September: Photographer, Explorer Daniel Fox

Daniel Fox

Daniel Fox

Post-meeting information: Daniel Fox presented some extraordinary pictures along side some amazing stories. Like the time he stared down a brown bear. Twice. Or the time he barely survived crashing on an Oregon beach when a wave split his ocean kayak in two. Daniel offered lots of his personal philosophy, including the value of solitude and the benefits of using “delete” on piles of digital photos.

Here’s how Daniel explains who he is on his website: “Explorer and storyteller, Fox uses his narrative to inspire the public to reconnect with the wilderness. Sometimes philosophical, sometimes poetic, his stories, his photos and his videos capture the viewers through all their senses, leaving them sifting through their memories and remembering their own moments when they felt connected.”

It promises to be an interesting presentation when Daniel Fox fills the projection screen at September’s AYC monthly gathering.

The meeting is Tuesday, September 8, 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.

Here’s more from Daniel’s website: “He is the founder of W.I.L.D., an initiative that raises funds to send under privileged youth to wilderness immersion camps. Fox believes that immersion in nature is an important part of our development, especially during our early, formative years when it is so critical to discover who we are, develop strong self-esteem, begin to adopt leadership skills, challenge our physical well-being and acquire the capacity to live a balance life in a world dominated by technology Knowing the importance of today’s youth in shaping the future, his effort is targeted on giving youth, especially under-privileged teens, the opportunity to experience first-hand the positive impact nature can have on their lives through wilderness immersion camps.”

Rear Commodore Victor Felice (on the left) mimics the sea lion (right) as he introduces speaker Daniel Fox. Photo: Chris Smith

Rear Commodore Victor Felice (on the left) mimics the sea lion (right) as he introduces speaker Daniel Fox. Photo: Chris Smith

One of Daniel's sailing images, from San Francisco Bay.

One of Daniel’s sailing image, from San Francisco Bay.

September Sailboat Racing Seminars

Fleet champs celebrating on Rolling on the Deep. Photo: Chris Smith

Fleet champs celebrating on Rolling on the Deep. Photo: Chris Smith

We have two sailboat racing sessions scheduled for mid-September, one for experienced racers and the other for sailors new to the sport. Best of all, both are free.

Introduction to Sailboat Racing class will be Wednesday, September 16, from 6:30-9 pm. To register, please fill out this form. More information here. We’ll give you a high-speed introduction to the basics, from how to register to race to how to start. The class is conducted by Mike and Maryellen Ferring.

Advanced Sailboat Racing seminar will happen the next night, Thursday, September 17 from 6:30-9 pm. The seminar will feature four of AYC’s Club Champions (16 championships among them), Dave Haggart, Martin Lorch,  and Skip Kempff. To register, please fill out this form. We’ve asked the three to offer presentations on tactics, light wind sailing, and starts, and then we’ll open the seminar to questions from you. What do you want to know?

Both sessions will be held at the Tempe Police Department Apache Substation at 1855 E Apache Parkway, near McClintock (map).


Gino Morrelli Says It’s “Back to the Future”


Gino Morrelli’s company is even making high-performance composite paddle boards! Photo: Chris Smith

What’s one path to designing the fastest boats in the world? One way, says Gino Morrelli, is to look at square riggers. What? Really. They didn’t have stainless steel for rigging, so they had to hold everything together with hemp. Today, substitute something made of composites (steel is disappearing from the fast boats), but use techniques from the days of wooden ships.

Today’s advanced boats are turning things upside down in other ways, too. Gino says the hulls of catamarans used to be broad at the top and sharp at the bottom. Today, it’s the opposite in order to get buoyancy lower.

Gino plays our game at the very highest level, designing boats for everything from America’s Cup to Disneyland, from Gunboats to Hobie Waves. He helped design Oracle’s first winning boat and the Team New Zealand entry in AC34 and he’s now helping devise the rules for AC35 (tip: it’s looking like it’ll be a 50-foot boat).

This accomplished man heads Morrelli & Melvin and hangs out with the rich and successful, but he’s a very approachable and enthusiastic guy—self-taught, amazingly. He told Tuesday night’s AYC monthly meeting that he built his first boat with his father in the back yard. Within a very few years he was building catamarans that ran at the front of international races.

What about foiling? It’s every third word in boat design, he says. At first they’ve been used for boats that teeter on the bleeding edge, but they’re beginning to show up in more everyday boats. Gino says they’re now foiling microwaves, refrigerators, and air conditioners, fast cruisers that we would never imagine could rise up in the water.

Asked to do a postmortem on Team New Zealand’s loss in San Francisco, Gino says there were various mistakes by TNZ and various improvements to the boat for Oracle Team USA, but he points to one big change from the first races to the last: Oracle learned how to come out of the tacks with more speed. That made all the difference.


Gino Morrelli was involved in the design of both these boats for the last America’s Cup competition. Photo: Mike Ferring


Tucson Sailing’s Mexican Regatta Oct 23-25

Tucson Sailing Club's Mexican Regatta

Tucson Sailing Club’s Mexican Regatta

The Tucson Sailing Club invites AYC to join the 45th Fall Regatta October 23-25, followed by a cruise on the Sea of Cortez for anyone who has the time.

Commodore Mike Mulcahy writes, “The Fall Regatta is an open water race around the islands in the large bay outside the anchorage and Marina at San Carlos. Winds permitting, one of the two race days may follow the coast to Algodones Bay around the buoy there and return. The cruise scheduled this year will travel to San Pedro Bay with a horseshoe sand beach an easy day sail from San Carlos. Some sailors will stay, enjoying the water and scenery of this beautiful anchorage. Those sailors with more time may spend the next week to 14 days traveling to the Midriff Islands, remote anchorages each a different special place.”

AYC and TSC member Peter Burgard is the event chairman. Here’s more information from the TSC site.

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:

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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.