Saturday, May 26, 2012

Roll Tacks - eight steps plus the tiller exchange

I was recently  searching around on YouTube for tips on roll tacks. I am also interested in  the tiller exchange which is a move that I need to refresh since I last raced a dinghy in the 1970's. This video by Ian Eliot and friends does a great job of breaking down of light air roll tacks into eight steps and right at the end gives us with one extra step - the tiller exchange  They use video from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club Race Team.   The Salientian channel also has other videos including one on light wind jibing, using the tiller extension to get hold of the main sheet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Transit of Venus and the Unknown Southern Land

On June 6 we  will have the opportunity to witness the transit of Venus when the planet passes between the Earth and the Sun.  There have been only six Transits of Venus since first predicted by the German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler in the 17th Century.

This is a bit of history for those us who sail Sydney Harbour. James Cook, crew and scientists were the first Europeans to reach the east coast of Australia, They made landfall at Botany Bay just south of Sydney Harbour in April 1770. Eighteen years later the British established a penal colony at Sydney Cove.

Cook sailed to the south Pacific ocean on HMS Endeavour,  to observe the 1769 Transit of Venus across the Sun and to seek evidence of the postulated Terra Australis Incognita the "unknown southern land".

Route of the first voyage of James Cook 1768 to 1771
Staring at the brilliant disk of the Sun with the unprotected eye can quickly cause serious and often permanent eye damage.The safest way to observe a transit is to project the image of the Sun through a telescopebinoculars, or pinhole.

Friday, May 18, 2012

50 km Around Sydney Harbour

Over breakfast this morning I read in the local paper (SMH) about Murray Cox who has been swimming a 50 km circuit around Sydney Harbour, taking photographs with his waterproof camera and writing a little bit about the history of coves, bays and beaches along the way.  The last leg  was today from North Head to Sound Head.

My Saturday bike ride takes me on a circuit to the forts at Middle Head, Georges Heights lookout and  Bradley's Head which all have great views of the harbour.  I usually spend more time looking at the view and studying the wind patterns than riding.
Murray Cox

First stop today on the bike, the forts at the end of Middle Head.  The views are extraordinary and way in the distance with the sun rising behind them were three support boats, some kayaks and  half a dozen  swimmers heading for South Head, the light shining through their splashes. And just to make it spooky, coming up the harbour a huge oil tanker. But they had it worked out  and were safely near South Head when the tanker steamed out to sea. The rule on Sydney Harbour is you must stay 500 metres from the bow of tankers, not easy for vessels/swimmers doing 1.5 knots.

You can read about Murray Cox's adventures on his blog.

My own modest quest proceeds well. I am sticking to the exercise plan most weeks, sailed three times this week to make up for last week single effort. It is harder to find the ideal practice winds with our winter patterns being either 5 knots or 20 knots West to South winds, with not many ideal days in between.  Made contact with the local Laser club to get my membership process started. Still looking for a second hand full rig sail.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

One Month In

So far my blog has been about the first Australians, British naval map makers and  a recent squall and misadventure on Sydney Harbour.  Time to report on Laser training.

It has been one month since I purchased my first club racing standard Laser and I am almost a quarter of my way towards the goal  to be ready to race in September 2012.
Regular web trawling  for advice about Laser racing is filling the blog tabs with notes and quotes. Proper Course, Improper Course, How to Sail a Laser, Reaching Broadly, Butterfly Course, Centre of Effort and the many other are all fantastic.  If you are on the same journey, I hope some of the notes, quotes and links are helpful.

I recently found a free Laser Training Manual on the Web which I am still reading it and filling  more gaps in my knowledge.  Other reading includes Frank Bethwaite's book High Performance Sailing has changed the way I look at the wind and I am now actively sailing with my head out of the boat looking for the best wind on the course.  Bethwaite  is a  hard read but its worth persevering.. Michael Blackburn's book 'Sailing Fitness and Training' has given me confidence to set my own training and fitness program.

I am still thinking of a  name for Laser 176894.  I know its is meant to bad luck to change boat names but there is no name on the  hull so I feel I have some naming rights.   I found a name written on the sail bag 'Smell My Speed", yo Bart Simpson. The quest goes on for a new name.