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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.” 

Stephanie Roble Accepts Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Award

Stephanie Roble and Stewart Wicht, President & CEO of Rolex Watch

Stephanie Roble and Stewart Wicht, President & CEO of Rolex Watch

Stephanie Roble, our February meeting speaker, has accepted her Rolex as US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. Stephanie was presented the award at the prestigious New York Yacht Club on Thursday, February 26.

“I feel so lucky to be a part of a lot of teams; teamwork is what I’m in love with right now,” she said, crediting her crew, Janel Zarkowsky and Maggie Shea. “You need  your team to be successful; this award is for all of them.

“I’m beyond the moon excited right now. This is  such a special award, and to see all the sailors who’ve won this before and to join this list means so much to me. It’s extremely motivating.”

Terry Hutchinson received the Rolex for Yachtsman of the Year.

Here’s a portion of the two emotional speeches:


AYC Goes Kiwi

A selfie of Linda Saar, Dennis Lynde and Joyce Seale in NZ.

A selfie of Linda Saar, Dennis Lynde and Joyce Seale in NZ.

Dennis Lynde sent this picture to us upside down, which is probably what happens when you take a picture in New Zealand and then send it to the northern hemisphere. Joyce Seale is a former AYC Commodore now living in New Zealand.

But we have another story from New Zealand, sent via Victor Felice. The story arrived right-side-up. Here it is, long, chatty and entertaining:

Thanks to the Arizona Yacht Club and Victor Felice for allowing me to fly the club burgee. We have enjoyed taking it on trips with us and confusing all the locals who have no idea which sailing club it represents.

First, a little about myself.

My name is Andy Baldwin and I live at the top of New Zealand’s south island. Many Americans have never heard of us, which is strange given how good we are at sailing.  Damn that America’s Cup! We’ll get it back next time.

We are a country comprised of two main islands – the north island or Te ika a Maui (the fish of Maui), and the south island or Te Wai Pounamu (the waters of greenstone). All told, however, we have over 700 islands, many of them in the region where I live. My occupation is making cider for a local company. In the winters I enjoy skiing as well as sailing. I am married and have a small dog. We live on a lifestyle block of about 10acres with some sheep and chickens for company.

I have been involved in boating and water activities like kayaking and diving all my life, but only bought a keel boat about 6 years ago. I was looking for a launch but fell in love with a sailboat! Gypsea is a 27 foot ¾ keeler built of triple skin kauri, glassed over. She has teak decks, a beautiful kauri interior, a ¾ fractional rig and was built in 1987. She is quite narrow and has a 5 foot draft. Her auxiliary is a Yanmar 1gm10 engine fitted new in 2014. She sleeps up to four, and for two of us plus the dog is comfortable for 7-10 days at a time.

We sail in the Marlborough Sounds with our boat based in Waikawa Bay near Picton.  This is a complex geographical area of flooded valleys which have connected to the sea.  It has about 1500km or 10% of all New Zealand’s coastline. The area is internationally renowned as one of the best cruising grounds in the world. We have a saying here, “If you can sail in the sounds you can sail anywhere.” The complex and high (over 600m) landforms make the sounds very difficult at times, with winds that blow from all points of the compass at varying strengths. It’s not uncommon to see williwaws off many of the bays and some bays are well known as “wind factories.” Add to this mix, the fact that the sounds faces into Cook Strait and you have some exciting sailing guaranteed!

Cook Strait is the body of water separating the north and south islands. New Zealand lies roughly southwest to northeast, within the latitudes known as the “roaring forties.” The spine of both islands is high alpine and this channels the predominant westerly flow which can only move east through Cook Strait. High winds and huge seas are common as the strait is only 30-40km wide. In 2004 a 12metre sailboat sent a mayday from Cape Jackson, experiencing 80-90 knot winds and 12-15 metre breaking seas. Three of the four crew were rescued by an inter-island ferry. One died and the yacht broke and sank. Powerful tidal flows are also the norm in this area. Sounds daunting for a sailor? More like fun!

In February we had a week off work as it is our summer here and had a sailing holiday in the sounds. The idea was to sail out of Queen Charlotte sound where our boat Gypsea is moored, through Cape Jackson, into Cook Strait and round to Pelorus Sound for a few days exploring. The plan was to take a few days to sail to the outer sounds so as to get favorable tides for the passage through the cape and round to Pelorus. This is important as tidal streams through this area average 4-5 knots. We hoisted sail on a Saturday as it is bad luck to begin a voyage on a Friday and headed for bay of Many Coves. This is beautiful and quite deep, which lives up to its name with lots of great spots to drop anchor. The weather was warm with very little breeze so motor sailing was the order of the day. Bay of Many coves marks the beginning of the “outer Queen Charlotte sound” and gets a mix of cook strait weather and Picton weather.

Chaucer Bay in New Zealand

Chaucer Bay in New Zealand

We anchored in Chaucer Bay which is a tiny bay at the far end of Bay of Many Coves. There is a stunning beach and great view of the ferries as they turn out of Tory Channel and into Queen Charlotte sound, part of the regular service between Wellington (capital of NZ) in the north island and Picton in the south island. There are around 18 ferry crossings per day, each taking about 3½ hours. Once on the anchor we launched the new kayak which Murphy (our dog) immediately jumped onto. He found the cargo well at the front quite comfortable and demanded to be paddled around the bay while he selected a suitable spot to relieve himself. The afternoon was spent swimming and kayaking around the bay.  In the evening a BBQ dinner was accompanied by wine and cider. We have a BBQ on the stern of the yacht and find this the preferred method of cooking in the summer.  You can cook while having a beer and chatting to guest on board while still admiring the view.

Next day dawned with the sea like a mirror, stunning to sit out and have breakfast but crap for sailing. We motor sailed north again to Resolution Bay. This large bay is named after one of Captain Cook’s ships when he visited this area. Cook spent more time in the Marlborough sounds than anywhere else in the Pacific. This time we grabbed a mooring and claimed reciprocal rights under the Arizona Sailing club flag! Not that anyone was there to see it as we had the bay to ourselves. The afternoon and evening were again filled with kayaking and BBQ’s, beer and wine. It’s a hard life but someone has to do it.

Monday was planned as a sleep in followed by a short hop to Ship Cove. This is where Cook spent most of his time in the sounds. As a salute to him we flew the Arizona burgee all night long.  There is a large monument to Cook adjacent to a stunning picnic area. At least we had some wind and a pleasant sail past Blumine Island and alongside Motuara island was duly enjoyed by Captain and crew until the heavens opened and rain poured down. Oh well, at least it was warm and the rain saved having a shower. Speaking of which, we use showers on board. These are left in the sun to heat up and then hoisted in the rigging in the evening for a shower on deck with view – and a view if anyone happens to be looking at my bare bum! The rain stopped early evening and the sky cleared so a picnic and bottle of wine on shore was duly organized along with nibbles. A cheeky Weka (flightless native bird similar to a Kiwi) joined us and didn’t even show any fear of the dog; he just wanted a feed. It’s hard to imagine a more pleasant evening as a pod of 8 dusky dolphins swam into the bay fishing and frolicking with the sun splashing on their backs. We have four species of dolphins in the sounds, from the large and playful bottlenose, speedy dusky dolphins, common dolphins and the tiny, endangered Hector’s dolphins. I have seen a baby Hector’s dolphin, about the size of a rugby ball, but adults can reach 1 metre in length.

Tuesday dawned with a light breeze in ship cove which meant good wind out toward Cape Jackson. Our mission for the day was to sail down to Cape Jackson (7 Nm) and make the passage between the Cape and the lighthouse at slackwater on high tide then sail across Port Gore and past Cape Lambert (5Nm) then on past Waitui Bay to Alligator Head. From there we were to tuck in behind Alligator Head in an area known locally as “the Punt Rails”, about another 5Nm of sailing. This is all in open water with outlying hazards and shoals off the headlands.

Cape Jackson is an interesting area, a long finger of land projects out into the Cook Strait. The land used to be farmed but this wasn’t really viable and now it is being restored to bush and is a wilderness park that can be visited.  About 500 metres out from the cape, an old lighthouse stands on a sunken rock and a very dangerous reef projects about 2km further out into the strait. The pinnacle of this reef is Walker rock which breaks even at high tide.

The passage between the cape and the light house is about 10m deep and the tide really rips through here at about 5-6knots. With the shallow depth and wind against tide there are often overfalls and whirlpools, exciting stuff but it pays to get the tides correct or don’t sail through there.  A few years ago a large liner, the Mikhail Lermontov was wrecked trying to pass through here.  She now lies in 30m of water in Port Gore and is a haven for fish and divers.  Several other large wrecks litter the coast around Cape Jackson, testament to the wild waters in this area. As expected the wind piped up on the way to the Cape and a great sail under double reefed main and genoa furled to about 40% was had in 40knots of breeze.  Being under the lee of the land meant that while the breeze was up, at least the water was flat.  I got the tides correct and a great passage was made through the Cape and out into the open waters of Cook Strait facing the Tasman Sea. Although close hauled we made good time and in two and in three and a half hours were round Alligator head into the protected but chilly (16 degrees C) waters of the Punt rails. The water was very clear with visibility over 50feet.

We picked up the mooring and leaving the burgee fluttering in the now easing breeze set off for a walk up the hills in the afternoon heat.  A one hour climb saw us at the top of alligator head, about 500metres elevation with commanding views over the Cook Strait toward D’urville Island, Allen strait between the mainland and Forsyth Island, and back towards Cape Jackson.

After time to survey the area, a quick forty minute trot back down the hills lead two sweaty humans and one hot dog back to the beach. The only answer was to strip off and go for a skinny dip. After refreshing our bodies in the cool water it was back to the boat for liquid refreshments, in the summer heat it is important to keep one’s fluids topped up so I spent a couple of hours topping up my cider levels before cooking dinner and a bottle of wine. A breathless evening saw us sitting on deck with glass of wine as the full moon rose over the hills and illuminated the black waters around us−just stunning to sit and listen to the bird calls the fish jumping in the moonlight.

Next morning it was up early for breakfast at 0630 hoursand an unintentional swim. I was getting ready to make passage back to Queen Charlotte Sound and was moving the kayak ready to lift it on board. The painter slipped out of my fingers and dropped in the water! The kayak obediently bobbed a few metres behind the boat so I reached for the boat hook. As I did so a breeze sprang up, I cursed fluently in four languages as I hastily peeled my clothes off and dove into the cold water – 16 degrees C at 6:30 AM remember? At this point Neptune began to toy with me and the breeze freshened. Now, being on a mooring the boat of course faces the wind wherever it is coming from, so the kayak skated quickly away from me toward land somewhere in the distance. At least it didn’t head out into Cook Strait! It took me about 250 metres of hard swimming to catch up with it and that’s saying something about its rate of drift as I was a professional lifeguard a few years ago. I hauled myself on board the errant vessel and headed back to the merriment of the crew.

Destination was back to Ship Cove. It was a flat run across Waitui Bay and Port Gore so Genoa only was hoisted as the sea state was sloppy, no crash Gybes please. As Cape Jackson was reached the wind freshened a little and backed to the north so the double reefed main was again pressed into service. This put us on a broad reach and a spectacular passage was had close to the lighthouse at about 7 knots of boat speed plus a little tide under us.  On the Queen Charlotte side of the cape, the wind died so a full main was hoisted but near Ship Cove was dropped again as the wind became gusty and fickle in direction, typical of the sounds. In to Ship Cove and as I picked up the mooring line a huge gust blew in bringing a large swell with it. Bugger this! Off to the other side of the bay, where we picked up a mooring in front of a lovely sandy beach. Again reciprocal rights claimed under the Arizona Sailing Club banner!

A wind change later in the day however sent us scuttling round to Resolution Bay where better shelter was found.   Another hill to climbed, this time part of the Queen Charlotte track.  Elevation around 750 metres with a nice steady walk through some gorgeous native bush with giant tree ferns and palms sharing the canopy with sweet smelling beech trees. Views to die for at the lookout and back to the beach for a paddle to cool off hot feet.

Thursday saw the REAL adventure begin.

We sailed out of Resolution Bay on Friday morning just under Genoa, not much wind but chance to have a relaxing cruise to Endeavour Inlet. Here’s a nice idea I thought “Let’s go to Furneaux Lodge and I’ll take you out for dinner.”  As we passed the heads and back into Queen Charlotte sound the wind filled in a little so up went the main. Sailing is fun; sailing fast is funner. Then It happened. I should have known. A huge squall gust, with embedded williwaws, came screaming down the hillside and across the water at us. I called to Kirsty to drop the main and attempted to round up. To her credit, she got the main part way down before it hit. I estimate the wind at close to 60 knots. Poor little Gypsea was laid on her side and we were pushed sideways through the water at around 5 knots. I reached for the mainsheet, fearful of the sail going in the water and filling, thus holding her down even more. Happily I didn’t have to worry about it as the mainsail blew out near the leech clew, pressure on the sail thus released we came upright and finished dropping the now damaged main. On with the iron topsail and we continued with about half the jib furled. An hour later we picked up a mooring at Furneaux Lodge, flat clam, not a breath of wind.

A quick radio call to Furneaux and they came out in the tender and picked us up for a cup of tea and a cake at the café. This was followed by a nice bushwalk and then beers and steak for dinner!!

Friday we slept in a little before a thankfully quiet and uneventful sail home.

The mainsail has since been repaired and we are ready for our next adventure week sailing in March, destination unknown.


Stephanie Roble Impresses a Huge AYC Meeting

Stephanie Roble

Stephanie Roble

And then she grabbed a red eye to head back to Miami to sail before flying on to the New York Yacht Club to accept one of the sport’s highest honors, the Rolex for the Yachtswoman of the Year.

Let’s back up.

First Stephanie Roble flew into Phoenix and headed to Tempe Town Lake to talk with the ASF high school sailing class, looking only slightly older than her audience at 25, but bringing literally a world of sailing experience.

She won the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship last year and placed third at the ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship. Based on her 2014 match racing results, she began the New Year as the top American match racer and is ranked number three in the world. Wow.

What tips did she offer the high school kids? She suggested that they keep detailed notes on their sailing, tracking where they’d been, what the wind was, what they’d done to go fast, and so on. She said her notes kept her focused on going faster and performing even better.

When she got to the packed AYC meeting that night at 7, some 100 people applauded as she offered detailed tactics for match racing, upwind and down, the “dial-up” at the start and moves that would help win. She spiced up the rundown with some astonishing videos, including a killer start sequence and a crushing crash.

While we don’t match race at AYC, Stephanie suggested that knowing some match racing techniques can be a big help in fleet racing, too. Going head to head with a competitor? A match racing move could make the difference.

Then she got on that red eye.

Here’s a link to Stephanie’s website. And here’s a link to donations to her effort.

25-year old Stephanie Roble (circled) almost lost among the high school class at Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Chris Smith

25-year old Stephanie Roble (circled) almost lost among the high school class at Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Chris Smith

Next Event: 2015 Birthday Regatta

Registration is now closed. 

Here comes the biggest event of the AYC year. Sign up now for the 2015 Birthday Regatta, played Friday-Sunday, January 16-18. Here’s more information on the registration page.

Regatta organizer Cindy Pillote says expect the event to be run a lot like the last two years, with the Saturday night dinner at the Pleasant Harbor Marina Waterfront Grill.

Checking out the scores during the 2014 Birthday Regatta. Photo: Peter Howson.

Checking out the scores during the 2014 Birthday Regatta. Photo: Peter Howson.

Order AYC Branded SLAM Merchandise Online Now

Ryan Hanks models the SLAM hat, vest, and shirt at the October AYC monthly meeting. Photo: Chris Smith

Ryan Hanks models the SLAM hat, vest, and shirt at the October AYC monthly meeting. Photo: Chris Smith

Arizona sailors will soon be looking really good.

Order SLAM Now

AYC has arranged to get deep discounts for a very limited time on stylish SLAM sailing merchandise, including hats, shirts, vests, and sailing bags. The gear will be the official Birthday Regatta offering, headlined by sharp gray technical shirts accented with dark gray spears and the green AYC logo. The shirts are available in both long and short sleeves. Normally selling for $50 each, you can order them for just $35 for the long-sleeve shirt and $33 for the short-sleeve version.

The other items are a cotton cap with logo and clip-on cap leash, a gray, medium weight vest, and a small sailing bag. All carry the AYC logo and all are offered at discount. The cap is normally $21.95, but AYC is selling it for $15. The vest retails for $75, but AYC is discounting it to $50. And the sailing bag is $30, but AYC will sell it to you for $20.

AYC will order a limited quantity of shirts and hats and they’ll be available until sold out. The vests and sailing bags are available for purchase only until December 15. To ensure that you get the products you want in the sizes you need, be sure to order before the December 15 date.


Maryellen Ferring fires up the crowd to sell SLAM merchandise for the upcoming Birthday Regatta. Photo: Chris Smith

Maryellen Ferring fires up the crowd to sell SLAM merchandise for the upcoming Birthday Regatta. Commodore Peter Lehrach applauds in the background. Photo: Chris Smith

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 9, 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 Results

The scores from a light wind weekend at Tempe Town Lake are posted on the results page, or by clicking here.

Ultimate Sailing Photography: A Sharon Green Splash at November Meeting

Sharon Green in pursuit of another ultimate sailing picture.

Sharon Green in pursuit of another ultimate sailing picture.

Sharon Green has snapped some of the greatest−the Ultimate−sailing pictures of the last 30 years. In November, she’ll let us feast on them at the AYC monthly meeting.

The meeting is Tuesday, November 11, 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.

Sharon is perhaps best known for her calendar, Ultimate Sailing, that features highlight shots from the year. She’s also diversified into clothing items and various other sailing stuff on her extensive website. But you’ve undoubtedly seen her work many more places.

Ultimate Photographer Sharon Green

Ultimate Photographer Sharon Green

From her official bio: Sharon has been published in major boating publications, both locally and internationally, since she first took up a camera while still in high school. She has worked on eight America’s Cups and countless other high profile campaigns and regattas. In recognition of her extraordinary accomplishments in photography Sharon was awarded an honorary Masters Degree from the prestigious Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California, where she lives with her daughter Michaela and son Kieran.

Sharon is happiest when she’s on the water or hanging from a helicopter in search of the elusive image that can be called Ultimate Sailing.

“My greatest satisfaction is when it all comes together: the anticipation, planning, organizing, traveling and epic conditions that combine to create a thrilling photograph. The pursuit of Ultimate Sailing images never seems to grow old. Three decades and I still love the challenge of creating memorable images for my clients and the calendar.”

Here’s a video of Sharon in action:


On the line for a J/70 regatta.

On the line for a J/70 regatta. Photo: Sharon Green

Sailing on the edge.

Sailing on the edge. Photo: Sharon Green


Beals Champ: Maryellen Ferring

Maryellen Ferring with crew Mike Ferring holding the trophy for winning the 2014 Ruth Beals Regatta. Photo: Victor Felice

Maryellen Ferring with crew Mike Ferring holding the trophy for winning the 2014 Ruth Beals Regatta. Photo: Victor Felice

Maryellen Ferring hefted the Ruth Beals Trophy Saturday (11/8), winning the 10th annual race for women at the helm. The race is named for AYC’s founder.

Maryellen and crew Mike Ferring took the win with two first place and one second place finishes in light air at Tempe Town Lake. Last year’s winner, Cindy Pillote, finished second with crew Wilson Davis. Suzette Bush was third with two different crew. All competitors sailed Capri 14.2s.

Thanks to AYC Fleet Captain Steve Brown for heading the race committee and RC workers Bob Whyte and Victor Felice.

Maryellen and Mike look back to make sure they're not gaining! Photo: Dennis Davis

Maryellen and Mike look back to make sure they’re not gaining! Photo: Dennis Davis


Glittering Lake Pleasant Weekend

There’s nothing quite like a windy weekend to make for fun sailing and we had plenty of it November 1&2.

The turnout was surprisingly light, especially given the favorable conditions. Thistles led the fleets and staged a great final showdown between Mike Hester and returning Thistle ace Skip Kempff, with Mike snatching the fall season win by a tie-breaker, winning the final race on Sunday. (Thistles will be on race committee during the season’s final weekend.) Like to see all the results? Here they are.

Thanks to Commodore Peter Lehrach for devoting his Saturday to creating one smokin’ meat-packed dinner!

Pictures below by Mike Ferring:

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