Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hands On: Taming the Spinnaker Beast DVD

James and I needed a break from writing... so we enlisted the help of Aaron Freeman in Customer Service, telling him to do a write up of the Taming the Spinnaker Beast DVD and then hanging up before he could argue.

His self-analysis of this post: "Kinda rambling but no more than James’s blog posts". Touche' sir.


Taming the Spinnaker Beast DVD
By Aaron Freeman
Customer Service

Well, the seasons have changed and I once again made the trip to New Jersey for the 48th annual Long John Regatta at Monmouth Boat Club in Red Bank, NJ.

Flying in the face of the regatta's name, the temperatures were abnormally high for the wearing of long johns. The wind conditions, however, were all too normal for the Navesink River -- on the one day of racing (Sunday's racing was cancelled due to a complete lack of wind), the wind started out at 0-10kts from the West and switched to 0-20 kts from the East.

The racing was tight and mark rounding’s were crowded in the Bristol (NASCAR reference) of Lightning racing. The challenging racing, however, is not the only great aspect of this regatta. The food was delicious, the camaraderie was warm, the kegs were flowing and the after party with indoor pool and hot tub was great! Thanks Commodore.

I could write this whole blog post about the Long John Regatta (and you should all go next year), but this blog post is actually about the Taming the Spinnaker Beast DVD.

My most recent experience trimming (or not trimming) kite in the varied wind conditions of the Navesink River prompted me to watch this fourth (and newest) video from the Lightning Class.

This video brings some very accomplished sailors, sailmakers and "Titans of the Lightning" into your living room. The running commentary and segways are informative and well done by Rick Bernstein and Skip Dieball, taking the time to highlight some of the finer points for sailors who may be new to the boat.

The boat shown sailing in the DVD is skippered by Jeff Linton with Bill Fastiggi in the middle and Amy Linton on the bow. This All-Star team demonstrates all aspects of properly trimming the spinnaker on a Lighting while sailing on location here in Annapolis, MD. The conditions shown in the DVD ranged from barely any breeze (1-2kts) thru about 12kts of breeze with various sea states (flat water to small swells).

Footage comes from two sources: an on-board camera and a chase boat. The on-board video shows the crew's footwork and weight placement while the chase boat adds views of the spinnaker, boat trim as a result of the weight placement, and the wind and water conditions around the boat.

One really nice feature is that the sailors on the boat are all mic'd up, so as you watch from the chase boat you can still hear the conversation on-board. Two of my favorite quotes by Jeff Linton are:
1) As he expertly carves the 19-footer through some short rollers: “It doesn’t matter where you steer as long as you are in the waves”.
2) At the end of the video, almost qualifying as a Yogi Bera-ism: “Never make a maneuver while making a maneuver”. Nice...

Almost everything about this video is great. The chapters of the DVD are logically separated and lessons can be taken from this video by everyone from newcomers to the Lightning to experienced racers. I would have given it a glowing recommendation if not for the $49.95 price tag -- not that the price makes the video less informative but that’s pretty high price tag for a DVD.

Local/junior fleets or someone really looking to step up their downwind game will find this to be a worthwhile purchase. I definitely picked up some great pointers and even learned a few unexpected pirate tricks from the videotaped parking lot chats with Tobi and Dan Moriarty.

Overall, this is a must watch video for any Lightning crew. So hey, tell Ol’ Captain Moneybags at the back of the boat to go out and get this for you!

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