Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Europeans Day 1: Waiting for Wind

Jen here,

Well it seems that we're playing that old cat and mouse game with the wind again: we wait...and it taunts us.  The only difference this time is that it's unbelievably hot here!  It's nearly 3:00pm and we've been postponed since 11:00am.  Our garden shed has proven its worth though today. The air conditioning has given us a place of refuge from the heat. We've been hiding inside with the Germans and Israelis all day!
Yesterday we took the day off before our seven day event.  I went into Istanbul with our Israeli and German friends to see the sights and have a good day away from the boat park.  This all proved to be a bit trickier than we had originally planned, though, due to some sensitive politics.  Remember that political conflict back in June between Turkey and Israel?  Its likely far from our Canadian minds, but things are still a bit tense between Israel and Turkey.  Our Israeli friends, Gil and Dana are required to bring a bodyguard with them when they go out, in order to prevent any problems that might arise due to their backgrounds.  With bodyguard in tow, we set off to Sulthanamet, only again, things became slightly more complicated.  Before we knew it, we were being escorted by four additional Turkish police!  Here we were, a gaggle of six girls with five bodyguards.

Left to Right: Dana, Leon (bodyguard), Gil, Tina, Jen

Basilica Cistern
The trip into town was a great break from training, measuring, fixing, and all the general preparation for the event.  I think the highlight for me was seeing the Basilica Cistern, a Roman water system that was built in 532AD.  As I walked down the stairs to the underground building, I received the most welcome reprieve from the late afternoon Turkish heat.  Then I turned a corner to see damp, ancient Roman pillars supporting a massive underground structure which is meant for supplying water to the ancient Constantinople.  When I think of how young our country is and compare it to something like the Basilica, it makes me realize how very small we are and how much history there is in this part of the world. I've attached some photos from our day in the city as well as two photos that will interest the more sailing savvy of our supporters.  The 470 class association is considering moving to tape drive sails, and there is a set of North Sails here on display for demonstration.  Their not yet legal, but we may see them in the relatively near future.  Check out the picks of these new sails.  What do you think??


New Demo Sails

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Aug 29 - Measurement

We had two good training sessions on the water Friday. We sailed for 2 hours in the morning, came in for lunch and then hit the water again for another 3 hours. We are focusing on boathandling - tacking and gybing and communication in the boat and getting used to the sailing area. The prevailing wind here is a northerly which is thermal - driven by the Black Sea. The wind comes over the city of Istanbul and then down onto the water so it is very gusty and shifty. There are some interesting trends on the water - two areas where the gusts tend to fill in from; one on the left of the race area and one on the right. In the middle there is sort of a hole. It will be interesting conditions to race in.
Yesterday we spent the morning changing the sail numbers on our new mailsail. It is new but was originally ordered for an Australian team, so we first had to strip off the AUS letters and numbers and remove the glue and then put on our CAN 610 numbers. We lay the sail out in what appears to be a dis-used bar in the upper clubhouse. Removing the glue proved to be incredibly time consuming but we managed it nonetheless. Then we had to make a rhombus - fancy word for diamond. This is to distinguish the women's 470 class from the men. We had forgotten to buy material for a rhombus, but managed to use some of the AUS sail numbers we had peeled off. Why do I tell you all this? I find the 470 fleet highly amusing. Impossible tasks become possible, and hours dissapear while working on the most mundane things. While we were working on our mainsail the rest of the fleet did similiar things. A Greek women's team was just in the hallway putting their sail numbers on their spinnaker with a permanent marker and the Bulgarian women were downstairs using whiteout to change their sail numbers. Finally we finished and there was no wind. We registered for the regatta and then walked down to West Marine. Yes, West Marine. There is a small store in the nearby marina. The man working here is extremely nice. He didn't have a chart of the sailing area so he is going to lend me the one off his boat! We forgot our West Marine member card so he let us leave without paying. He also invited us to go racing with him on his keelboat. Then we did some boatwork and managed to sneak into the pool for a swim and then went for dinner with Tina and Sanni. We played scrabble at the dinner table: crews vs. helms using English and German words. This was difficult, as the Turkish scrabble board has many strange letters!
Today we put on our new sails and went for a short sail in 4-6 knots. It is the first new mainsail I've ever used and it is lovely. We managed not to tear the new kite (if its going to rip, its always on the first hoist) and did some roll tacks and gybes. We came in to prepare the boat for measurement. We were a bit nervous as we are using a new boom, mast, rudder head, a different rudder and different sails from Worlds. And of course we got picked for full measurement, again! Alas, even with all of our preparation it did not go very smoothly! We had dried out the boat completely but the measurer managed to find some water inside, and the mast was underweight by 130 grams! (the mast must be a minimum of 10kg). After checking the class rules and making some adjustments we finally managed to get it up to weight (10.004kg). Thankfully our mast and boom stoppers were correctly placed!
It was a long afternoon in the 35 degree heat and we are tired now. Tomorrow is a day off before the event starts on Tuesday. We are heading into Sultanahmed with the German and Isreali sailors but also have to do a bit of boatwork in the morning (of course).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pictures fromTurkey

I will keep adding to this album so check back!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Aug 26 - In Turkey

We flew from Kiel to Istanbul on Monday. The transport to the airport and the flight were excellent - German efficiency at its best. Upon arrival in Istanbul we were to be picked up by someone from the Yacht Club. Unfortunately after an hour of waiting we did not find this person, so we took a shuttle bus to the ferry, where we had difficulties figuring out the token purchasing system. Once across the Bosporus we were ripped off by our taxi driver. So we arrived a bit tired and cross at the Yacht Club. It turns out the individual we have been dealing with through email about arranging our accommodation at the Yacht Club no longer works here. Awkward! So there were some things lost in communication and we had a place to stay - just not a very nice one. Our room resembles a garden shed with bunk beds shoved in. There is air-conditioning and bedding and pillows and one electrical outlet, for all of this we are glad. The nearest toilet is 800 meters away in behind the boat storage area - a bit of a trek if you have to go at 3 am.

Tuesday we headed into Sultanahmed and walked around. We walked through the spice bazaar and Grand Bazaar and haggled over scarves. We tried to find a restaurant with Fish for Jen for lunch. She thought she was ordering a "small fish meal" with the small describing the size of the meal. Turns out it was describing the fish - lots and lots of small fish deep fried! So we had an interesting lunch what with the owner trying to show Jen how to eat the fish properly and Jen trying not to throw up as she ate the fish. Then we went to the Turkish Bath where we were scrubbed and massaged which was excellent.
Wednesday we hung around the club until our boat arrived at around 2. We unloaded it and started putting it together and I had a rather dis-organized dinner at the club. With German and Israeli and Canadian sailors and the waiters not speaking any English (or German or Hebrew).
Today we finished rigging the boat and headed on the water. We had a good session in some light to medium breeze. The air and water are both very warm here; which makes the wind very unstable as it doesn't want to attach to the water. Very different from sailing in England or Germany. We came back in and checked the tuning numbers as this was the first sail with the new mast. Everything has to stretch and settle into place, so we expected the numbers to be different. (
Before sailing: tension - 35.5, rake - 101 cm, prebend - 55 mm  After sailing: tension - 34, rake - 102 cm, prebend - 45 mm)
We re-tuned the mast and did a bit of boat work and socialized with other sailors in the boat park. One of the younger turkish teams who Jen befriended last year were trying to tie an extra bit of line onto their spinnaker halyard, so I helped them splice it properly while Jen advised on gasket replacement.
We met our German friends Sanni and Tina for dinner at the same place Jen and I ate last night. The waiter seems to like us as he brought us some lovely fresh fruit for dessert free of charge.
I have taken some photos and tried to upload them to the picassa web albums but Turkey seems to block most google products so they may not have appeared. If you are on facebook I have also uploaded them to our facebook page "Jenanderinsail.ca". I will try and get a link to the facebook photo album up soon.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Aug 22 - Headed to Turkey!

We have been in Kiel Germany for the past week taking it easy. We had planned to train here but our bodies have been telling us to rest and the weather has been terrible. We have slept in a good deal, done some minor boat work and tuned in our new masts, as well as make friends with many German sailors. We bought new masts while in Weymouth because it is 1/3 the price to purchase masts in England than in Canada. The idea is we have two new masts from the same batch that are both rigged identically. This way if we break a mast we have a spare ready to go. The masts that came with the boat will travel to Miami in the British container and will replace some aging masts on our North American boat. The crazy 470 logistics continue!

Today we loaded our boat back on Jasper's van to be driven to Istanbul, Turkey for our last event over here. It is the 470 European Championships and we are looking forward to some warmth! We fly to Istanbul tomorrow morning so we will have two days without the boat to get used to the heat and get acquainted with our surroundings.

Thanks so much to Susann Beucke and her lovely family for hosting us while in Kiel!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Aug 14 - Sail For Gold Complete

After 5 days of racing the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth is complete. We had two races each day and stayed mostly on schedule which is pretty amazing considering some of the other courses struggled with this. Thursday the breeze was very similar to Wednesday but from the NE, which meant it was coming over the cliff beside our race course. This made for some interesting puffy and shifty conditions! We continued to struggle with our starts and pointing but had good downwind speed and made some good tactical decisions. In the first race of the day we ended up on the left side of the course when a big right shift came down, but we managed to consolidate back towards the middle on some smaller shifts. We caught up and managed to pass the Polish boat and sailed a smart downwind to finished ahead.
Friday the breeze was even lighter and more fluky with huge shifts coming down the course. The first race we were set up all nicely on the starting line and at 15 seconds the Spanish women (who were leading the regatta) stole our hole and we were sewered off the line. The breeze was in a right phase at the start so the fleet headed off on starboard tack. We sailed and sailed and instead of shifting back left after 5 minutes like the wind had been doing for the hour before the start, it just stayed right. So we were caught out on the left side but we weren't alone; the world champions and half the fleet were out there too! The second race of the day and the last day of the regatta took a while to get off, as the breeze was all over the place. After several postponements and general recalls we actually managed to get a good start! We were with the fleet and had clean air.  We played the shifts upwind and rounded ahead of a dozen boats or so. A large black cloud had moved overhead and we were treated to a small squall that lasted for the next two legs of the course. The breeze then completely shut off after the squall, and the reach was a painfully slow run. We remained calm and sailed for pressure and finished ahead of three boats. The finish was a mess as the entire fleet had compressed on the reach/run and there was a lot of shouting ahead of us! We were very pleased with the day's sailing and it was a good end to the event. 
Today we packed up the boat for transport. It is being driven to Istanbul by one of the German teams, by way of Kiel. The fun regatta (President's Cup) we were going to do in Istanbul has had the dates changed, so we are no longer able to participate. Instead of heading straight to Istanbul we are going back to Kiel to train for a week before heading to Turkey for 470 Europeans.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Aug 11 - Day 2 & 3

We had two races yesterday and another two today. While I greatly dislike getting up at 6 am at least we are getting races done on schedule! Yesterday the first race was sailed in around 8 knots. We struggled on the first upwind with boatspeed, and managed to make some changes and the boat felt much faster on the second upwind, but not fast enough to catch up! The wind blew up right after the first race to about 20-25 knots gusting 30. We pinned down 3 full pins and tried our best, but ultimatly were still unabe to complete the race in this much wind. We made it much farther around the course than we did in Holland in this much wind, but after several capsizes we were very far behind and we lost the power batten in the mainsail. After staying late at the boat park to help our fellow Canadians, Jono and Teddy, repair their kite, we huddled in a warm English pub and ate hot stews for dinner.

Later in the evening I started experiencing a lot of pain in my right foot which took several hours to subside. This morning I saw the onsite medic who managed to get me into the physio who works onsite. She diagnosed it as a sprained ligament in my foot. CYA coach Brian Todd taped me up and we headed on the water. We had a good day of sailing overall. The first race was in 8 knots and although we did not have a great start, our speed upwind was better then yesterday in these conditions. We managed to stay ahead of another boat the whole way around the course which was uplifting. The breeze steadily picked up as we had one general recalled start after another. We finally got the second race started at around 2. We are still struggling with our starts (athough getting lots of practise) but had decent speed upwind on the first leg. On the downwind we were fast on port gybe but couldn't seem to get starboard gybe dialed in. The second upwind we couldn't seem to find the groove, and athough we were on top of the wind shifts we couldn't point so weren't able to capitalize on them. We finished just behind the British team we had beaten in the first race of the day.

There are two more days of racing left with 2 races scheduled per day. My foot was fine racing today so it should be alright to get through the rest of the regatta. We are still struggling with our starts and at the back of the pack but we are steadily improving in all areas as we gain experience in the boat and the fleet.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Aug 9 - Day 1 Sail for Gold

We had a bit of a slow start to the regatta today. We got up at 6 and were down to the sailing site for 8. We launched just after 9 am and sailed downwind to the course. The breeze was pretty light but picked up as we got down towards our course. We tuned up the boat but didn't manage to find Teddy and Jono to check our speed with them. The race committee started on schedule at 11 with the men's fleet. After several general recalls for all the fleets we finally started at around noon. Our first start was a general recall and then the black flag went up. We thought we had set up far enough back on the second start but at 20 seconds we realized we were too far up and tried to slow down and slide back in line with the other boats. We didn't quite make it, so at go not only were we pretty sure we were black flagged, but we were going backwards. We tacked out for clear air and got lucky as a right shift came down. The breeze had died off since before the start and we were underpowered. We had good downwind speed but upwind we just couldn't get going fast enough to make up for our start. We changed the boat settings and then ate our sandwiches while trapezing/hiking and headed to the line for the second race. We checked the board on the Race Comittee and confirmed that we were black flagged in the first race!

The second race was similar to the first. We set up far enough back on the line but did not have a great start. We went too far right on the first upwind and got caught out on the layline when a left shift came down. We made up some ground downwind but the second upwind was painful. The breeze was up and down - gusts every 5-7 seconds with about 3 knots more velocity and a 10 degree shift. It was incredibly tricky and frustrating to keep the boat consistently flat and going fast with the wind changing every 5 seconds! At least we weren't black flagged!

CYA coach Brian Todd had watched the second race and had some good pointers for us for tomorrow. Hopefully we will remember how to get off the starting line!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Aug 8 - Training in Weymouth

Jen here,

We've just wrapped up a week of training here in Weymouth and it's been a productive and positive week.  To start off, we had our new rudder head installed, received a new shipment of masts, booms, and spinnaker poles, and got to focus on sailing rather than boat work (well, once the rudder head was on at any rate).  We've been training with the boys' team from Halifax, Teddy and Jono.  Each day we launch together and work to tune up on long upwind legs. Then we sail together for the duration of our practices doing long runs, beats, and working on our tacks and gybes.  The practice races here seem to be closed, so our focus has shifted back to the basics: boat handling and speed.  Teddy and Jono have turned out to be great training partners, and so were the Canadian girls, Karen and Dana.  Unfortunately the girls went back to Canada so there are only the two teams here in Weymouth.                              

The rest of the Canadian Sailing Team is here as well.  We've caught up with a number of our Canadian pals and swapped stories of our respective venues such as Poland, Medemblik, and others. The consistent comment we keep hearing is "I hear it was nuking windy in Holland!"  Actually, the funniest thing about arriving in Weymouth was the day we had our rudder head installed.  We parked our boat at Sam's shop and when we arrived back, a good chunk of the 470 fleet was also parked outside his shop.  There were eight other 470's flipped over, still with their bow stickers on from Worlds, waiting to be repaired by Sam and his team.  He shook his head at us, "You lot could pay my annual salary with all your repair work!"  We wouldn't mind at all if Sam just followed the 470 fleet around and fixed our boats on a regular basis. 

Yesterday we also had the opportunity to meet Erik Stibbe.  Erik is a newly appointed Canadian coach who will be working out of Vancouver. Although he's here coaching the Lasers and Radials, he made some time to come and work with us on the water.   He was thorough.  After only about twenty minutes of working with us on the water, Erik took us through a debrief which lasted for about two hours!  Both he and his wife, Jenny, have lots of experience with 470's, and so we look forward to working with them as much as possible back in Canada.  

Racing starts tomorrow, so we'll be sure to keep you updated on how things are going.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New Rudder Head

Jen here,

Well, after all of the hullabaloo with shearing our rudder head at Worlds, repeated attempts at fixing, and then ordering a new one all the way from New Zealand, we finally have a functioning rudder head! Today was a great day in that regard. We arrived down to the sailing site where Sam had the boat ready to go. We stepped the mast, tuned the rig and went for a glorious sail. Well, it's not that easy-as I'm sure you've all figured out, the 470 never is. In truth, as we tuned the boat and tapped new holes in our jib cars it poured rain. We were an intrepid team, however, and managed to get our day's boat work accomplished in time to see the sun return and go for a quick sail. It really is a good thing that the sun finally came back. I spent the whole deluge whining about being cold and threatening to go back to Spain so that I could sun myself on a rock like a Spanish lizard. Erin just laughed at me and told me to rig the spinnaker system.

We went for a quick sail around four o'clock because we were dying to get out on the water and try out our new rudder head. So far things seem excellent. The system works very well and there is zero play in the rudder head (for non sailors, picture driving a race care with a loose steering wheel and you would get an idea of what a problem that is). It was quite breezy while we were out, roughly 20 knots, but flat water and the boat felt good.

Tomorrow we head out to train with Teddy and Jono, the Canadian boys from Halifax, and hopefully some of our other pals from the fleet. As we speak, Erin is baking fresh chocolate chip cookies for Sam, as our thanks for the help with installing our new rudder head. Yum!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Aug 3rd - Boatwork in Weymouth

We arrived in Portland/Weymouth late the evening of the 1st. We are staying at the Pascoe's house. Sam is a boat builder and works out of a shop at the Weymouth Portland Sailing Academy. Meg is a 2.4 M sailor campaigning for 2012. Brenda Hopkin our fellow Canadian and Skud 18 sailor is also staying at the house. The house is in Portland and is about a 20 minute walk down the hill to the sailing centre. The sailing centre is just off the causeway which divides Weymouth (mainland) and Portland (the island).

Yesterday we found our boat which Barry had dropped at the sailing site for us last week. We took possession of our brand new Mackay rudder head which had been delivered to the sailing site and walked around the site and said hello to friends. We started putting the boat back together and got the mast up as well as the old gudgeons for the broken rudder head off the boat. Then we headed into town with Meg and Brenda to shop for groceries and pick up some replacement tools for the ones which were stolen in Holland (all of our cutting implements, strangely).

Today our game plan was to fill the holes from the old gudgeons and hang the new gudgeons. We started sourcing fibreglass material for this project but soon decided it was best left to the professionals! Sam offered to do all the work for a very reasonable rate and to have the boat ready to go for tomorrow morning. As he has the shop and tools to do the job properly, we felt this was an excellent idea. We caught the bus into town with Brenda to visit the Chandlery and pick up a few other items we hadn't had time to get yesterday. So we should be on the water tomorrow with a brand new rudder head/tiller.

Aug 2nd - Erin's Vacation

So I thought I would share a bit about the past two weeks. From Holland Jen and I flew to Ibiza to stay with my friend Gisella. Gisella and I went to UVic together but she grew up in Ibiza, so was home for a few weeks. We spent 4 lovely days lying on the beach and swimming in the ocean and getting into vacation mode Spanish style. After the first day in Spain I took off my watch and tried to just go with things. In Spain breakfast is whenever you get up (not early when on vacation!) Lunch is at around 3, then siesta for 3 or 4 hours. Dinner could start anywhere between 8 and midnight depending on how hot it was that day. It was great to just relax and not worry about the boat or being anywhere on time.

From here Jen and I split up. I headed to Dublin, where I have several friends and a relative. I stayed with my dear friend Kate who I met when she was working in Canada teaching sailing for the summer. Kate just completed medical school in April and has just started working as an intern; as have her four female housemates! In Dublin I also saw my cousin and his wife and family; another Irish friend who worked in Canada for the summer; and my friend Dana who I grew up sailing with in Calgary and who has been studying marine biology in Dublin for the past 5 years. It was awesome to catch up with some old friends and hang out in Dublin a city which I love. I went for a run in Phoenix park which is one of the largest walled city parks in Europe (thank you wikipedia) and contains a huge variety of things including the President of Ireland's house, the zoo, a 30 m cross, an abandoned fort and a herd of wild Fallow deer. Kate and I also saw the Museum of Modern Art which is in an old Veteran's Hospital and the National Botanical Gardens.



Monday, August 2, 2010

Arrived in Weymouth

After a long day of travelling both Jen and I arrived in Weymouth last night. We are headed out to find the boat (it was delivered here last week) and start to set it up. We will try and get some more information about our travels up later today.