Friday, February 27, 2009

Housecleaning Day

With James on his way to the Thistle Midwinters, I'm on my own with the blog for the next week. Many of you probably stopped reading right there, making a mental note to check back on March 9th.

For those of you that have made it to this second paragraph -- thanks, I appreciate it. And now to let you down -- since we're down to one writer today, I'm predictibly swamped (shooting and editing a couple of videos for the blog/website, working on our new website, etc.), so I've got a couple of housecleaning items to toss out there and then I'm putting up a couple of random videos to help waste your time.

1) APS' February Harken and Rigging Sales end on Saturday, a.k.a. tomorrow. Check out the details because, well, this is an opportunity to save a bunch of money on stuff that you're probably going to need.

Unless you enjoy spending more money than you have to, in which case, I'm assuming you wear a monocle and look like the Monopoly guy, lighting your cigar with a $100.00 bill (or "a Benjamin", as the kids/rappers call it).

2) Our Sale Rack is full of Patagonia, Puma and Optimum Time watches. If you're in the market for some base layers, a sailing watch or some VOR "il Mostro" t-shirts, check it out.

Okay, now to waste your time:

The lone US team in the Volvo Ocean Race talks about why sailing isn't as big/popular here in the States as opposed to some other nations.

Around 0:50 into the vid, Kimo Worthington names off the sports in the US that take the attention away from sailing. He lists: skiing, tennis, soccer.

Really Kimo? I know you're a good guy, but way to set off the elitist alarm -- football, baseball and basketball don't make the cut?

Also from the Volvo is a snapshot of this marathon leg they're on right now... I can't tell if I really want to do this race at some point or if I'd be better off to just paying someone to throw buckets of salt water in my face for awhile. I'd consider the Rio to Boston leg, maybe... or an in-port race. I'm a wuss.

Finally, utterly unrelated from sailing but I found it kind of funny:
If you ever, EVER, think you're fast enough to be a pro athlete, watch this from the NFL Combine ("auditions" for American football). I'd highly recommend just fast forwarding to the 2:14 mark. Trust me, most of us are going to run the 40-yard dash in about the same time Rich Eisen does...

FYI for the 2:44 mark - BJ Raji is a 6'2", 337lb Defensive Tackle out of Boston College. He's described as being "built like a Coke machine and almost as difficult to move". If you can't beat him, your dream is cooked...

That's all I've got for today -- we'll get back to the sailing stuff on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

First Look: Harken's HydroFlux Shoe

At beginning of every sailing season, I invest in two things:
- A new pair of sailing gloves (multiple investments over a season)
- A new pair of sailing shoes

I do this because at the end of the previous sailing season, the aforementioned items are so heinous and mangled that I have to burn them. The burning is actually a lengthy process that requires state, local and federal permits, a barge 40 miles offshore and a team of CDC scientists investigating my latest homegrown biological weapon. Heck, the only reason that I ruin my gas mileage by keeping the roof racks on my car is to have a place to air everything out on the ride home.

But as the beginning of the 2009 season approaches like a freight train, with only 49 days until I head down to my beloved South Carolina for Charleston Race Week, girls in sundresses and a little southern hospitality, I've started looking for my newest pair of sailing shoes.

One of the first new sailing shoes that we've seen is from Harken -- the HydroFlux
. They're a lightweight step forward for Harken's sailing shoes, going to an infinitely more breathable design.

The HydroFlux isn't all that much lighter in overall weight than its older brothers; about a 5% - 10% savings from the Vortex. Most of that weight is in the sole though, which doesn't affect the performance of the shoe to keep your feet cool and dry.

Where the weight has been cut is above the sole - the HydroFlux features a REALLY lightweight monofilament liner under a mesh outer layer. It's sheer (you can see toes, fingers, etc. quite clearly), so make sure you've had that pedicure before going without socks. You can feel even a slight breeze through many parts of the shoe, which is quite desirable here in Annapolis where the wind has been known to shut off while you bake in the sun. There's a clear toe protector on the front of the shoe that isn't rock hard, but will provide protection and lead to less cursing when you kick a block.

A nice touch is the drains in the sole of the shoe. Drains aren't anything new in shoes -- they've been around for awhile. These are a different though, as they're one-way drains... water goes out, but it won't come in. So if you step in a puddle or have waves hitting the bottom of your shoes while hiking, you won't end up with a water hose into your feet. Arguably, your feet are probably going to get wet anyways, since the material of the shoe isn't going to slow water down -- but getting more water out in every direction always helps.

The look of the Women's HydroFlux shoe is nice -- feedback from the two girls that still actually talk to me was that they were pretty mainstream and they'd definitely consider buying them based on looks alone.

The two men's HydroFlux versions are a contrast -- both are a little "shiny", but the Carbon is pretty straightforward in the end. The Spindrift (brown and red) is a little more daring. With the exception of Helly Hansen, marine shoes tend not to take many color risks since the marine market is kind of conservative. Should be interesting to see how this color sells.

For me though, my biggest consideration is where the rubber meets the road... or in this case, where the Radial Traction Zones made of a special rubber compound meet the wet non-skid. First impressions of the sole are good; nice grip with plenty of siping channels cut into the bottom. The included sole insert is cushy for comfort and antimicrobial for stank.

If I were to find fault anywhere, it's the lacing system that uses "fasten quick" slider to cinch down the laces. By the time you get the laces drawn down tight, there's a lot of excess lace hanging out -- they have a "lace protector" or garage, but I was able to shake them out a bit. It's kind of a minor detail though, because if I could easily just replace the laces with traditional ones or cut the existing and ditch the slider if I found the need.

Overall, I like the HydroFlux. It's a nice, functional shoe that looks to be crazy breathable with a good sole. Definitely gets good marks from me and it's an earlier contender to become the toxic waste dump for my feet this year.

Note: you can see the pink highlighter inside the shoe clear as day... I wasn't kidding about how lightweight these shoes are up top.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hard at Work?

Some of you might think that working here at APS is all fun and games. I mean, we sell people sailing gear from 9-5 and then we spend the rest of our time sailing and drinking right? Well, I'm not going to say that's entirely incorrect, but at least our marketing director and part time Stern Scoop editor Rob is here working hard.

Each spring we put out a new catalog that is the culmination of hundreds of hours of work. Rob and others spend a lot of long hours and late nights working hard to put out an excellent catalog and I think they do an amazing job each year.

Look out for a few changes to this year's catalog that Rob tells me will make it even better. He told me he'd break my legs if I told anyone though, so mum's the word until late April.

Editor's Note: Some of you with sharp eyes might think the computer clock says 11:21 AM. I assure you that is not the case.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Decoration Tech: Dye Sublimation

Kyle is back with the second installment in our Decoration Tech series and today the focus is on dye sublimation. Dye sublimation (or just dye sub) is one of the most interesting ways to decorate gear that we offer. It allows for some really cool things including the use of super stretchy materials and using photo-realistic images.

There are lots of options for what you can do with dye sublimation. I know Chris was telling me just the other day about how he plans to put his picture and phone number on some rash-guards to pass out to the ladies. Really though, it's a very cool technology.

Here's Kyle telling us about dye sublimation:

Save a Tree, Use Plastic???

APS is a constant bussle of UPS, FedEx and US Postal Service trucks making deliveries and pickups.

When you're a mail order company and have as much product going back and forth as we do, it's kind of a given that a package is going to get lost or destroyed.

(The skill with which the latter can be accomplished is fairly impressive -- we once shipped a Laser Upper Mast section encased in a PVC tube and packing materials, and had it returned with the PVC shattered and the mast bent to about a 35-degree angle. In their defense, it's not like an Upper Mast section is built to handle heavy loads or anything...)

In all honesty though, all three services usually do a commendable job. Accidents do happen though, as was the case when we got this note from the Postal Service.

At this point, it should be noted that APS does its best to be environmentally friendly -- we recycle anything we can, reuse boxes and packing materials, etc. No, we're not guitar playing hippies who don't wash our hair and wear hemp clothing (James can't play the guitar... yet), but we do notice when things are kind of carelessly packaged or printed, like this regularly used USPS note that printed on plastic instead of paper.

Guess the "We Care" part doesn't apply to the environment -- or as our Receiving Manager, Arianne, put it:
"I’m glad they care. So much that they re-boxed it all in a new box with this lovely note inside. Which was printed out on plastic, not paper... ahh the government’s way of thinking: 'Save Trees -- Use Plastic'".

Monday, February 23, 2009

First Look: Musto LPX

No, it wasn't a typo. There's a new [insert letter here]PX from Musto.

There's been talk about LPX for some time now (going back to METS last year, at least) and we've finally gotten our hands on it here at the shop. LPX is a three pronged lineup: there's a jacket, waist trousers and shorts. Just like its fellow "PX-ers", it's a full on Gore-Tex product with the full range of waterproof, windproof and breathable performance features.

Unlike MPX or HPX, this new line is trying to carve out a path away from the ocean/offshore market (although, it would probably serve nicely out there in the right conditions). LPX is targeted to both warmer weather conditions and buoy racing and it fits somewhere in between both, as its own category.

This gives it a fair amount of competition in both arenas -- Henri Lloyd's Breeze Performance and Musto's Caribbean have been holding court for years in the lower cost warm weather category. Comparing LPX to them is unfair though, since the materials and performance of LPX are far superior and the cost of the Breeze and Caribbean is far lower.

In buoy racing, Musto's MPX Race, Henri Lloyd's Shadow and Gill's Keelboat line have been around for years. Comparing LPX to this group isn't entirely fair either, because LPX is a more minimalistic option and won't necessarily stack up with this group, feature for feature.

So where does LPX really fit in? It's definitely got more buoy racing/technical blood than it does warm wear, which is why we'll be featuring it in our buoy racing section on the website and in our catalog. I'll be making comparisons to both categories here though, just for giggles.

Let's start with the construction of LPX. To do that, we have to clarify a change made to Gore-Tex products this year. Gore has gone and rebranded the materials used for the marine market -- it's probably to eliminate some of the questions about different Gore-Tex products, but it could also be a Marketing guy trying to justify having a job. In the future, you'll see four types of Gore-Tex used:
  • Gore-Tex Performance Shell (Offshore)
  • Gore-Tex Pro Shell (Offshore/Ocean)
  • Gore-Tex Paclite Shell (Lightweight)
  • Gore-Tex Soft Shell (Buoy Racing, Lightweight)

    LPX, at least the version we have in hand, will be the last of that group, the Gore-Tex Soft Shell. Soft Shell is designed for reduced layering and improved freedom of movement -- then again, every fabric in the marine market claims that to be their goal. Everything leading up to actually getting our hands on the LPX line said that it was going to be made of Gore-Tex Paclite (which is a well known brand in the outdoor market), but there seems to be a switch. I have an email in to our Musto reps to see what's up with that -- stay tuned.
    (Editor's Note: word is that it the fabric is, in fact, a 3-Layer Paclite, unique in the marine market to Musto for 2009.)

    It's noticeable from first picking up the jacket that it's definitely light. In the interest of science, I weighed the LPX jacket on our postal scale against its rivals to see how it stacked up:
  • Breeze: 1lb 0.6oz
  • LPX: 1lb 2.3oz
  • Carribean: lb 3.6oz
  • Shadow: 1lb 4.6oz
  • Keelboat Racer: 1lb 9.0oz
  • MPX Race: 1lb 12.4oz

    Not bad really, when you consider that the LPX should perform at a way higher level than both of the warm weather jackets because of the materials used. It should be noted that the Caribbean, Shadow, Keelboat Racer and MPX Race all have integral hoods adding weight -- LPX doesn't.

    One nice feature on all of the LPX products are the reinforced patches that have been included in high chafe areas. Normally, you'd see Cordura used for chafe protection, but Musto went one step higher and uses an extremely hard wearing “Keprotec” fabric that incorporates Kevlar into the weave. The jacket features a somewhat unique placement of these patches -- they go from the cuff about halfway to the elbow. It's a nice touch.

    I've always been a big fan of the scrim/lining on the inside of Musto's Gore products due to the ease of getting in and out of the garment. There's no double liner to fight with or get bound up in.

    For the younger crowd or folks looking for more protection on the legs, the shorts end up a little below the knee on me -- I was looking at a Large and I'm right around 6'0" - 6'1" depending on what convenience store I'm walking out of.

    So, what are the downsides?

    Well, the price of LPX is nothing to sneeze at -- we're still waiting on final confirmation of the pricing, but it looks like the jacket is going to be in the $300.00+ range, the waist trousers somewhere in the $250.00 range and the shorts around $180.00.
    (Editor's Note #2: final pricing just in -- the jacket is $299.00, the waist trousers are $219.00 and the shorts will be $179.00.)

    Since it's brand new to the market, we can't say for certain that the increased durability and performance will make up for the extra cost... but they SHOULD. The nice thing about products carrying the Gore name is that they undergo increased scrutiny to protect the Gore brand, so for the extra scratch you do get a better product that will have a much longer life. Also, Musto has always been good to its customers in the event something does go wrong. Basically, it's a great example of the saying "You get what you pay for".

    It lacks features compared to other buoy racing kits but it has a similar price. The cuffs on the sleeves of the jacket and the legs of the pants are not as refined or tight closing. There's no hood on the jacket and its a little shorter in length for overlap protection. Again, this is why it's tough to classify -- it's a minimal version of the buoy racing products.

    There are little things -- I would have liked to see a full fabric cuff adjuster instead of the more minimal plastic tab that they use. I'm sure they're plenty durable, but the tab still look like a good snag will just rip it off. The cargo pocket on the shorts is up/down as opposed to side/side -- up down is easier to get open with one hand but tougher to close. Additionally, it's easier for things to spill out...

    LPX is good stuff -- the jacket and trousers should find their way out there; the shorts might have some trouble due to the price. The line is going to have a niche market, but if you're looking for a really premium set of lightweight gear, there's not going to be anything close. And for the price, there shouldn't be...

    Expect to see it on the website soon -- we'll update with links when it's ready.
  • Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Silent Partner?

    Here are a couple photos that made their way to our desk earlier today. See if you can figure out what doesn't belong.

    We agree with the boys on Puma that for the toughest ocean crossings, the Musto Ocean drysuit is the way to go. You'd be hard pressed to find gear that will hold up better to the rigors of the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans. For those who sail a little closer to home it's great too, but thankfully for your wallet there are other options as well.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    Hands On: Kokatat Orbit Tour

    In the never ending quest to find the perfect life jacket we're adding a new vest to our selection here at the shop. The Kokatat Orbit Tour life jacket is US Coast Guard approved and has a very minimalist design. It's perfect for sailors who place freedom of movement as their highest priority - especially in the arms and shoulders.

    The Orbit Tour takes the less surface area with thicker foam approach - so the front and back panels are very small but thicker when compared to a vest like the Astral Norge.

    The Tour has two sizeable pocket on the front - here they're holding a sunglasses case, a bottle of sunscreen and a Leatherman (and they do all fit). Otherwise it's very minimal - the reflective shoulder straps are adjustable with buckles that hide inside a neoprene pocket on the front. There are two adjustment straps on each side but none of the mesh or fabric pieces often found between the front and back.

    The Orbit Tour is a pull-over style vest and features very grippy panels inside the vest to keep it from riding up. They work very well - to the point where they make the vest hard to pull on sometimes if you don't loosen the straps enough. I think the grip panels could be uncomfortable against the skin if you wear your life jacket without a shirt.

    There's no question the Tour allows for a huge range of motion - I could swing my arms around and never feel the vest get in the way. I found it was very comfortable when sitting as well. The chest panel is thicker than my Lotus Lola jacket but I think I'd easily adjust to the difference.

    When I brought this first Orbit Tour we received upstairs to write this review Aaron in customer service tried to take it out of my hands so he could keep it for himself. He's been wearing one for a couple years on Lasers and Lightnings and says there's nothing better.

    I think this vest is great for dinghy sailors who want their shoulders free from mainsheet snagging buckles and no hindrances to their movement. For sport boat sailors it might be a little less comfortable to hike unless you get the lifeline below it (certainly possible if hiking M24 style). The Tour is certainly one of the smallest vests that is Coast Guard approved in terms of covered area.

    If you need a new vest, particularly if you're looking for a minimal design the Orbit Tour is definitely worth a look.

    Day-Late Update: Now with useful linkage to the product on our website -- Orbit Tour by Kokatat.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Decoration Tech: Embroidery

    One of the new developments we've had at the shop is the expansion of our ability to decorate gear. This means we can use embroidery, dye sublimation, heat applied vinyl and silk screening to put your sail number, boat name or a picture of your dog on your gear. Depending on what kind of gear you need decorated and what you want to put on it, each of these different types of decoration has particular uses.

    What's the difference between them? What does heat applied vinyl look like? How do I get my gear decorated?

    Kyle (the head honcho here at APS) has put together some videos about each type of decoration to help answer those questions. In what I'm going to informally dub our Decoration Tech Tuesday - for the next couple weeks Kyle will be gracing the Stern Scoop with his video blog knowledge to teach everyone a little more about how all this works.

    Embroidery is the topic of our first installment - so here's Kyle to talk about it:

    Monday, February 16, 2009

    First Look: TackTick mn30

    As the weather begins to suck a little less and we're down to only 768 hours until the Vernal Equinox marking the beginning of Spring, it's time to start making a list of items that need replacing, upgrading or that you just really, really, really want.

    I'm an internet geek, so I get all excited like a puppy who accidentally got into your stash of Five Hour Energy (aka - legalized crystal meth) about electronics. One of the interesting bits to come out of the London Boat Show, other than the stellar foulies fashion show, was the roll-out of the T033 Entry Level Wireless Wind System from TackTick.

    Personally, I would have put "Entry Level" in quotation marks because this system comes in at a not-so-pokey $729.00. Yes, I realize that spending $729.00 has the budgetary impact for some of you that ordering off the value menu at Burger King has for me. And if you fall into that first category, I'd like to propose marriage (sight unseen) to any of your daughters... and I'd also say that you should take a look at some of TackTick's other Micronet systems.

    For the boat on a budget though, this isn't a bad option. Officially, TackTick classifies this system as ideal for cruising boats up to 35' -- we can see applications for any boat under 35' where there is an internal 12V battery to power the display.

    The T033 is a simple system compared to its big brother, the T101 Wind System, but that's to be expected for a savings of almost $500.00. It will show you the wind speed and apparent wind direction -- true wind direction is also available, but you would need to integrate your boat's speed via GPS or in-water impeller.

    One of the big advantages is the cleanliness of this system. The wind transmitter is relatively easy to install -- securely attach it to the top of the mast and you're done. It has a built in solar panel to power itself, so there you avoid the fun of trying to snake the wire down the mast. It's actually a nice peice; unless there is a change that they haven't mentioned, the wind transmitter unit is relatively light and the wand is carbon.

    The display is simple -- it's an analog pointer for the wind direction with a digital readout for the wind speed. My biggest peave with the pointer can be a little hard to see clearly, depending on how far away you are from the display you are. Also, minor wind changes aren't always super clear.

    This display is not like the RaceMaster where you'll get heading, whether you're up or down for the leg, etc. Nor does it have the requisite faux carbon look for that extra burst of speed. This is a simple, basic display that gives you only the information that is begin collected at the top of the mast.

    Brass tacks: this is a nice system if you're looking for a clean wind system setup that won't cut into the year's beer and sandwiches budget. If you're looking for a more complete package that provides obscene amounts of data, this ain't it. Then again, you should get your head out of the boat anyways, so maybe the simplicity of this system is a blessing in disguise. Keep it in mind, depending on your needs.

    We'll have these up on the website shortly -- if you have any questions about this system though, feel free to contact us at 800/729.9767.

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    First Look: Sailing Fitness DVD by Harry Legum

    Since we first kicked it out on our Weekly Product Update, people have been coming into the shop asking about Harry Legum's "Sailing Fitness - Opti's to the America's Cup" Workout DVD. And since we're slaves to giving the people what they want, I sat down and watched the whole DVD (on company time, of course).

    First things first -- it's waaaaay overdue that a good sailing-specific workout DVD has finally been produced. Sailing is terrible on the body; crazy body contortions with periods of zero movement transitioning to a flat out sprint. It's a wonder that more people don't show up to regatta parties in pure agony. At 26, I'm embarrassed to say that I feel more tweaks, pulls and strains these days -- 3+ day regattas definitely take their toll for a day or two afterwards.

    Let's get into the DVD. After a quick introduction, the DVD jumps into something that I really like, profiling important exercises and targeting muscle groups for each position on a big boat. The DVD goes through information for the bow, mast, trimmers & pit, grinders and helm/tactician. And, like you, I was shocked to learn that exercises for the helm actually go well beyond strengthening the wrist to write those checks.

    From there, the DVD jumps into important exercises and muscle groups for Single-Handed Dinghies. Appropriately, this was the longest "chapter" of the DVD because of the strenuous nature of single-handed sailing. This section features a number of clips of Laser Radial Gold Medalist, Anna Tunnicliffe, performing a slew of different exercises. Trust me when I tell you this: assuming that this DVD is indicative of her exercise routine, it's pretty easy to see why Anna kicks everyone around the race course. Well, that and she's probably forgotten more about racing than I've ever known...

    Naturally, the next step is Double-Handed Dinghies -- this was a good section, playing off of the Single-Handed dinghy section and providing extra exercises for sailors that are going to be out on the trap all day.

    As an Opti coach, I was particularly interested in seeing what the Jr. Sailing section of the DVD had to offer. When you're dealing with younger sailors, you have to walk a fine line -- you can't push too hard and their bodies aren't ready for serious workouts. Baseball gets a lot of attention for this, especially with kids who are pitchers. While this section was a little light in content, it touched on the need for a low impact (jumping jacks, wall sits, etc.) workout while keeping a fun atmosphere.

    The next two sections profiled team exercises, great for college and high school teams. Good stuff with some interesting variations on workouts that I hadn't seen before.

    And interesting section was for cruisers -- while they perform maneuvers at a slower rate of speed most of the time, they still need to address certain areas. So let Mom and Dad know that you care by sending them this DVD!

    Final Verdict:
    ""Sailing Fitness - Opti's to the America's Cup" gets a B from me.

    The production value is very good -- it was put together by the folks over at T2P Productions and it's not surprising that this is well done.

    The content was okay. There's little doubt that Harry Legum knows what he talking about and is one of the best trainers out there for sailors. What's unfortunate is the lack of a detailed workout plan -- granted, if he did that, he doesn't have a job.

    I was asked if this boiled down to a long commercial for Annapolis Sailing Fitness -- mostly no, but a little yes. It has good content and exposes you to some great sailing specific exercises but it seems to fall just short of the mark of being a top notch resource, leaving you with the need to seek out further help. Where can you get that help??? You know where I'm going with this...

    Because of the lack of detail, I'd personally be cautious about just jumping in and getting to it without a little instruction from a trainer. The thing about working out is that it's only effective when it's done correctly -- do it incorrectly and you can mess yourself up something fierce, which is always a concern for me since I'm dainty and fragile.

    At the end of the day, my impression is that this boils down to a rough guide of sailing related exercises but it lacks the proper detail to safely develop a full routine. It's also almost fully tailored to having the resources of a full gym at your disposal. I would have loved to see two DVD's -- one for big boats and one for small boats with more detail on the workouts.

    It's great that a DVD like this was made and I hope that it's just the beginning in a move towards increased awareness about sailing fitness.

    Chesapeake Racer Profile -- Lorie Stout

    Spinsheet is a sailing magazine based out of Annapolis (about three blocks away from APS, actually) that covers racing and cruising on the Chesapeake and across parts of the Mid-Atlantic.

    Each month, APS sponsors the "Chesapeake Racer Profile" in Spinsheet -- this profile focuses on a local sailor who actively races or promotes the sport of sailboat racing in the area. Past profiles have featured locals like Terry Hutchinson (yeah, I've never heard of him either...), Sandy Grosvenor (world-class P.R.O.) and local junior sailors who won the Sears Cup for Annapolis Yacht Club.

    This month, we're featuring Lorie Stout. Some of you may know the name from the race course and her numerous successes there. What many of you may not know is the steps she is taking to get the next generation of sailors out on the water.

    Seven years ago, when her kids were getting serious about racing, Stout stepped in to build the SSA junior program committee and began working to bring high school kids into sailing, starting with the Archbishop Spalding High School, which now boasts a 30-person sailing team.

    In 2006, she stepped in to coordinate the fledgling Team Tsunami, now called Chessie Jr. Racing, a community, big boat sailing program for young sailors ranging from beginners to skilled racers. Forty-seven kids went through the program in 2008, a number due to increase to 55 in 2009.

    U.S. Sailing is studying the Chessie Jr. Racing program as a potential model for a national template for sailing communities. Stout is currently directing Annapolis Community Boating, a grassroots effort to increase access to boating by pulling the resources and ideas of various recreational, educational, and youth organizations.

    Click here to read the rest of the profile on Lorie Stout.

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    How To: Rebuild a Harken Cam Cleat

    A common project, especially at the beginning of a sailing season, is servicing cam cleats that might be flapping around due to a broken spring or grinding/catching due to a bad ball bearing. Today we turn our Bob Villa of the Storefront, Ian Coleman, loose to tear down and re-build a Harken Cam Cleat (Harken Part #: 150).

    The information in this video and post applies only to the Harken 150 Cam Cleat -- luckily, the 150 is the most popular and widely used cam cleats known to mankind, so most of you will find this useful. Other Harken Cam Cleats and cleats from other manufacturers are manufactured differently and trying to use the techniques that Ian does will only result in you breaking your cam cleat more.

    Off the showroom floor, a new Harken 150 costs about $30.00; replacing all of the plastic bits, the springs and the ball bearings costs about half of that. It takes about 15 minutes to pull off this surgery (not including the time it takes to remove the cam from your deck), so you'll have to do the higher math to figure out what your time is worth.

    A couple of things to keep in mind before tearing down a cam cleat:
    1) Remember to use a bowl, bucket, pan, 3rd place bowl/trophy that you don't really like anyways to catch all of the ball bearings as they come out when you take the cleat apart. Conversely, when you're doing the rebuild, putting the bearings back into the cleat over something will catch the ones you invariably drop will make you life easier and free of curse words you don't want the kids to hear.

    2) Ian's hands really don't move that fast when the Benny Hill soundtrack kicks in. That's him at 400% speed, so that you don't have to sit through the one by one installation.

    3) Be careful when pulling the bottom red baseplate off, as the springs may just drop right out or go flying... in fact, both of those things happened at one point. A big shoutout to folks at Sony and their fine video editing software!

    So, without further pontification, here's Ian and his rebuild:

    If you want to rebuild some of your cam cleats check out the H150 spare parts. To rebuild a whole cleat you'll need two springs, one package of ball bearings and one base/cap set. The gronical is only needed for mounting an eyestrap to the top as a fairlead.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Hands On: Henri Lloyd 2G Shadow Gear

    This year Henri Lloyd is releasing a second generation of their popular Shadow line of gear. Dubbed Shadow 2G, this new generation boasts new styling, an improved fabric and redesigned pocked and cuff closures.

    Shadow 2G is available in a jacket, smock, hooded smock, salopettes and shorts. It is available in both carbon and silver. The primary features of the Shadow gear are the same as they have been in the past. It is still designed with an athletic cut and plenty of articulation. The Shadow tops have longer sleeves than normal - it's a great fit for someone like me at 6ft 150lbs who usually ends up with sleeves that are too short on jackets.

    The main zippers on both the jacket and salopettes have full Velcro coverings over sturdy plastic YKK zippers. Earlier versions of the zippers on the Shadow gear had issues with durability but that shouldn't be a problem with these. There are new waterproof zippers on all the pockets with silver plastic zipper pulls that look like they're metal at first glance.

    My favorite piece in the line is the hooded smock. It's the perfect item for anyone out on the pointy end of the boat. You get the neck seal for protection from those over the top waves but you still have a high collar and a hood when it gets nasty or just rainy. That way you can stay dry when it starts raining on the way back to the dock instead of having water seeping in the neck of your spray top.

    The jacket and hooded smock feature the new Optivision hood that Rob wrote about a couple months ago. Worn here by our Stern Scoop model Chris, the hood has clear plastic on both sides to allow a wider range of vision. That bit of increased peripheral vision can help you spot that next shift first or duck a little sooner during that next crash gybe.

    The TP2 Alpha fabric the Shadow 2G is made from has been updated as well. It feels a little bit lighter and more flexible. The interior coating has an new faux sailcloth weave look to it as well. TP2 Alpha is a step above the fabric what is used on the entry level spray tops and jackets. It boasts improved durability and breathability while remaining extremely lightweight.

    All three tops have double cuffs and the Velcro adjustment for the exterior cuff has been updated. Unfortunately the new cuff is really the main sticking point I have with the jacket. It is made of a molded rubber with the hook side of the Velcro attached to it. I think the rubber is too stiff which makes the tab prone to catching on things and it makes the cuff less flexible for wrist movement.

    Henri Lloyd's Shadow 2G gear is mostly cosmetic changes from previous years. The switch to Velcro covered zips has been phased in over the past year or so but it's certainly welcome to see it as the standard on the whole line. The new look is pretty cool I think, but I do find the Velcro cuff adjustments to be a downgrade from the previous fabric tab.

    Personally I have a hard time finding sailing gear that is a better fit for me than this Shadow line and I'm glad that hasn't changed. For those who are tall it's difficult to beat the athletic cut of this gear for high activity racing. With an under $300 price point for each piece it's good gear worth spending a bit extra for if you are doing a lot of buoy racing and need gear that's lightweight and easy to move in.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Video Blog: Laser Lines

    Lasers are probably the largest one design class in the world sailed by adults (Optis are actually the largest). Laser fleets sail all year in most areas of the country - many with turnouts upwards of 30+ boats. And that's during the winter when in some of these places you have to break ice to get your boat in the water.

    The Laser is pretty straightforward boat which keeps maintenance to a minimum. Upgrading all the lines on the boat is cheaper than replacing one halyard on most big boats. It's worth the small investment to make your lines easier to handle so you can focus on hiking harder. Here I am demonstrating some of the options available for lines on the Laser:

    Rooster (Polilite) - 7mm, Polyester Cover with a Polypropylene Core
    New England Buzz Line - 7mm, Polyester & Polypropylene Blend
    Paraloc Marlin - 8mm, Polyester Cover with Dyneema Core - very kink resistant

    Yale Crystaline - 3/16", Polyester Cover with Vectran Core
    Paraloc Shark - 5/32", Technora Cover with Vectran Core - super durable

    Control Lines:
    Maffioli Swiftcord - 5/32" or 3/16", Cordura Dyneema Blend

    Monday, February 9, 2009

    Confessions of an Iceboat Addict

    By: Aaron Freeman
    APS Customer Service

    I wanted to write an article for the blog before Kyle (Editor's Note: Kyle is the President/Big Dog here at APS) busts me down to fulfillment or worse, he tells me to hit the bricks. You see the problem is... I have an addiction.

    Once the leaves start turning and that first chilly day arrives, I start thinking about my addiction. For the next several months I am glued to looking for low temps and willing the sea surface temps to drop. My addiction is very serious; it has affected my relationships with others, cost me hundreds of dollars, countless hours, and has even caused me to miss work on occasion.

    Hello, my name is Aaron and I’m addicted to iceboating.

    My home club, The North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club in Red Bank, NJ, has been blessed with a beautiful 5-6” plate of salt water ice covered by, “balls hard” frozen freshwater on top. As a result, I have been giving the old Jetta a workout on my now weekly pilgrimage to New Jersey to sail on my DN.

    If you have never sailed on an Iceboat, don’t. You may lose your job, your spouse and all respect for the softwater sailing that you enjoy so much. You will never again look at the instruments on the mast when they read 10.2 knots and think to yourself “Yeah... we’re really gettin’ some now”.

    There will be other difficulties involved too. First, you will have to stifle your yawn as the relatively super expensive boat that you PHRF race slowly accelerates up to walking speed under full canvas. Oh, and you'll have to get used to not sailing with a crew large enough to fill two big booths at Chili's. Another thing that might be tough for the softwater bigboat guys is the DN only has one sail and it is only a 60 square ft piece of Dacron -- so you might have to tell your local sailmaker to ummm... you know.

    If you do find yourself on an iceboat, ripping across a piece of ice at 40+ mph try not to scream like a little girl (or James when our Patagonia preseason order arrives). Remember that work is there all year long, but iceboating only happens several weeks a year, if at all.

    So I'm officially encouraging you to beg, borrow or steal an iceboat and get on the ice. There is still plenty of ice in the Midwest and the DN Worlds will be somewhere in the eastern United States from February 8th - 13th. If any of you blog readers want to see a show, the World's might be in Bellport, Long Island - lets hope it is in Long Island and the current snow doesn’t mess up the reported 3-mile sheet of ice.


    Note: The DN Worlds actually ended up in Torch Lake, Michigan, much to the dismay of Aaron who couldn't make the trip up there.

    Aaron is a member of our Customer Service Team here at APS. It's also possible that he's out of his damn mind... I say that because of the little block of wood hanging around his neck. Those are what he calls "bear claws" -- they pull apart and have sharp spikes that he can use to help pull himself out of the freezing/deathly cold water if the ice gives way. But hey, at least you'll auger into the ice REALLY fast...

    Also, I once asked Aaron what happened if these things crash or flip... saw this today, which seems to nicely sum up my case about why Aaron is out of his damn mind. NASCAR wrecks don't look this bad most of the time:

    I'm working on figuring out the photo credits for these...

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Spinlock's Mast Pro Harness

    Continuing our review of ways to safely get yourself up a rig (our lawyers won't let us review all of the unsafe ways...), we're switching gears and going to the only harness that is specifically designed for sailboat racing.

    The Mast Pro Harness is now in its second generation -- Gen1 was made by Petzl, one of the most well-known names in climbing gear. Gen2 was released early last year, dropping the Petzl branding in favor of now being made by Spinlock exclusively... in Romania. Ah yes, the Red, Yellow and Blue -- home of gymnasts, 22.2 million people, a marine harness manufacturing facility and not a single Stern Sccop reader. Which is a shame since I know how to speak the language -- Vehicolul meu pe pernă de aer e plin cu ţipari!

    My sick Romanian language skills aside, this 2G harness shows that the time Spinlock spent with Petzl wasn't wasted when they decided to make a go of it on their own. This isn't to say that they made any monumental changes to the harness -- then again, why change something that was pretty good already?

    "Sure, it's a good harness" you say. "Looks nice and comfy, I guess. But for $175.00 shouldn't you be able to forgo using a halyard and have it fly you up to the top of the mast?"

    You're funny... and sort of right.

    I'm not going to sit here and tell you that you can't get a better deal on a harness. For $175.00, you could get something like 3.72 Black Diamond climbing harnesses like the one that I used to own (btw - good luck using that 72% of a harness; be REAL nervous if you can't immediately tell what's missing).

    So what justifies the cost?

    First of all, there is a reality that we all have to deal with when it comes to the sailing market. We may look around at our local marina and see a silly amount of boats, but the number of consumers that purchase sailing related items (especially performance sailing items) is relatively small. As a demographic, we're unable to take advantage of cost savings related to economies of scale. So when you have a specialty item such as this one, designed specifically for sailors, there is a premium associated with it. Sorry. Get more of your friends to sail and we might be able to turn this thing around.

    Beyond that, there is a slew of things that make this harness "worth it". I made reference to being able to buy 3 climbing harnesses for one the cost of one earlier -- you might need to. The Mast Pro Harness is built like a brick sh*thouse, which is necessary due to the high abrasion environment that it's going to be used in.

    For a bow/mast person that is going to be wearing this thing full time, they are constantly sliding over non-skid -- it seems obvious, but keep in mind that the only purpose of non-skid is to provide a surface that provides greater traction by increasing friction. This is why the seat and knees of your sailing shorts and trousers almost all have Cordura patches; without that reinforcement, these products would wear through and blow out with stunningly little effort.

    And non-skid is just one of the offenders -- think of all the stuff on a boat that can snag or rip something. Just like most of you, I have a drawer full of shorts and technical shirts that are riddled with tears and pulled threads.

    So when it comes to making a harness for this kind of environment that won't get Spinlock immediately sued for dropping a poor father of three to his untimely demise (ignoring that blood is a pain in the butt to get out of gel-coat), they use premium materials and construction to ensure the maximum life and safety.

    The back of the leg straps and other high chafe areas are covered with an IBQ Cordura that is crazy tough. I sliced and poked at this stuff with a variety of stuff (tip of a paper clip, box cutter, marlin spike, etc.) and you'd never know.

    Speaking of the leg straps, they're a good bit wider than your average harness, making long term wear over the course of a full day or your trip up the mast more comfortable. It also spreads the load of your body weight out over a greater area, reducing the "dead leg" effect that can occur if you're up for extended periods of time.

    There are little touches too -- there is a multi-tool attachment point that allows you to easily keep a Leatherman with you. There is also a tapered stretch sleeve that securely stores a shackle fid on your way up. Finally, they've covered the metal buckles for the leg straps with neoprene to ensure that on your trip up the mast, you're not scratching up that pretty carbon rig -- it's also to prevent snagging as well.

    Beyond the initial cost, I have two "complaints". First, I'm not a fan of the Velcro that they use for the multi-tool attachment -- it's kind of weak and was much better on the Gen1 harness. The last thing you want is your $90 Leatherman taking a shot at reaching its terminal velocity before slamming into the deck or going for a permanent swim. Second, the elastic straps on the back of the leg straps (they make it easier to get into the harness) don't get any abrasion protection -- yes, they're totally unnecessary when it comes to the usefulness and safety of the harness, but for the cost, you expect a little more.

    I really like the Mast Pro Harness -- I've used a number of different harnesses in the past and this is by far my favorite. Rinse it off at the end of the day, let it dry and then throw it back in your bag -- take basic care of it and you'll get a tremendous return on your investment. There's no doubt that this harness is for the serious racer; if you want a harness that you're going to use once a year that will live in your gear bag, save yourself a few bucks and get a basic climbing harness for like $50.00 - $60.00. But if you're going to be using a harness constantly, wearing it full-time, there's no other option in my opinion.

    Oh, and for the record: "Vehicolul meu pe pernă de aer e plin cu ţipari" means "my hovercraft is full of eels" in Romanian. I'm barely able to form coherent thoughts in English, let alone a foreign language...

    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Hands On: SailFit Seminars DVD

    We just got in a new DVD about Laser sailing put together by Kurt Taulbee of SailFit on Clearwater Bay in Florida. The DVD is basically just footage from some of the seminars that SailFit runs for the Laser.

    The DVD is divided into seven sections: tacking, gibing, mark rounding, starting, more boat handling, upwind & downwind sailing & rigging tips. Each section is broken up into the different drills they run during the seminars - things like tack on the whistle, rudderless sailing & a how far can you heel downwind without a death roll drill. All together the DVD is 82 minutes long.

    The SailFit DVD is definitely different from most of the Laser DVDs we offer. Since the footage is of the sailors at the seminar instead of some Olympic level Laser sailor they make normal mistakes just like the rest of us. It provides a different way of learning and can help you see some of the mistakes you might make yourself.

    The downside is that if you are a fairly experienced Laser sailor there's not a lot of stuff here that you won't have heard already. There's not a lot of advanced technique like you might find in the Rooster DVD - this is primarily just the fundamentals of boat handling

    You won't see any elaborate camera angles - the DVD appears to be filmed with a hand-held camera from a rib following the sailors. This occasionally results in some intense shaky camera action but for the most part it's good quality footage. Almost all the sailing is done in pretty light air (looks like mostly 5-10 sometimes less).

    Basically this is a good collection of drills for improving your sailing and some tips for executing them properly. Beyond that it's nothing ground breaking. It never hurts to see more examples of how to sail the Laser but somewhat unfortunately this DVD contains as many examples of the wrong way as it does the right way. Overall it's just a collection of film from the training seminars - and it never feels like something more than that.

    Seminars like this are great because you get one on one coaching and individualized advice. Unfortunately watching someone else get one on one coaching doesn't come across as well as being there.

    I think the SailFit Laser Seminar DVD would be pretty good for beginning Laser sailors or anyone who wants to work on their boat handling (a really important part of Laser sailing). If you've been racing the boat a while I think you could get all these drills out of a book or website and not miss out on much by not watching the DVD.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    APS Staff Profile: Ian Coleman

    Today on the Stern Scoop we are happy to bring you an interview with our very own Ian Coleman. He works in the storefront of our shop so I bet some of you might have met him before. Ian is an all around great guy - he's an avid sailor and world class bathroom cleaner-upper plus he just loves to bake chocolate cake when someone here at the shop has a birthday. Really though, I don't know what I'd do without Ian. He works tirelessly in the store helping customers so I can spend time writing to all of you here on the Stern Scoop.

    Here's the interview:

    Stern Scoop (SS): Hi Ian, I hope you're looking forward to the opportunity to share a little bit about yourself with the blogosphere.

    Ian Coleman: I don't know what a blogosphere is but it sounds pretty cool.

    SS: How long have you been working at APS?

    Ian: I started at APS in August of 2007. That makes it about a year and a half.

    SS: And what a year and a half it's been. What is it you do here at the shop?

    Ian: I run the storefront in the absence of James, my fearless leader and keeper of the oracle that is the APS blog.

    SS: Glad to see all that constant berating is having some positive effects finally. Why don't you tell the folks out there what you're sailing on.

    Ian: During the summer I race primarily on Log Canoes (#19). In the off months I sail Stars and Melges 24s.

    SS: So Ian how long have you been sailing?

    Ian: Since I was a baby. I started going to sailing camp at West River Sailing Club when I was seven.

    SS: Were you a baby or were you seven? I must know the truth!
    ...Sorry about that, anyways what would you say your favorite sailing was from this summer?

    Ian: Racing log canoes in St. Michaels.
    Editor's Note: Log Canoes are a Chesapeake Bay tradition where a bunch of guys sail a narrow boat with tons of canvas and crawl out on hiking boards to keep them flat.

    SS: Those log canoes sure must be a lot of fun. What are your favorite pieces of gear to wear?

    Ian: Kaenon sunglasses, followed closely by my Gore-Tex socks.

    SS: Are there any common questions you get from customers that we could address in the blog?

    Ian: If you come in on a Friday at 5 and need rigging done by the end of the day for the regatta you neglected to prepare for, you better bring beer.

    SS: That's a great lead in to ask you what your favorite beer is.

    Ian: Free.

    SS: Well at least you have standards. What do you like best about working here at APS?

    Ian: I think we answered that in the last two questions.

    SS: That's a good one Ian. Just for fun if you could have any superpower what would it be?

    Ian: Whatever would make it socially acceptable to wear spandex, fake muscle body armor, and a cape in public.

    SS: Maybe I should have just skipped that question but for the visual learners out there here is what that might look like:

    SS: So... moving on what is your favorite place to sail?

    Ian: Chester River, St. Mikes, Oxford. I love sailing on the Eastern Shore.

    SS: And one last question, what is the best regatta you’ve been to?

    Ian: Star Worlds in 2008 at Coral Reef YC.

    SS: I'll bet that was a great event. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Ian.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Hands On: Gill OS2 Jacket & Trousers

    Gill's Key West gear has undergone some changes going into 2009. The first is a name change - it's now being called OS2 gear. This is apparently the result of some legal action the complete details of which I'm not privy to. I guess somebody didn't like them calling it Key West gear - at any rate Gill's most popular line of gear is still basically the same as it's ever been.

    Our sales rep was kind enough to drop off a set of the new OS2 gear for me to look at last week. It's available in red, yellow, silver and graphite for men and graphite and red for women. The matching pants are available graphite for both men and women.

    The bottom line really is that if you saw what the Key West gear looked like last year - then you have a pretty good idea what this OS2 gear looks like. There are some styling changes and the colors are a little different but there aren't any real major changes.

    The jacket (shown above) has some nice little accent colors and some stylishly shaped reflectors. The gray accents are made of some sort of coating that feels a little gritty - I don't know what it is but it's an odd feel for a jacket.

    The pants are pretty straight forward. They have a Velcro loop for attaching a multi-tool and the stretchy type of hook/loop suspenders. The woman's version comes in a drop-seat style as it has for a while now.

    The OS2 gear remains made of Gill's solid 3-Dot fabric. It has a nice high collar and a fluro hood. It's good, reasonably priced gear. I wouldn't go offshore with it, but for your basic inshore day racing and a few overnight races each season it's all you really need.

    Editor's Note: I should clarify my position on the use of this gear. I wouldn't cross the Atlantic in it but it's certainly fine Bermuda races or that couple years of cruising the Caribbean that we're all "going to do some day." Good enough for some offshore, but not weeks of heavy conditions.

    New Sale Rack Setup

    As the Website Director here at APS, my job encompasses more than just writing smarmy blog posts about new gear and products, ruining APS' relationships with our vendors.

    I also take a look at our site from all angles, working to make it more user friendly in the hopes that you'll find it to be the best resource in our industry. One of the tweaks that I made yesterday was to redesign our Sale Rack.

    If you've never visited our Sale Rack before, it's where we put items that have been discontinued, changed for the new year or that might be slightly imperfect. The discounts are usually pretty solid and there's always a pretty good deal up there.

    For a long time, the APS Sale Rack was just one BIIIIIG honkin page of products. A couple of weeks ago, I was searching for something on the Sale Rack and got cross eyed looking through everything. So I got to work tweaking it around, making it much easier to navigate by breaking everything into categories like we do all over the site.

    So take a look at the new APS Sale Rack and see if you can't find a great deal on something.

    Also, I'm always open to your feedback, good or bad -- you can reach me at Just don't copy my boss on the bad stuff...

    Luckily my links to the My Little Pony Fan Club and US Figuring Skating Assoc. are off the screen...

    Monday, February 2, 2009

    Harken Bosun's Chair

    Last Thursday we went over some of the pluses and minuses of a bosun's chair vs. a harness, ending it off by promising a review of the Harken Bosun's Chair and the Spinlock Mast Pro Harness -- as we're men of (occasionally questionable) honor, here's our review of the Harken Bosun's Chair.

    First things first - here are some of the vitals:
    - Weight: 4lbs, 2.2oz

    - Min. Storage Size: 22" (L) x 12" (W) x 5" (H)

    - Max Weight: 220lbs. (100kg.)

    The construction of this chair is pretty solid. They've used a ballistic nylon for the majority of the chair, which is rugged and chafe resistant. Highly loaded areas of the chair appear to be double sewn. It's a minor thing, but the sewing on the Velcro tabs for the two large accessory pouches was kind of slipshod -- sort of looked like they had a "Bring Your Child to Work Day" and little Johnny took a crack at it (memo to Johnny's Dad/Mom -- he sucks at sewing, get him a baseball bat).

    Speaking of the two large accessory pouches, they're really generously sized. I've got them sized around 10" long, 8" wide and 5.5" deep, which fits a solid amount of stuff. We threw a power drill (yes, minus the battery pack to screw with our hypothetical high flyer), work light, hammer and a couple of screwdrivers into one of the pouches with plenty of room to spare -- also shook it around to make sure they wouldn't fall out during the ascent; no problem.

    The seat has a stiff board to spread the load out -- says that it is a "ply seat", so we're guessing it's marine plywood, but we're not 100% on that one. There is also a 1" piece of foam on the seat to make it more comfortable for extended rides -- it squished all the way down under the relatively poky weight of my 175lb. frame, but that still makes it more comfortable than if they'd done nothing at all. The back panel is adjustable and helps out; at 6'1", I felt like it was a little low on my back but Rob thought it was fine (he's 5'10"). According to my Mom, I have terrible posture, so it might just be me on that one.

    There is a large YKK buckle to help hold you into the chair, which also holds up the top of the back support. That buckle goes through a 1.5" wide leg strap, helping to fully secure you into the chair.

    There are six attachment points on the vertical arms of the chair for any accessories that you might need to bring up with you -- two of those attachment points are sturdy stainless steel D-Rings (one on each arm) for heavier items. On the bottom of the chair there is a downhaul attachment to help keep your head pointing in the right direction. The right direction is up, b-t-dubs.

    For a fine piece of American craftsmanship, I was kind of surprised that the max working load on the chair was only 220lbs - I'm sure that's a cautious number and that the chair can handle more; this is not to say that I endorse in any way sending up you're 290lb gorilla of a jib trimmer. Still, even though I come in a solid 40lbs below the limit, I kind of appreciate that my harness company basically says that if I can get the harness on, it will hold me.

    In the end, I think Rob's crack evaluation of this chair is appropriate: "I wouldn't be scared going up in this thing...". It's solid in all the right places; the only criticisms that we have are minor and not load bearing. At $189.95, the price is a little steep, but if you're going to be spend a bunch of time aloft, the safety, comfort and convenience that you are afforded by the Harken Bosun's Chair justifies it.

    Got Harken?

    The APS Harken Sale starts today and we felt it our duty to let everybody know. It's the perfect time to replace that "sort of works" mainsheet setup or the "it always makes that noise" cabin top winch that just doesn't quite pull it's weight anymore. And lets be honest - we don't have sales very often so you might as well get it cheap while you can.

    I'm told there is also some free stuff involved depending how much you order - so that's pretty cool.

    Don't forget our Rigging Sale continues during Feburary as well.