker, the official program for the Race to Mackinac – July 2011

We weren’t supposed to bring anything heavy on the race. This was a serious racing program. But I did; a good camera with extra lenses and film, in case something big happened.

It probably wasn’t a great idea to take my beloved and fragile 35mm SLR on a deck awash in waves, pelting rain and spray. But I did, just long enough to snap two images: one of the dad at the helm, daughter at his side, with the rest of the stunned-crazy crew lining the rail, and another of the son on the bow looking like a water-logged superhero mid-battle.

The camera was never the same after the drenching, but the two images are, for me, iconic and real as now. I remember the moment exactly as photographed; a vivid and fond sailing memory.

The summer had been unbearably hot, super-heating the land and Lake Michigan by the start of the Race to Mackinac. A couple of low pressure systems met somewhere north of Denver and marched across the hot plains, gathering more energy when they collided with the warm lake. The massive front smashed the mid-lake fleet, packing an initial seventy knot wallop of wind, bigger than the classic summer squall by a factor of two and enough to frighten even seasoned offshore sailboat racers.

The blast ripped sails, broke booms, parted sheets and forced sailboats to run. We had dropped and lashed our headsail, but were neither fast nor impressed enough to reef the mainsail. Perhaps we should’ve been. We were forced to ease fast and run for the Michigan shore barely in control. The rig bucked and twisted like a long bamboo fishing pole, crushing the chocks and then pounding back and forth at the partners sounding like cannons. I was sure the rig would come down. It didn’t.

Instead, the boat shuddered and charged ahead at almost twenty knots, speeds not yet seen by its crew.

Snap photo number one.

Soaked to the bone in cotton tees but feeling record speeds, the crew saw the camera and burst into wide grins and loud shouts. It was as if the old fragile Minolta had broken the ice — shifting the focus from the terror of gale-force winds and the ominous banging in the rig to the ecstasy of the surf and the warm freshwater spray. What was scary and uncomfortable was now a joyride.

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