Wednesday, August 25, 2010

APS Spinsheet Chesapeake Racer Profile - Dave Askew

The following is the September APS Chesapeake Racer Profile, a monthly hi-light in Spinsheet Magazine (written by Molly Winans):

Although he's a sailor who sets the bar higher than most, APS Racer Profile alumnus Dave Askew had a summer of remarkable Great Lakes racing that leaped beyond his expectations. Askew’s team won its class in the IRC Great Lakes Championships, the 280-mile Bayview Port Huron to Mackinac Race, the 333-mile Chicago YC Mackinac Race (overall winner), and the Ugotta at the Traverse City YC. “I’ve always wanted to go back there and sail these races in my own boat,” says Askew. “I didn’t expect to win everything.”

The Grosse Point, MI, native and Annapolis sailor (since 1990) has an extensive racing history—think Fastnet, SORC, Mac Races, Newport to Bermuda, and the top race weeks—as he started young by working on boats through high school and running racing programs to support himself through college and beyond. He may have kept going had he not switched gears to join a family company, marry, and have three daughters.

When Askew and his wife Sandra, also a Midwestern racing sailor, bought their J/120 Flying Jenny V in 2004, they had a three-year plan: to do the Newport to Bermuda Race, Block Island Race Week, and then the Mac Races. “We extended the plan, because we were having so much fun,” says Askew. They were winning, too, including the Newport to Bermuda Race (2006), Block Island Race Week (2007), the Onion Patch Series (2008) and the Annapolis to Newport Race (2007 and 2009). In 2008, the couple switched up to the J/122 Flying Jenny VI and re-hatched their Great Lakes plan.

“It was an unbelievably awesome experience,” says Askew, whose program includes his wife, his brother Peter, his brother-in-law Gary Snider, his oldest friends, and the new ones he’s gathered along the way. “A lot of my Annapolis friends had never done the Mac Races before. It opened their eyes to the fact that there’s a lot going on up there.”

Who were your crew members from the Chesapeake Bay this summer?
There were different crew for all the Great Lakes races; these are the ones who came for one or two: Jonathan Bartlett, Arnis Baltins, Steve Cooper, Jay Herman, Dave Kuhl, Renee Mehl, Rob Michaelson, Paul Murphy, Grant Spanhake, Nicole Weaver, and Shane Zwingelberg.

How is Great Lakes sailing different from ocean racing?
These are huge lakes. I’ve done 600-mile races on them; that’s almost as long as the Newport Bermuda Race. The lakes are fresh water. You can drink it. You can wash the boat off while you’re racing. There’s no minimum water requirement onboard… The big difference is the weather. Ocean racing weather is fairly consistent; the forecasts are accurate. On the Great Lakes, you’re looking at the weather changing every four to six hours. There are afternoon storms, lows cruising through—so much influence from land—although you can’t see it.

How do you manage the constant weather changes as a crew?
Our navigator Rob Michaelson is a critical part of the crew. He’s really good at figuring out what the trend is going to be. You have to develop a plan and stick to it. Rob can create a plan and articulate it to us. Then we make the boat go as fast as it can go relative to the plan.

How did it feel to win so big in your home waters?
It was great to go back and see people I hadn’t seen or raced against for 20 years. I worked on a lot of boats in high school and college, and many of those owners remember me… I think a lot of people were happy to see me leave! They may have thought we were these guys from Annapolis, but really many of us have sailed on the Great Lakes for most of our lives.

What do you attribute your success to as a crew?
The people and their compatibility. We all genuinely like each other. Everyone is experienced. No big egos. We all have our specialties, and we let everyone do their thing. When it comes time to make decisions, I can do that, but my goal is to let the group make decisions 99 percent of the time. If there’s one key, it’s that.

What’s new in your gear bag or on deck?
Patagonia crew gear—Capilene T-shirts—and a Nano Puff quilted pullover I got into because of skiing. On the boat, I replaced the halyards with hightech cordage called Dynex Dux. It was originally designed for North Sea fishing nets and incredibly durable. I’ve never busted a halyard… I also have a KVH antenna to connect to an Inmarsat Satellite for the Internet.

What’s on the future agenda?
Our other passion is skiing, so we’re going to focus on that. We’ll do the IRC East Coast Championship Regatta in Annapolis in the fall. Then, we have no plans until Block Island Race Week. We’d like to get back into one-design racing.

What else would you like to tell Bay sailors about Mac Races?
I encourage anyone who is remotely thinking about doing these races to do it. The water, the weather, the people, the boats—it’s all so different. There are everything from 80-footers like Beau Geste to 25-year-old boats in all sizes. The first boat I raced on in 1979, the C&C 35 Legacy, was still out there racing. The trophies are flags. Imagine 300 boats all rafted in the harbor, all flying their trophy flags. You can see who the big dogs are.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First Look: New Laser Blades

I'm sure many of the Laser sailors out there have heard about new blades being made. The class approved glass blades a while back and I know I've heard of people in US getting blades from Australia. Now we are finally going to have a proper GRP blade available in the US.

We have a couple blade sets here that came with new Lasers that we have in stock. I have to say I was really impressed with the blades when I saw them. They're super smooth and glossy, definitely a vast improvement over the previous blades.

Laser Performance has this to say about them:
The new blades are made with the most sophisticated composite manufacturing process available for this type of component... Our new blades are class approved and are designed for increased durability. Since they are fiberglass construction with a foam core, the trailing edges and tips are far more durable than the old blades where breakage in this area was common. The finish is excellent...
Compared to my old blades these new GRP blades are as smooth as a pig dipped in teflon (thanks to former Stern Scoop writer Chris for that witty comparison). The tips of the blades definitely feel like they would hold up better over time. Hopefully this means repairing a daggerboard tip with epoxy and some paper clips will become a dead art form.

You can see at the right that the new blades have a totally different style to the top as well as a new stopper with a fancy Laser Performance logo on it. I can't unscrew the stopper, at least not without damaging it, so I'm not sure how it's put together or if there will be replacements available for it.

For now the new blades are only available when you buy a new Laser and it's going to stay that way for a while. All indications are it could be late October or even later before we actually get any blades to sell. Basically the factory can only build them so fast and the production is all going to new boats right now.

Prices may change before the blades become available but as of right now Laser Performance tells us the daggerboard will be $485 and a complete rudder $405 with the rudder blade only being $295. This is certainly a bump up from the prices of the old blades but that's to be expected for the dramatic increase in quality seen with these.

You can place orders now for the new blades and to get at the front of the line as long as you're prepared to wait a while to get them. Any orders placed now will get the new blades when we get stock. Look for more information here on the Stern Scoop as it becomes available.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

APS's Favorite International Sailing Magazine: Seahorse...

A great companion to have at the poolside or when you're desk-bound and need to fulfill that craving for some inspirational sailing literature Seahorse Magazine is truly unique international sailing magazine that touches base on more than just the US sailing market. They feature a powerful forum for global sailing debate and its contributors are expert sailors who are fully immersed in the sport.

Seahorse covers a wide variety of material from epic sailing adventures to the latest forefront on sailing technology; expert advice to racers, recaps on big regatta’s and featured articles from world renowned sailors. I skimmed through September’s issue and thought the most notable column (besides all the enthralling media on the next America’s Cup) was an article about the developments of the international rating rules and what influences the two prevailing (and very different) rating systems have on the optimization of a boat. Interesting material indeed! There are of course many other informative and informative articles relative to your everyday sailor but a lot of the material in this magazine centers on the off-shore, big boat racing and cruising scene.

Another aspect of the magazine is the focus on the design and production of boats and sails, which can be quite technical, but it's incredibly informational from an engineering standpoint. You really get an in depth look at how and why boats are designed and built to meet a certain criterion.

In all, the magazine is an impressive read and it has an International perspective on sailing that is a bit different from other sailing magazines we read. We've also found it can be difficult to get a hold of so we’ve done some leg work for you and arranged a special discount with Seahorse. To take advantage of the deal all you need to do is purchase a magazine subscription through the APS Site. The discount is at least 20% off of the original listed price. As a final note we'll leave you with the thought that a Seahorse magazine subscription makes an ideal gift for any sailor!

No Bull...Sandbagger sailing is F U N!

The sand slipped through the hourglass quickly yesterday afternoon as we pushed package after package out the back door and a few customers out of the front doors a little earlier than usual. Finally, with the day's deeds done, it was time to go sailing. Big deal right? We go sailing every day you say? Yep, most of us do, but last night was different. The team at APS were both making and sailing history.

We're all sailors at APS, and we often all sail on the same nights, but last night we made history. 13 of us went sailing together for the first time. But, that wasn't the only first. For all but Katie it was the first time we had gotten to sail the two historical reproduction Sandbaggers, Bull and Bear, that have taken up temporary, hopefully permanent, residence at the National Sailing Hall of Fame located on City Dock in downtown Annapolis. Sandbagger? What'd you call me?

Originally built in the 1800s for tasks like oystering and transporting cargo in New York Harbor Sandbaggers are specimen sailboats. Wide and low to the water for ease of loading and unloading freight their lines are stunning and their hulls stable. Sandbaggers were also designed to be fast for in those days getting back to market first meant setting the day's prices and earning the highest dollar for goods. It wasn't long before higher and faster was the call in order to be first to market. Taller masts and more ballast, with the need for more speed soon the day's cargo wasn't enough to counteract the massive amounts of sail area being piled on, enter the sandbags. Pile them on the rail and you might make it in first. But, while their historical roots are grounded in working during the week for their wages and competing to set the day's rates things got interesting when wagering on the weekend competitions became more profitable. Soon business tycoons were building Sandbaggers just for speed with the ones deemed too slow for racing relegated to working.

Bull and Bear, named after the two types of market categorizations, are modern day replicas built by the Independence Seaport Museum's workshop at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia with funding from a successful businessman as well generous philanthropist. Constructed of wood, fastened with bronze, and peppered with some hidden carbon fiber Bull and Bear were built using a mix of traditional building techniques from both traditional and modern materials. Based on the lines of the storied racing Sandbagger, SUSIE S (circa 1869), and measuring 28 feet on deck they offer a glimpse into the what the most extreme racers of their day would have been like and with support from the donor Bull and Bear do just that for everyone. Part circus, part school, the Bull and Bear organization travel the country with the sole mission of "helping youth organizations learn to sail, get experience on the water, learn leadership and just enjoy themselves." While no longer a betting man's boat when they're not educating they also donate themselves to race in order to benefit various charities.

Although sometimes we feel like a charity, and occasionally act like children, it was a distinct honor and pleasure for the team at APS to get to take them for a spin. Smiling faces and ear to ear grins were the order of the evening and the boats proved their racing heritage as 6-8 knot breezes equaled a guesstimated 6-8 knots of boat speed. With only a few "sandbags" (filled with water for show) and reportedly the smaller of the mainsails, counteracted solely by form stability and a simple centerboard without any internal weight added, that proved enough breeze to bury the rail and require easing of the jib sheet. Jib sheet? That's right, no easing the main on these boats. As we took turns on the helm and sheets we quickly learned the odd balance of the long chord rudder and generous proportions of sails that with much more breeze would require reefing. We can't imagine what sailing these beautiful boats would be like in some "real" breeze but we're also very appreciative of the opportunity we had.

Even as an Annapolitan, I find it difficult to claim my home town as "America's Sailing Capital," but I think even a devout Newport yachtsman would find it tough to argue after having set off from Annapolis's City Dock on the Sandbaggers last night. Many thanks to the folks at the National Sailing Hall of Fame, located in Annapolis ehem, and a special thanks to Pat and Amy Teeling as well as the rest of the crew that helped take us out last night. You rock and roll!

Please enjoy this brief video of the APS team showing you how it's done...

For more information about Bull and Bear as well as to learn how you or your charitable organization can benefit from the program please visit

For more photos of the APS excursion click HERE.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meet Your APS Staff...Faces and All

We're not all robots and computers here at APS, we're real live humans! For all of you who haven't had the pleasure of walking into our store to check out for yourself, we all do exist. So, to prove our point, I've finally updated our employee profiles. We've updated photos, added new people, so if you've been here before, it's not the same show. If you didn't even know it existed... you do now, so why not check it out?

Here you can find out more about all of us. Check out pictures, brief life stories, favorite boats and the most important question of all... queso or guacamole. We know you've been dying to know. So procrastinate a few more minutes, extend that lunch break or what do we care we're not your boss... blow off work to look!

So have a few laughs and check us out ... Staff Profiles.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Launching the New APS Pro Spinnaker Launch Bag...

We can’t promise that you’ll have the perfect leeward mark rounding, but we can reduce the many excuses for why the spinnaker is functioning as a helicopter outside the bag as you’re headed upwind! Our new Pro Spinnaker Launching Bag is deep enough and slightly tapered at the bottom so the kite does not blow back out when you pack it in. The bag features battens on all four sides of the opening and a slight bottom taper to keep its shape. Made of all mesh, the bag measures 25" fore and aft, 25" from side to side and 30" deep.

You can easily access and read your SI’s with a clear plastic pouch located on the front of the bag. And for those rainy days or failed launches, the pouch has a Dacron backing to keep the wet spinnaker seperate from your dry papers. Two mesh side pockets with Velcro closures securely hold your VHF radio or winch handles. Slots on the outside hold pens/pencils.

Check out the video above for a closer look at the APS Pro Spinnaker Launching Bag.

Incorporating a Spin Roller for an easier kite departure:
(An informative tip from Warren Richter in Customer Service)

A neat trick for making sure that the spinnaker goes up cleanly using our spinnaker bag is to create a spin roller. This will work on many keelboats such as a J22, J24, J80, or Melges 24. This can be installed on either the boat, or our new spin bag. In either case, you would need about 3 feet of 1/8” Amsteel blue, and 12-18” of both ½” and 1” PVC pipe. If installing on the boat, you would also need two eyestraps such as a H073.

To install on the bag you would punch two holes through the top lip of the bag above the batten at 45 degrees to the corner, typically in the port forward corner of the bag, as this will be most often the side you will be setting the spinnaker from if sailing windward leeward courses. One hole will be in the side of the bag towards the port side of the boat 12-18” back from the port forward corner of the bag, and one in the front of the bag 12-18” inches from the corner. Pass the smaller PVC through the larger PVC and then pass the Amsteel through the small PVC. Then put the Amsteel through the two holes that were just made and tie stopper knots on either side trying to get the Amsteel as tight as possible and you will have a spin roller.

The PVC will roll well on itself, but you can use something such as McLube Sailkote to keep everything running well. If you mount this to the boat, the eyestraps will mount in similar locations, just on the underside of the cabin house. Otherwise everything would be the same, but the roller should hang down just about ½” to 1” and not bump into the headliner of the boat.

Hope this helps, and Sail Fast!

Monday, August 2, 2010

APS Spinsheet Chesapeake Racer Profile - Doug Jurrius

Who doesn’t love a sentimental story with a happy ending? Doug Jurrius is a strapping, sappy kind of a guy—the kind of guy with an honest face who bought his first Sunfish with his paper route money as a kid, who openly talks about his sailing “dreams” rather than “goals,” and who prints his theme “Love Always Wins” on his crew shirts. He also happens to be the type of skipper who wins sailboat races.

Born in Newport, RI, as a Navy kid, Jurrius “lived as a rolling stone,” including a move to the Pittsburgh, PA, area where he began to sail with his dad on Flying Scots on Lake Arthur. In the mid-1970s, the family moved to Yardley, PA, and began to drive three hours every weekend to the Eastern Shore to cruise on the Chesapeake, first on a Tanzer 22 (remember the days when a family would cruise on a boat that small?) and then, on a Tartan 34.

Jurrius and his wife of 27 years, Cindy, whom he met at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, did some moving around themselves and eventually landed just outside of St. Michaels—an area to which he’s had family ties dating back to his grandparents—where they are now rooted with their three teenage sons. “The place has such a great sense of community,” he says. He raced and cruised his C&C 37 Persuasion until he sold her in 2005 and went in search of a solid racer-cruiser on which he could achieve his dream of racing to Bermuda. After much deliberation and good gut feelings, he and
Cindy chose the Cal 40 Belle Aurore (circa 1967).

Jurrius started sending e-mail updates about his race program to fellow Tred Avon YC (TAYC) members, attracting good crew, and winning races. The Belle Aurore crew won their first Annapolis to Oxford Race in 2007, three Skipper Races (a 50-mile, October race) in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and CBYRA High Point top honors in 2008 and 2009.

After four years of intense and expensive physical and mental preparation, Jurrius and his crew, including his 15-year old son, won their class and third overall in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division in their first Newport to Bermuda Race in June. “There’s so much preparation involved in such a race… and then you get to the finish, and there’s nobody there! It is weirdly anti-climatic. You have these two buoys you have to sail through that aren’t exactly on the finish line, and 30 seconds after you think you finish, you radio someone who is up at the lighthouse looking through a line of sight. I had this complete fantasy there would be a boat with Dark and Stormies waiting…” He’s not complaining, though. He just achieved his greatest sailing dream and is ready to do it again.

SpinSheet: Who are your sailing mentors?
My dad, Charlie Lea, and Jim Thompson, and most of the folks at Tred Avon YC. They really support ocean racers, and I ask lots of questions!

Who are your best sailing buddies?
Russell Stone (he’s my BFAM, my brother from another mother), Mike Rajacich, and Mark Pellerin.

Do you have a favorite sailing memory from this season?
Bermuda! Seeing dolphins… They would come right alongside of the boat in a pair and then take off at an angle and draw the “mark of Zorro” in the water. The glowing trail in the phosphorescence was very cool.

What kind of music gets you going?
On the boat, a lot of 1960s and 1970s stuff: Santana, Joe Cocker, and Motown.

What magazines do you read?
SpinSheet, Sailing World, Sailing, Popular Science, and Popular Mechanics.

What is your routine on the morning of a race?
I’m always busy trying to get lunch made. It’s one of the key things. You have to have good food. I make a French baguette with turkey, provolone, and pesto sauce…

Do you have any advice for young racing sailors?
Focus on the enjoyment of the sport as a community. Sure, it’s a competitive sport, but at the end of the day, we’re not doing much more than walking speed. Enjoy the friendships, the community—that’s really what it’s about.

What sailing gear do you prefer?
I wear 10-year-old Henry Lloyd foul weather gear (which actually needs some help. The bibs are beyond just not being waterproof… they hold water!) We’re Eastern Shore sailors, so part of that ethos is how bad you can look while you’re kicking the Annapolis guys’ butts.

If you won the lottery, what kind of boat would you buy?
I’d buy five more Cal 40s so that we’d have Cal 40 one-design racing. Or I’d buy a fleet of Moths to get more kids into sailing.