Thursday, October 28, 2010

APS Spinsheet Chesapeake Racer Profile - Jason Currie

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

With 7500 nautical miles separating Annapolis from New Zealand, it's remarkable how many sailors from that part of the world end up here on the Chesapeake Bay. Sailmaker Jason Currie is among one of them. The native Tauranga-about two hours south of Auckland-began sailing at the age of three with his dad on a 17-foot trailer-sailer. " I have really good memories sailing with my dad," he says. The two of them raced often and won the Ross 780 National Championship a couple of times. Currie raced Optis and P-class dinghies and eventually Laser 2s and 470s. He launched a 470 Olympic campaign for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA, before realizing how expensive it would be to follow through.

Currie's four-year apprenticeship as a sailmaker is what led him to Annapolis through Quantum Sails, still a fledgling company when he arrived in the States in 1997. "I wanted to travel," he says. "I was young; I jumped on the opportunity." It was a three-year contract, but then, he met his wife Cameron. Thirteen years, a wedding ,a child, a house purchase, and a few promotions later, the Quantum service loft manager turned sales representative happily calls Annapolis home.

In the past decade, Currie has competed in a wide variety of boats, including the Reichel-Pugh 52, Swan 45, Farr 40, Farr 30, J/24, J/22 and Laser in various sailing venues-Key West, St. Marten, Newport, and Chicago-as well as in major Chesapeake regattas for big boats and Lasers. Annapolis Race Week has been a lucky regatta for Currie, as he was on the winning Farr 40 Ramrod in 2007, the first-place Sport Boat Problem Child in 2008, and the Farr 40 Endorphin in 2010. He's also been a team member on the RP 52 Vela Veloce this season for victorious Rolex St. Thomas and U.S. IRC National Championship Regattas and second place finishes at the BVI, Heineken and Caribbean 600 Regattas.

When he's not racing for work and pleasure, Currie cruises with his wife and daughter McKenzie on an Erickson 30. "I enjoyed sailing so much with my dad as a kid, i love passing on that experience to my daughter," he says. "Traveling as much as I do for work, it makes me really appreciate spending time with my family."

Spinsheet: Who are your sailing mentors and buddies?
My dad, Scott Nixon, Joe Gibson, Geoff Ewenson, David Flynn, and the entire Vela Veloce crew.

What is your favorite racing venue in the world?
Tauranga, New Zealand, where I grew up. It's on the east coast, but it has its own harbor, perfect for dinghy sailing, but with an enterance to the Pacific-you're 30 minutes from perfect sea breeze and ocean conditions.

Do you have a favorite sailing moment from this season?
I went cruising with my family up the Magothy River for an over-nighter by Gibson Island. Everything was perfect-the weather, the sailing, and just seeing my wife and daughter having a great time.

What kind of music do you listen to?
I'm a fan of Crowded House, Split Enz, and most classic rock. I'll admit I'm a little bit of an 80's fan as well!

What television shows do you watch?
When you have kids, you barely have time to watch, but I like Dexter, True Blood, and Boardwalk Empire.

What magazines do you read?
SpinSheet, Seahorse, and This Old House Magazine.

Do you have any non-sailing passions?
I like renovating and updating our 1985 house. I put in a new kitchen and bathroom. Once I start a project , I'm the type of person that has to finish it.

What sailing gear do you depend on?
Musto salopettes, a Musto spray top, Musto gloves and Dubarry boots.

If a young racing sailor asked you for advice, what would you say?
Stay in school [laughs]! Go sailing-with and against-really good sailors. That's how you learn. The learning curve gets much steeper when you're with skilled sailors. Jump at those opportunities.

What are your sailing goals?
I'd like to win a world championship. In the near future, I'd like to do more offshore sailing and learn more about navigation and onboard electronics.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Velocitek: ProStart

Just released from Velocitek is their new ProStart unit. Like other Velociteks it is a GPS based unit that provides speed and heading. The ProStart really focuses on the ability of a GPS unit to provide an accurate distance to line. The original SC-1 unit was able to do this but with the ProStart Alec and the guys at Velocitek have really fine tuned the design to make the ProStart really easy to use.

We've seen one of the demo units here at APS a couple of times but haven't been able to share information with our customers until today. Last week I took one of the units out in the parking lot to run it through it's paces. Below is a video staring yours truly with the added bonus of my patented Blair Witch'esque shakey camera effects.

The ProStart is available now along with the mounting bracket.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Selden's Reversible Winches

During the Annapolis Sailboat show we got to sit down with some of the fine folks at Selden and one thing we learned was that they too are entering the winch game. Although we didn't get to see one in person we learned that the engineers at Selden have not only designed an entire winch range from the ground up but that they have also designed a manually operated winch with a reverse feature that offers a unique advantage for racers and cruisers alike.

The reversible winch functions like any other 2-speed manual winch-containing two gears that enable you to trim in at two different speeds. Then, by pressing down on the knob that’s built into the winch handle, while you grind clockwise the drum will turn into a reverse mode. In reverse mode, the rope can be eased out while remaining in the self tailing jaws the entire time. This one handed operation is safe and keeps your hands away from the drum when easing the load. It's also very efficient for single handed sailors who can steer and trim at the same time.

There is only one speed in the reverse mode as opposed to the two speeds in the normal mode. The Selden Reversible winches include a modified stripper that holds the line securely within the self-tailing jaws (see detailed image above), again great for single hand use.

The manual reversible winch range will be offered in 4 sizes: R30 R40 R46 R52. Rumor has it that they'll be available to distributors come Spring 2011 but the official launch is scheduled in Amsterdam next month at METS 2010 and we'll be there to see them so be sure to check back here for more details in the coming weeks.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Sneak Peak at the New Tylaska Locking Snap Shackle and Spring Loaded Clevis Pins

Favorite vendors, friends and customers both old and new, the Annapolis Boat Show is the place we see them all. It's also the time and place we get to see some new and unique products. This year I got to catch up with Tim and Dianne from Tylaska and, as usual, they didn't disappoint me and they had something new and unique to show me. Check these out...

On the left you'll see what looks like a standard snap shackle. But, this is no ordinary snap shackle. Notice the small slot to the left of the pull ring? That's what makes this little guy different from anything else. This snap shackle features a locking pull pin and that little slot is where the mechanism rests. No more worries of a line or other bit getting caught around the ring ding and opening the shackle. Simply give the pin a twist and you'll feel the locking mechanism seat keeping the pin in place. Another twist and a pull opens it all while otherwise opening and closing like any other snap shackle.

On the right you'll see what looks like a pretty standard clevis pin. But, this is also no ordinary clevis pin. This is a clevis pin raised to the power of Tim Tylaska! If you look at the center of the pin you'll notice there is a pin within the pin. Push this spring loaded pin in from either side with a fid, or anything pointy (I couldn't do it with my finger), and a set of three balls retract allowing the clevis pin to enter or exit its hole. Carefully recessed, the center pin is designed not to be accidentally unloaded or to allow it to fall out. Essentially, this is like a "Fast pin" but without the protruding extra bits.

These bits are set to be officially launched at METS in a few weeks but Tim and Dianne don't like to launch products without plenty of stock behind them so we're not 100% sure when these pieces will be available to market. However, we're told they'll be available in various sizes very soon. Rest assured that if you receive our Weekly EList you'll likely be one of the first to know. If you don't already receive it we encourage you to sign up for it here!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hands On: Yale Ph. D. Line

Brand new this fall from Yale Cordage is their Ph.D. line. That's right APS now has a doctorate from Yale and we're going to brag about it to everybody. Ok I promise not to make too many more doctor jokes.

With Ph.D. Yale is taking a totally new approach to line manufacturing. They're not fully reinventing the wheel but they've definitely figured out how to put spinners on it. This line is a 12-strand construction much like Maffioli Swiftcord or Yale Conception. Like those lines it is a blended Spectra line, in this case it is Spectra 1000 and polyester. Where Ph.D. differs is how they are blended together.

As you can see in the photo to the left each of the 24 strands in Ph.D. (it's a paired 12-strand) has a parallel Spectra 1000 core with the polyester fibers wrapped around it. The polyester is also treated with Yale's i-Grip to give it tenacious grip.

The result is a line that has a great hand feel and a very high Spectra content for it's size. We don't have hard numbers but we think this line has significantly more Spectra than the Swiftcord, Salsa or other Dyneema blended single braids.

The Ph.D. does tend to be a little bit oversized when it's not loaded so if your application is very size sensitive you should be careful in your selection.

We had some of our staff use the Ph.D. line on a couple different boats to get some first hand experience. Warren from customer service tried it out as jib sheets on his keelboat:
I recently got a chance to use Yale’s new Ph.D. line in 7/16" as a genoa sheet on my family’s Soverel 33 with our 150% Kevlar Genoa and plain top winches. I was pleased with Ph.D’s grip on the winch, given we have what I believe to be the original 1986 winches with most (nearly all) of the grip worn off. The fuzzy surface provided additional grip when an additional wrap would have been excessive. I feel this line will work well on small keelboats in moderate load applications when you want to use as few wraps as possible, but still need good control (think jib sheets on J24, Ensign, J80, J22). Given the amount of breeze and load generated by the genoa we were likely at the limit of what I would recommend using the line in terms of both load and abrasion. All in all Ph.D. is a great new line that both soft on the hands and much lower stretch than many other 12 strands on the market today.
Katie used the Ph.D. sailing on a Jet14 with me this past weekend. As a dinghy this application is a bit different than Warren's experience using winches. Here's what Katie thought:
This weekend, I used the Ph.D. 6mm for jib sheets on a Jet 14. It was blowing around 15, which make for a good opportunity to test out the grip and hand feel. I found that it was quite easy to hold on to as well as release from the cleat. It ran easily during tacks and came back in well. It didn’t seem to absorb water, or not enough that I could notice it becoming heavier throughout the day. Overall, I think that it would work well in this application as well as any other dinghy. With a secure, nice feeling grip and running freely in and out of blocks, there is not much more you could ask for in a sheet. I would certainly give it my thumbs up.

One of the stand out features of the Ph.D. is it's low stretch. Above is a chart provided by Yale for elongation comparison with both a 100% Spectra line and Yale's Conception. Warren was impressed by this aspect of the Ph.D. as well:
I was very pleasantly surprised with the minimal stretch of the line, so let me explain. While comfortable to handle, all too often single braids either don’t have enough Spectra in the blend of the line, or have a great deal of constructional stretch, not so with the Ph. D. The very high percentage of Spectra in this line, coupled with the spun construction, and the high grade of Spectra in the line (Spectra 1000 which = Dyneema SK-75) kept the stretch to a minimum.

All in all Yale's Ph.D. line is a great addition to the options in the blended single braid market. It offers a high Spectra content for low stretch and has a great hand feel. The doctor is definitely in and the prescription for this fever is more Ph.D.!

Update (10/08/10): Yale formally announced this new product at the 2010 Annapolis Sailboat Show. APS Staff were on hand and filmed their press conference for you. Here is...

Ron Rosenberg introducing Yale PHD (part 1)
Tom Yale discussing Yale PHD's unique construction (part 2)

Ronstan Aquires Andersen Winches

What do the Australians have in common with the Danish? Although, that sounds like the beginning of a bad joke the truth is far from a joke. Today we learned that one of our favorite companies, Australian based Ronstan, has acquired one of our favorite winch manufacturers, the Danish based Frederik Andersen Maskinfabrik. Big deal you say? Well, it is. Ronstan has long been a leader in performance sailing hardware but they didn't have a winch range to complete their offering. With the acquisition of the phenomenal Andersen winch range they do now. We have been selling Ronstan since day 1 of APS and a few years ago added the Anderson winch range to our offering because they are some of the best winches being made. We applaud this move and think it will prove to be a good one for all parties. Stay tuned for more news as the 2010 Annapolis Boat Show (read circus) is in town and we're sure to be getting more juicy news over the next 7 days. What follows is the official press release from Ronstan...

Ronstan Acquires Andersen Winches

Australian-based sailboat hardware manufacturer Ronstan International has acquired Frederik Andersen Maskinfabrik, the Danish manufacturer best known for the enduring quality and beautiful finish of their signature Andersen Winches.

In the 50 years since the first winch was produced for the Dragon class, the company has built a reputation for excellence and expertise in stainless steel winches. Today’s range of Andersen Winches includes self tailing sheet winches and capstan models in manual, electric and hydraulic versions.

Annette Andersen Lau commented “After three generations of family ownership this is a real change of pace, and Ronstan is taking over a company and a team of employees that is ready for any challenge. Andersen Winches is clearly a great strategic fit with Ronstan and I’m sure it will be a winning combination.”

“Andersen Winches are the perfect complement to Ronstan deck hardware”, says Ronstan’s Managing Director Alistair Murray. “The company’s experience in winch design and manufacture are a natural extension to Ronstan’s expertise in hardware, and we look forward to the broader possibilities that we can offer to our customers with the combined product range.”

In addition to its manufacturing activities in Australia, Ronstan has been producing specialist sailboat hardware in Denmark since its acquisition of Frederiksen Boat Fittings in 2001. Thomas Meyer, currently General Manager of Ronstan Denmark Aps, takes over management responsibility for all Danish operations, with all Ronstan Denmark and Andersen Winches employees continuing in their current roles.

Murray adds, “Ronstan is owned by its management, and we continue to invest in our future at a time when others are standing still or sliding backward. As the economy and the industry pull out of the recent downturn, we are aiming to emerge stronger than ever.”

Ronstan is based in Melbourne and has 180 employees world-wide. In addition to Sydney, Brisbane, and Fremantle it has offices in Rhode Island, California and Florida USA as well as Southampton in the UK, and Vejle, Denmark.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Annapolis Sailboat Show 2010

Each October, the city of Annapolis prepares itself for the largest and most spectacular sailboat show in the country. Close to 150,000 attendees from around the world come to downtown Annapolis to learn and test out exciting new products, meet new people, enjoy countless boat show parties and of course, get some killer deals on all kinds of sailing products.

This year we've partnered with six of our vendors to bring you the best in gear and hardware inside the show. You will find APS representing Musto, Henri Lloyd, Slam, Atlantis, Spinlock and Ronstan at the show this year. APS staff with be in their booths offering expert advice and customer service. We will also have sailboats in the water and will be offering great deals on boats from Laser Performance during the show. APS will be providing fun and entertainment for the kids at the Children's Sailing Spectacular with Bugs in the water for the kids to sail around on. We pinpointed our locations on this years map so that you can locate us during the show.

Once again APS will be having it's Virtual Boat Show Sale and you will be able to take 15% off of everything at the show and in our store (with few exceptions) including our already discounted sale rack!. And as always, our APS store will be open for business during the boat show. We will be extending our store hours for the boat show. On Thursday we will be open from 9a-6p, Friday we will be open 9a-6:30p, Saturday-Sunday 8a-6:30p and on Monday 9a-6p.

We look forward to an exciting 2010 boat show! If you will be attending the show, please feel free to drop in and say hello at one of the vendor tents or at our store.