Writers wanted

14 03 2011

Hi guys,

So, I’m on the look out for new writers for the blog. Currently we average over 10k visits per month without even trying, so it’s about time that I put some more effort into it.

If you’d like to write articles for V49R, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. Anything from kit reviews, racing reports, news updates from your sailing team, tips and advice, or anything else relevant to a sailing audience will be welcome.

Thanks,

Ryan

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Blast from the past: 29er XX crash and burn sailing

21 10 2010

I thought I’d repost an old report that I wrote a few years ago. Why? Just because, ok?
—-
Now apart from the rubbish name, and horrendous multicoloured “XX” graphic on the sail, I have to say I was extremely impressed with the boat. I was sailing at a Hayling Island event 2 years ago. We pitched up on Saturday, with a borrowed 49er (thanks to Steve Hopper for that), to be greeted by 25 – 30 knots in Hayling bay. The event was obviously, very quickly postponed, leaving us with nothing to do. Dave Hall was at the event, showing off the new 29er rig, so we thought we’d badger him for a go. We borrowed a 29er, stuck Dave Hall’s XX rig on it, and 30 minutes later we hit the water.

Now this isn’t a Yachts and Yachting style report. We didn’t exactly have decent sailing conditions to get a good handle on how the boat sails. As we headed upwind, both flat wiring (all 150 kg’s of us) and tracked all the way to the back, we quickly discovered that, even with the jib fully eased, we had no way of holding the main. The breeze was so high that we could barely get upwind without getting blown flat. After knocking the jib right off and nearly completely dropping the main, we began to figure out how to make the thing go. After 5 minutes of getting battered up-wind, we decided to make a smart decision.

Me: “I’m bored, lets get this kite up”.

Ed: “Do it”

Ed pulled the stick, I dumped the main and we spun the boat into a 30 knot bear away, pulled the kite up and then hit the straps as we took off. The 29er flew through the Hayling chop. We weighed so much that all it took was a flick of the shoulders to drive her down the next wave or to flatten her out in the gusts. As each gust rolled in, I popped the kite with Edd tweaking the stick to steer us through. 200 metres later we called the gybe, pulled the stick and stepped across the boat. The 29er XX is so thin compared to the 49er that you can throw her into gybes and cross the boat in half the time.

As we hit the straps, Ed called a big gust rolling in. We both hit the knots and flattened out as the breeze kicked up. In front of us, two International 14’s pitchpoled in unison, leaving the crew flying through the air. Huge grins on our faces, Edd heated the boat up to sail over the top of the upturned skiffs. Everything from here on in goes into slow motion. With the boat sailing a hotter angle, we are sailing about as fast as the 29er xx can ever go. As we launch ourselves past the guys in the water, my heart stops. We are sailing someone elses £6000 29er, with a brand new XX rig attached, and we’ve just sailed about two metres away, at 20 plus knots with spray everywhere, past a guy standing in thigh deep water. Oh crap…

The skiff slams into the sandbank, and we take off. The centreboard is driven back into the fibre glass 29er hull, finishing at a 45 degree angle. The Carbon fibre spinnaker pole slams into the sand and breaks in two. I land in the water in front of the kite and surface just in time to see Edd descending from the sky, landing on my chest.

As the spray settles, and we walk back to the very broken looking boat, Ed sums the situation up with one word.

Ed: “Balls”

29er XX





10 tips for helping your helm: 29er and 49er

18 10 2010

Sailing 49ers and 29ers at the best of times isn’t easy. Once it becomes more of a second nature after a few years in the boat, it becomes difficult to remeber the struggle we all went through in the first few months of starting out. As a crew, I’ve often taken it for granted where my role starts and finishes and where the helm takes over. It can be easy to get set in your ways and always focus on improving the big things (boat speed, tactics, etc) and ignore a lot of little things that can make every one’s life easier. Therefore, I thought I’d start a series of posts that look at ways of making your partner’s life easier (and therfore the boat faster). Today, I’ll look at it from the crew point of view.

What is it that crews can do to make their helm’s job that little bit easier?

Pre-start

1: Food: Eating properly is essential between races to keep the team focussed and alert. However, helming a 49er in big breezes whilst trying to peel a banana, open a drink or unwrap a powerbar can be tough. Therefore, do your mate a favour and unwrap it for him. Sometimes a few little things can make all the difference.

2: Timing: Simple really. Even if the helm does his own time keeping, having a watch counting down will enable you to call out the time to the start when your driver gets into a flap.

3: Balance: When trhowing the boat around on the start line, it can be surprisingly easy as a crew to just let the helm get on with it and to keep your head down. However, this is rarely helpful. Keep your head up, call out boats moving into your blind spot (depending on how your helm stands this can vary. For us, it’s on the stern leeward quarter as justin faces forward) and help to keep the boat flat. For example, when we throw it into reverse (backing the main and stuffing the bow into the breeze) the boat will always heel heavily to windward. sure, the helm would normally have to keep this flat, but it makes so much sense for the crew to throw their weight around to flatten it off.

4: Standing up: I see far too many crews sitting down and taking it easy pre start whilst the helm fights to keep the boat flat. Whilst you need to get your weight as far forward as possible when you’re parked, you should never stay static when you are manouvering. Therefore, always stay on your feet, ready to react when the boat needs to be flatter. However, be sure to get back to your crouching by the mast position when you park up again.

During the race:

5: Communication: Be sure to give as much feedback as the helm needs. It’s easy to go quiet and to lose focus on those long upwind legs in light winds, but this is never going to be fast. Whilst your helm is driving the boat and focussing on the telltales, be sure to keep your head up to spot the breeze and to track the rest of the fleet.

6: Safety gybes: In the breeze, gybing a 49er or 29er is tough for the helm so be sure to make it easy for them. Always try to be obvious with your movements, don’t rush and try not to change your routine. You need to keep as many things the same as possible, as suddenly changing the speed you cross the boat or your routine is a total nightmare for the helm who is already trying to work out how he’s going to keep his hair dry. When it’s really windy, the number one reason for capsizing is from the power coming on too quickly after the boom comes across. If the spinnaker blows forward of the luff you know you have issues, so a safety gybe (pinning the old spinnaker sheet in until the boom has crossed) is a great way to give your helm some time to find his feet on the new side and to prevent the power from piling on too early.

7: High hoists: When it’s breezy, try to help the helm out by keeping one foot on the wing (especially if he;s only a little lad). Doing this helps to keep the boat flat and allows him to maintain enough control to steer around the waves

8: Being a spare pair of hands: I know it sounds simple, but you see a lot of helms struggling to untangle ropes, hook on, uncleat the jib if it’s locked in, or do anything else that’s tricky with one hand. Always keep an eye on him, as his number one role is steering in a straight line so fiddling with ropes in counter-intuative. If he looks like he has an issue, help him out.

9: Bear aways: During a windy bear away the helm has a lot on. Therefore, you need to make his life as easy as possible. By taking the mainsheet, you effectively have the hardest job during the turn; to manage the power to stop the bow driving in. When it’s properly sketchy, you’ll end up easing armfuls of mainsheet to completet the turn. However, far too many crews then just ditch the fully eased main onto their helm and run in to sort the kite out. This is a huge error, as your mate is now standing all by himself (billy no mates) trying to sort his life out. With only one hand (which is very often holding onto the handle), how is he supposed to pull 2 meters of mainsheet into the boat? To make his life easier, be sure to drag the mainshett back in again by about an armful before handing it across. It really does make a world of difference.

And the final tip –

10: Don’t be a jerk: Yes, crews get victimised all the time.  Yes, I’ve been shouted at for helms dropping their tillers, hitting marks or forgetting their starting watches (never by JV by the way..). Yet, the final and almost most important tip is to not be “that guy”. Everyone has sailed with “that guy”, the one who always points the finger, decides who was at fault or just generally takes it far too serious. Being a crew, I think it’s essential to never try to get back at the helm for a mistake.  Helms are under a hell of a lot of pressure, and ultimately will take the blame for a bad series, so they are naturally defensive.  If something goes wrong, always be the guy who puts forward positive ideas for gaining those places back, don’t get stressed when thigns go wrong, always look forward to the next opportunity rather than back at missed ones.  On the water is not the place to argue out your differences, so be positive and talked about it later.  this is one of the biggest improvements any crew can make to their game.

And finally:

On a side note, I once had a helm shouting at me up the beat for “being too helpful”. As the Guns ‘n Roses song goes, “some men, you just can’t reach…”





So, what the hell’s going on?

14 10 2010

[tweetmeme source= “RyanV49er” only_single=false]
Right, I’ve been absent without leave for sometime now, so I thought I’d write an update on what’s going on with the blog, sailing, and everything else.

I’ve just spent the last 2 months recovering from shoulder surgery. I learnt a long time ago that Rugby and Sailing are a pretty bad mix, but I have kept going back to the game for years after all manner of injuries: Torn hip flexor, dislocated left shoulder (thanks to a prop from Swindon RFC), broken back (thanks to another prop, this time from Didcot RFC) and the odd smattering of bruises, cuts, burns (yes, burns) and everything else in between. The longest gap from sailing, up until now, was after I smashed a vertabrae when a 16 stone prop fell on my shoulders. Whilst 3 months of rest was prescribed, I still managed to get back on the water within 2 (partly due to the fact that I’d bought a new boat on the weekend that I was injured. A brand spanking new dinghy sitting in the boat park, still in its wrapping, is a great motivator for a quick recovery).

Anyway, I recently had to go into surgery to reattach a bicep tendon into my shoulder, meaning that I’ll be out of all high impact sports for 6 months. Fine, no problem, I can avoid Rugby for another year without missing it much. The problem is, this includes sailing too..

So, we’re out of sailing until February at the earliest. However, this lack of boat time is driving me mad, so I’ll be writing a lot more on the blog to keep myself sane. So yeah, um, sorry about that.

Whilst I’m out Justin is currently looking for a crew for the 800 over the winter. If you’re keen on a few training sessions and the odd event, leave a comment.





New York Supreme Court orders 33rd America’s Cup to be sailed in Velencia or the southern Hemisphere

30 10 2009

The latest America’s cup news is that, thanks to the New York Supreme Court, Alinghi has to stop messing around with their fake sailing club and sail the event in either Valencia, or the Southern Hemisphere.  My personal vote goes for an event in Cape Town..

After the hearing, Lucien Masmejan said: “This is a disappointing result as we were certain that Justice Cahn’s May 2008 decision allowed the Defender to chose Valencia or ‘any other location’,” said Lucien Masmejan, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) legal counsel. “Ras Al Khaimah has put enormous time and effort into this 33rd America’s Cup project. We thank them and feel sorry for this unexpected result out of the New York court”.

I’m no legal expert, so I wouldn’t dare to comment on the actual ruling, but I’m just happy that it has gone against Alinghi. Over the last few years, Alinghi have worked hard to ruin the reputation of the America’s Cup and have caused a backlash against sailing in general. It would be nice for them to stop changing the rules, get on the water, and sail.  Lawyers should be left well at home.

By reading this blog post you hear by acknowledge that I am indeed correct, and therefore lose any ability to sue me or anyone related to me. Or my Dogs. And you can’t take my boat either. These are my views and opinions, so you may not take legal action against me. Especially if you are Swiss…

Finally, heres a reminder to all Alinghi fans, sailors and America’s cup viewers. Alinghi are a great team and have built some beautiful boats. I’m looking forward to seeing them on the water competing at the next AC. This is what we are here for.





Twitter

23 10 2009

As every one knows, Twitter is the latest web phenomenon and the 3rd biggest reason to get online, closely beaten by Googling your own name (who hasn’t done this?), and in number 1 spot, looking at naked girls. I’ve been on Twitter since before it was cool (many will argue that it’s not currently cool, but if you go and ask my 200 Twitter friends they’ll tell you otherwise) yet I realised today that I’ve never really mentioned it on the blog. I may only write a  new blog post once a week (ok, once a month…), but I write a lot more on Twitter so some of you may find it useful. Many of you won’t find it useful at all, however, but come and follow me anyway.

Justin was planning to get on Twitter a few months ago, and actually started Tweeting for a while. But then he remembered that he was at Uni and had real friends to spend time with. Anyway, here’s his Twitter. If you have any 29er or 49er questions, give him a shout. He also has a ridiculous knowledge of most sports, so go and test him…: http://twitter.com/justinvisser

I’ve been on Twitter considerably longer than Jus, and can be found Tweeting away most working days. Come over and say Hi. Any questions on sailing? I’m all ears: http://twitter.com/ryanv49er
Twitter: 49er and skiff racing advice





Online sailing

20 10 2009

I get a lot of traffic to this site searching for online sailing games. I’ve decided to help these people out by giving a round up of some fantastic online sailing games.  Ok, they don’t replace the real thing, but when you’re stuck at work and have nothing better to do than stare out of the window, then maybe it’s time to give one of these a shot.

SailX is probably the most popular option.  Whilst at first look it seems pretty boring, when you scratch the surface you’ll find a smooth running, highly complex sailing simulation that covers most aspects of our sport. If you’re into laser sailing, you’re in the right place.  29er’s your thing? then they have you covered. How about keel boats? Yep, all in there.

Quite simply, you have a startline, windward – leeward course and 3 minute count down.  With multiple human players taking part, it gets pretty competitive but there’s nothing better than winning the startline, crossing the fleet and rounding the windward mark first.  SailX is a definite must try.  Give it a shot at SailX.com

Online sailing with SailX

Online sailing with SailX

If you’re looking for something a bit more realistic, take a look at Virtual Skipper. My favourite version is VR1, brought out quite a few years ago.  It’s a fully 3D keelboat racing simulator and is a great way to get a bit of a sailingfix at home.  You can play online against other sailors, race the computer, compete in regattas and generally have a bit of fun on the water.  Take a look at the Virtual Skipper world here: www.virtualskipper-game.com

Virtual Skipper online sailing game