Thursday, November 22, 2007

Moth Talk, LA Style

Some time ago on the UK Moth listserve there was some discussion of appropriate terminology for the gybe-to-weather technique used (to debatable effect) by at the Denmark worlds. Some thought the term"Gack" too hoodie for the moth "class"; hence "wearing ship" was offered up as a substitute. This suggestion was universally ignored as far as anyone on this side of the Atlantic can tell.

Because all this gacking happened long before anyone began working on the foiling tack in a serious way, the following corollary question was never asked, at least publicly: If a foiling gybe is a gack, is a foiling tack a fack?

Entire vistas of unexplored linguistic potential open before us. Let the games begin.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blogito Ergo Sum

It's official: we exist.

Without a presence in cyberspace a fleet just isn't a fleet anymore. No place to hang your cyber-wetsuit, dry your cyber sailing shoes, fix your cyber-yacht, or compare cyber notes. No place to exchange cyberpleasantries, or take a cybernap.

With all due deference to our video gaming programmer brethren at Sim City, we now offer a web portal to the ultimate in online entertainment: reality. Now you can visit our website at, get all hot and bothered, and actually contact someone RIGHT NOW who will take all that pent-up anxiety and direct it somewhere more productive than Sailing Anarchy forums. That's right - if you play your cards right, you can actually go sailing on a Moth. We give you gps coordinates and a time, and you give us, well, nothing. Unless you're unbearably attractive and female, in which case some of us may accept payment in smiles.

So forget Will Wright and the upcoming release of Spore. You've been there, and you have the myopia, bad posture and carpal tunnel syndrome to show for it. Take the blue pill, drop through the wormhole over at our website, and don't ever look back. When it comes to Mothing, the truth is so much stranger and more wonderful than fiction that software engineers will need decades to catch up. And when they do, we'll have moved on yet again.

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.