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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

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

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

Cool Weekend in the Pines

Nothing like a fistful of s’mores to bring the giggle to the campfire. Photo: Mike Ferring

The new AYC summer campout location works just fine: Dairy Springs Campground near Mormon Lake can be reached by paved roads, offers running water and permanent (if rustic) toilets, and even has nearby cabins for softies like your Commodore. It doesn’t have the aura of a tricky, hard-to-spell name like Kinnikinick, but that’s easy to overlook.

What hasn’t changed is a significant drop in temperature from the 100s of Phoenix to the 70s of the high country and the collection of friends ready to shoot the breeze, hike the hills, and take your 75¢ stake at Liar’s Dice. Add intervals of soothing rain and a hot grill to cook your dinner and this is a fun, casual, relaxing couple days.

Credit Steve, Angela and Kenneth for pulling it together once again and for talking the rest of us into dropping in.

Scroll down to see a slide show of pictures from Mike Ferring.

The traditional game of Liar’s Dice brings lots of laughs to an afternoon at the campground. Photo: Mike Ferring


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maryellen and Mike Ferring mug for the camera while Steve Nahkala prepares a traditional breakfast. Photo: Dennis Lynde

Help ASF with Each Amazon Purchase

Do you shop at Amazon? Turns out the huge online merchant will give .5% (one-half percent) of the money from each of your purchases to the Arizona Sailing Foundation.

Your purchases cost the same. Amazon Prime still applies, if you’ve bought that service. ASF just gets a cut of all your dollars.

It’s simple. Instead of buying from amazon.com, you buy from smile.amazon.com. Sign up to have your purchases credited to ASF. That’s it. Takes less than a minute.

If you buy from Amazon, begin buying from smile.amazon.com instead. Route .5% of your money to ASF.

If you buy from Amazon, begin buying from smile.amazon.com instead in order to route .5% of your money to ASF.

Sign Up for Spring Racing

Ready to get back to racing? Tempe Town Lake sailors went after each other at the end of January. Lake Pleasant opened for action two weeks later on Saturday, February 7.

Sign Up Now

The Gibbs family on their last boat (since replaced by a Catalina 25).

The Gibbs family on their Santana (since replaced by a Catalina 25).

You’ll find all the race documents on the racing page.

The TransLoch Series again is part of the Lake Pleasant action, an opportunity for sailors who like long-distance runs rather than races around the buoys (and it’s a great way to start for people new to the sport).

Otherwise, AYC veterans know the drill: fun on the water. Lasers, Capri 14.2, Buccaneer 18 and Portsmouth boats go at it on TTL. Catalina 22, Santana 20, Thistle, PHRF Non-Spin, Spin, and Sportboat race at Lake Pleasant.

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