May 29, 2012

Fast Handling Techniques

By Doug

When we visited Frank after the Brisbane Worlds, he told us that he was working on another book that is a companion to his 2008 classic Higher Performance Sailing. He gave us a copy of Chapter 7 which is about sailing a Laser written by Brett Beyer. Brett writes about upwind, crosswind, and downwind in all sailing conditions and has some really good material that has helped him win his eight Laser Master Worlds.  Frank's final book will be available in December and you can pre-order it here. Would make a great Christmas present for any Laser sailor (hint, hint Pam).


  1. I did not know about Bethwaite until I read your blog on him - I got a copy of his High Performance book and the guy is amazing. So thorough in his research and analyses. Not easy reading but worth it. Thanks for introducing him.

    1. Frank's second book is Higher Performance Sailing and it's even better.

      Frank was a great teacher. I remember him sharing his amazing notes and graphs after the 1972 Olympics. He was fascinated by Rodney Pattisson use of persistent shifts and John Cuneo's tracking wind shifts downwind from his boat. Frank was always eager to learn more and was always working on something new, even when we saw him in March.

      Frank would always give his advice whenever asked. A sail maker who wanted to start making sails was invited to his shop. A mast and boom were set up inside so that the sail could be accurately measured. I took a picture of Frank measuring its chord with the gentleman in the background looking very concerned. He thanked Frank and then left. I asked Frank why there was such little discussion and he said, "Because he knows - it was way too flat." Frank's blessing (or lack thereof) helped many people.

      Without realizing it, Frank taught me something that was very humbling - that whenever I try to understand the wind, waves, and current, there will always be people who are much better at this than I am. So my sailing style to this day is to watch those who really know what they are doing and then go with them, trying to learn along the way. I focus on boatspeed and let the really top sailors focus on the steering.

      The reaction to Frank's passing here in Dallas has been interesting. The sailing here is not serious by Sydney standards and no one here has ever met Frank. But they know of him and respect him because virtually all of the local designs share the DNA of his work. The latest keelboat here is called the VX One, and it sure looks familiar!

      Frank had a huge impact on me at the time that persists to this day. When I see a truck on the highway with no wind deflector, or worse yet, a truck with a deflector and no load behind it, I cringe and think of how Frank could have helped improve other industries.

      Many times, Frank told me how much he admired the work of Manfred Curry and how it is remembered as a seminal work. I think it's safe to say that Frank's work will be remembered in the same way. I'll remember Frank differently - as a very gentle man who mentored a naive 20 year old kid who had the good fortune to stumble into a friendship that helped shape his life.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...