Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Protect the oceans

Keep your trash on your boat until you reach port if it is not biodegradable. Last time I sailed to Hawaii, I saw a whole bunch of random floating objects which did not seem native to the environment. 



Monday, July 30, 2012


Funny that one day after I post something on physical conditioning for sailboat racing (and in particular offshore long distance racing), I injure myself. Very minor, I probably just strained a quad - and I am thinking that it was because I rode then sailed in a fairly dehydrated state for three days, thus asking my muscle to work a lot and not giving it enough energy to support the effort.

May also be because I didn't stretch a lot - both of these are easy to correct and will definitely be corrected ASAP...

Can't be because of too violent/unusual effort as I just rode for an hour on Sunday and none of the hills were as steep as the one I ride up every day on my way back from work. I also ride every day, so can't be the 'weekend warrior' syndrome. I was just reading up the other possible causes and could not find any other than the two that I listed.

In any case, I noticed that early stage sprain or pull may only necessitate 3 days off to heal fully. Letting it become worse can quickly increase the recovery period to weeks, and all the way up to 6 months. And not letting it heal completely may result in chronic injury which would put a damper on my favorite activities.

So...I am now doing the RICE treatment (Rest - Ice - Compression - Elevation) for my right quad. No biking to work today and most likely this week :( Let's hope that it will be enough as I have single-handed Farallones race coming up on Saturday!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


The more sailing you do, the more practice you get and the better sailor you become - there is no way around that :)

There are other things you can do to help with sailing enjoyment. 

Sailing, particularly offshore sailing is an endurance sport, with burst of activities during maneuvres. It does require some strength (or rather strength will make it easier in heavy air, particularly on a light boat like Elise)

So training for a) fast recovery abilities, b) high level of fitness and high metabolism will help stay sharp for longer and c) strong upper body/core and some solid legs will definitely help.

For this, I usually do some sprinting drills once a week (helps teach your heart to recover fast), or spritns on my bike. I also bike to work every day and I bike on a regular basis. It complements sailing too and strengthens my legs (sailing makes heavy use of my upper body, and strong legs do help quite a bit too) and helps with a general level of fitness. 

I like biking/touring because it is also about endurance, and a long time on a very uncomfortable position on a butt aching seat :) (Fiberglass Vs bike saddle, not sure which wins!)

To increase my upper body strength, I do pushups and pullups as well as general weight lifting (you can do this at home for no extra money by lifting up cat litter, or buckets full of water!)

I also like to strenghten my core (abs and lower back) as sailing makes heavy use of these muscles - so does biking. I find biking a nice complement to sailing for that reason as well.

I also enjoy biking because it takes me places, much like sailing. Just another kind of places and because it is the same 'roughness', biking in rain, into head wind, at night, etc...feel similar to challenges sailing in heavy conditions, at night, etc...

Whether you take up another sport, hit the gym, cross training and keeping a high level of general fitness will no doubt help you with your racing on the water!

2nd Half Opener - small writeup


Wind: W. 8 knots

We decided to do a short-handed Vs crewed boat start strategy, ie have a goal of being in a great position in the fleet 30 seconds after the gun goes off but not worry about that position right at the line. The reason for this is that if you pick a spot to leeward of the other boats in the fleet, you end up blanketed by everyone. If you pick a spot to windward of any boat, because you have a lot less weight on the rail, the boat will inevitably heel a bit more thus reducing the amount of lift the keel will be able to provide and you will be driven down onto the other boats, probably forcing you to tack or duck.

The short-handed Vs crewed boat start strategy means that you pick a lonely spot on the line, typically the unfavored end of the line. Saturday's line was fairly square with a slight advantage for boats near the committee boats. Since all boats also tacked early to get to the North side of the course, the RC boat end was definitely the favored end.

We picked the pin and hit the line 3 seconds after the gun went off, with a genoa up and we tacked immediately after crossing the line in the direction of Angel Island.

With this wind speed, we were actually keeping up with the other boats in the fleet, keeping the boat flat and fast. 

Upwind Leg:

Wind: W - 15 - 27 knots

Unfortunately, the wind picked up which meant that with our genoa we were overpowered and we started sliding compared to the other boats in the fleet if we wanted to keep the same boat speed through the water, or keep pointing with the boats, but have a lower boat speed as it would mean pinching a bit. We made a mistake in hindsight: we should have gone straight to the #3. The thing is with 15 knots, we were still doing well and creeping up on some boats in the fleet. Around the gate, the wind picked up but we assumed that it would abate after the gate.

A sail change is a major undertaking upwind when you have hanks (a typical short handed and ocean set up) as it is a) a lot of effort on a short handed crew and b) forces you to go barepole for a while. We estimated that the short distance to the bridge (assuming the genoa would be up after the bridge) would be OK and we fell off a bit to keep boat speed up acknowledging that we wouldn't point as high. We heavily twisted both sails and this helped depower the boat.

By the gate, we were very overpowered in nearly 30 knots of true wind speed and about 30 of apparent wind speed and looking over our shoulder, the wind picked up even after the gate and all the way to Point Bonita, so as soon as cleared the gate, we placed ourselves in favorable current and changed down to the jib.

This is hard work, particularly in heavy swell. You really tried to minimize the amount of time you spend bare pole by removing the lower hanks of the sail you will take down and by clipping on all the hanks of the new sail. You then take the lazy sheet of the current sail and put it on the new sail. You then, remove the tack on the current sail (and release a bit of halyard tension (the sail will ride higher but be blocked by all the other hanks on the new sail and you start taking it down and as you take it down you remove the hanks one by one. Some of the sail is still flying and providing a bit of lift, albeit negligible given the lack of halyard tension. You then swap the halyard from one sail to the other. I often just tack the boat to get the new sail up, and then change the now lazy sheet, and give myself plenty of sea room to be able to do that. If that's not an option for any reason, then you obviously have to swap the sheet before you hoist the sail.

The boat is also slower because you weight is at the bow and not on the rail, a double hit.

We lost probably 10 min doing this (I manage to do this in about 5 min after practicing. The genoa is a particularly big sail. Changing down from the #3 to a #4 or a storm jib is easier because the sails are much smaller. Usually, it will be higher more pertubed seas though, so it will take roughly the same time. We probably lost another 5 min by sailing well over-powered the whole time (and taking a reef would not have helped, the imbalance between the sails would have been greater, putting the boat even more out of control!)

Once we moved down to the #3, Nat was driving and back in her element and favorite sea conditions (also because the boat behaves so well in these conditions: heavy swell, about 20-22 knots of wind. We were able to repower a bit of the main even to plow through the waves and our boat speed was up again (it had gone down to 5 knots or less under the 1 and it was back up to 6 knots after the swapping of the sail)

We overstood a bit at Point Bonita, set the kite at the mark and headed over to the South shore to get current relief. We surfed on waves reaching a top speed of about 12 knots. We gybed near the beach to the South Tower, then gybed back after we passed the gate. By then, we were looking at about 25 knots of wind - we tried the heavy air single-handed gybe, but because the driver is not a 'dumb' driver like an autopilot, it actually made things worse. We probably should have done a typical heavy air gybe: gybe the kite first, and then the main.

The spinnaker ended up wrapped, we unwrapped it once by sailing briefly by the lee (a technique I perfected during Pac Cup, it works great in many occasions), but we managed to wrap it again :) We just took it down not to wear the sail by flogging it unnecessarily. We hoisted the 2nd spinnaker which was wrapped, probably losing a couple of minutes, during which we were driving back on course. 

We then decided to do a non race move (we were probably DFL and time did not matter) as we stayed in unfriendly current just for the fun of flying the spinnaker (the wind came from the SouthWest by then and it was forcing to ride quite high, which is not always possible with a spinnaker up in higher winds.) 

This drove us into The Hole, an area with no wind by the Bay Bridge, when there was wind a few boat lengths away from us to the right. Had we crossed on the other side of center span, we would have been ok.

We then drove on a reach or above as the wind speed allowed for it under spinnaker all the way up the Alameda channel. 

We turned around as we crossed the finish line, hoisted back the #3 and sailed back home with oysters to keep us company.


  • Better to have a smaller sail than a larger sail short handed as sail changes as really expensive - and better to point. In hindsight, it would have been fine starting with a #3. With a full crew on the rail, we probably could have carried the #1 all the way upwind even when the wind picked up higher than 16 knots (the top end for the #1 with a full heavy crew on the rail on Elise), and depowered the #1 quite a bit by adding twist.
  • Best to gybe the spinnaker double-handed like regular crewed gybes (as opposed to short-handed gybes) at least for now and the driver can keep driving under the spinnaker?
  • Definitely verified the lift Vs boat speed compromise against the other boats.
  • In heavy air, short-handed Vs crewed boat puts the short-handed further at a disadvantage (doh!), thought we'd just confirmed that in case you were not sure ;)
  • It takes longer to tack a genoa short-handed Vs full crew (no one to skirt for instance) however our tacks with the #3 were FASTER than the tacks with a full crew. We had very very good tacks in challenging wave conditions.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Visiting Elise's Quarters


The bathroom

The balcony
The living room
The house

More progress on Elise

Fixing a bunch of UV generated cracks in the gelcoat in the cockpit[[posterous-content:pid___0]]Touch up paint on the engine post below that same cockpit.
[[posterous-content:pid___1]] Photos and work courtesy of Serge

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I want to do Single-Handed Transpac

This has been nagging me since the LongPac. There I was a newbie still and I got frustrated with the slightest thing. I have a lot to learn but I know that with the SSS folks I am in good hands :)

Leaving you with a few quotes from Andrew Evans' book (I don't agree with everything, for instance, I find buoy racing in an active and competitive one design fleet with a full crew super exciting and fun AND the dimension of managing a team is also a wonderful human experience, so sailing with a crew needs not be boring at all, but that's beside today's point) - http://www.sfbaysss.org/tipsbook/SinglehandedTips.pdf?id=1 

'…and now, nothing more, I want to be alone with my essential sea…I don’t want to speak for a long time, Silence! I want to learn, I want to know if I exist.'
Pablo Neruda

'singlehanded sailing is the only  sport where one needs to be physically, mentally 
and emotionally ready, just to finish'
Andrew Evans

'Consider how rare it is in modern society for someone to be totally alone and totally self reliant.  '
Andrew Evans
'only the singlehanders are willing to take 
on the challenge of 100% self reliance.  '

Little bit of maintenance!

  • Get one new winch cover (looks like one of them just flew away with the wind???)
  • Make tag lines for the new halyards
  • repaint the engine post   (thanks Serge)
  • fix more cracks in the cockpit (thanks Serge)
  • bring cabin cup holders



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Olympic Course

thought that this would be helpful to some!



course - Visual Dictionary Online

Taking the boat out,

Nat and Serge met to take the boat out of the water and Serge. Photos courtesy of Serge who thought that the evening light would make for great pictures.

Everything was so peaceful in the harbor. It was magical.

East Coast pizza.
Late evening meeting required some sustenance
A happy girl :) Our beloved Elise.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Boat Work Day with Serge

Project Engine Support -

Serge cut out a similarly shaped piece of wood out of some teak, bolted it onto the current support and painted it white so that it could blend in.
Project bolt cutter - Elise got her new bolt cutter. Instead of stowing it away in some really wet spot (inside some kind of hole or under the settee so it doesn't go flying out), I decided to try to keep it dryer and still low. I snapped it onto the side of one of the settee, behind the regular Bay tool and flare box.
This is how the heavy part of it is held up
Also got tired of the mess inside the nav table. Removed everything that is not required for Bay races (local charts and basic plotter instruments are required whenever out on the boat) - installed velcro'ed pocket so that more things can be added for long distance races (pens, erasers, etc...) without cluttering the nav table. And in most cases, it shouldn't even be needed.
Installed SpeedPuck (velcro, easy to remove it after every use - and boy that velcro is solid stuff!!!!)
Installed coat hook. This has two purposes. 1) can provide some privacy to the bathroom area and 2) avoid having dripping wet foulies make everything else wet. This will drip directly into the bilge. For long distance races, Elise has a gear hammock which is very convenient. (actually two of them) to stow things. However, both of them hang on top of other things so having water running out of the hammock isn't ideal.
This one is for Pierre
Figured out where to put emergency equipment location diagram. This is a requirement for long distance offshore races (crewed mostly).

Quick Spin - beautiful pictures from Linda


Bastille Day Quick Spin - Linda Pictures

Photos courtesy of Linda

Serge zoning out
Matching colors for matching housemates
Marseillaise Moment
Holding Elise on a leash?
Oh, the simple happy moments in life.