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A Video Season’s Thrill Ride with Victor Felice

Victor Felice sails his J/24 with a video camera swinging on a gimbled mount on his stern rail, which makes for some interesting still pictures, like this one.

It makes even more interesting videos, some of which Victor edited into this three-minute highlights reel this November. Enjoy!

Victor Felice's J/24 on a screaming day. Photo: Victor's camera

Victor Felice’s J/24 on a screaming day. Photo: Victor’s camera

The Big Christmas Party

December’s membership meeting brings the annual AYC gift exchange, a gift exchange with a twist. You might say twisted, even. The meeting is at 7 pm, Tuesday, December 8, at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe.

Here’s how the gift exchange works:

  • You bring a wrapped gift valued at about $20.
  • You pick a number from a hat to determine the order we select gifts.
  • We’ll have two people called to the front of the room at the same time.
  • Each person can choose to pick a wrapped gift from the pile or play pirate and take the gift from someone who’s already opened one.
  • Gifts can be “pirated” only twice before they’re safe from further theft.

Some of the gifts can be pretty weird, but if you’re looking for a prized gift suggestion: Liquor always seems to bring applause!

What’s the Christmas gift exchange like? Here’s what happened in 2011.

Tempe Town Lake Scheduled to Close for More than a Month Next Spring

Replacing the current inflated rubber Tempe Town Lake dam with concrete and steel will shut down the lake—probably next spring—for a period the city estimates will be more than one month, severely affecting activities for Arizona Yacht Club and the Arizona Sailing Foundation.

Tempe Senior Boating Coordinator Alicia Jerger announced the plan in an email, saying the new concrete and steel dam will be finished in “February or March,” depending on weather delays. At that point the city will divert the TTL water and, she says, “It is anticipated that refilling of Town Lake, mostly using water exchange credits, will begin one month after the water is diverted. Tempe Town Lake will be closed to boating and water recreation once the water diverting has begun.”

The new steel gate dam system  includes 8 gates that will be hydraulically controlled to open for flood control. Here’s a link to the Tempe web page that includes videos describing the new system.

Obviously closing the lake will throw the AYC and ASF schedules into chaos, especially since it’s not possible to plan much in advance for the closure.

A frame of the City of Tempe's video showing a simulation of the dam in operation.

A frame of the City of Tempe’s video showing a simulation of the dam in operation.

Dave and Wendy Boatworks Gears Up


The Mini 650 sailboat emerging from the garage and being loaded on Dave’s home-built trailer. They floated the boat in 2012.

You remember the saga of Dog Year, the Open 6.50 Meter (aka Mini 650) that Dave Christensen and Wendy Larsen built in their garage? Let the saga continue.

Dave has now announced that he’s found another use for all those wood clamps he bought to build the boat. He’s building another one, this time a 28-foot trawler powered by an outboard. This too begins with nothing more than plans and a pile of plywood.

Dave told the AYC monthly meeting that he and Wendy are planning the new boat to use for retirement in a few years. It’s a snug home that they figure would be good for the area around San Juan islands and maybe for an inland swing around the Eastern U.S.

Dog Year is a 20-foot  boat that was built in a 19-foot garage, which meant punching a cutout into a bedroom. With a 28-foot boat under construction at the DandW Boatworks, this time they’ll take pretty much the entire bedroom.

Dave and Wendy are going with power this time.

Dave and Wendy are going with power this time.



Here's a cutaway view.

Here’s a cutaway view.

Stormy Tempe Town Lake Racing

Paul Wojtczak tacking his Laser. Photos: Mike Ferring

Paul Wojtczak tacking his Laser. Photos: Mike Ferring

When a large fleet of Lasers and three Buccs showed up Sunday (10/18), so did some storm clouds, making a dazzling background for the sailing and sailing pictures. Since the rain and lightning held off until the boats were able to get three races in, nobody much minded.

Here are the race results.

And below are pictures Mike Ferring took. Besides the towering clouds, you’ll see some close racing, mostly between Mike Hester and Paul Miachika. But then there’s the picture of Mike going left when everyone else is going right. Mike was over early and was threading his way back behind the start line.

Why (and How) You Should Race Your Cruising Boat

A good day to be pushed downwind on a non-spin. Peter Burgard's O'Day. Photo: Chris Smith

A good day to be pushed downwind on a non-spin. Peter Burgard’s O’Day. Photo: Chris Smith

Sometimes it seems as if cruisers and racers are different breeds. One values comfort and a cocktail at anchor while the other wants screeching heel angles and screaming mark roundings. But some of us think both things are a kick and would like to see more cruisers try racing. But how? And (of course) why?

Sail magazine is offering excellent information on sailboat racing for cruisers, including an explanation of “why” that boils down to:

  1. It’s fun.
  2. It makes you a better sailor.

Scuttlebutt‘s Craig Leweck says he tells people, that “To race is only to ‘sail with a purpose.’ Much like most forms of exercise, you begin with a plan to test yourself, and racing is not so much a competition as it is an opportunity to assess one’s sailing skills.”

Sail magazine takes it from there, quoting renowned naval architect and yachtsman Uffa Fox, saying “Once you race every fault is pointed out in the way other boats sail away from you, and when you do anything well this too is revealed as you start sailing away from the rest of the fleet.”

Here’s a link to the excellent Sail introduction to racing for cruisers.

AYC offers several entry-level races for cruisers who want to try out racing. There are two “pursuit” races (see the Sail article for an explanation) each year: the Governor’s Cup December 5 and the Tall Cactus on April 23 of next year. In both cases, boats start in reverse order of their PHRF rating (yes, see Sail article) so the start is simple and uncrowded. Then it’s just a matter of sailing the course as fast as you can.

The other opportunity is the “TransLoch” series (named by Tom Errickson), which is a low-pressure, longer-distance race around Lake Pleasant conducted at the same time as the buoy races for the fall and spring series and at the annual Birthday Regatta. Unfortunately, no one signed up for the TransLoch this fall and it’s not being run. Why didn’t they? I’ve heard various explanations, but I think it’s a combination of “tried it and didn’t like it” and “it wasn’t fair and I couldn’t win.” In my opinion, the TransLoch might rise again with some retooling and some new rules that might raise the fun factor. Until then, maybe the cruisers will come out for the TransLoch at the Birthday Regatta or join the racers for the Governor’s Cup and Tall Cactus.

What do you say?

A featured picture from Sail magazine. They stress that the most important thing in racing is to have fun. Photo: Cate Brown

A featured picture from Sail magazine. They stress that the most important thing in racing is to have fun. Photo: Cate Brown

Lake Pleasant Week 1 Results

The scores for the first week of racing at Lake Pleasant are posted on the results page, or you can find them by clicking here.

Lake Pleasant Race Results. Photo: Chris Smith

Alex Heisler Makes Australian College Sailing Team

Former AYC junior sailor Alex Heisler has won a spot on her college sailing team in Australia during her semester of study abroad at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Imagine this for a sailing fan: Alex will return to the ASU Sailing team in January after watching the Sydney to Hobart race start Dec. 26th and spending New Year’s watching the fireworks over Sydney Harbor.

Like to follow along? Here’s the team’s Facebook page. The next event for the UNSW Sailing team will be the Australian University Games.

Alex Heisler (with long blonde hair) and her Australian college sailing team.

Alex Heisler (with long blonde hair) and her Australian college sailing team.

Coming Fast: Fall Racing Season


You’ll see more Vipers on the line at Lake Pleasant this fall.

Racing action is coming up thick and fast.

Some bits and pieces: Cindy Pillote has been busy arranging an Opening Day breakfast to kick off the action at Lake Pleasant. The PHRF Sportboat fleet will grow this fall with the addition of more Viper 640s, including Dave Evans, John Riddell (really?), Mike Hester, and Mike Parker. Mike Parker was immediately drafted as the new fleet captain. Catalina 22s will move to Saturday-only fleet scoring to increase competition (since several competitors have been missing in action on Sunday mornings). Mike Yarnell has reluctantly sold his beautiful Thistle, but Scott Richards bought it and will be on the start line. Know of other fleet and boat changes? Let Mike Ferring know so he can pass it on.

Friday (9/11): Crew Party. All sailors are welcome to come to the Bluewater Grill Friday evening from 5-7 pm for some appetizers and adult beverages. If you need crew or would like to crew, stop by. If you’d just like to hang out with this bunch, stop by. Location: 1720 East Camelback Road, Phoenix (map).

(9/16): Introduction to Sailboat Racing class. Free. More info and registration here.

Thursday (9/17): Advanced Sailboat Racing Seminar with Martin Lorch, Skip Kempff and Dave Haggart. Three guys who know their way around a race course offer some of their secrets. Register in advance, but it’s free.

Saturday (9/19) NEW: Practice races at Lake Pleasant. Steve Brown will stage short w/l races with several starts, beginning at 12:30.

Sunday (9/20): Opening Day at Tempe Town Lake. Register now.

Saturday (9/26): Opening Day at Lake Pleasant. Register now.


Viper 640 Class Wins Big Contract

By the thinnest of margins the Gulf Yachting Association (GYA) has chosen the Viper 640 over the VX One as the new boat to sail in its historic inter-club Capdevielle Championship series. The decision is a big boost to the boat many Arizona Yacht Club members sail.

The GYA has used the Flying Scot for almost 50 of the nearly 100 years the series has been run and has spent the last several years choosing a replacement, starting with a list of 50 candidates. They wanted something seriously sporty, but not so difficult to sail that older or less athletic sailors would be unable to use it.

Tony Chapman aboard his Viper. Photo: Chris Smith

Tony Chapman (center) aboard Court Robert’s (right) Viper. Photo: Chris Smith

AYC member Tony Chapman says he’s been helping promote the boat for about six months as a member of the class executive committee and as the accountant for Rondar Raceboats, the constructor of Vipers. He says, “It’s difficult to predict how many boats will be involved but since there were 27 clubs that voted, we assume that each voting club plus possibly two or three members from most of the clubs will be buying Vipers over the next two years.”

Needless to say, the class will benefit from that many more boats on the water and it will float the used boat market for quite a while.

AYC’s Viper 640 population is growing this fall, with several new entrants, including Dave Evans, John Riddell, Mike Hester, and Mike Parker.

The Gulf Yachting Association rings the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Houston. It was organized to promote the sport on the Gulf Coast and nearby areas. Founded in 1901 and reorganized in 1920, the GYA has grown from the original six clubs to over 30 member organizations.

A Viper skims across Lake Pleasant

Wild Ride


Kicking Back at a Cool Place for Summer Sailing

By Mike Ferring

Marg Woods and John Stephenson.

Marg Woods and John Stephenson.

John Stephenson is one of the nicest guys anyone could ever sail with: capable, calm, a fine chef and lots of fun. And I’m not just saying that because he invited Maryellen and me to sail part of the SUNORA with him and Marg Woods out of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, though that certainly helps.

This was the 20th time they’ve run this week-long regatta, sailing from place to place through the gorgeous surroundings of northern Lake Superior. Fourteen boats took part with 12 of them sailing for the regatta’s first place burgee (the other two were powerboats along for the party). They’d sail for a few hours each day and then raft up in some spectacular spot for the night, collecting in various cockpits for social hour.

We joined the game in progress on the lay day, day four, when they ran the only buoy race of the week and then followed it with a group dinner, bonfire, and concert by a couple great folk/blue grass guys. In the days that followed, we put on our race faces and trimmed hard through usually excellent wind, a couple squalls, and the occasional lull. Combined with John and Marg’s first three days on the C&C 37, our two firsts and a third were good enough to win the event.

But winning was clearly a small part of SUNORA (SUperior NOrth-shore RegattA). The big part was the camaraderie and the fun. They were wonderfully welcoming to two people from blistering Phoenix, letting us join this party of families and friends. You can get a taste of it from the pictures:

The Campos Rudder Saga: Bazingaplooee

By Steve and Christina Campo

Preparing our Hobie 33 Bazinga for the 2015 Transpac was a two-year challenge, but with the help of the experts in San Diego it was a wonderful experience.

We painstakingly went through every nut and bolt on Bazinga, leaving nothing to chance. One of the major focuses of the refit was the rudder. Anybody familiar with the Transpac knows that the number one reason for boats not to finish is rudder failure. The boat was inspected by the original Hobie builder out of Dana Point and nobody knows Hobies better than Spartan Marine.

The rudder skin was removed down to the stainless shaft, exposing the three stainless cross members and their welds. The welds were massive and looked new. The rudder was then re-skinned and brought back to original. A sleeve was added to the upper aluminum rudder tube, increasing its strength. Rudder tube bushings and Delrin washers were replaced. This work was completed 1½ years before Transpac and had been tested in a dozen races without incident. We dropped the rudder in April to have another look and all appeared good.

We hired weather routing expert Rick Shema, “The Weather Guy,” to plot our route from Point Fermin to the finish at Diamond Head in Oahu and his plan was flawless. He predicted our arrival in 12 days and 7 hours. We were ready.

On the fifth day at sea and 700 miles from the start, around 5 pm, the watch crew was alarmed to find the tiller and rudder pointing in different directions. They couldn’t steer. The wind was blowing 18 knots and we were in 15-foot seas. We were still trying to figure out what was wrong when we saw the rudder came out from under the boat and float away.

Now the real work began. No rudder, heavy seas, and only a few hours of daylight remaining.

Mod 1: We attempted to fabricate a rudder with an aluminum spin pole and a too-large blade made from a fiberglass bunk. The pole failed with the first wave over the stern and folded in half. What works well in 10 knots of wind definitely does not work well in 20+ knots and large seas. We decided to throw the sea drogue over the side and comfortably beam-reach through the night. All was good until we sailed into a high pressure system and slowed dramatically. The drogue brought us to a stop.

Mod 2: Reaching strut with the back-up tiller handle and a hatch board from the V-berth held together with gorilla tape, clamp, nuts and bolts and attached with Dyneema line to the stern rail at the high point and the toe rail at the lower point. We cut plastic water jugs into strips for sleeves. That got us through the high. There was nothing more realistic to do than to sail at a little over one knot, covering 10 miles in 10 long hours. We were still 625 miles from Point Fermin. Eventually the next day the wind picked up and we were back to 5-6 kts. At this speed, the reaching strut couldn’t handle the pressure, nor could we. The tiller was in line with the blade and we had no leverage.

Mod 3: We cut the broken spin pole in half, set the handle at 45 degrees and re-attached the hatch board with gorilla tape, clamp, nuts and bolts and attached to stern rail and toe rail. We called Rick Shema on the sat phone to get the latest weather information and he suggested we heave-to for two days, allowing tropical disturbance Dolores to pass. We headed north and as the wind increased the pulpit started to bend and welds began to fail. We continued to lash the pulpit together.

The Bill Lee Mod 4: Slide the carbon spin pole off the stern with two spin sheets run through the spin blocks. Attach the pole to the stern and run the spin sheets to the tiller. The arrangement worked, but it didn’t take long for us to be worn out. We could only do 30-minute watches. Five hundred miles to go.

Mod 5: Wrap spin sheets around winches and grind to head up or fall off; very labor intensive.

Mod 6: Combination of sea drogue and spin pole rudder system proved to be the best balance in the varying wind and sea conditions. Three hundred miles to go.

Coast Guard San Diego hails Bazinga on the radio wanting to know our status. We plan to sail as far as possible and then motor until we can get to within 40 miles in order for Vessel Assist to tow us in. Copy. Let them know when we’re 100 miles out and when we start to motor.

One hundred miles out we start the motor. At 40 miles out we hail Vessel Assist. Whoa, not so fast. They inform us they won’t come out until we’re out of gas. So we keep motoring through the morning hours. We drain gas from the generator to get us to SD Bay. Mark Butler and Steve Harrison meet us and tow us to SDYC.

We hail Coast Guard SD and thank them for keeping an eye on us.

Vessel Assist hails us and wants to tow us back to SDYC. We thank them for all they did for us, but we’re under tow by friends.

Back on dry land, we could investigate the rudder failure. When the boat came out of the water we saw four inches of stainless steel rudder shaft protruding from the bottom of the boat where the rudder used to be. The shaft had sheared at the top of the blade, most likely from corrosion from the inside out. With no pitting or corrosion on the outside of the tube, it would be next to impossible to foresee an internal failure.

The Campos in happier times, as they prepared to leave for the trip.

The Campos in happier times, as they prepared to leave for the trip.

Haggarts Snag Third at C14 Nationals

AYC’s Dave and Stacey Haggart finished a strong third in the Capri 14.2 Nationals held the weekend of July 11-12 at Mission Bay Yacht Club in San Diego. Martin and Cedric Lorch took fifth in the regatta.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that perennial champion Scott Finkboner had a couple weak (for him) races and finished a lowly second. Complete results available here.

A start during the 2015 C14 Nationals at Mission Bay Yacht Club.

A start during the 2015 C14 Nationals at Mission Bay Yacht Club. That’s Martin and Cedric Lorch closest to the camera.

Campos Pull Out of the Transpac

Saturday morning (7/18): Christina and Steve Campo have abandoned their Transpac effort and are returning to LA.

The Transpac tracking system tells the story. Their lime green icon is pointed back at the mainland while the rest of the competitors are moving toward Honolulu. The brief description explains that they had a problem with the rudder on their Hobie 33, but the crew is safe and well. They were moving at a reduced speed of just three knots.

You can follow their progress here. Look for the boat Bazinga.

The tracking snapshot on Saturday morning (six hours delayed).

The tracking snapshot on Saturday morning (six hours delayed). That three-pronged object way out in front is the trimaran Lending Club 2, which was not in the race but has now finished, setting a new speed record for the trip of three days, 18 hours, knocking a day off the record. The next wave of fast boats can be seen just off the California coast, but on Saturday morning they were caught in light air and were moving slowly.



Christina and Steve Campo moments before they shoved off for a little sail to Honolulu in Transpac 2015. Unfortunately they won’t be getting leis in Hawaii.


LLS Features AYC’s Tony Chapman in Leukemia Cup Advertisement

This ad will appear in the July 2015 Sailing World and Cruising World magazines.

This ad will appear in the July 2015 Sailing World and Cruising World magazines.

In July, when you open your Sailing World or Cruising World magazine, you’ll see our Tony Chapman in an ad for the Leukemia Cup Regattas, noting the good they do to raise money to fight blood cancers for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

At our annual Birthday Regatta and Leukemia Cup, Arizona Yacht Club has raised over $500,000 for LLS and the ad notes that Tony has been responsible for more than $100,000. Not by himself, he stresses, but with the help of all of us.

“A large portion has come from my fellow sailors,” he says, “and it makes me realize that as sailors we all support each other almost like family and like no other community I’ve ever been a part of, even when we may be competitors on the race course.”

Tony Chapman

Tony Chapman

Raising money for LLS is very personal for Tony. Thirty-five years ago, his father died of acute myeloid leukemia and he’s made it his mission to help fight the disease. This year he’s raised just under $12,000, the number it takes to qualify for the annual “Fantasy Sail” with leukemia survivor and Leukemia Cup chairman Gary Jobson. Tony, Chris Robertson and Emory Heisler have all been on past Fantasy Sails that commemorate top fundraisers.

Once again in January 2016, AYC will be presenting a first-in-the-nation Leukemia Cup and you’ll have an opportunity to pitch in to help LLS.

Here’s the full-size ad as it will appear in the magazines.


Sailing Tips from a World Champ

Champion sailor Bill Hardesty

Champion sailor Bill Hardesty

Bill Hardesty asked the crowd, “How many of you have a plan before the start?” Did you raise your hand? I did. But then he explained what he meant by a plan and suddenly mine looked pretty incomplete.

Bill Hardesty’s sailing resume is gold-plated: 10-time world champion, a 30-time national champ, and 2011 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.

When Bill makes a plan for a start, he breaks it down to the second before doing what we all need to do when a plan doesn’t quite match the situation: improvise.

And had you heard of the 20-80 rule? Short explanation: it’s the rule that keeps you from driving all the way to the layline on one tack, leaving yourself some margin for wind shifts or competing boats getting in the way. If you have 20% of one tack remaining and 80% of the other, it’s time to turn the boat.

We had a nice June turnout to hear this exceptional sailor, watching as he moved magnetic boats and sketched starts and mark roundings and kept us all engaged and thinking.

It takes a lot of people to make a meeting go smoothly and Commodore Chris Smith says, “Mike and Maryellen Ferring provided the white board, boats and markers. Peter Lehrach and Victor Felice helped with the set up and dismantling of the sound system and screen and Victor took some fun photos. Steve Brown brought the trophies. Lori Reger welcomed guests. Peter Lehrach worked with Jim Brewer to kick off preparations for next year’s Birthday Regatta and Leukemia Cup. And big thanks to Cindy Pillote for digging into her personal supply of AYC swag, which we gave to Bill.”

Bill Hardesty talks through what it means to have a plan before the start of a race. Photo: Chris Smith

Bill Hardesty talks through what it means to have a plan before the start of a race. Photos: Chris Smith

Slide Show: Volvo Ocean Race Blitzes Newport

Mike and Maryellen Ferring flew to Newport, RI, to see the Volvo Ocean Racers’ only U.S. stop on their chase around the world. Here are pictures that Mike took over the course of three days.

Great Ride for the Commodore’s Celebration

Commodore's Celebration 2015-37

Dennis Davis cradles Ye Blunder Bucket and hefts the ASF Heavy Lifting Award, a double winner at the 2015 Commodore’s Celebration. Photos: Mike Ferring

The weather was perfect, the crowd raucous, the prizes many for the 2015 Commodore’s Celebration aboard the tour boat Phoenix on Lake Pleasant.

Dennis Davis, daughter Ema, and son Wilson were big winners for the night: all the Davises for the ASF “Heavy Lifting” award for contributions to the foundation and (on a very close vote) Dennis for the prized Ye Olde Blunder Bucket. Dennis edged out Paul Liszewski for the Bucket, charged with not sailing his Santana 20 even though it’s been in his driveway for a year and a half. (Paul came up short for turtling a 14.2 in light air at the club championship races.)

Emily Nowak was awarded the Wayne Jason Tucker award for most-improved junior; Sean, Bailey, and Claria Kohnen the Jerry Linderman Award for Most Improved Junior.

Dave Christensen received the Sportsmanship Award as an AYC “MVP” for his work keeping the scores for hundreds of races every year and for his many other contributions, from repairing boats to serving as race PRO.

And Dave and Stacey Haggart received the big punch bowl as the 2015 Club Champions. New to the club, the two dominated both the 14.2 fleet and the club championship this year.

Chris Smith officially took office as AYC Commodore, urging members to take people sailing in order to build excitement for the sport and to build membership.

Some 88 people shared the night, beginning with a tailgate party in the parking lot hosted by Sloop Dogg’s Chris Smith, moving onto the Phoenix for dinner and a cruise around the lake, watching the sunset under partly cloudy sky and very comfortable temperature.

Here are pictures taken by Mike Ferring.



LPSC Cinco de Mayo Raft-up

The Lake Pleasant Sailing Club has decided to invite AYC members to the club’s annual Cinco de Mayo Raft-up on Saturday, May 2. (Normally this big LPSC flotilla is restricted to its members.)

The event is in Two Cow Cove (see map) and boats will start gathering around 1 pm. You can monitor the traffic on VHF channel 68. Here’s a flyer with further information.

LPSC offers a word of warning: Lake Pleasant party boaters are shooting for a world record raft-up of 1000+ boats tied together in Humbug! Traffic at launch ramps and parking lots could be intense.


Scuttlebutt Founder Tom Leweck Booked for May Meeting

Tom Leweck

Tom Leweck

Have you heard the scuttlebutt?

I’ve heard that our May monthly meeting speaker will be none other than Tom Leweck, the founder of that most-read online sailing publication, Sailing Scuttlebutt, now run by Tom’s son Craig.

Tom began Scuttlebutt in 1997, when the Web was in its infancy. Then and now his pals loved hearing the sailing gossip and news from Tom, who is a consummate storyteller. Show up at the May meeting and Tom will regale you with lots of stories too.

The meeting is Tuesday, May 12, 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.

Tom calls himself, “The Original Curmudgeon” and lives up the honor. While working as a public relations guy, he was also a winning sailor and can still make a boat go fast. He says in May his topics will cover the waterfront, including “dinghy racing, keel boats, Transpac, Mexican Races, Scuttlebutt…and what’s important about our sport, and what’s not.”