“Talking Sailing” by Richard Crockett – issue 11

talkingsailing16 January 2014

by Richard Crockett

The intention of ‘Talking Sailing” is to occasionally cover topical issues in the sport of sailing, however difficult they may be. So expect some hard-hitting editorials and even controversial observations and comments. But most importantly it will all be about sailing, so your feedback and items of interest are welcome via e-mail.

Readers are welcome to forward this on to friends and acquaintances who have an interest in sailing, or get them to send a mail to (sailing@iafrica.com) with ‘SUBSCRIBE TO TALKING SAILING’ in the subject line.

Readers are also welcome to contribute to “Talking Sailing”.

Welcome to 2014 and a wonderfully successful year to all.

I have been inundated with responses and information for “Talking Sailing”, and in an effort to keep this issue short, and have another soon, contributions not used will roll over to the next.

Untimely Death
The year did not start well as seconds after midnight Rob Meek, a well known and highly successful yachtsman, architect and urban planner was senselessly murdered in a home invasion in the Transkei. Our sport is poorer without Rob, his vision and wise council.

Jerrold Salamon – Godfather of the Holiday 23
On Christmas Day Jerrold Salamon passed away after a long innings. He was the longest serving member of the RCYC, a great sailor and man with passion for our sport. I will always remember him as the godfather of the Holiday 23 – as this was a special project of his when a Director of John Robertson Yachts. The success of this little boat and a class that is still going strong – is a testament to his vision.

All I Want for Christmas… Santa Did Not Deliver!
J22 Jiggery Pokery
8 days into the new year I received, in a round-about way, the following:

Hi! All
Good news! we have received the final decisions and results of the 2013 J22 Nationals so I can now officially communicate it to you all. The email was received via Wendy from the Chairman of the SAS Sailing Management Committee with the final decision on 19 December 2013. Our Chairman was already on holiday with no internet communication and she was the only committee member included on the email. Due to the complex rule situation that occurred at the Nationals, subsequent appeals on decisions and incomplete documentation being received by the committee we have had to wait until now to notify you all of the official winners.

Sincere congratulations go to Luke Wagner, Siya Vato, David Shilton on Phantom Choose Life, owned by Vernon Goss, on their 1st place. As all agreed at the event an amazing performance by Luke and his team with a winning net score of 19 points.

2nd Place awarded to the “Witbank Boys” on Laugh a Minute , Skipper John Bruckmann, crew Dave Martinson, Aysha Genloud just 1 point behind.

3 rd Place Alpha Romeo, Skipper David Rae from Cape Town with crew Paul Thompson and Dwayne Assis.

Enough has been said, in numerous media, about this regatta but the most important thing for me is that many lessons have been learnt hopefully for the benefit of sailing in general and that the stars on the day have been acknowledged to all. WELL DONE!

I will contact the winners regarding the presentation of their medals.

I hope that 2014 bring good winds and fantastic sailing for you all no matter where you are, that your personal goals are achieved and you have the time to experience the value of family and friends.

Lots of emails to come in the weeks to follow.

Sharin Richmond

That was the good news, and sincere congratulations to the winners – despite their victories taking so long to be acknowledged.

However, what does concern me is that there are whispers of another wave of protests and possible appeals in the wings. Surely enough is enough as the damage done to the Class and the reputations of a few is harmful in the extreme?

I do hope that this matter can be, and will be, left behind us as the Class has a World Championship to organise, and that surely is where the focus should be going forward?

Cape to Rio Race
Most followers of the race know that Giovanni Soldini on Maserati took line honours, smashing the race record by nearly two-and-a-half days. Her elapsed time of 10 days, 11 hours, 29 minutes and 57 seconds will be hard to beat, although records have a habit of being beaten at some stage.

In the Millenium race of 2000 ‘Zephyrus IV’, a 74’ American maxi set the record of 12 days, 16 hours and 49 minutes.

It looks as if Soldini and ‘Maserati’ will also take the overall handicap honours as no-one is likely to challenge her by finishing early enough.

Much has been said in yacht club bars around the country and in the media as to whether the race start should not have been postponed. It’s a hot topic for those with nothing better to do than frequent yacht club bars and whinge about anything and everything.

In my youth, my sailing mentors were ‘wise old salts’ of the firm opinion that once a race time had been published, that race should start, irrespective of the weather. The view was that the Race Committee should go out and be prepared to start should anyone venture onto the course, so I am not one for postponing the start of races, especially distance races.

I also subscribe to what the racing 2013-2016 rules of sailing (RRS) say, and it is this:
Rule 4 – Decision to Race
The responsibility for a boat’s decision to participate in a race or to continue racing is hers alone.

No skipper, or crew for that matter, knowing that there was some tough weather ahead, appeared to take any precautions by starting and then seeking refuge until the inclement weather had passed by. They could have, but they chose not to.

I commend the Race Committee for their decision.

I was concerned that within 48 hours of the start 10 boats, a third of the fleet, had limped home. But, this is ocean racing, and when one ventures onto the ocean in a small boat, there will on occasions be some fatalities. Stricter rules and regulations WILL NOT make our sport any safer – as quite simply time on the water is what builds confidence, ability and seamanship.

There was some talk prior to the race starting that some crew were thin on experience. This always happens, as being amateurs, the only way we can get experience is to get on a boat and ‘do it’. This was nothing new to this race, and has been the case since the South Atlantic Race was first sailed in 1971.

In an e-mail discussion with a highly experienced navigator who has raced around the world in the Volvo Race, that person said that she was in exactly the same position as many of the crews this year, when she competed in her first race to Uruguay in 1979. That was the first time I had met her, and she admitted that she started the race having never sailed at night nor, being the navigator, having taken a sextant sight aboard a boat at sea as all her navigation lessons had been ashore.

This does not make it right, but what I do firmly believe is that as nearly all our coastal night races have died, many crew simply do not have as much experience now as they should. As a result, I would think that a qualifying race or passage should be mandatory for the next race to Rio.

Another discussion is around the course. Originally the South Atlantic Races all used Ille de Trindade as a mark of the course. Why has this changed?

Some views are that having removed this mark of the course the fleet was able to go west very early, rather than being forced north west where they may have had better conditions? An interesting debate on both counts.

SAILING Gybeset Website
The Sailing Gybeset website (www.sailing.co.za/gybeset) was revamped and updated late last year and has only really been in full operation for a few weeks, and is receiving good volumes of traffic, with over 50 000 hits on one day at the height of the Rio Race drama.

The only way for this site to be successful and to be able to disseminate information that covers all aspects of our sport is for Clubs, Class Associations, event organisers and individual sailors to ensure that information and pictures flow our way timeously.

Information can be sent to: sailing@iafrica.com – and the website can be viewed at: www.sailing.co.za/gybeset

SAILING Gybeset carries news items, club and class info, and an event calendar – so check it out and please send your contributions. The electronic media is an incredibly quick way of getting your news out to a very broad base of people – so use this portal to your advantage and share your sport with the thousands of others who have not yet given it a try, but are waiting in the wings.

This newsletter, “Talking Sailing” also has a permanent home on this site where the current and all previous issues are posted.

Some Humour
I recently had a SAILING Mag contributor make reference to GANDALF in his report – which on enquiry he regrettably requested I delete.

GANDALF stands for something like: Geriatrics, Adults, Novices D** and Lazy Farts.

I love it!

Dinghy Sailing
I have had some good responses to the discussion on dinghy sailing in the past 2 issues.

There is more to come in the next issue of “Talking Sailing”, but here’s something from Paul Allardice in Cape Town to whet your appetite:

An interesting point of discussion which has been prevalent over many post regatta discussions of late. Quality or Quantity ?

Over the last few years there has been a move away from the usual 6 race regatta format to the 12 or 15 race format at dinghy events in RSA. SAS has stipulated 4 day events for National and 3 day events for Provincial sanctioned regattas. SAS also stipulates a minimum of 6 scheduled races and minimum of 4 races to qualify as a recognised event.

The norm of late is for event organisers to push for 12 or 15 races. This I believe is having a negative impact on the sport, especially when this mind set is taken to a two day event (Grand Slam) or a venue which does not deliver consistent daily winds.

In the Western Cape, my home province, it has become a common occurrence for races to be as short as 8 minutes to an average of 15 minutes being accepted. Race Officers are under such pressure to deliver the 12 or 15 race format that race courses have become miniature Nascar Ovals, with short 2 tack beats and soldier like sailing legs, where tactics and strategy are becoming less important than pure boat speed (drag racing). Given that 4 or 5 races are to be squeezed into the day, wind shifts of 20 degrees or more, do not warrant changing the race course and Race officers continue racing on the same course as a re-set would consume too much time.

Is this low quality, high intensity format damaging the sport ?

Is the Lipton format of racing not more suitable to South Africa than the multi race America`s Cup explosive action packed, spectator fuelled event ?

Is it beneficial/productive to the sport to keep the average weekend sailor or junior on the water for 5 or 6 hours to push them to exhaustion in order to get the 5 races a day ? What if you have a breakage?

Would we not develop better sailors if we focussed on targets of 40 – 60 minute race courses, which are adjusted during the race for wind, to keep the sailors on a fair competitive course ?

I understand and hear the objectors for fewer longer races already screaming about fitness and the competitor in all of us and fleet separation between the fast and slow and consistency and international standards, but is this benefiting us here in RSA?

Bring back the old quality race formats – please!

A Boat Building Opportunity – under supervision of a master boatbuilder
from JJ Provoyeur
I thought I would let you know that after many years I am about to start building another yacht, a DH 550 Catamaran, designed by Dudley Dix.

The first example of this lovely boat was built in Trinidad by Phil and Laura Harvey and is named ‘Wild Vanilla’. I saw it under construction in Trinidad when Anthony Spillebeen and I delivered ‘After You’ there for storage for a year after we completed the 2006 South Atlantic Race to Salvador.

I was very impressed with the finished product, so much so that my wife arranged to purchase the drawings as a birthday present, getting some friends to chip in and surprise me on the occasion of my 60th. The yacht is to be built from timber and epoxy impregnated plywood at Devonvale Golf Estate over the next two years.

I am hoping some boatbuilders are able to help me as I still hold down a job at Devonvale so would not be able to work full time on the project. My phone number is 082 902 2822, should anyone able and willing want to make contact. I do not believe there are many “home build” projects going on these days in South Africa so this may be of interest to your readers.

ED. The heading is mine as JJ would never refer to himself as I have. He is an amazingly talented boat builder – and with opportunities available to learn from a master – don’t delay in calling him.

Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”
● I have also spent my school holiday’s sailing on Emmarentia dam, not very big, but it was good. When I was at school I was building boats on order and I built about 8 Dabchicks in all while still at school. My school work suffered when I failed Std 9 due to my boat building. My first Dabchick I sold in November one year and I launched my new one on Boxing day a month later, better, lighter and faster than the first.

After that I built a Sprog which my father and I sailed. A friend of mine and I spent a long weekend on our own sailing on the Vaal Dam during the winter. We almost froze from the cold, but sailing we did; with no adults looking after us. We had some very strong winds and a storm on the dam.

I am now 62 and I am still building boats. I am building a mould for the Paper Jet (covered in detail in the last “Talking Sailing”) which I will try to complete this year and I am also building a Dix Pilot 43 which I hope to complete by the middle of this year.

● I would like to know how SAMSA can have the right to regulate the VHF radio license if it is regulated by Telkom Maritime Services.

All Radio Licenses for operating a radio are controlled by telkom. As far as I am concerned SAMSA have no say in the matter.

● I would like to congratulate you on a great informative “Talking Sailing” which I thoroughly enjoy reading ….. particularly the last one (issue – 10) featuring ‘Sandefjord’ which, as you know, was built in Risor, Norway as a rescue vessel.

Your article brings back sooo many great memories which I thought I would share with you.

Risor is a charming small town -all painted white – just south of my home town (Kragero) so I know the area and the local waters very well. ‘Sandefjord’ no 28 was built at Risor Batbyggeri (boat yard) which is today owned by some of my friends whom I visit (on my trips home) and share many stories and a few beers together.

I grew up in boats – rowing, sailing and motor boats, mostly clinker. So it is only natural that I have a great love for the Colin Archer, the gaff rig and wooden boats, in general. On each of my holidays “back home” I have always been invited to sail on some fine wooden boats – amongst them has been ‘Sandefjord’ – so I know her. A few years back I had a share in ‘Colin Archer’ RS no 1.

I always plan my visit “home” to coincide with the annual Risor Trebatfestival (Wooden Boat Festival) where I meet up with some of my old friends – chat about boats, sailing, eat shrimps (yummy) etc etc etc and listen to some great music on the wharf together.

Many, many GREAT memories! I can tell you.

I certainly hope that Barry enjoyed his visit to the festival and would enjoy meeting up with him, one day, to hear his impression of the festival, the town and Norway in general. Not many South Africans venture to that part of the world.

I can certainly recommend that you visit the festival one year – take your wife and a large cheque book – Norway is not cheap!

If you do, let me know so I can put you in contact with some of my friends.

● Thanks for another interesting issue. I had amazing responses from people on some of their own experiences with ‘Active’ after you mentioned her in “Talking Sailing”. (much appreciated) It seems that she was a well-known boat and provided many young sailors with their first experience of sailing.

A little-known fact is that, when ‘Active’ sailed the ’71 Cape to Rio, the average age of her crew was 16!

Regarding the various comments on ‘Active’. She was indeed a training boat in the ‘60s and ‘70s and also owned by Lionel Fridgeon at some point. I would really appreciate it if you could again mention to people that they can email me their memories and comments regarding ‘Active’ – tony@cover.co.za

● It’s always nice to interrupt my working day when a new Talking Sailing pops up.

Regarding Dinghy Sailing. Two years ago I made a return to dinghy sailing by buying my non-sailing wife a very smart Sonnet. She fell for it and duly appointed me as her helmsman and general deckhand. So, the Sonnet class is now of interest to me.

While I don’t have the solutions to halt the demise of our dinghy sailing, I do feel we should shout about the successes.

In Cape Town Stephen du Toit has developed a new fibreglass Sonnet and over the last 12 months he has built and sold more than 20 of the new boats. UCTYC has taken delivery of 6 of them. Another one has gone to one of our country’s very top sailors who is making a return to dinghy sailing. How’z that?

Still on Sonnets, The class has a very active Facebook page with regular input by the class national champion.

Recently the class held a race training weekend with the class national champion and Dave Hudson doing the training. Imagine living in Cape Town and having access to that caliber of sailors coaching you just before the class nationals? How’z that?

● Love the new website – SAILING Gybeset that is!

● Did you known that 43 years ago Scouts took part in the 1971 Cape to Rio race? Oh yes, the Heritage Team have been digging into the archives and found a Scout report on this event!

The Bitter End
People who blindly follow TRADITION.

An observation on the word tradition says: Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly stupid!

Our sport is poorer with these people in positions of authority.

The ‘Bitter End’ is the inboard end of an anchor chain or rode which should be attached to the vessel so as not to be lost overboard in it’s entirety. In terms of “Talking Sailing” it’s things about our sport which get up peoples noses!

“Talking Sailing” is written by Richard Crockett, the Publisher & Editor of SAILING Magazine, South Africa’s monthly sailing mag.

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“Talking Sailing” by Richard Crockett – issue 50

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