Friday, March 29, 2013

Fast Handling Technique

This time last year I borrowed from the library Frank Bethwaite, "High Performance Sailing", It was a big book and at times a difficult read. But I have no regrets putting the time into reading it carefully. Many of his observations and theories have stayed with me and since influenced the way I think about sailing.

Frank Bethwaites new book Fast Handling Technique is a far easier book to read, and and I am looking forward to picking it up a second time to find the things I missed.

As a keen intermediate level sailor, I am constantly looking for the answer to the next stage of my development. At this time its my quest is for better boat speed and handling, minimising the use of the rudder, using boat heal and sail trim. This was the lesson for me from Steve Cockerill's boat whisperer videos.

Bethwaite’s theoretical and practical analysis reinforces the point. He argues there are two kinds of boat handling the original and outdated ‘natural’, ‘one handed’ method of using the rudder to steer up in gusts resulting in slow speed and capsizes and the ‘fast’ two handed method of coordinating easing sheets, steering and body movement.

The book is loaded with theoretical and practical observations that apply to all sorts of sailing. I sail a Laser and crew on yachts. I found the setup guides are particularly relevant to yachts and the section contributed by Brett Bayer on Laser setups is invaluable. While I will probably never experience them, it was fun to read about the apparent wind techniques for the foiling Moth, 49er and ice yachts. 

You only need to get one important tip to make a book or talk worth the time and money and this book delivers many. You also get to experience the intellectual approach of a highly acclaimed sailor, trainer and designer.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Take your sailing gloves on holiday

Sometime this year I am planning to take a break from sailing and go traveling with the family. I have been thinking about how to stay fit as I won't have access to my bike or local pool or the ultimate exercise machine the laser dinghy.

There is a growing trend to exercise with your own body weight and I just found this article in the online version of the UK's Guardian newspaper.

It about  Spartanfam started by Chaka Clarke who learned his way of working out in the army. With mortar alarms and camp excursions in Iraq constantly interrupting his fitness regime, he developed a more flexible approach: "I started doing pushups in my tent, pullups on the tank barrel and on the side of the bulldogs, the armoured fighting vehicles that we had, doing squat jumps, just messing about."

Now living in London Clarke started Spartanfam.
Their motto is go hard or go homesounds a lot like laser sailing.

One of their stunts is hanging sideways off whatever comes to hand – lampposts, scaffolding, his friends – performing a bodyweight exercise called the "human flag" that entails gripping a pole and holding yourself parallel to the ground.  I will pass on this one.

The military seems to a source of these kindhs of excercise routines, probably out of necessity. I remember my parents generation in the 1960's getting into 5BX an exercise program developed for the Royal Canadian Air Force, which also essentially relied on the principle of exercising without gym equipment.

Spartanfam has a series of videos on youtube demonstrating their exercises.  I like this video because it uses the kind of facilities found in hotel rooms like doorways and couches.

They also wear gloves, similar to my laser sailing gloves, so I will now need to put them on the packing list.