October 31, 2013

A Great Regatta Car

By Doug

I never thought I'd be writing a post about a car.

When I sold my software company in Montreal to a multinational, they leased me a new BMW 525. It was a great car. But within a year, my new employer decided to consolidate its development centers, and I was given the choice of moving to London, England or Dallas, Texas. I checked the weather and learned that Dallas was the windiest inland city in North America (no kidding), so off to Dallas it was. The only problem was that I could not take my Canadian-leased car to the US. So when I got to Dallas, I started looking for another car.

Perhaps the most famous car dealership in the US (or world) was Sewell Village Cadillac and I remember seeing it on 60 Minutes and also reading about it in Customers For Life. And yes, they were based in Dallas. I was not interested in a Cadillac but rather a Lexus which was just being introduced. And the story was that Sewell was made the exclusive dealer in Dallas in return for Lexus being permitted to copy Sewell's outstanding business model for the new Lexus dealer network. So, off to the brand new Sewell Lexus showroom it was.

But a test drive of the Lexus was a disappointment because it felt just like a $45,000 Camry. So there I was standing in the front lawn talking with a salesman who was trying hard to not lose the sale.

So, what were you driving in Canada?

A 5-series.

Manual or automatic?


Which model would you prefer?

Thinking a bigger engine would be better, I said a 535.

What color would you prefer?

Thinking about the hot Dallas summers, I said white.

Sort of like the car behind you?

I turned around and there it was, a slightly-used white, manual, 535. It was lined up with a dozed other slightly-used BMW's, Mercedes, and Porches. You see, Sewell bought these used cars and placed them in front of its Lexus dealership to create the impression that people had traded in these cars to buy a new Lexus. Very clever.

Would you like to take it for a drive?

Sure, for how long?

As long as you want.

Drove it off, loved it, and never took it back.

After paying $28,000 in cash, my next step was finding a place that installed trailer hitches on BMW's. People kept telling me that it could not be done. I finally found a shop, had it installed, and for the next 22 years put on 277,000 miles going to more than a thousand local, district, and national events. It was quite simply the best car I had ever owned or driven.

But the inevitable happened this week. The water pump finally failed, I did damage to the engine, and it had to be towed to a repair shop. On the way, the AAA driver said something amazing.

We don't see old 5-series very often.

You mean new 5-series?

No, old ones. It's the new ones that have lots of problems. The old ones we don't hardly see.

I thought, amazing!

It turns out that the repair will cost more than the car is worth, so there's one last part to this story. I've donated my car to the Make-A-Wish folks so that whatever value is left in it goes towards making a child's dream come true. It's a perfect ending for a great regatta car.

Pam's Version - Farewell POS!

I tried everything I could think of to kill that dang car. It just ran and ran and ran. Looked like crap with half the windows unable to raise all the way up so that they had to be taped with clear packaging tape to close the gap. The interior was disintegrating and that picture above with all the lights ... every time I drove it almost all of those lights (with bells mind you) would just randomly go off all the way down the road. It was like Christmas and Vegas all rolled into one. It was peppy and could move.  I'll give it that.  And it was heavy and all beat up so I had no worries about people giving me a wide berth when I went speeding by. Good thing too because once it got up over 65 mph the steering had so much play that it didn't even seem to be responding to me.  

I remember overhearing a conversation a couple of years ago from a 30+ year old Laser sailor who said when he was just a kid and met Doug for the first time, he remembered Doug arriving at the regatta driving a BMW towing a Kitty Hawk trailer with his Laser.  He remarked about how 'cool' that was and how he decided right then he wanted to be like that when he grew up. Then he asked whatever happened to that car and Doug pointed to the parking lot. It was still kinda cool, in an old man, masters sort of way. Doug steps out of his fossil of a car, hits the race course on his Laser, and lots of the younger kids are still trying to keep up with him. The older he gets, the cooler THAT is ... he doesn't need the car anymore!

You Just Can't Keep an Old Dog Down

by Pam
A few days ago we had a guest post from a life long Laser sailor. Actually, it was a open letter to the ILCA and a show of support for Bruce Kirby. Given the litigious nature of our society, our guest poster had a change of heart and asked us to take the post down. 

I get it. He's right. About society and about Bruce Kirby. Since we support Bruce's cause 100% (and I really liked the picture I found of a determined old dog) and since we really don't like the way the ILCA, the ISAF and Rastegar have treated Bruce, we still want to show our support.

Well, I've been under the weather for the last few days and didn't even know until now that the post had been taken down. My throat was killing me and I pulled out a package of Halls drops that I had purchased some time ago. I opened the first one, barely able to lift my head, and noticed writing on the wrapper. It read 'Dust off and get up' and I, unable to speak and feeling like dog do-do, quietly thought of a curse word. With every drop, I read yet another "pep talk in every drop.'  So, Bruce Kirby, we support you with the politically correct, Halls 'pep talk in every drop:'

Dust off and get up
Conquer today
It's your's for the taking
Be resilient
You've survived tougher
Don't waste a precious minute
The show must go on.  Or work.
Don't give up on yourself
Tough is your middle name
Flex your "can do" muscle
Nothing you can't handle
Don't try harder.  Do harder!
March forward!
Keep your chin up.
Go for it
Get through it
Put your game face on
Seize the day

There were many more but that was enough drops to get me out of bed and back in action. Give 'em hell Bruce!

October 26, 2013

Public Offshore Leaks Database

by Pam
The ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) have made their Offshore Leaks Database available to the public (story here).  You can search for free or download the entire thing. Every page has a place where you can report anything you find that you would like them to investigate further.  They have even provided a five minute video tutorial to make it super easy to learn how to use the database:  http://offshoreleaks.icij.org/

I've actually been keeping up with this because when I was researching the web of entities that surround the Laser game and Farzad Rastegar, many crossed through offshore entities where little, if any, information could be found.  The leaks database is not complete and there are many legitimate businesses with offshore accounts.  The ICIJ is essentially asking the public to search what we know and connect any dots we can and then bring it to their attention (confidentially) so that they can investigate further.  Naturally, I searched the web of entities surrounding the Laser game but came up empty. I did not search variations of names and they freely admit that there are plenty of typos in the data.  Perhaps others with more time, energy, and perhaps inside knowledge will have a better shot. For the record, below is the web of jurisdictions, entities, and addresses that I had previously located and I'm the first to admit that it is most likely incomplete. 

Jurisdictions:  British Virgin Islands, Ireland, Jersey (Channel Islands), Siwtzerland, Hong Kong, Antigua and Barbuda.

Names: Farzad Rastegar; Spring Meadow Holding Limited; Karaya Holdings Limited; Karaya (Jersey) Limited; Velum Limited; Armon Limited; Sina Holdco Limited; Quarter Moon, Incorporation; Full Moon Holdings Limited; Dory Ventures LLC; Sina Holdco; Meywin; LaserPerformance LLC; SailLaser LLC; LaserPerformance Sail; Sport LLC; Vanguard Sailing Center; Vanguard Sailboats; Vanguard Racing Sailboats; Garda Company LLC; American Baby Products, Inc. f/k/a Maclaren USA, Inc.; Excelsior Testa LLC; Excelsior Property Holdings LLC; Maclaren N.A., Inc.; Maclaren Services, Inc.; LaserPerformance (Europe) Limited; SailLaser Limited; Maclaren Europe Limited; Ronson Limited; Ronson International Limited.

Addresses: Mill Mall, P. O. Box 964, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands; 17, rue du Cendrier, PO Box 1699 CH-1211, Geneva 1, Switzerland; 14 Conway Street, St. Helier, Jersey; 300 Highpoint Avenue, Portsmouth, RI 02871; 200 Highpoint Avenue, Portsmouth, RI 02871; 4 Testa Place, S. Norwalk, CT 06854; 25 Van Zant Street, Norwalk, CT 06854; Station Works, Station Road, Long Buckby, Northampton, Northamptonshire NN6 7PF

October 18, 2013

2013 Laser Masters North Americans from 1000 Miles Away

By Doug

I could not attend this event so I'm evaluating the competition and playing armchair quarterback. Here are the people who have a good chance of winning in the 99-boat full-rig fleet (after day 1, in no particular order).
  • Peter Shope in 1st, has the speed and is smart, but only if he does not OCS.
  • John MacCausland in 2nd, has just won the Star Worlds. Smart and very consistent.
  • Andy Pimental in 7th, has home-field advantage and does well in good fleets.
  • Andy Roy in 10th , will move up if the winds increase.
  • Marc Jacobi in 30th, had a rough first day but could still win.
And it must have been a long day for:
  • Wolfgang Gerz (GER) in 39th, is the current GM world champion... what the what?
  • Mark Bear in 63rd, has won this event before and sails locally. He must be holding back! 
  • Derek Stow in 90th, dude - switch to a radial and you'll move up 50+ places!

Update from Pam:  Final Results  Four of Doug's predicted winners were indeed in the top 5. Doug was rather proud of himself for predicting the guy in 30th place at the end of the first day could win the event (see his report here). Peter Vessella wasn't in Doug's top five but he was very pleased to see Peter prove him wrong. John MacCausland slipped to 12th ... this is after he just won the Star Worlds, so it can't sting too badly and it certainly shows how stiff the competition is in the Laser Masters.

October 17, 2013

Oman - Ready or Not?

by Pam
The Laser Master Worlds in Oman are rapidly approaching and I was convinced that Doug will not be ready. I was yapping at him and ran through my laundry list of how he’s regularly getting beat by locals, he hasn’t been exercising or doing much sailing, he’s been neglecting a possible injury and how it seemed to me that the trip to Oman was more about seeing old friends than a serious attempt to do well (not that seeing old friends isn't a good enough reason to go).

In our household, sailing has priority and honey do's come later and there just aren’t many good reasons not to go sailing. The sad truth, though, is that I’ve been focused on a new job and have had little time for sailing this year and Doug has been politely down playing his sailing so that I wouldn’t feel so bad. However, since I’m not doing as much sailing, I need to live vicariously through him and he should have been playing it up so the reality of not getting on the water wouldn’t nag at me so much.

So, as I was making my very insightful and profound points about how he’s just not putting forth the effort this year, out come his charts about how much sailing and exercising he’s been doing and how he’s on track. To reassure me, I asked him to chart all of his past and present numbers and how he did. He didn't always keep track of everything but here's what he has.  What do you think? Is he ready?

Wind ConditionsSailing
Days of
Days of
Days of Strength
2006Korea1Light then Windy521347815515
1998The Gorge2Honking53129856334

* Still in process
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