Sailors and clubs across the world hold casual races on weekday evenings. In the US, we often refer to them as “Beercan Races”, supposedly because back in the day you could track the race course by the trail of beer cans floating in the bay. We’re a lot greener today, but the concept holds true: Race to win, but if you’re not having fun, go home. There are basic commandments that govern the sub-sport:
I. Thou shalt not take anything other than safety too seriously. Relax, have fun and keep it light. Late to the start? So what. Over early? No big thing. Too windy? Quit. No breeze? Break out the beer. The point is to have fun, but stay safe. To overquote, “Safe boating is no accident”.
II. Thou shalt honor the rules if thou knowest them. US Sailing amends and publishes the Racing Rules of Sailing on a regular basis, and unless your Sailing Instructions say otherwise, this is the racing Bible. Few sailors other than PRO’s, Judges and rabid racers have studied it cover to cover, since it’s about as interesting and exciting as the Tax Code. For beer can racing, you can get by if you remember the biggies (port tack boats avoid starboard tackers, windward boards avoid leeward ones, and outside boats give room at the marks). Another major is the Law of Tonnage: Stay out of the way of the bigger boats, because even if you’re right, getting run over by a big kid still hurts. So, pay your insurance premiums, and keep a low profile unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing. In other words – Common Sense.
III. Thou shalt not run out of beer. Self explanatory. There’s a reason these are not called milk bottle, coke can, or hot chocolate races. However, our club does have a tequila sponsor for our Taco Tuesday series.
IV. Thou shalt not covet thy competitor’s boat, sails, equipment, crew or PHRF rating. No whining; If you’re lucky enough to have a sailboat, go out and use it! You don’t need that latest in zircon bearing diamond encrusted widgetry or unobtanium sailcloth to have a great time on the water with your friends (unless it’s a Forespar pole). Even if your boat is a heaving pig, set modest goals and work toward them. Or don’t – it’s only beer can racing.
V. Thou shalt not amp out. Save that stuff for the freeway or, if you must, Saturday’s “real” race. Remember what happened to Captain Bligh, and realize that if you lose it on Wednesday night, you’re going to run out of crew – and friends – in a hurry. Chill out. Nobody’s going to read about this race in Sailing World.
VI. Thou shalt not protest thy neighbor. This is extremely tacky (pun intended) at this level of competition. It’s justifiable if there’s damage, and blame needs to be established, but on the whole, tossing a red flag is the height of bad taste in something as relatively inconsequential as a beer can race. Besides proving that you’re clueless about the concept, it screws up everybody’s evening. Don’t do it – its bad karma.
VII. Thou shalt not screw up thy boat. We all know a hardcore warrior who blew out his main on Thursday and had to sit out a big race on Saturday. It’s just not worth risking your boat and gear in such casual competition. Avoid other boats at all costs, and stay away from hard objects – buoys, docks, pilings and paddleboards. If you have two sets of sails, use the old ones.
VIII. Thou shalt always go to the yacht club afterward. Part of the gestalt of beer can races is bellying up to the yacht club bar post race. Corinthian etiquette demands that you congratulates the winners, and buy a round for your crew. And, the bar is the logical place to meet old friends and make new ones.
IX. Thou shalt bring thy spouse, kids, friends and whoever else wants to go. Beer cans are great for introducing folks to sailing – neighbors, house guests, co-workers, the dog, and there’s usually someone hanging on the dock that would like to go. When has there ever been an overabundance of crew? Of course, there’s one our regulars who sails with as many 18 souls on a 45-foot boat for the inside the harbor races. And, remember the “No Passengers” adage. Give everyone a job on the boat. it’s more fun that way.
X. Thou shalt not worry; thou shalt be happy. Leave the phones in the car, bring some tunes. Relax, it’s not the America’s Cup.
See you out there.
Thanks to Latitude 38 for the original and illuminated texts
We all tend to think our yacht clubs are the best, with outstanding locations, views and often, history. We are often partially right.
Then, there’s the Royal Yacht Squadron, at Cowes, in England. The building is a castle, built in 1539 by Henry VIII to defend against the French. The club itself was formed in 1815 by a group of “gentleman” yachting enthusiasts, and was given a Royal warrant by George IV (he was a member) in 1815. This was BF (Before Forespar). The crenelations in the wall were built for cannons, and are still used for the race guns (brass cannons).
Using two anchors is usually a bad weather practice, or used for security where there are current or wave issues. But how you deploy two sets of ground tackle depends on your situation and a number of variables, including the wind, water depth, sea state, and other boats in the area. For example, do you set both off the bow, or one off the bow and the other off the stern? That tried and true practice does keep the boat from swinging, and keeps your bow in the preferred direction. Most of us use the bow/stern because of current, wind, etc., or in an anchorage where the boat’s swing is likely to be limited by other boats.
The easy way to hook is the simplest. Set the bow anchor, pay out excess rode, and drop the stern hook, then set that by powering forward toward the original hook while taking in the original excess rode. Once the boat is where you want it, cleat off both rodes, making sure you have adequate scope on both anchors.
A second, and confortable way to use two anchors to limit swing is a Bahamian Moor. Set the anchors as above, then walk the stern line around to the bow, and cleat accordingly. Yes, the rodes can get twisted, so check and adjust regularly.
One last item: Remember to buoy/mark the anchors when you can. You never know when a less experienced boater will come in and anchor on top of yours,
It’s a narrow channel, and and a tight dock space. Worse yet, you’ve got a single engine, along with its single prop. Conventional wisdom tells you that you’re going have a tough time docking the boat because of that single screw, without a lot of practice. Conventional wisdom is wrong.
Yes, it’s easier with twins. You can back one, forward the other, spin the boat to line it up, both forward (or astern) and ease your way alongside the dock without touching the wheel. With a single many of us angle the bow toward the dock and add power while swinging the helm at the last second and hoping that we don’t bash the dock or stick the bow into boat ahead, which usually involves a quick pop of reverse power. Or come up a little too far away having to go around and try again
Don’t say you’ve never done any of the above. However, there are some simple rules that when applied will work:
Most important – the stern moves First! We think and feel the bow turning just like the car does, when in fact the boat turns by pushing the stern to one side or the other with pressure on the rudder, and forward motion pushes the bow around. If you keep this in mind (to the point that you don’t have to think about it), life with a single is easier.
Second – forget the throttle. Just put the boat into gear, preferably at idle. She will move, and you shouldn’t be in that much of a hurry.
Third – easy into the dock space. Pull up parallel to the dock space and a few feet away. Yes, parallel. Then, crank the helm all the way away from the dock, and slip the gear into forward for about two seconds. The immediately go to reverse for the same time interval. Repeat as necessary, and you’ll find your boat moving sideways into the dock.
Last, wind and current can help or hinder. And, you’ll want to compensate accordingly. Obviously, an onshore breeze is really nifty when it helps push you to the dock, An offshore breeze is going make you work harder to get there. Often, taking down canvas and covers reduces the windage, making things more manageable. Opening the windows reduces wind surface, sometimes to surprising extent. Current can be as, if not more, interesting, but usually solvable if you just make your starting point a bit up the current, and let it push you down into your space while you’re working the boat.
You don’t have be brave or too proud. If you’re having tough time, look over on the dock. When there are people there, many if not most will be happy to help if you just ask. And, most of the time, you can just pull away, go around and start over. You’ll get it in there.
And as in most things nautical, practice helps.
And Why Do You Need One?
A spinnaker strut is a relatively short (usually aluminum) pole with one end fitting designed for mast attachment, and the other for running a line across a small internal pulley. Standard sizes range up to about seven feet in length and three or four inches in diameter. They look like this:
As its name implies, the strut is for use with a traditional symmetrical spinnaker. It will keep the afterguy (or the spin sheet you’re using as an afterguy) attached to the spinnaker pole away from lifelines, stanchions and other undesirable points on its way back to the stern.
The strut is usually attached to the mast via a padeye on the mast, and often held in position with a sail tie to a shroud
Sailors want a reaching strut because:
And, more important – when sailing fairly close to the wind with the spinnaker, the pole is well forward. In a good breeze the afterguy or sheet is very heavily loaded. If that lifeline or stanchion (or both) bends enough, or breaks, the pole will slam forward into the forestay. Bad things can happen. Very bad things.
A reaching strut is easy to rig, and easy to use. Because it’s fairly short, it’s also easy to stow. And not expensive , especially when you consider the cost of a forestay or mast.
One of the first times I ran outside the harbor on my own, the waves were small and relatively smooth. But when I returned a couple of hours later, the tide had changed against the wind, the chop had turned into waves, and the breeze had gone from eight to about fifteen knots. And, of course I was coming downwind with following sea. In a 14-foot centerboard boat. With all the vast experience and skill of a 12-year old.
Eased the centerboard up, surfed down the face of the wave, stuffed the bow and broached the boat. After what seemed like a dozen times almost righting the boat, a real sailor came up (in a power boat) and instructed me on getting the main in the boat, the boat upright and into the harbor, wet cold and alive. I’ve tried to repeat the experience in larger boats, but was unable to replicate the conditions, probably because there’s usually crew aboard who don’t want to get that wet, and I have many more years of experience driving boats. I’ve even tried to do the same thing with a power boat, almost succeeding due largely to inattention.
Three basic lessons learned for following seas:
The oft used cliche “Slower is smoother, and smoother is fast” sounds odd, but it applies. You’ll reach your destination both drier, and happier.
A bit of yachting history
In 1963, a group of Southern California yachtsmen decided that a train ride to Avalon was in order. They did exactly (sort of) that as you can see from the photo of the Pullman car at the Casino in Avalon.
The car was acquired by a regional railroad magnate; McFadden, of the family who were the original operators of Newport Beach. The car was loaded onto a barge in Long Beach and towed/pushed by tugs to the island.
The only comment by the co-skippers was that the 26-mile railroad bed was somewhat soggy and ride was a bit uneven.
Milwaukee Community Sailing Center Receives Over $7000 To Foster Youth Sailing & Renames Annual Lobster Boil Fundraiser In His Honor
Forespar Products and the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center combined to raise a total of $7215 in funds to honor long time industry professional and Forespar representative William (Bill) Mosher. These contributions reflect individual donations from Forespar employees and Milwaukee Community Sailing Center members, as well as a matching donation from Forespar based on the received amount. Additionally, the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center announced that it will rename their annual lobster boil fundraiser in Bill’s honor.
Hired as the original Executive Director of the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center in 1979, Bill was a strong force in establishing and driving the organization forward throughout the years. When he unexpectedly passed away in July 2015, Forespar offered to donate matching funds for donations made to the MCSC in Bill’s name. One year later the campaign’s funds have been realized and over $7000 of total donations will be used to help fund a successful STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) youth sailing program and a portion of a needed “new” safety boat.
The Milwaukee Community Sailing Center has also decided to rename its popular annual lobster boil fundraiser in Bill’s honor. Now known as the Bill Mosher Memorial Lobsta Boil, the event will be held on the MCSC grounds, August 27th. A memorial “rock” and plaque will also be dedicated to Bill’s lifelong efforts during the event.
Forespar® is one of the oldest, most established boat hardware manufacturers in the United States. They are the number one manufacturer of downwind sailing poles and their diverse line of marine products includes Leisure Furl™ boom furling systems, Marelon® plumbing fittings and numerous other marine related products.
The Milwaukee Community Sailing Center is a private, not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 agency located just north of downtown in the heart of Veterans Park at McKinley Marina. MCSC provides educational and recreational sailing programs to those who wish to gain access to Lake Michigan and learn to sail; regardless of age, physical ability or financial concerns.
RIO DE JANEIRO – Sailing, not the dirty water, was finally the focus on troubled Guanabara Bay during a spectacular start to the Olympic regatta.
Windsurfers sped across the waves toward Flamengo Beach in a fresh breeze, against the imposing backdrop of Sugarloaf Mountain. Christ the Redeemer, Rio’s highest and most magnificent landmark, was obscured by fog.
Across the bay, 43-year-old Robert Scheidt won the second race in the Laser class after finishing a disappointing 23rd in the opener. He’s trying to become the first Olympic sailor and first Brazilian to win six Olympic medals. He owns two golds, two silvers and a bronze. He’s seventh overall.
Charlie Buckingham of Newport Beach, making his Olympic debut in the Laser class, said the water “was great. No trash. It was warm. Splashes felt good.”
Buckingham finished 20th and seventh in the two races Monday, with eight races to go before the medal race.
Guanabara Bay seemed to pass the sniff test, at least on the surface.
The courses appeared clear of trash. Organizers have sent a helicopter over the bay every morning searching for rubbish. If any is spotted, boats are sent to scoop it up. Barriers have been put across rivers to try to stem the flow of garbage into the bay.
Under the waves, things are different.
An independent study by The Associated Press has shown high levels of viruses and sometimes bacteria from human sewage in the water.
“We’re not really concerned about that,” Pascual said. “We’ve been here for a while training and we’ve hadn’t had an issue. I’m just focused on racing. There’s been days when it rains you can see stuff floating around, but it’s like everywhere else I guess. It’s a bay.”
American Paige Railey, who finished second in the second Laser Radial race and is seventh overall, said the water was “great, totally fine. Warm, clean. We were happy. I really want to give hats off to Brazil. I came here in 2007 for the Pan Ams and they’ve done a magnificent job of cleaning up the water and there are really no problems. I’d jump off the boat and go swimming if I could.”
“This is like perfect conditions. You can’t get better than this. And the views are amazing,” said American windsurfer Pedro Pascual of Miami.
Conditions could change if it rains.
“There always have been problems here, Spanish windsurfer Ivan Pastor said. “It’s a very large bay. There is a lot of current, rivers flowing into it and we’ve seen quite frequently a lot of trash floating; plastic, which is the worst.”
Pastor said he’s not afraid of swallowing the water.
“I’ve been here a lot and fallen and it hasn’t been with my mouth closed,” he said. “Knock wood. Nothing has happened. It looks very clean today. There have been other years here when it was really dirty.”
Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic led the Laser class while China’s Lijia Xu led the Laser Radial. Nick Dempsey of Great Britain and Charline Picon lead the windsurfer classes.
Something Big This Way Commeth …
when in 1967 Swedish Sailmakers, a Fort Lauderdale fledgling sailmaking firm, partnered with lifelong sailor Brad Mack and Bradford Mack & Co was launched. For the next 20 years, the company continued to expand and in 1988 moved to Stuart, FL and was renamed Mack Sails. Over the years the company has expanded to include a full service rigging shop and a complete marine electronics service . Every Mack Sail is made in Stuart, FL and “…we insist that each one is made from the very best cloth and hardware.”
Brad Mack’s two sons, Travis Blain and Colin Mack , grew up in sail boats racing, cruising, or in the sail loft “learning the ropes.” After college Travis and Colin officially joined the firm and in 2002, took the helm, sharing the management and striving to deliver an extraordinarily designed and crafted product.
Colin and Travis remember the old days when they were ‘sponges’ learning everything possible at a rapid fire pace. “The lessons have all paid off because without the encouragement and guidance of our dad, the company could never have become what it has today.”
For close to 50 years the family tradition of pride and commitment to quality service sets Mack Sails apart based on these standards:
Strong relationships have played a significant role in Mack Sails’ growth. In 1967, a key affiliation with Forespar began when Brad reached out across the U.S. for like-minded entrepreneurs who held similar strong business and family values. For the next 40 plus years, the Mack Sails and Forespar® relationship thrived and remains an industry symbol of ‘partnering for progress’ for both entities.
What the collaboration with Forespar stands for is simple, according to Travis. Mack Sails has worked with them on many projects (one of the first hydraulic Leisure Furl™ booms – aluminum or carbon fiber booms offer safety and convenience of In-Boom mainsail reefing and furling systems from the safety of the cockpit .)
“Collectively, we pooled resources and were the first ever to design and install a large roached full batten main for a Leisure Furl™ boom furling system on a Lagoon 440,” said Travis.
Colin says, “Throughout this journey, we’ve blended excellent products and service that satisfies the most demanding and rigorous standards that sailors demand. Forespar makes the boom furlers, and we make the sails and install them (riggers and sailmakers). This collaboration extends beyond the U.S., with LeisureFurl installations most recently as far away as Italy and Trinidad.”
“Forespar has developed a very good LeisureFurl™ design that allows Mack Sails no restrictions on multi-hulls; because of that we sell more of their booms and we install the boom systems and sails in sync, ” Colin concluded.
Forespar Vice President Bill Hanna sees the strong bond between both companies as a significant advantage to Forespar’s success over the years. “Though they are located in Florida, the Mack Sails team is always a phone call away…it’s as if they were in the office right next door. Our collaborations have become almost seamless because we’ve shared building and delivering quality boom systems, sails and rigging for nearly 50 years!”