AYC Sailors Team Up for Catalina 37 Championship

Team Comfortably Numb-LBRW 2012

Nine Arizona sailors joined forces to race in the Catalina 37 National Championships at Long Beach Race week June 22-24.  Together they rose to the challenge of taking their mostly “small boat” (14ft-20ft) experience up to this 37 footer racer and they “hung in there with the big boys.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the Catalina 37, it is a monohull sloop-rig boat built specifically for match racing, with symmetrical spinnaker and wheel steering.  The Long Beach Yacht Club has a fleet of 11 Catalina 37s and uses this fleet for the annual Congressional Cup, and also (who knew?) allows them to be chartered for Wednesday night racing and for special events like the Catalina 37 National Championship held during Long Beach Race Week.

John Riddell took advantage of this chartering opportunity to see if AYC could rally a team to participate. And lo and behold, John was able to find 9 AYC sailors willing to take on the challenge of getting a bunch of “skippers” to play nice in individual roles and to take their mostly-small-boat experience up a level.

Over the seven-race series Team Comfortably Numb stayed close with the fleet, crossing ahead of competitors in mid-fleet during most races, but fell to the back of the fleet by the end of every race due to lack of experience with the boat and some hardware failures (auto-releasing spin pole-ack!). And in two races, leeward mark roundings proved to be TCN’s downfall where spinnaker douses and jib raising ran into, um, let’s just say “problems.”

No matter. By all accounts, John Riddell’s brainchild worked and all 9 members of Team Comfortably Numb are ready to come back again next year to give it another shot, this time with a lot more experience under their belts. Here’s Team Comfortably Numb’s roster from back of the boat forward…

  • Tactician-Trey Harlow (Thistle)
  • Helmsman-Rick Johnson (Martin 242)
  • Main Trimmer-Emory Heisler (Buccaneer 18)
  • Jib/Spin Trimmer-Mike Axtman (J29)
  • Jib/Spin Trimmer-Rob Gibbs (Shock 23R)
  • Pit-Jason Donkersly (J29)
  • Mast-“Little Joe” Barnett (Megabyte)
  • Bow-John Riddell (Viper)
  • Chef/Floater-Adam Torel (new sailor!)

July Meeting: Game Night Competition

What do you call that metal loop thingy on the front of the mast? What’s the penalty for violating Rule 14? Who “won” Ye Blunder Bucket this spring?

If you can answer these questions, your team may be in line for some prizes at the AYC Monthly Meeting Game Night, Tuesday, July 12, starting at 7 pm (with dinner at 6 pm).

Like last year, we’ll split the crowd into teams, hand each team an electronic, interactive clicker, and flash questions on the screen. The team that gets the most right answers will be the winner. The questions will be a mixture of general sailing questions, some trivia, and some local knowledge. Bring your kids, because we’ll have some questions reserved just for them to answer.

The AYC 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.

July 2012 Compass Points

Click here to see the July Compass Points.

Summer sailing is here and in cooler places, including the annual trip to Catalina and the retreat to the pines of Kinnickinick.

Starting with this July Compass Points, members’ want ads will be posted for 90 days and then removed. We know you still want to sell that boat, so go wax it, redo the ad, take more pictures and get that thing sold.

Yes, the Heat Stroke series is hot; it’s supposed to be. In addition to the racers, there are folks showing up to Adopt-a-Boat just to sail. Hey, you new sailors come Adopt-a-Boat and join the fun on Sunday race days at Tempe Town Lake. Best way to improve your skills might be to join a race and follow the leader.

This month’s Compass Points collects the posts of the month of June, so you can print them out, frame them, laminate them, bronze them or put them in a notebook binder to remember it all.

—Decker Williams, Vice Commodore

Phil Freedman Writes College Sailing Book

Phil Freedman's new book.

Phil Freedman swept into town like a summer monsoon a couple years ago, deciding to move here from San Diego to be with his daughter Carina, who had enrolled at Arizona State University. Phil is a big personality and a lifetime sailor, so it was no surprise that he grabbed hold of the ASU sailing team and suddenly transformed it into something much bigger than it had been. He bought boats, “branded” the team with signs and clothes, and recruited lots of kids, most of whom had never sailed before. Along the way, Emory Heisler recruited Phil to be Vice Commodore.

Unfortunately, simultaneously, Phil was fighting some serious health problems that seem to have only gotten worse since. He resigned from the AYC board and hasn’t been able to give the ASU sailing team as much help as he wanted.

But he wrote and published a book. It’s called College Sailing Made Easy, a banquet of thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and concepts to help field a college racing team. Illustrated with cartoons and drawings and punctuated with humor, it covers everything from sail trim to how to order T-shirts. And it concludes with pictures of Phil’s favorite time sailing—when he actually fielded and drove a 12-meter America’s Cup challenger in San Diego.

If you’d like a copy of the book, contact Phil at this email or it’s available at Amazon for $12.95.

Big AYC Turnout for LBRW

Yes, that's Rick Johnson leaning on the wheel. Emory Heisler on main trim. Rob Gibbs on jib. Obscured by the boom is the afterguard, tactician, and AYC Club Champ Trey Harlow. Team Comfortably Numb was put together by John Riddell.

We had a herd of AYC members turn out for the Long Beach Race Week last weekend, enjoying sailing in a strong breeze against tough competition. The seven boats included four Vipers (Tony Chapman, Steve Brown, Greg Jackson, and Laurent Dion), Mike and Jo Grijalva’s Shockwave, Paul Liszewski’s Hobie 33, and a rag-tag bunch of guys tight-knit team of commandos who chartered a Catalina 37 and finished true to their name, Team Comfortably Numb. We hope to get a G-rated version of the story from Emory Heisler or Rob Gibbs.

Next up: The Marina del Rey to San Diego race followed by the weekend at the Isthmus on Catalina Island, hosted by the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club.

Full results available here.


MDR-SD Race and Catalina Weekend

Next up on the AYC calendar: the Marina del Rey to San Diego race plus the traditional weekend at the Isthmus on Catalina Island. The gathering at the Isthmus will happen Friday-Sunday, July 6-8. It includes games and food with the SMWYC, as usual. Contact Matt Clark of SMWYC to let him know you’re coming. And contact AYC Cruising Captain Mike Parker for further information.

This is the 45th year the race has been held, and our partners at the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club are hoping for a very big turnout. Here’s their appeal:

We’re doing the 45th MDR to San Diego Anniversary running of this prestigious event which in the past drew over 350 boats. This year, we would really like to reach 45 boats for the 45th running.

We’re planning on having a great pre-race party with a professional band, award-winning BBQ cookery from Big Mista and we’re expecting so many people that we’re hosting it in our parking lot.

It’s an easy event, starting right in our Marina, and now we have professional weather routing services for the race.

We’re starting the San Diego race on Saturday June 30th and will finish in San Diego on the 1st in time for the 4th of July on Wednesday.

We’re also having a return cruise to Catalina if you have the inclination, at the same time as Del Rey Yacht Club, which is going there on the 5th of July for the fireworks. Here’s the SD-MDR NOR.

Garth Reynolds on Light Air Sailing

What do you think of this sail trim for light air?

North Sails designer Garth Reynolds provided a full explanation of sail trim in light air during the AYC Monthly Meeting on Tuesday, 6/12. And he provided his PowerPoint slides to help understand it all.

You’ll find the slides here. And here’s a narrative of how they tuned and sailed a Viper 640 during a regatta in San Diego.

For just one week, North is also offering a 10% discount on all North One Design sails. Contact Garth for further information.

June 2012 – Compass Points


May was a great conclusion to our AYC year, with a new Club Champion, a loud Party, and roadside trash pick-up. Okay, maybe the trash pick-up wasn’t as fun as the first two, but it got a ton of debris off of the littered shoulders of Carefree Highway and will put our name on a sign that’s about a mile from the Pleasant Harbor turn.

Next up: summer sailing here and in cooler places, including the annual trip to Catalina and the retreat to the pines of Kinnickinick.

This month’s Compass Points collects the posts of the month of May so you can print them out, frame them, laminate them, bronze them or put them in a notebook binder to remember it all.

CA Laser Masters – AYC’s Paul Miachika Relives the “Old Days”

AYC 1st Year Member Paul Miachika participated in the California Laser Masters Championship in San Diego on the May 5th/6th weekend. His verdict: “It was a blast.” Here’s his report.

Fifteen salty dogs did battle on the Pacific Ocean in front of Mission Beach with sailors coming from as far away as Colorado and Northern California. Winds were on the lighter side (5 to 10 knots) for the most part, with the windiest race being the last with a steady 12 to 15 knots of wind, but from the south rather than the traditional west. There were big rollers coming in (5 to 6 feet) from the west with wind chop on top which made focusing on steering through the waves upwind vitally important in addition to normal close-quarter issues. The other big variable was the ever-menacing presence of loose kelp; if it caught on your dagger board or rudder you were dragging an instant sea anchor.

I started off strong with a hard fought finishes of 6, 10, 4, 6 on the first day and was leading a group of 4 other sailors holding down 5th place overall and 3rd in the Grand Masters division (55-64yrs). My starts were good but my sail was not up to par in the choppy conditions and resulted in some boat speed issues, although choosing the right route upwind was the key.

Sunday’s results were not as good despite being lent a newer sail from eventual 2nd overall winner Dave Leuck. The first 2 races I played the starboard side of the course, expecting a gradual clocking of the southerly breeze that didn’t come. (Went too fast in the wrong direction.) In the 3rd and final race the wind was up and had a great start and was battling for position rounding the top mark in 3rd place. Felt like the old days hiking my a** off and looking back at boats instead of seeing them in front of me.

Still had some “rust” and with the waves coming from the west but the wind from the SSW, it made running downwind tricky. A wave kicked me over on the first downwind leg and I capsized. Pretty embarrassing. Worked hard to get it righted but ended up the next three legs trying to catch up. Overall regatta position 8th. Not a bad result considering almost 30 years since I competed at a high level.

The winner, Doug Hart, is a phenomenal sailor. At 58 and 165 pounds he is in great shape, makes his boat go fast upwind and downwind and is a local so the winds didn’t fool him. With four firsts and three seconds and with handicap adjustments, he blew the rest of the field away. The Grand Master division had six sailors and all were good ones. Met lots of nice people including Nils Andersson, the Laser Fleet Captain and race organizer who was super helpful.

I strongly recommend other Laser (and non-Laser sailors) who can organize getting to the coast to participate in any Master or regular Laser regattas in the future to do so. Mission Bay Yacht Club is a fabulous club and the setting can’t be beat. Neither could the open keg set up on the yacht club balcony for the Master Laser sailors! (Photos courtesy of Julie and Paul Miachika.)

Paul Miachika

Julie and Paul Miachika at MBYC

Editor’s Note: Laser Master’s are broken into four age divisions: Apprentice (35-44 years old), Master (45-54 years old), Grand Master (55-64 years old) and Great Grand Master (65+). At the highly competitive but very fun World Championships you race against competitors only in your age division. In North America the Masters typically race as one fleet but score in their age divisions.

Mike & Tia Watch Close Finish of VOR Leg 7

Celebrating Abu Dhabi's Close Win. Photo: Mike Yarnell

You think your last race was close? Try sailing for more than 11 days, 3590 nm and winning (or losing) by five minutes and 27 seconds. Or slipping back to 5th by just a minute and 42 seconds!

That’s what happened at the Volvo Ocean Race leg from Miami to Lisbon. And AYC Honorary Life Members Mike Yarnell and Tia Renshaw were at the dock waiting as the boats finished.

Mike writes, “It was fun—although a long wait. We arrived about 6 p.m. at the Lisbon Volvo Ocean Village (after walking a couple of miles from Belem to Algis) and the first boat came in after 11 p.m. Then we waited around until just after midnight for the exit from the team area of the winning boat crew and the presentation on stage.”

Mike and Tia are vacationing in Lisbon, helping the struggling Portuguese economy. The Volvo Ocean Racers should help it too. They’re spending plenty to be ready to depart on the next leg, Saturday, June 9.

Marina del Rey to San Diego to Isthmus 2012

It’s one of the fun weeks of the summer: the Marina del Rey to San Diego race followed by the gathering at Catalina Island at the Isthmus.

Here’s the notice of race for the MDR-SD portion, the weekend of 6/30-7/1.

Then we’ll gather at the Isthmus on July 6-8 for the annual event with the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club (SMWYC). For those who haven’t done this before, you should know that our friends from SMWYC put on a great weekend, with barbeque, volleyball, horseshoes, and a fun race of some kind for the Commodores or the Commodore’s representative. AYC participation has dropped off in the last couple years, but Cruising Captain Mike Parker says he plans to be there and hopes you’ll join him.

More details of the Isthmus event still to come.

Remembering the Old Daze of AYC

In the spring of 2011 we gathered seven of AYC’s most experienced members and put them at a picnic table in Encanto Park. Tell us about the old days, we said. And they did.

Here you’ll see Martin Lorch, Pat Guthrie, Bob Frazier, Al Lehman, Tom Ohlin, Don DeFreze, and Dennis Lynde as they recount the stories.

The video was produced and edited by Mike Ferring.

Garth Reynolds of North Sails Returns in June

Garth Reynolds of North Sails

He was a hit last July; now he’s coming back for a return engagement: North Sails designer Garth Reynolds will be our speaker at the AYC June meeting. His assignment: Light Air Sailing. Not that we ever have any of that.

Join us at 7 pm, Tuesday, June 12, at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe. Guests are welcome to attend.

Garth will be leaving the San Diego North loft soon to take a promotion to the Boston loft, where he’ll work under JB Braun, the designer for the Oracle America’s Cup effort. (Braun is in charge of the aero for Oracle’s new 72-foot boat.)

For this meeting, Garth has gotten North to offer a discount on sails for AYC only. You’ll receive a 10% discount on one-design sails purchased within 7 days of his presentation. Normally those sails are put on sail only in September. Here’s a list of all the one-design fleets covered by the offer.

Describing sail design during last year's AYC meeting.