Archive | September, 2017

October Meeting: North U Founder Bill Gladstone

The October Monthly Meeting Speaker, North U’s Bill Gladstone. Photo: Mike Ferring

The crazy-windy 2016 Chicago to Mac was tossing our J/130 around like a toy when the helmsman (no, not me) made a bit of a mistake—the huge, green spinnaker suddenly wrapping around the headstay, wind blasts threatening to rip the spinnaker to bits. Raining, dead dark, we call for Bill. Bill Gladstone. He pokes his head up from below and calmly goes to work, unflappable despite the roar of the flapping sail, asking for a couple jibes to unwrap the sail and minutes later we’re back on course, sail intact.

This was Bill’s 28th Chicago to Mac, so he’s seen a lot of nutty stuff on Lake Michigan and lots of other places. He takes it all in calmly, with a smile and a laugh that help explain how he’s been able to take teaching performance sailing and turn it into a lifetime vocation. His business is North U, which presents seminars each year around the country plus the Regatta Experience and clinics in Ontario, Captiva Island, Florida, and St. Thomas.

In October, Bill will offer AYC a short version of one of his workshops, spinning stories as he suggests tactics, rules, and trim. Expect to be as much entertained as informed.

The meeting is Tuesday, October 10, beginning at 7pm (but arrive early for dinner). Monthly meetings are held at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281-1205 (map) and both members and non-members are welcome to attend.

Bill’s racing experience covers the spectrum, including everything from dinghies to Maxies, ponds to oceans, and foredeck to helm. He has finished in the money at Key West Race Week, the SORC, Block Island Race Week, Chicago NOOD, Annapolis to Newport; Chicago to Mackinac, the Annapolis Fall Series, NYYC Race Week, and Queen’s Cup. Bill raced collegiately for Yale and was founder of the Chicago Sailing Club.

He’s been teaching sailing and racing for over forty years. Graduates of his seminars number in the thousands, including several dozen AYC members.

Bill Gladstone on the rail for the Chicago-Mackinac race in 2016. That’s Maryellen Ferring over Bill’s left ear. Photo: Mike Ferring

It Was a Hoot at the Lake

Brats, buddies, and boats. We called it Hoot at the Lake and about 50 people turned out for a fun few hours at Tempe Town Lake Saturday (9/30).

The wind was light, but it didn’t deter lots of us from sampling a buffet of sailboats, including O’Pen Bics, Lasers, 14.2s, and Mike Bernard’s nice Sabot. Rob Gibbs brought two Desert Sailboats SUP boards to try. Sharon Bell brought games. Martin Lorch tended the BBQ. The Ferrings brought the food. Mike Bernard floated the boats. Andy Oliver was event chairman and supplied the tow vehicle.

Will Zornik and kids brought out the O’Pen Bics and had a ball sailing and flipping them. Photo: Mike Ferring

Some of the group gathered by the dock at Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Mike Ferring

The wind came in small puffs most of the day, but it was still fun to try different boats. Photo: Maryellen Ferring

A lazy day and no rush to get to the water. Photo: Mike Ferring

The shaded area by the east dock proved to be an excellent place to hang out. Photo: Mike Ferring

Blustery Opening Weekend at Lake Pleasant

The Fall Series opening weekend was a blast—a blast of wind on both Saturday and Sunday!

Saturday (9/23) was the big day for participation, with 14 boats racing in the multi-hull races, zinging across the lake on double-digit reaches and big smiles. Overall, there are 41 entries for the fall, with more still trickling in, especially from the PHRF Spin fleet, which was on Race Committee, giving entrants an excuse to wait another couple weeks before they really have to sign up.

Unfortunately, the Santana 20s did not get the needed five boats to fleet, which means they’ll be folded into the spin fleet, creating a wide range of ratings for the spins. There are enough Santana 20s in the club, but several decided not to enter.

And the debut of the MarkSetBot, the robotic mark? “Awesome,” is how Paul Liszewski summed it up. “I had my doubts,” he said, “but it did an excellent job.” It was a day when normal, anchored marks went adrift (one getting beached on an island), but the robotic mark just treaded water at the end of the start line, not moving. Same on Sunday, when Roger Butterwick said that he too was a doubter, not believing the mark could remain motionless for hours, but he was convinced by the end of the day’s racing.

The “Munchies on the Hill” after racing also had a nice debut. Steve Nahkala brought a table of munchies and a cooler of beer to Spinnaker Point as we transition from Fleet Dinner to Fleet Nachos and Beer. Some 35 people came by, about the same as a dinner group. (But the Catalina 22 fleet is planning to offer a Fleet Dinner the next race Saturday, October 7.)

Here are the race results.

Mark Howell is the scorekeeping SuperSub while Dave Christensen is sight-seeing around Europe. It took Dave’s knack for reading chicken bones to sort out this weekend, especially the multi-hull fleet.

Tony Chapman calmly hikes as his Viper 640 decides whether to splash down. Tony spent the summer in heavy wind races in Lake Garda and The Gorge and honed his big wind skill. Left: Court Roberts and team applaud. Photo: Charles Landis

It’s True: The Race Mark is a Robot!

Tom Ohlin watches a test of the new MarkSetBot on Lake Pleasant. Photo: Mike Ferring

It’s a bit of a leap of faith, a broad jump really: The pin-end start mark on Lake Pleasant’s Opening Day (9/23) will be a robot.

The inventors call it MarkSetBot and AYC is one of six clubs in the nation beta-testing this new device (out of 40 clubs that said they’d like to do it). It’s an odd-looking contraption on the water, riding on two inflated catamaran hulls, propelled by an electric trolling motor, and guided by cell phone and GPS navigation. It skitters around on the water like a large play toy.

Lake Pleasant Lake Captain David Newland and I (Mike Ferring) have been working on this machine for several weeks now, finally getting to the point where we think it can work as the pin-end mark. Later it might become one of the other marks of the course. Tom Ohlin joined us as we ran the thing for over an hour on Wednesday (9/20) and it performed nicely.

The idea, of course, is to replace one of our regular marks with the robot so it can be placed remotely without relying on the Boston Whaler crew and without dangling 160+ feet of anchor rode below it. Because the RC wouldn’t need to move the Whaler into position and because nobody would need to lift and drop or drag all that rode, the course can be adjusted much faster and much more easily. Cool, huh?

The company reports that this last weekend (9/17) MarkSetBots made up the entire race course for the stadium race at Grosse Pointe (Michigan) Yacht Club run by Premiere Sailing League. There was a single RC boat with only one person on it. That person monitored for OCS and then acted as a judge boat motoring up the course. The course was changed in length and direction many times. At one point, there was a 90 degree wind shift and it took the MarkSetBots just 60 seconds to reposition. Wow.

The MarkSetBot is not without its, well, let’s call them “issues,” which means we’re moving cautiously and wondering whether this robot is  long-term for us. Just a few of the issues:

  • It’s big and unwieldy to launch and to store.
  • It needs to be assembled each time it’s used (and disassembled when we’re through with it).
  • It runs on a battery that needs to be charged.
  • It’s made up of lots of little bits that can be damaged, lost or wear out.
  • The cell phone interface is difficult to operate.
  • Operation requires training (and we have trouble getting people to take care of our boats).

So, that odd thing at the end of the start line? That’s your starting pin. Please don’t hit it.

The robot MarkSetBot at cruising speed during the Lake Pleasant test. Photo: Mike Ferring

Results of TTL Weekend Two

Temperatures eased off a bit for weekend two of the Tempe Town Lake Fall Series, with Lasers on RC. The results of the afternoon are here or on the results page.

Picnic, Play, Party at the “Hoot at the Lake”

All for fun: The Hoot at the Lake party on Saturday, September 30, from 10am to 1pm at the Grassy Knoll at Tempe Town Lake.

Mike Bernard has planned a bunch of zany sailing games for  the Hoot, including such things as backward sailing, competition pitting 50+ codgers and kids, and some SUP board rides.

Sharon Bell is bringing her Corn Hole game and Horseshoes for dry land play.

Maryellen Ferring is heading up the food brigade, planning a barbecue at lake’s edge.

Andy Oliver is the Chairman in Chief.

There’s no charge and no registration to attend. Just drop by and have fun.

All of this rises out of that survey you completed this summer. You said you’d like more social events in the club. About half the people who responded to the survey said they’d come to a pure social gathering like this one.

Fun sailing on Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Debbra Heisler

Let the Season Begin!

After a summer of quiet Wednesday night races, it was great to see Tempe Town Lake teeming with boats Sunday (9/10) on the first day of TTL Racing and RC Training and the first day of ASF Opti classes.

The wind was a little light and the temperatures a bit, well, hot, but it was a fun day anyway. Vice Commodore and Laser sailor Mike Bernard led an effort to add gates to TTL racing and they were used for the first time this day.

Race results are here.

The Buccaneer fleet topped out at four entries for the season, which meant they were combined with the Portsmouth fleet and worked race committee.

Natalie Harper leads the Opti 1 class at Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Mike Ferring