Friday, August 29, 2008

United 889 to Beijing

While America barbecued, America's Paralympic teams flew to China over Labor Day weekend and settled into their quarters on a mission brightly vivid, highly emotional, long-sought.

SKUD 18 crew Maureen McKinnon-Tucker, waiting on Friday morning to board United 889, San Francisco to Beijing, said, "I've been in tears more than once over the last 48 hours, just thinking about the opportunity and the responsibility."

Team USA first gathered in Colorado Springs for "processing," or as one-armed Sonar crew Tim Angle put it, "to receive official team gear, learn how to be a good ambassador of our country, and sign a ton of flags." He couldn't avoid the thought, "Michael Phelps slept here." The team then flew via Denver to San Francisco for an overnight stop and morning boarding to Beijing and a connection to Qingdao. Left to right on wheels, Maureen McKinnon-Tucker, Rick Doerr, Nick Scandone . . .

The signs at Counter 29, Aisle 3 of SFO's international terminal read, Counter Closed. Meaning, in effect, reserved for Team USA. When Sonar crew Tim Angle said hi but quickly excused himself, "It seems I don't have a ticket to Qingdao," this looked to me to be some hassle. But Tim (with the one hand he has left, he could hurt you) later said no to that: "With this many people and 28 bags, United has been doing a great job for us. They're a sponsor, and everything gets worked out in a hurry." That's Tim at left below, then his fellows in the Sonar, Bill Donohue and Rick Doerr . . .

And so things did get worked out, as described. The blonde figure, also at the counter above, is coach Betsy Alison, energetically working things out. Maureen added, "It's good to have a pit bull on your side . . .

"I don't think she'd mind my saying that."

Thanks to a benefactor in Boston, there were upgrades to first class. Tim: "I've never sat upstairs in a 747." Maureen: "If we arrive rested, that's an extra day on the water."

For Maureen and her skipper, Nick Scandone, time on the water holds extra importance. Scandone, a past Rolex US Sailor of the Year, has gold medal written all over him, but he is racing to the races against the progressively debilitating effects of late-stage ALS. The pair skipped all pre-regattas at Qingdao for fear of over-taxing Nick's strength. His handshake was weak, but the eyes were bright. I screwed up the focus on this, but not even my ham-fisted work can screw up the spirit, so here's the shot anyhow . . .

Maureen fretted about learning to read the currents, but Scandone said, "I just wonder if there'll be more than three knots of wind. And if there is, will it blow in the twenties the way it did for some of the Olympic races."

2.4mR rep John Ruf was grinning ear-to-ear and I don't think he ever stopped, there was so much excitement in the air. Back in Wisconsin, he's an attorney, but for a while to come now, he's all-sailor.

Dr. Rick Doerr, Sonar skipper, practices medicine from a wheelchair much as Ruf practices law from a wheelchair. Of the Paralympic Games Doerr says, "It's been a journey. We started with a humble program, and every year it got more intense and more complex, and every time we stepped it up it still made sense." Doerr, Angle, and Donohue just won the Clagett regatta in Newport, and here they are in winning form, as snapped by Amory Ross . . .

Then it was time for Team USA to head for Security, Maureen McKinnon-Tucker leaving behind family in America and a three-year-old son who apparently is winning against brain cancer but who knows, who knows, and not before Southern Californian Nick Scandone and I had our everyday-sailing-in-California bull session and I remarked that I was rushing home to put together this column (blog, if you will) then rushing back to SFO to catch a flight to LAX to catch a cab to San Pedro to meet my friends Ric and Monika to sail out to Catalina, Howland's Landing. And he said, "Wow. My wife is going to Catalina too." Well, of course.

My country. My people.

Good luck and good hunting . . .

The Paralympic Games
Qingdao, China, on the Yellow Sea
Sonar, SKUD 18, 2.4mR
September 6-17

With Love from 1982

Express 27s wrapped their nationals over the weekend on San Francisco Bay, and the beauty of that is having 19 boats on the line in a still-healthy fleet of sweet-to-sail boats.

They were born in the heyday of Santa Cruz ULDBs, these Express 27s. Terry Alsberg—he had built boats at Moore's so he knew how good work is done—commissioned a design from the late Carl Schumacher, and the result to everyone's delight went downwind like a feather in a hurricane (except for being easy to control). To everyone's surprise (excepting Alsberg and Schumacher) it went to weather like a bandit.

A small car could trailer one of these puppies, and two people could step or unstep the mast. With two fingers on the tiller the boat felt like a dinghy, and—

Wanna race to Hawaii? No reason not to.

I'm still trying to decide whether to account for the design as reverse engineering or inverse engineering, per this quote stolen from a mid-Eighties Latitude 38. The voice is Schumacher's: "We started off with the idea of building a boat the same weight as a Moore 24, but two feet longer. We eventually decided on the largest possible boat that could use a (single speed) Barient 10 for the jib winch, which turned out to be 27 feet."

Alsberg had wanted a boat where you did not see a trimmer plus tailer on the winch.

Congratulations to Nick Gibbens, in 2008 a first-time Nationals winner with hull #67, Shenanigans. By 11 points, no less. St. Francis YC laid the courses, and it was very San Francisco Bay . . .

Photo by Peter Lyons, Lyons Imaging

So's I Finally . . .

. . . got around to doing a profile of Skip Allan, which came out in the September issue of SAIL. Skip is one of my sailing heroes, and darned if he didn't go out and win the Singlehanded Transpac, not necessarily to my surprise, in the pending-months between filing and publication.

Can't beat that timing.

And darned if Skip didn't lose Wildflower on the way back to California from Hawaii on the boat's seventh racing-round-trip from the mainland (and Skip's 28th).

This is the MSC Toronto (Liberian flagged) that plucked Skip out of his predicament, details of which are yet to come. From the deck of a 27-footer, in seas evil enough to break an accomplished boat and outwit an extraordinary seaman, this behemoth (photographed in the Oakland Shipping Channel with the Golden Gate off the bow) must have looked even behemoth-er . . .

Photo by Kevin Collins as posted on

This puts my world out of joint. The MSC Toronto was due in Los Angeles Harbor on Tuesday. More to follow—Kimball

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Biggest Maybe Ever?

If you're sharing my part of the planet you know that the America's Cup is in legal limbo, and we may or may not be on our way to a Deed of Gift match between former (very former) friends Ernesto Bertarelli and Larry Ellison, as in Alinghi vs. BMW Oracle Racing. May or may not be, because we have yet another legal appeal under way and as things stand now, the ball is in Alinghi's court. Unless it loses the next round, it can organize the next defense and ignore BMW Oracle's challenge in a 90 foot trimaran. This 90-foot trimaran, unveiled today in Anacortes, Washington.

In a release, team captain Russell Coutts pronounced himself pleased with this product and expects to sail it soon. Probably before a court ruling comes down, in fact. The boat represents a collaboration of Van Peteghem / Lauriot Prévost (VPLP) of France and one of the most successful skippers in multihull racing, Franck Cammas.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

24 Hours

If it's too soon to call this a happy ending, howzabout a happy chapter?

I'm a fan of SAIL contributor Margie Smith, who shed a life in television news to sail and travel and then diverted to deal with a bout of a decent-odds variety of cancer. She's been writing about all the above at Cancer Is Hilarious, wherein we've discovered that some aspects are more hilarious than others.

But, here's an entry that makes my day. Notice date and time . . .

August 15, 12:45 p.m.
Last Day of Radiation

August 16, 12:45 p.m.
Cape Cod
Catboat Regatta Start Line

Margie, I like your priorities.

Meanwhile on the other side of the globe

Olympic sailing is wrapped and done with joy here and disappointments there and plenty to stew about going forward.

Before we leave our China-mind entirely, and at the risk of a touch of bad karma, I have to share some pics that have been going around the Net. They originate at, which collects submissions from wherever . . .

I'm skipping the scatological ones, even though they're funnier.

Go fish—Kimball

Monday, August 18, 2008

On the Foils of Eagles


Before we address our topic of the day, and for all of us who sat up stateside to watch your race in the Laser Radial, Anna Tunnicliffe, congratulations. You showed what it means to occupy First.

Occupying first as in, I'm not leaving.

Whilst being a target . . .

It looked pretty squeezy as you jammed yourself into a place next to the committee boat at the start of the Laser Radial medals race (the most-exposed position) with no bail-out room to leeward.

It looked pretty grim as you went back to restart just-in-case. Just in case you were over along with the boat next door that was called OCS (On Course Side) and so you went back to restart, not alone, but functionally last.

It looked slow and consummately hectic, mentally, as you climbed back to place second for the race and Gold for the sailing games of the 29th Olympiad.

Very cool.

And now back to our regularly-schedule programming . . .

This is going to be fun

The Moth Nationals that wrapped last weekend on the Columbia River are proof of concept for the Moth Worlds one year away, and that leaves time to build the fleet in the USA. Sean "Doogie" Couvreux spent 2007 on the bow of an AC boat, but he's spent a lot of 2008 flying through the air with (some) ease.

"We're all still making boathandling mistakes," Doogie admits. But in a few days at Cascade Locks (downstream from the Hood River Gorge), strides were made. Last Friday, the already-accomplished Bora Gulari led at every mark in every race. By the end of the series, Bora was still winning, but, "The top 10 were having close roundings," Doogie says. "The US fleet is building pretty well, considering how expensive the boats are and how hard they are to sail. With the likes of Dalton Bergan, Morgan Larson, Charlie McKee, it's not a ho hum fleet."

Nope, nothing ho hum about a foil-born dinghy. And there's still a long way to go to catch Bora Gulari.

Rohan Veal, Mr. Bladerider brand Moth, showed up to coach on technique, which also sped progress on the learning curve for 16 sailors including two from the Midwest and one from the East. Doogie's prognosis for the Worlds (August 5-14, 2008) allows for 70-80 boats.

For a British point of view we turn to past world champion Simon Payne and a "Letter from America" blog entry: "Cascade Locks is beautiful and errr... small. Think Garda beauty sans the cappucinos and the scale. Chichester Harbour at full tide would dwarf it. This is in contrast to everything else in Amercia which is huge. Tom's Harley Davidson Ford truck is so tall that my ears popped when I climbed in."

Come to think of it, these guys are already having fun. Here's Tom Driscoll's Prowler Moth in a photo posted on Payne's web site . . .

And Charlie McKee checks in with these remarks on Gulari's nine-straight win: "While some competitors could keep up with Bora downwind or upwind in the light, his upwind speed when overpowered was crushing. It was an eye-opening and awe inspiring reminder to the fleet just how far there is to go still.

"Simon sailed well but had a somewhat inconsistent series to finish 2nd. The rapidly expanding Pacific NW fleet was well represented with 7 boats, with Seattle's Dalton Bergan and Gorge local Morgan Larson (showing up for the regatta with only a few days of Moth sailing under his belt) particularly impressive. But the most impressive performance aside from Bora was undoubtedly 16 year old Hans Henken, who finished in 3rd place behind Bora and Simon. Good starts and tactics, solid boathandling, and excellent downwind speed put him on the podium for the 2nd time in a month, following his bronze medal in the World Youth Champs in the 29er Class."

More Future Tense

Also looking forward, the 18-foot skiffs that just passed through San Francisco. The grand old man of that fleet, John Winning, tells us the skiffs believe they can build a world tour with a world championship rotating between Australia, Europe, and San Francisco. No, they wouldn't take their Giltinan trophy on tour. That's against Aussie religion. This would be a new way for them to look at a worlds. True success will depend upon that long-in-its-infancy US fleet.

Holding my Breath

I had medium-level hopes for the broadband webcast of Olympic sailing, and it's had its moments, but there's no overcoming the fact that it's a narrow periscope of a view.

And it is with great regret—because we're all tired of this conversation—that I've allowed Olympic sailing to remind me: We're overdue to revisit Rule 42, kinetics.

It's not just about choosing between the coyote side . . .

Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (as a different cause puts it)

And those who take offense at the air-rowing that went on
(and on) in the RS:X board fleet.

The problem that won't go away is uneven enforcement. When you travel, you have to learn over and over how much is too much movement, and there have been cases on the road to the Olympics (think certain stops in Europe) where having USA on your sail would single you out for, shall we say, special attention.

Folks, what we have just isn't working—Kimball

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Success Story

Dean Brenner has this line: "There was a time when the only thing I knew about Zach Railey was that he's Paige's brother."

No more.

Zach quietly but relentlessly laid the groundwork for the silver medal that he just captured in Qingdao. He lived years on the wavelength of cautiously telling people he was looking toward 2012. While passionately pursuing, etc.

There's another dimension too. Zach knew then and he knows now: "Past Olympians say, remember to step back and enjoy the moment; it's gone before you know it. This whole year just flew by. I was in the U.S. maybe 30 days."

And there's another figure in this saga: Kenneth Andreasen, Railey's coach for five years in Optis, beginning when Zach was nine and peaking (for example) when Zach at 11 was the youngest sailor to qualify for and compete in the 1995 Opti Worlds. High-level coaching is a prominent theme for each member of the US Sailing Team.

After finishing fourth at the pre-trials in 2006, Zach says, "I re-evaluated. The one thing missing was the right coach. There has to be a high level of mutual comfort and trust, no second-guessing, and when you find that one person, you know it. When Kenneth says 'jump' I say, how high."

Now the press is discovering and Americans will soon know what a smart, well-spoken, focused, driven competitor Zach Railey is. It was a big win for him to kick off Olympic competition ahead of Ben Ainslie, then close it with Ainslie covering his every move. This 24-year-old from Florida has made something of himself in the last two years, and Ainslie has to consider that he could be crowded at the front of the Finn ranks, come 2012.

The Playbill:

Ben Ainslie being The Man in this class, now with a third gold medal on top of the silver that he took in Lasers in his first Olympiad. With the 2012 Games coming to Britain, his home country, Ainslie will be very tempted to go hunting for a fourth successive gold medal to tie the so-far-unmatched record of Paul Elvstrøm. And that will be a show to watch, beginning, oh, about the day after tomorrow.

Dean Brenner being the chair of US Olympic sailing.

Paige Railey being the past world female sailor of the year that Anna Tunnicliffe had to get through to win the U.S. Trials.

Zach being the brother who has a piece of Paige inside his head, and vice versa.

The devil in the details (for Ainslie) being a competing America's Cup match in 2012 or not. It's an unlikelihood that no one can do much to help or prevent. But Ainslie has America's Cup ambitions. He was part of Team New Zealand in 2007, and he chose to skipper the B boat rather than be a part of the afterguard on the A boat. All part of his own longterm thinking. Big Ben, as some of the British writers like to call him, doesn't see himself as anything less than in charge. Neither did Sir Keith Mills when he hired Ainslie to helm for the British challenger, Team Origin, in the alleged next America's Cup. Whenever and whatever that may be. But let's not sink into that quagmire, not now.

The Olympics are on and the US Olympic team is putting up a great show in Qingdao. That includes the up and comers who won't make their medals races but have proved they can win a race or two at the Olympics. And this is a young team as Brenner will not have us forget.

For Sally, Debbie, and Carrie I'm still feeling the ouch—Kimball

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Olympic racing at Qingdao has lived up (or down) to expectations that it would be light, streaky, and puffy with a dice roll here and a dice roll there. A few people seem to be making their own luck. Zach Railey has been terrific, keeping it conservative but loose at the edges—to seize opportunities when they arise—and that has kept him solidly in second in the Finns. Andrew Campbell blamed his poor early showing on being too conservative up the middle but loosened up to win a race on Tuesday and yes, that's a good thing.

Anna Tunnicliffe—I want to say she's a rock, because she's been so solid, but that would have be a fast rock and the metaphor starts to fall apart, so let's just listen to a few of the voices from Qingdao:

"It is certainly nice to have those first race jitters out of my system. There are few experiences like sailing your first Olympic race, and I had some butterflies that I thought I’d put behind me in my youth sailing days.
Andrew Campbell (Laser)

“If you look at the scores it’s anybody’s game.”
Sally Barkow (Yngling)

"You know when you’re behind some boats and your hands start shaking and you wonder, ‘Am I going to pass them?’ I really had to breathe and calm myself down.” Anna Tunnicliffe" (Laser Radial)

And a voice from the corps, thinking ahead to Weymouth 2012:

"So how would the Olympic Regatta have been if it had been taking place this week, in the middle of the English summer? We would have had just one day's racing so far, because it's been blowing over 30 knots every day, not to mention the fact that it's been pissing with rain."
Andy Rice at He's a Brit, so he can speak.

And let's close this lightweight survey with the one and only Austin Sperry, who takes to the water for the first race of the Star class on Thursday. He's looking back to the opening ceremony in Beijing:

"The USOC sent a car to pick me up and take me to the Olympic Village. WOW! I have done many things in my life that warrant say, Cool, I am living the dream. But this was far and away the coolest thing I have EVER done in my life.

"I hooked up with my US Sailing Teammates and started walking around the Village taking it all in. People watching. Star gazing. The first place I went was the dining hall. This place was HUGE! I think you could fit four football fields under this one roof. It had every kind of food you could imagine. It even had a McDonalds. I never ate there, but LeBron James & Carmelo Anthony were eating a Big Mac after opening ceremonies!"

US Sailing has been doing a nice job of keeping the standings posted, with news updates from Team USA in Qingdao. I'm glad to hear that Gary Jobson's commentary kicks in for the next races; it's been a bit wearing, watching through a camera lens via a laptop screen and trying to read the course. That would be starting at 1000 PDT. Sorry, East Coast amigos.

The 18-foot Skiffs had a great day of racing today on San Francisco Bay, and btw, they're talking about bringing their Worlds here in a couple of years. Am I ready for that? I am so ready. Eric Simonson shot this beauty of some Sydney lads doing their thing, and yes, there's an Olympic tie-in. They'd have their coach here, the man who once dominated skiff sailing, except that Iain Murray is racing a Star for Australia in the Olympics, his first Olympics at what must be about age 50, and as I write, starting signals are just hours away in Qingdao.

See below for the American view of Olympic standings at the end of Wednesday's racing—Kimball

Laser Radial: 28 boats
1. Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.), 4, 5, 6; 15
2. Petronijevic (CRO), 8, 9, 5; 22
3. Volungeviciute (LTU), 3, 13, 8; 24

Finn: 26 boats
1. Ainslie (GBR), (10), 1, 4, 1, 1, 10, 2; 19
2. Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.), 2, 5, 2, 2, 7, (8), 7; 25
3. Florent (FRA), 5, 8, (20), 3, 4, 6, 4; 30

Yngling: 15 boats
1. Ayton, Webb and Wilson (GBR), 2, 3, 4, (7), 4, 2; 15
2. Mulder, Bes, Witteveen (NED), 9, 1, 2, (13), 1, 5; 18
3. Sally Barkow (Nashotah, Wis.), Carrie Howe (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) and Debbie Capozzi (Bayport, N.Y.), (14), 2, 8, 5, 6, 11, 1; 33

49er: 19 boats
1. Outteridge and Austin (AUS), (20 DSQ), 1, 7, 3, 1, 1, 6, 4, 6; 29
2. Warrer and Ibsen (DEN), 2, 4, (10), 4, 2, 3, 4, 2, 9; 30
3. Sibello and Sibello (ITA), 3, (9), 1, 1, 6, 9, 3, 8, (12); 40
5. Tim Wadlow (Beverly, Mass.) and Chris Rast (San Diego, Calif.), 5, 14, 15, (16), 5, 10, 1, 1, 1; 52

Laser: 43 boats
1. Romero (ITA), 6, 3, 5; 14
2. Lima (POR), 5, 8, 3; 16
3. Alsogaray (ARG), 1, 12, 10; 23
8. Andrew Campbell (San Diego, Calif.), 14, 18, 1; 33

Men’s 470: 29 boats
1. Wilmot and Page (AUS), 4, (7), 3, 3, 3, 4; 17
2. Charbonnier and Bausset (FRA), 6, 3, 8, 1, 6, (18); 24
3. Rogers and Glanfield (GBR), (19), 5, 1, 4, 9, 6; 25
17. Stu McNay (Lincoln, Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego, Calif.), 26, 12, (OCS), 17, 15, 1; 85

Women’s 470: 19 boats
1. De Koning and Berkhout (NED), 3, 1, (9), 5, 2, 2; 13
2. Rechichi and Parkinson (AUS), 2, 2, 4,1, (9), 4; 13
3. Dufresne and Tutso (ESP), 4, 5, 2, 6, (13), 10; 27
14. Amanda Clark (Shelter Island, N.Y.) and Sarah Mergenthaler (New York, N.Y.), 14, 12, 10, 15, 4, (17); 52

Men’s RS:X: 35 boards
1. Zubari (ISR), 1, 3, 1, 3; 8
2. Chan (HKG), 5, 4, 2, 5; 16
3. Ashley (NZL), 4, 7, 7, 1; 19
22. Ben Barger (St. Petersburg, Fla.), 21, 22, 24, 26; 43

Women’s RS:X: 27 boards
1. Yin (CHN), 1, 1, 1, 1; 6
2. Albau (ESP), 3, 5, 5, 2; 15
3. Crisp (ASU), 2, 4, 3, 8; 17
26. Nancy Rios (Miami, Fla.), 25, 26, 22, 26; 97

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Taking it Personally

Who would have thought that what everybody thought would happen, would happen?

Light air for the opening of Olympic sailing. Puffy zones of pressure. Confounding currents.

My little self in viewerland at home was not at all prepared for the thrill of the live broadband feed from Qingdao—there they are, those are my people—and then the disappointment that what we get is so limited.

Meanwhile I'm becoming more adept at following two screens at once, TV and the laptop. Most of the time it's no problem, operating on California time.

But that first night. Sheesh.

It was such an unfair roll of the dice to have Team USA walking into the National Stadium in that thrilling opening ceremony in a televised rerun at the same moment that the Finns were rounding their first mark live in Qingdao on my computer.

It was such an unfair roll of the dice to have the televised rerun of the lighting of the flame at the same moment that the Finns were finishing race one, live. There was three-time Olympic sailing veteran and IOC president Jacque Rogge stepping up to the microphone to open the Games in Beijing and at the same time finish-line horns were sounding from Peter Reggio's RC boat in Qingdao (faintly) through the speakers in the laptop—and I could see that Zach Railey was looking good. But for lack of commentary it was hard to figure how good. And all the way through these races it seemed that the producer and/or cameraman were often misjudging when they focused on a "leader." And other races were going on that I wasn't seeing at all, or perhaps through Finns I could see Ynglings in the background, or when we shifted to Ynglings I could see Finns in the background but don't even dream of reading that action, babe. When they added 49ers, same frustration, and it won't be cured on Monday when we add 470s and boards.

You can see more shots like this at Ingrid Abery's This would be the US 49er team of Tim Wadlow/Chris Rast bearing down on Canadians Gordon Cook/Ben Remocker (rounding). And the host team looks rather part of the action, no? That would be Fei Li and Xianqiang Hu. Unfortunately, none of these three boats have finished above tenth, and the Chinese are having a so-you-want-to-race-49ers experience at the back of the pack. Italians Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello are the early series leaders.

Okay, back to the Finns. The world finally has an opportunity to discover what an articulate, driven young man Zach Railey is. He went into this show with many goals, among them to not make his own bad luck. Leading off ahead of the one and only Ben Ainslie is a great statement, even if Mr. Ainslie has allowed no one to forget that he is Ben Ainslie. Yep, he just keeps winning races.

There's a lot of sailing yet to come and it's a fiendish racetrack. I was puckered up in pain watching early developments on the Yngling course and later opened up my email to read this description from Carrie Howe, crewing on the U.S. boat, " We were pretty happy about the right-hand side of the course for the second beat but that was a bad call because, after rounding, we found ourselves on the outside of a large left-hand shift. The fleet inverted quickly and we went from challenging the lead boat for first place, to rounding the last weather mark in tenth."

Not even the hardest of hard-luck stories in these races, and there is plenty of time for the regatta to live up to the expectation that everyone will have at least one bad race.

Fortune improved later for Team 7 Sailing, aka the U.S. Yngling team of Sally Barkow/Debbie Capozzi/Carrie Howe on day two as they climbed to fourth overall amidst difficult circumstances. This added missive from Carrie relates: "The conditions made it extremely difficult to make good tactical calls using the observed weather. The key was simply to stay in the hunt and keep plugging away. In a high-caliber fleet like this one, it's easy to drop a few places. Just one bad lane or a bad move and you can be in trouble."

Eventually we get to the Medals Race in each class, double-points for the top ten only, and won't that be a day.

But Carrie's eblasts always give me a smile. Dig her pic of the RC boat, noting that the Yngling class flag is flying upside down . . .

And her comment: "Guess the Olympics are stressful for all of us."

The central source for Olympic sailing news can be found at

For a quickie results fix go to the results center.

WAIT! The Snipe Nationals—

Augie Diaz is a name we know. The businessman from Miami was the 2003 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, honored for a season that included racing Lasers and Stars and becoming the first American in (then) 22 years to win the Snipe Worlds. More recently he partnered with crew Kathleen Tocke to win the Snipe Nationals on San Francisco Bay. That series wrapped over the weekend with, Diaz said, "More breeze than the sailors needed, but from the point of view of downwind sailing, it was pretty spectacular. The courses were long, and with two races per day they were hard to sail, but they were very fair."

Tocke, Diaz said, put in a dedicated workout program this year, to be ready to crew in lots of wind, and the work paid off.

Asked how many times he's won the Snipe Nationals, Diaz could only say, "Hmm. I'm not sure." Then it was time to load nine Snipes onto a trailer for the haul back to the East Coast.

But Diaz had one more thing on his mind: "Make sure you give a lot of credit to the race committee and to Richmond Yacht Club. They did a great job."

They usually do—Kimball

Friday, August 8, 2008

Compression, Multitasking

If time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once, it's not working.

First came the simple comment from our U.S. Finn rep, Zach Railey, "Talk to you once the Olympics are over."

Just like that.

Just like a lunar orbiter disappearing to the far side.

Then it was looking at the sked and seeing that here in my California Friday, I can watch the Opening Ceremonies on TV beginning at 1930, continuing to midnight.

At the same time I can watch Finn and Yngling racing online.

Already I'm looking at the knockout opening ceremony pics that are floating around the net. No more of this waiting-waiting . . .

It's all pop and sizzle . . .

And silliness taking off . . .

You will be guarded and you will like it . . .

But those soldiers have to sleep somewhere when they're off duty . . .

For me it's all about Qingdao. My people. First up, Finns and Ynglings.

Coverage begins live online at 1000 Pacific and I'm glad I'm not watching from the East Coast but I know I'll have plenty of company in those quarters.

As I write, we have hours to wait, but I picture myself sitting in front of the tube and NBC (no, I don't get to go to Qingdao, but I did get four months in Spain before the Euro rocketed out of sight) and I'll have a laptop humming along, simultaneously following the racing on broadband through

Everything happening at once.

Having the US Sailing Team pass through San Francisco en route to China—spending time with them, picking up their excitement and energy—I'm charged up and emotional and anxious.

Zach was one of many sailors who skipped the Opening Ceremony because his racing starts too soon after. He watched about half the ceremony from Qingdao and then hit the sack. Ditto for Sally Barkow and her Yngling team, and our 49er guys who kick off on Sunday. (New Zealand did not send any of its sailors to the stadium in Beijing).

Laser rep Andrew Campbell was one of those whose schedule allowed him to make the trip away from Qingdao. Beforehand, he wrote: "I am forcing myself to take days off from sailing and tapering my training routines. I’ve reached my fighting weight of 168 pounds for the first time since I was about sixteen years old. Luckily, that’s the weight at which I won my first Youth Champs in Seattle in 2000."

Pretty much every Olympic sailor has trimmed weight in anticipation of predominantly light air at Qingdao, so all they've done in that regard is orbit around parity. But for each individual, it was necessary. Then comes the "what if" we see a day with 20 knots and the race committee runs three races and after that the weather shuts down and we don't get to sail a full sked? Too many what-ifs, but our sailors have had to consider them all as they lay out training, strategy and (in the more complicated classes) appropriate gear.

Abner Kingman shot this for US Sailing as the team passed through San Francisco. Looking good, looking good . . .

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What's the Right Junior Trainer?
Skip Allan on the Solo Transpac

Soon after his world youth championship win back in 2002, I talked to Andrew Campbell about "stuff," including the quirky
(and beloved) little Sabot in which he learned how to sail and race. Southern California for a long time now has been talking to itself about the Sabot and whether or not clubs there should be training kids on an international platform. Optis, for example, instead of a sinkable shoebox with leeboards.

A Sabot "nationals" extends all the way from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Beyond, there be dragons.

Andrew recalled that, "Growing up, we used to read about these kids from the East Coast or wherever. They were always racing in South America, or Europe, or Miami. They seemed huge."

The debate about Sabots usually includes an assertion on the order of, "We're cheating our kids," by not switching to an international trainer. This view of kids in Sabots was lifted from SDYC . . .

Now, OK, there's been some movement, and junior sailing in Southern California is no longer all about the Sabot but the Sabot is with us still. My question is, who's being cheated? Quoting Andrew again: "We all grew up and went on to the Laser, kids from all over the country, and when we hiked out and put the boats on the wind—well, there we were."

And here he is, about to represent the USA in the Laser, and a guy like me would be tempted to conclude that if you let kids be kids, the ones who want to learn how to race will learn how to race. I gotta admit, though, when Campbell was one of the little tykes launching into the basin at Shelter Island, alongside San Diego Yacht Club, I never imagined him as America's sexiest Olympian. But who am I to argue with the lathered-up ladies at . . .


If time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once, let me tell you, the system is broken. There's great catamaran racing under way at Cowes (all our AC friends are in the fray) and my buddies in the Pacific Cup are all wrapped up at Kaneohe Bay, and my friends in the Singlehanded Transpac are (mostly) wrapped up at Hanalei Bay and—

I'm not much at arithmetic, but it does appear that Skip Allan's Solo Transpac win, corrected time, is on the order of 32 hours over second place. That's a three and a two. That's big even for Skip, but there's nothing average here.

Allan skippered his first Transpac (fully crewed) win at the age of 20 in the family Cal 40, Holiday Too: "All our boats were called Holiday because nothing goes faster." This was Skip's 28th race to Hawaii and the seventh for his 27-foot, Tom Wylie-designed Wildflower, first put to the test with a second-place finish in the 1978 Singlehanded Transpac inaugural. So much for Skip's "unfinished business."

Let's let Skip tell us about the 2008 Singlehanded Transpac:

From a slow couple of days getting away from the Golden Gate in winds 0-5 knots, "A northerly filled in very evenly, and the boats that had worked their way ahead got richer. The High was far north and looked as if it would stay there, so for my boat that argued for the rhumb line. But you had to be careful. Farther along there was a very defined line between wind and no wind. I stayed on or below the 1024 millibar line, but some of the tailenders weren't aware and got stuck.

"The main competition was an Olson 30 out of Duluth, Minnesota named Polar Bear. Eric Thomas was well-prepared and he sailed hard. He would hand-steer under spinnaker until the first squall of the night. He was making 160-200 miles a day while I was making 140-160, but then he ran out of runway.

"It was a close-knit fleet," Skip says, "and it was a wonderful experience to talk to everybody twice a day at roll call. Wildflower somehow seemed to know what she was supposed to do, and I can't explain that but there it is."

One key to success—simplicity.

Allan favors hanked jibs for uncompromised sail shape, "and when you drop the halyard the sail stays on deck"). The boat converts easily to a cutter by leading the inner forestay to a tie rod–supported padeye 3 feet aft of the stem. This configuration centralizes the CE, and Skip can switch easily among among the boat's three jibs. Offwind sails include spinnakers plus a pair of 255-square-foot jib topsails that can be set singly (for close reaching) or together with staggered hanks and twin whisker poles (for broad reaching).

When I visited last month in Santa Cruz, the repositories for grain, granola etc were empty and waiting . . .

The finely-calibrated knotmeter was tuned to minimize electrical draw . . .

This, to me, is a beautiful log (1978 race) and yep, this has to be an entry from the Gulf of the Farallones. Catch that "wind down to 25" line . . .

Skip reports that he had only one, shall we say, incident in the 2008 race. A squall broached the boat while he was sleeping—running under twin jibs—"and it was a mess for about half an hour. One pole broken. The topping lift wrapped around my radar and I don't even know how it got there, so I had to climb for that. It was one of those 3 a.m. things."

One of those 3 a.m. things. And this would be the look of speed . . .

Now you know—Kimball