Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Zilla Wafer

What the boat lacks in compound curvature it makes up for in hip hop lyricism (and ease of mold construction).

Check it:


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Night Flight

When I was a kid we had a variety of 8-track players, all of which shared the perplexing feature of having continuous loops of tape with multiple tracks, rendering it utterly impossible to navigate from any given song to another with confidence. There was a button you could push to skip between tracks, and that was about it. Kind of like pulling numbers out of a hat.

I think most of those tapes were ultimately lost to the Arabian sun, as we had a player in the car and summer in Saudi Arabia just doesn't bear thinking about in terms of how hot the inside of a car can get. You open the doors for awhile before you get in - to let the seatbelt buckles cool off; otherwise they will burn you. Many, many tapes were tacoed. Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire. ABBA's greatest hits. And yes, Boney M's Nightflight to Venus. In fact, one of my more piquant childhood memories is driving down the escarpment from Taif to Jeddah in a big block 454 Suburban, eating fresh Pomegranet seeds and singing along to Brown Girl in the Ring, along with Johnny Horton's Battle of New Orleans. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. There were no radio stations playing western music in Saudi Arabia, apart from shortwave, and we had very limited access to anything western, which of course meant that we listened to the same tapes for ever, or at least for a year until they melted the following summer. Consequently a very small selection of totally random, utterly banal features of late 70's popular culture have been indelibly inscribed on my psyche, to my great amusement and dismay.

So it was that Nightflight to Venus (not at all a memorable song otherwise) popped into my head this evening when I looked down at the side of my Moth and saw the moon in its reflection. Of course, it didn't hurt that Venus itself is the brightest thing in the western sky at sunset this week (apart from the moon) with Jupiter just below and to the right. In any event, sometimes the breeze holds right through sunset, and a late start meant I was more determined than usual to get the most from the fading light. December in California being not very unlike December in other parts of North America, only the hardest core sailors brave the cool water and breeze, and most of them come off the water around 3 or 4pm, despite the fact that other people would kill for this kind of year 'round sailing weather. So if you are out there at 5 or 5:30 when the sun is sinking below the horizon, you have the place to yourself - if you can get the old 70s tunes out of your head anyway. Flat water, good breeze, completely idyllic conditions. Tra la la la la.

Unfortunately, machining another set of bearings for my little tilt-a-whirl system did not resolve its annoying tendency to scrub lift on one tack slightly less efficiently than the other, which was disappointing. But each time out teaches me something new, and today was no exception. Pinching along the breakwater I realized beyond doubt that I am able to sustain flight in some lighter breeze than I was ever able to before, particularly upwind. Sort of an unintended consequence, but there you have it. Just amazing the way it hangs in there; I am using a different section that is pretty efficient at high angles of attack, so that probably explains the behavior. Always nice when the boat reads the book.

Bazillion coaches and youth sailors at the club, packing up their Lasers and 420s as I went out. Some sort of coaches clinic. As usual, everyone wants a Moth. They all ask a bunch of questions, and it is sort of difficult for them to wrap their minds around the basic concept of the boat and at the same time realize that you can also hack your daggerboard trunk out and try a completely novel version of something should it suit your fancy.

Strange regatta in Sydney at the moment; any time more than half the fleet can't even get a score on the board in multiple races it makes you wonder whether the people running the event are doing things properly, although come to think of it I didn't post a score in the last regatta I entered either, so perhaps I should say that I can do that without flying to Australia, and leave it at that. I'm sure I'll manage to get down there for an event at some point.