September 30, 2017

2017 Laser Master Worlds - Final Day

by Pam
They started earlier today with the Standards aiming for an 11:00 am start and the Radials a noon start. Well, that didn't happen. They bobbed around until just before the last time that a race could be started and they were off, getting in one race today.

The conditions were 10-12, choppy water, with nice rides downwind. Doug took his pain meds today and decided not to hold back. He had really good downwind speed and was working the boat and ended up winning the race. He finished 5th overall but was thrilled with the result considering he has two broken ribs. 

Doug had a chat with the various winners of the various fleets and all said they would do a post to explain what helped them to win.

2017 Laser Master Worlds - Day 5 and 6

by Pam
Day 5
1, 2, 3, go
There is alot of waiting around for the sea breeze at this regatta. The Standard fleet left the harbor about 1:00 pm and the Radial fleet followed about an hour later. Only one race was to be had and it began about 4:00 pm with the breeze dying and changing at the end.  

As the Standard GMs and GGMs sailed past the Radials, they saw a large pack of the front of the fleet sitting in a dying breeze at the finish with the back of the fleet in the new offshore breeze sailing right past them with many boats losing 20 places or more. The same thing had happened in the Masters fleet on the Standard course but to a lesser degree. Many thought the race should not have counted.

So as the offshore breeze filled in, both fleets were finishing their racing about the same time and both were flying back to the harbor in the best breeze of the day ... all at the same time. In a flash all 4 ramps were completely clogged and the boats began to back up and the light went on for the race committee and they began a frantic effort to hold the fleet back and try to stage the return. Doug had never seen anything like it before. I happened to be sitting at the entrance to small channel into the harbor and witnessed the chaos which drew a crowd onshore with lots of picture taking. I took some videos which I will post later.

Day 6
This was the organized return of the back half of Radial Fleet on Day 6
The Standard fleet in a holding pattern waiting to enter the harbor on Day 6
A glimpse of the big boat line up to the left inserting themselves between the separation in the fleets
Waiting queue at one ramp
By noon, most were convinced there would be no sailing today but those that lost places yesterday or were close to the leader, were quite anxious to sail.  The postpone came down for both fleets and they headed out about 1:00 pm. I watched for a bit and then walked into town for one last bit of gift shopping and when I returned an hour later, the last of the steady stream of Lasers were still exiting the harbor. Even though many large sailboats often mix in with the fleet as they enter and exit, there were about a dozen who had been waiting on the Lasers for an hour outside the channel.   

The fleets bobbed around all day and about 4:00 pm called it a day with no races to be had. Again, both fleets headed into the harbor at the same time. Today, the breeze was lighter so they came in with less speed, the race committee was more prepared, and there was a slight separation in the fleets since the Standards were farther out. The Radials all got held before the final turn into the harbor and the Standards got held at another point farther out.  Still it drew a crowd onshore with lots of pictures being taken.

September 28, 2017

2017 Laser Master Worlds - Day 4

by Pam
Day 4 of racing started like all days with a postponement on shore but there was more certainty that they would sail and everyone rigged and waited.

The Standard fleet was sent out about 1:00 pm and the Radials followed about an hour later. The first race in the Standard fleet began about 3:00 pm. I opted out of the waiting game and went for a hike to the top of the peninsula where I could still see everything. My hike turned into one staircase or ramp after another all the way to the top. On the way down, I counted ... 765 stairs and a few ramps to the top. While there I gained a greater appreciation for just how far out these guys and gals were going.  

A view of the sailing center and the fleet heading out around the point
The Radial fleet is front and center and the Standard fleet is the rippled water out to the right
The Standard fleet was actually in a bit closer today than yesterday and when I snapped this picture I could hear the start sequence horns and see through binoculars that both fleets were about to start racing.

Toward the end of the day I was hanging laundry to dry and could see the Radial fleet coming in.  I waited another hour before I saw a handful of Standards heading in. I headed down to sit on the waterfront and wait for Doug. One of the USA Radial sailors was walking home and sat down for a chat as he finished his pasta, which is being served to the sailors when they get ashore. We watched as the Master fleet rocked and rolled past us in a dying breeze and still the GMs and GGMs were no where in sight.  It hardly seems fair that the oldest guys, sailing the bigger rig are one of the first to leave shore and the last to return.

I believe one of the wives of those old guys (not me) pointed this out and sort of insisted that some chase boats be sent out to tow the guys in. Finally, Doug sailed past going just as fast as some of those being towed. He was all relaxed and happy, having held onto his 4th place after two more races.

At the end of the day he asked the PRO if they were starting earlier or later on Day 5 and was told 'both.' They have decided to start the GGMs first!  Hooray!  Doug will be off the water before dark.

In the Radial fleet they have a 75+ category but they don't seem to have this in the Standard fleet. Therefore, I feel compelled to point out 80 year old GGM Roberto Paolieri (ITA) who performed a bit of gymnastics for us at the Standard GGM get together. We later sat and chatted with him one afternoon and he such an insightful, positive and delightful man.  A real inspiration and a portrait of a real winner.
GGM Roberto Paolieri (ITA) sailing a Standard at 80 years old in a World Championship

September 26, 2017

2017 Laser Master Worlds - Day 3

by Pam
Finally, the racing has begun, but what a long day!  Results are here for the first three races; however, the Standard GMs and GGMs only got in two races.

The Radial and Standard courses are sailing so far apart that they are barely visible to each other, with the Radials being much closer to the sailing center and I believe starting a hour later. Doug said it took a full hour to sail back in after the racing on the Standard course. Hugh Leicester, the PRO on the Standard course, is super efficient and can be counted on for the best racing possible. 

The Standard fleets left the harbor about 10:30 am and were on the course and ready for the noon start but the breeze did not show up until about 2:30 pm. The racing began shortly thereafter with each race lasting about an hour with almost no time between each race and the fleets returning to the harbor between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. Having been on the finish line boat in Kingston when Hugh was the PRO, I know that he keeps track of when the first and last boats in each fleet round the various marks and he adjusts accordingly to make sure they stay separate and he fires off the next race for each fleet as soon as possible.  

I was relieved when the GMs and GGMs did not have enough daylight to finish another race and return to the harbor because I had enough sun and bobbing around on a small rib to last me the week. It was nice to be close to the action but I'm over it now. Plus, I even got to sail around a bit when GM Robert Bini (ITA) had me take his Laser for a spin while he relaxed on the rib and ate his lunch. Work has kept me from sailing the last two years so that was a nice treat. 

Doug will be sending out his daily journal by email to the folks who have requested to be copied. In brief, he started the day in pain and not feeling the best. He went ahead and took the pain medicine before sailing but knew that meant he had to really go easy because his body would not give him reliable signals of when he had pushed too far. Given that he was not supposed to be sailing, he is pleased to be in 4th place in his fleet at the end of the day. He would have had a 2nd in one race but got passed on the last run and just did not feel comfortable trying to work the boat to hold his place.  

Pics and videos may be added here later. Didn't get much but some might be of interest to some people.

September 25, 2017

2017 Laser Master Worlds - Day 2

by Pam
Here is what Day 2 looked like. Can you interpret the meaning?

Fortunately, the flags were flown early in the day which gave the sailors some free time. This sort of softened the blow of hearing that their lay day had been cancelled. They will attempt three races tomorrow. 

We headed to the Diocletian Palace for a walking tour and saw many familiar faces along the way. Split is a beautiful place with plenty to see.  By the end of the day, I left Doug for a minute and when I came back, he looked like a homeless man begging for change.

When I saw him sitting there it reminded me of the "Sitting Athlete" we had seen in Italy on a tour of the poet's house a few days prior, which Mark Bethwaite dubbed the "Sitting GGM."

The good news is that I walked Doug until exhaustion and his broken ribs are not causing pain and he has not taken any pain medication for a couple of days now. The bad news is that the weather report I saw indicated that today was the best wind we're going to have all week. Let's hope the report was wrong. But, if not, Doug has a packed agenda of sightseeing ahead of him and he is apparently excited about it because he just edited my post to add the following:

The Diocletian Palace is a 1700 year old emperor's residence that forms much of Split's old city. It is full of shops, restaurants, and fantastic Roman architecture. We were fortunate to see the beginning of these men performing for another group of people.

September 24, 2017

2017 Laser Master Worlds - Day 1

by Pam

Day 1 of the Master Worlds was a bust. Almost everyone rigged and then we sat around until they finally flew the postpone over home. Bruce Martinson (GM USA) explained that if they had abandoned, then it would count as a race but by postponing, Race 1 is tomorrow.

Here is a video Doug shot while walking through the boat park. He's a little too quick with the camera movement for my stomach. Perhaps in slow motion it would be more suited to my taste but it gives you an idea of how the day went.

September 23, 2017

2017 Laser Master Worlds - Practice Day

by Pam
Team USA (partial)
Light winds, lumpy water, bright sunshine, a long sail to and from the sailing area, with single file launch and retrieval from four small ramps. 

The retrieval queue on one ramp 
I went up to the top of the hill to watch the racing with my binoculars and could barely see the Radial fleet and the Standard fleet was so far out they were practically dots on the horizon (through binoculars). I have not yet volunteered or tried to get on a boat on the course until we decided whether Doug was sailing. Hugh, the PRO, returned to shore and reported that he checked on Doug at the start and Doug said he was all good. And then I waited and waited and waited for Doug to return. When he finally showed up, all was still good. No pain and even though he was taking it easy and being super cautious, he ended up with a 2nd in his fleet. So far, the weather forecast continues to be for light air. Looks like he's a go for this regatta. Now I just need a find myself a place on a boat because the view from the shore just won't do.

Standard course is way the heck out there - can't even see them

September 22, 2017

2017 Laser Master Worlds - Arrival

by Pam
We have arrived in Croatia!  Sailors are scattered throughout the city since there was no hotel set aside to house them all. We booked early but when Doug boarded a plane to Italy, he got a message that our apartment would not be available and they re-booked us a couple of miles away from the sailing center. After booking three different reservations, slowly inching closer to the sailing center, we finally landed a wonderful apartment about two minutes walk from the sailing center. The only catch is that we are on the top floor, four floors up, but it may well be a blessing because the apartment is quite nice and we really need the exercise. Doug decided he needed to put on weight for the worlds and went the easy route and is sporting quite the gut and I've been working and not exercising for far too long.  

We have already wandered the sailing center and run into many familiar faces. It is crowded and I've only seen three small ramps so the launching is going to be interesting. There are lots of Aussies running about.  Something like 51 of them here. We came in a caravan from Italy with several Italian sailors and even they brought one of the Aussies with them. One of the older Aussies, a master legend, Peter Craig, informed Doug that sailing with broken ribs is no problem and that he had done it when he was 75. 

Doug has been told by two Italian doctors and one American doctor that he should not sail. So, what is he doing at this moment? Sailing. He was not even able to assemble the mast, put the sail on or step the rig without assistance. The wind is light and it may stay that way, in which case, he just might pull it off. The two broken ribs, slightly misaligned, are the 9th and 10th which protect various vital organs. Everything I've read says that further misalignment and breakage could result in puncturing those vital organs and could be fatal. Not a comforting thought since Doug does not feel pain when he sails. I believe I make take his pain meds away from him to remind him what he is contemplating. When he picked me up at the airport in Italy, he could not get in and out of the car without alot of grunting, and he still cannot roll over in bed without a little assistance. He's a bit like a turtle on its back.  

They say that bad luck comes in 3s. First, we had he loss of our first apartment, second, we had the broken ribs, and third, I seem to have lost my camera somewhere between the car and the apartment. Our host told us to head toward the city center and find the blackened statute with the gold toe behind the Diocletian's Palace and rub the gold toe and make a wish and a prayer. First order of business last night was to find the statute and Doug spent quite a bit of time rubbing that toe. And now we wait to see what the wind gods will bring us. But, even if he does not sail, there is much to enjoy in Split.

September 19, 2017

Not My Favorite Holiday Picture

by Doug
A week ago, Mark Bethwaite and I checked out the conditions on Lake Garda and it was blowing up to 30 knots with 2 meter (6 feet) waves. We decided to sail further upwind where the waves were only 1 meter (3 feet) and on our final run, I buried my bow into a wave, the boat stopped and I fell forward into the mast. I felt a pain in my right side as I climbed back into the boat.

The pain did not go away for several days, and a local specialist examined me and said that I had broken a rib. His advice: absolutely no physical exercise, which means no sailing in the upcoming Laser Master Worlds next week in Croatia. Bummer.

Wanting a second opinion, I went to a hospital to get x-rays where it was confirmed that in fact I have two broken ribs. And his advice: absolutely no physical exercise.

So I'm now sending the x-rays to my doctor in the U.S. to get a third opinion, but it looks like this Worlds will be spent watching rather than competing. Bummer.

September 15, 2017

My Little Brother

By Doug
Nine years ago, my brother suffered a stroke. He survived because of the superb Canadian healthcare system but remains disabled. To everyone’s delight, he’s taken up sailing.

Pam and I are in Italy as I train for the upcoming Laser Master Worlds in Croatia, but a much more important event just finished in Kelowna British Columbia. It was the Mobility Cup for Canadian disabled sailors, where Brian finished third in his first national event.

Brian winning a race!

I am so proud! When I retire, this is where I'll spend my time.

September 10, 2017

Italian Clinic Day One

By Doug
It was raining so we started our clinic with a Q&A at a local restaurant. It was interesting to hear Mark talk about his regatta preparation both off and on the water. We then headed out for a two hour sail in a cool 8-15 knot northerly coming down from the Alps.

Mark was the fastest with Roberto and others close behind. This was my first time in waves in several months and my timing was way off. It's clear that anyone who wants to compete against Mark will have to bring their A Game.

After lunch, we discussed Brett's revised settings and Mark commented that one of the settings was actually one of his trade secrets (I'll let you guess which one).

Roberto then took us to the closing ceremonies of the Centomiglia Regatta and we saw some of the boats ready to be driven home.

This is not a keel boat - it's actually a dinghy with a crew of 14!
The closing ceremonies went on for a long time, with Italy's lovely national anthem being played, followed by more awards. It seemed that every combination of boat type, gender, and home club was getting a prize, so I joked that there might even be an award for the first boat with a blue spinnaker. Sure enough, the next award was for a boat with a blue spinnaker.

The crowd had several members of sailing royalty which included Tiziano Nava, former European Laser and J-24 champ, and two time Melges-24 world champion.

People kept on introducing Mark as the older brother of Julian Bethwaite, designer of the 49er. Mark joked about what it will take to be recognized for his own sailing record (12 world championships)!

We finished our evening with a lovely supper with great friends in their 400-year old home.

September 09, 2017

First Day in Italy

By Doug
Mark and I have arrived in Italy to train for the upcoming Laser Master Worlds in Croatia. We’re staying with Christine and Roberto at their lovely home overlooking Lake Garda

As good luck would have it, our first full day was the start of the Centomiglia Regatta which is a 100 kilometre race up and down the lake. One of the people we met was former 49er FX world champion Giulia Conti.

Me, Giulia, and Mark
Giulia is the skipper of Clandesteam, something that Mark and I had never seen before. We walked around in awe of the size and design of these huge dinghies that have a crew of 14. Just amazing!

We watched the start of the race from Christine and Roberto’s home. The fleet is headed north which is away from us. The sun was shining on the close end of the line, so I think that God was telling the fleet to go left.

Here's an awesome video posted after the event:

September 04, 2017

Clinic on Lake Garda

By Doug
Mark Bethwaite and I will be training on Lake Garda for the upcoming Laser Master Worlds in Split, Croatia. We'll be giving a clinic on September 10 and 16. If you're in the area, we'd love to see you!

September 01, 2017

New Settings for the Mk2 Sail

Brett Beyer has updated our cheat sheet for sailing upwind in choppy water, and the changes are shown in red. It's interesting to note that:
  • there are no changes to how you play the mainsheet in any condition,
  • there are no changes to sailing in 5 knots or less, and
  • the most changes are for setting the outhaul.
Brett can be contacted here. When we give a clinic, we print and laminate this chart so that people can tape it to their Laser. Here's your copy...

For questions and comments from Brett, click on comments...
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