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