Monday, November 5, 2007

Can't Get There From Here

Off to the beach on Sunday, only to find foggy conditions, 64 degrees and wind out of the west at 3 knots. Greg was so discouraged he rented a bicycle for the afternoon. He tried to talk me out of going sailing, but I wasn't listening. Sure enough, the sun finally burned through and the wind picked up to about 7 knots - foiling conditions.

So I rigged the boat after driving around Long Beach for an hour looking for change for a 20 and some press-on copper shroud placeholders to keep the prodder out of tilt-a-whirl mode. Lumbered into the surf, which is sort of like the surf in your bathtub only with more plastic bags floating in it, then up, up and away.

Mothing in this condition is really a lot like iceboating in that the apparent is pretty much always enough forward that without trying very hard you can convince yourself that you are going upwind on just about any point of sail north of a very broad reach. After reaching around going quite fast but not making any progress toward my destination (the other side of oil island #1) I realized that if I didn't try to point at all cost I was never going to get anywhere. I mean I was zooming all over the place to no great effect, sort of like we used to do in high school on 8th street but with a lot less horsepower and no girls to talk to. The leadmines I buzzed were all agaggle but they left me in their martini-scented bad air and disappeared.

So that was a good lesson: if you want to go uphill, try pointing. I know it sounds stupid, but fundamentally it isn't that much different from reaching, except that you are going slower. So my new technique is to go about as slow and high as I can go without dropping off the foils or working too hard, and heel like crazy. I haven't fired up the Velocitek in earnest yet but am looking forward to seeing some VMG numbers (or CMG or whatever).

There are about four or five people in the country who can gybe on foils, on a Moth anyway. Maybe seven if you count the kids in San Diego. Since none of us have been foiling longer than a year, I think we can pretty well conclude that this is not rocket science, and that anyone who practices diligently will figure it out. Keeping it figured out over a range of conditions and making it reliable would seem to be the real challenges, but that has as much to do with height control as anything else. So if you're one of the gybing few, congratulations.

Please do not interpret this as a plea for advice on the subject, however. I am entirely as capable of stacking it in repeatedly until I get the hang of it as you were, if not moreso. When I do get the hang of it, I will probably not spend much time writing about it. I mean, we are not talking about anything truly difficult like tacking a Canoe here, which if anyone in the world ever figured it out would certainly be news.

The interesting thing about Long Beach on Sunday was that the wind was blowing 12-15 from the West out by the breakwater (sort of SW of my launch point - mostly S), but a gentle Santa Ana filled in from the North along the shore, which faces South. The gradient breeze between these two locations veered dramatically the closer to shore I got, until, well, I couldn't get there at all, and not for lack of pointing: the wind just got progressively lighter and and more adverse as one approached the shore, until it stopped blowing at all in a small band just outside the surf. OK I got there, in lowrider mode, sitting well-in on the tramp. Or close enough to swim for it.

I have concluded that Acetate is fast. I have no data to support this conclusion, but I have messed around with it enough to know that it isn't slow, and that is enough for me.

1 comment:

Paul Kilkenny said...


This is the best damn blog in the class!

Forget the foiling gybes; who else can seamlessly insert a Frost poem as coada to one of the funniest articles I've read all year!

Paul Kilkenny