Monday, February 28, 2011

Sock Miracle, Sock Miracles


First and foremost, thank you Molly Winans! In my humble opinion, this is perhaps the best way in the world to show scale for these size 13 wool socks. I was already feeling SpinSheet (no surprise there) - but now, my respect is even greater. Second, I should probably let you readers know why we're reposting this photo of tape, beer, and socks....

If you're keeping up with the APS Chesapeake Bay SpinSheet Racer Profiles, you'd know Ryan Breymaier (to-be Annapolis lifer and only American sailor in the Barcelona World Race) is suffering from some chilly feet in his co-skippered, around-the-world race.

Because gear is the name of the game at APS, I was happy Molly asked Ryan...What gear do you wish you had that you unfortunately left behind? The answer was short: he just wanted thick, 100% wool socks to fit his size 13 feet.

After reading the interview, I immediately clicked onto our site (I'm new here so still trying to get a feel for the seemingly infinite product offerings at APS) to see what we had that could help him out. After a few minutes distraction from working on our annual Spring Catalog, I decided it was time to get back to work. Sock problem not solved. Turns out shopping for men's socks is not my forte - good intention failure.

Fast forward to Monday and nearing explanation for beer/tape socks - good news! Molly emailed with an amazing gesture of "reader love." Just thinking about big socks and clicking on the Internet doesn't cut it. Credit goes out to Elaine Henn. She read Ryan's interview over the weekend, and knit the darned handsome socks pictured above. Elain, every sailor in the world who's had cold feet thanks you. You are awesome!

If you want to learn more about sailors and socks, we have good news for you. Have you heard of sock burnings in boating communities all over the States? Giving nod to the start of the Spring season, this tradition (or style etiquette) dictates that sailors burn their socks and wear deck shoes on naked feet from the Vernal Equinox until the cold of Winter sets in again. It's said the origin of this tradition is rooted in the '80s and was started by an Annapolitan yard manager who torched his socks at the end of a work day.

The tradition lives on as many will gather at the Annapolis Maritime Museum to eat oysters and start controlled sock fires March 19th this year. Are you ready?

Regarding Ryan Breymaier's socks - Molly has put out the word, "Do Not Burn!"

Friday, February 25, 2011

APS Spinsheet Chesapeake Racer Profile - Ryan Breimayer


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



A Maryland boy through and through, "St. Mary's College graduate and pro sailor, 34-year-old Ryan Breymaier of Annapolis is the only American in the Barcelona World Race, a double-handed, non-stop, around-the-world race and the first of its kind. With crew Boris Hermann (Germany), Breimayer is sailing 25,000 miles in the IMOCA 60 Neutrogena. The race started on New Year's Eve 2010 with the leading entries forecasted to finish at the end of March. Last week, he took some time to send a few words to SpinSheet from the Southern ocean.

SpinSheet: Where are you as you write? What's happening around you?
43˚ S, 40˚ E. Sitting in the nav seat on Neutrogena, enjoying the warmth of the engine behing me as we charge the batteries. Outside, it is blowing 18 to 25 knots, beam reaching, with the boat averaging 16 with surfs to 20 or 22. It is partly cloudy, with nice sunny patches, but extremely cold. Probably 40 degrees with 25 degree wind chill.

Have you seen any interesting wildlife today?
We have been seeing albatrosses since the beginning of our Southern tour. They started off dark jueveniles (I think), quite small, and now we are seeing the real ones, with wingspans of 12 feet or so, very graceful fliers. They play in the wind shadow left in our wake. Sometimes, we have three or four at a time behind the boat. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get a video, as they never get too close, and when they do, you realize they are moving too fast to catch with a handy cam zoomed in; not to mention the erratic motion of the filming platform!


You wrote a funny blog post on breimayersailing.com about having long inane discussions about minute things. What have you been talking about onboard today?
Nothing yet, it is early, and Boris has still been asleep until just a minute ago. Yesterday, we got an email; Boris’s old sponsor was Beluga Shipping who is in the middle of a major pirate problem in the Indian Ocean, so we were talking about that and how many guns you can get onto a cargo ship. From there, we were talking about labor savings onboard and efficiency and decided that in-boom furling and electric winches would be the way to go to reduce the annoyance of reefing. Boris just got up as I write, and it’s started already—our first dumb discussion today. We are charging, and in an attempt to warm the boat, we have the doors shut. Boris just said he had a hard time opening the door because the engine is sucking so much air that the pressure has gone down in the cabin, and what would happen if we got trapped like that? Would we have to drill a hole somewhere to relieve the pressure?

What did you eat for your last meal?
I had jambon (Spanish dried ham) and comté cheese on wassa for breakfast. We normally have muesli each morning, but I am getting a bit too regular if you know what I mean.

What do you do with your garbage?
We only keep the plastic and keep it as clean as possible. We put it in a trash bag, and then put that in the forward watertight compartment when it’s full. When we get to Barcelona, it is going to be my job to empty it. I would not pawn that off onto anyone else.

When was the last time you got seasick?
Never, not once in my life. I guess I am very lucky. I have seen how it can cripple even the best sailors.

What are you wearing right now?
Long johns, with a fleece on top, and my HPX pants around my ankles and boots on as I sit here in case I
have to get dressed to get outside in a hurry.

What are the most essential pieces of gear in your bag?
Chameau boots. They are actually waterproof, unlike any other brand I have tried. After that, Musto HPX pants and a dry top with latex seals. Like that, you can more or less stay dry. I have not had to break out the full-on one-piece dry suit yet.

Is there any piece of gear that has been more helpful than you would have thought?
Unfortunately, the 12-volt Makita right-angle drill that we use with a grinding disk for carbon repairs. Without that, we would have been in sorry shape at the moment.

Is there any gear you wish you had that you don’t?
A pair of super huge (to fit my size 13 feet), super thick 100-percent wool socks. My feet are always cold, and these are more or less impossible to find nowadays.

You’ve had many jobs on big boats—grinder, mastman, bowman, and crew boss. How have these positions influenced your competence as a skipper? Did you have a favorite?
I am and always will be a bowman at heart. If you start there and have worked your way back to skipper, I would say you have done all the jobs onboard and probably have a pretty good technical knowledge of the boat as well, considering the bowman is usually a rigger, grinders look after winches, trimmers do sail making,
etc.

What’s to love about the IMOCA Open 60?
It is the world’s fastest, nicest boat in flat water. In big waves, it is a little short for the height of the mast and tends to dig in a bit as it pitches. In our case, the boat looks after the crew really well, too, with a nice cabin top to stay dry behind/ under and a great bow up attitude in breeze downwind.

What’s the fastest speed you have recorded in this race thus far?
Twenty-seven knots driving and 24 with the pilot. Top speed ever with me onboard, 28 under pilot and 33 with me driving. Remember, 60 feet is really not that long, and speed comes from length; however, with a
95-foot mast, we have some serious sail area.

What do you think would surprise Chesapeake sailors about racing around the world?
How long it takes! We are a month into this and have only just managed to get past the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, a couple days ago. The light air has surprised me. I did a lot of weather studies before the race, but the amount of time in 10 knots or less has really caught me by surprise. I guess this would not bother anyone from the Chesapeake, though!

Some of us fantasize about racing double-handed non-stop around the world. What do you dream about? Getting home to my wife and having a “normal” life. The grass is always greener… Saying that, what
is a normal life? I am definitely looking forward to more new exciting sailing projects wherever they might be.

How does the kind of sailing you’re doing now compare to the racing you did at St. Mary’s College?
I never raced dinghies. I went straight onto the big boat team. I learned to sail on the old Card. I remember
a Governor’s Cup going down the Bay with the kite up in close to 40 knots, Mike Ironmonger at the helm for like eight hours, not one wipe out, boats all around breaking masts and capsizing. So, all in all, it has not changed; the body of water and the level of competition have just gotten much bigger.

What do you miss about the Chesapeake Bay? Are you ever coming home?
I miss everything about it. Blue crabs, brown water, jellyfish, playing in the mud in the tidal creeks, seeing eels spawning in the lower Bay, fall leaves, spring showers, winter snow and ice, and humidity. I am a Maryland boy through and through and will be home to raise my family one day. My house in Annapolis is waiting for me.

When you reach land, what will be the first non-sailing activity you do?
Eat! I love eating, and freeze-dried food is just fuel, not fun. I probably will drink a little, too. After that, I probably will get back onboard to deliver the boat back to Brittany from Barcelona. The journey started in Concarneau, and it wouldn’t feel right to me if it didn’t finish there too.

Anything else you would like to add?
To everyone on the Chesapeake: get some higher performance boats that would make light air pointto-point racing fun! Think about something like the latest Sundog that Paul Parks has. Or if you don’t want a multi, there are plenty of mini open style boats which go super well in light air. Forget about what it rates and have fun sailing! Also think about sailing with less crew. It is a different ballgame, and there is much more to do with only four hands. I will be back one day to come and play! Going to Oxford on the weekend or St. Mikes or down to Solomons for the Screwpile were my favorite times sailing at home, and I can just imagine how cool it would have been to go eight knots downwind in five knots of breeze...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Anti-Chafe Stainless Steel Pads to the Rescue!


If you check out the reviews online, you’ll see how many boaters out there love Yew Enterprises Ltd.’s “WearAndTear” Anti-Chafe Pads. APS is excited to add these techy-looking new things to our product offering.

It’s true there are various marine tapes out there designed to solve the same problem. However, with a special fade-into-fantasy effect, imagine the like concept made of a Marine grade 301 stainless steel that’s a miniscule 0.002″ (0.05mm) thick. This is the kind of product that proves its merit over time. Note - you'll have to pay a little more for these than you would the tape, but the nicer look makes it worth it.

Not only do the WearAndTear pads protect chafe- vulnerable areas on your gelcoat or varnished areas, they also work to cover up damage.

Measuring 2” wide and 6” long for Type A - 9” (225mm) long for Type B – these extremely thin pads provide a long lasting solution to that unsightly damage caused by chafe and ropeburn.
A special double-sided tape adheres the pads to flat or curved gelcoat/varnished surfaces. The WearAndTear stainless steel pads are flexible to a point, but are unable to stretch to accommodate complex shapes. This means your best bet is to use them on straight sections of cabin houses and cockpit sides. You can also pre-form these pads before removing backing tape for applications involving radii of less than 1”.

Don’t worry, the adhesive WearAndTear pads don’t come off as a result of warm weather or direct sunlight. You’d need a hairdryer for that…

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Henri Lloyd Shockwave: Gear Review

Tired of bumps and bruises? Have you been wearing multiple layers to get the protection you need? Look no further than the latest from Henri Lloyd - Shockwave.

This stuff takes foul weather gear to the next level by incorporating actual shock protection in hard-hit areas. Optional, Shock-Absorbing Deck Armor Pads can be inserted into hiking, seat, and knee pockets give you a little help where you need it.
Henri Lloyd's new Shockwave line is fully waterproof and breathable. It replaces their popular TP2 Shadow line and includes a jacket, hooded smock, dinghy smock, and salopettes (and shorts for those summer days where you still want some added seat protection). With new features and redesigns, Shockwave is sure to perform well in buoy or offshore racing.

All pieces are made of a new redesign of the TP2 Alpha Fabric. Durable, waterproof and highly breathable, it is an improved version of the previous TP2 fabric. Technical Description: Interior -A 3D abrasion-resistant, microbead finish lining with a hydrophilic laminate microporous coating. Exterior - Durable Water Repellent finish that is salt water abrasion-resistant and sheds water. Non-technical Description: Improved feel on the inside to reduce that clammy feeling thanks to increased breathability. The outside is more durable and better prepared to stand up against both salt and fresh water.

Overall, the Shockwave looks and feels good. It seems to be a good weight, but it does take some getting used to. After trying on the pieces myself, as well as coercing a few of my colleges to do the same, I’ve looked at the positives and negatives of each.

Shockwave Jacket

The Good

With changes made to the sleeves, hood, and zipper, the jacket appears to be an improvement on its predecessor. The zipper now has a full Velcro storm flap, which better equips you to go offshore. It has an Optivision watch system. Looks like Henri Lloyd has been checking out the Aegis by Atlantis, but we like the fact they're expanding on ideas, literally. With a larger area, you won't struggle to find and read your watch. Even if your watch has a big face (think Ronstan Clear Start), you'll be able to see all the numbers.

The Optivision hood is a great feature. I have a TP2 Shadow jacket, and every time I wear it, I find myself wishing the hood was a little bigger as to cover the sides of my face. The Optivision, the larger size, and three adjustment points quell any complaints I may have had with the former version.

The Bad

It seems the sizing on the jackets has changed. Some of the APS male models tried on a size smaller than they had worn in the TP2 Shadow jacket. I wasn’t able to try on an XS (No women's sizing) because it is unavailable at present. We'll see, but at 5'9'' - I’m concerned it won't work for me as the previous version did. This means smaller women might have trouble fitting into the jacket. Also, the deck armor pads make the jacket fit and feel a bit funny. As you sit down in the jacket, the front flattens and tends to ride up a bit. I’m sure if you were in full hike, you wouldn’t notice, but for the rest of the time, it's a bit bulky. I think I would stick to putting Deck Armor pads in the Shockwave salopettes instead.

Overall

I would say Henri Lloyd's Shockwave Jacket is improvement over the TP2. With the new watch window and revised hood, this jacket is good for buoy or offshore racing. The Velcro storm flap will help when conditions deteriorate. As far the Deck Armor pads are concerned, I would leave those securely in your salopettes.

Shockwave Smocks: Hooded and Dinghy

The Good

The hooded smock has the same Optivision hood as the jacket, making it easy to see while still protecting you from spray and rain. An Optivision watch window makes life easier. I can’t say it will get you to the line on time, but it certainly will help the process when you don't have to struggle to see what the time really is. The neoprene bottom, without feeling too sticky, stays in place when you lift or cross your arms. The overall feel is nice, and the inside fabric doesn't feel clammy against your skin. I think even in hot temperatures (it was about 80° when I was trying it on,) these Shockwave foul weather smocks will breathe well.

The Bad

I found the front pocket to be a bit cumbersome. If you're wearing a life jacket, you won't be able to access the pocket. If you're not wearing a life jacket, you'll still need two hands to open the pocket. The smock neck seems to be tighter than previous versions. Our storefront manager Mike proclaims, “I don’t have a fat neck,” but found that while he needed a smaller size (small rather than a medium), the neck didn't fit the way he wanted it to.

That being said, our product manager James tried on a medium and found the neck to fit well. He added the sleeves were not as long as he would like. In general, I would say the fit is a little on the short side for taller people.

Overall

I would recommend both smocks. If the worst thing I can say is I don’t like the pocket, I consider them to be a good piece of gear. As with everything, fit changes from one person to the next - but the inside has a nice feel and both smocks are lightweight.

Shockwave Salopettes

The Good

The high back was one of the most mentioned features during the fashion show at APS. The new neoprene shoulders with adjustments were also a popular topic. With a Velcro strap, you can adjust the height of the strap to meet your needs. It appears Henri Lloyd has been taking a look at Aegis again - I notice some resemblance to the Aegis alligator straps. These only have one adjustment point so I would consider this an improvement. With that said, there is still work that could be done.


Deck armor pads will protect against impacts on your seat, knees, and waist while you hike. There is a significant difference when trying out the gear with the Deck Armor Pads in or leaving them out. I think each type of Deck Armor Pad would serve you in a certain time and place. For example, I'm thinking the seat pads and hiking pads would be really helpful on long distance races. If I were headed to the bow, the knee pads would make things a lot easier. There would be no bulk of knee pads on the outside of foul weather gear, my knees would be protected, and I wouldn't have to worry about knee pads falling off or sliding around.

The Bad

While the protection factor is great and the fact Henri Lloyd added shock absorption to the interior everything stay in the right place, the Deck Armor pads increase bulk. You definitely need to get used to having all three of them in. Matt from Customer Service decided he would probably sacrifice the seat pads for the knee pads, but he spends a lot of time in the bow.

The pads must be inserted while the pants are off, which forces you to do a little planning ahead of time. Chances are, the first few times out, you might have to make a second run below to insert the pads. Also, women beware: I found the Deck Armor pads didn’t quite fit right. The seams were a little too far apart, and I found myself sitting on the edge of one of them, which ultimately didn’t provide the protection I wanted.

Overall

With a little adjustment, I think you'll find the Shockwave salopettes provide the protection you want on longer races. Perhaps, you'll skip the Deck Armor pads when you're racing around the buoys. This will give you ease of motion. The addition of the adjustment on the neoprene will help provide the right fit, and the high back will make them useful even without a jacket.

Conclusion

Henri Lloyd's Shockwave is a pretty cool and extremely functional advancement in foul weather gear. With lots of new features, it is a great line of gear for anyone who mostly races around the buoys and does occasional offshore races. Versatility is a big plus. The fact Shockwave is equipped with shock absorbing pads makes it great for just about any sailor. Also, don't forget to try out the Shockwave Shorts, great for those hot days where you still want seat pads.

Still don't believe us? Learn a little more about the science behind these pads - Check out this intense video from Henri Lloyd:



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Trying it on for size...

The following post is a guest editorial from former APSer, Chris Teixeira. The Stern Scoop misses Chris's comedic yet informative posts. Enjoy:

At APS, we pride ourselves on being able to offer quality information and detail on almost every piece of gear that we carry. Yes, we said “almost every piece of gear” -- there’s something like 50,000 products in our system, so unless you’ve picked up a dictionary and memorized every word and definition in it, get off your high horse.

The trickiest place, by far, to offer this information is when it comes to apparel. We’ve been around the block a few times, so we can immediately tell when a product is manufactured well and when it has all the right bells and whistles just by looking at it. What we can’t always eyeball, though, is sizing.

Sizing is super tricky. The sailing apparel industry has to cater to a global market – all 7 billion of us and our various shapes and sizes – and there is no industry standard for sizing. This is why some people love the fit of a Musto Salopette and some people can’t stand them, opting instead for the fit of the Henri Lloyd offering.

So we’re left to fend for ourselves a bit when it comes to getting information about sizing. Sure, we could trust the manufacturers and their sizing charts, but in a nod to our British readers and BBC viewers, Top Gear proved that you can’t always take the manufacturers at their word. When they measured out the true horsepower of a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, it came up a hearty fifty-three horses light. That’s right – a full 11.6% off. And in our world of performance sailing, with boundaries being pushed and tolerances super tight, 11.6% is pretty useless.

Our solution is simple: in-house testing. And lest you think a small business like APS can’t cover all the bases, allow us to show the spectrum of sizes we have covered:


Meet Warren, Bryn and Katie – all sporting the same set of hideous plaid shorts that Warren was supposed to wear as punishment for possessing the navigation skills of Helen Keller in the last instance of the Volvo Ocean Race’s online game. Thanks to a little spring cleaning, they were once again found, and the perfect illustration of our sizing process was born.

So there you have it, dear readers – when we speak about apparel sizing, we have your size covered.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gill Pro Dinghy Line

Gill's Pro Dinghy line continues to evolve! The newest version of the line has some great qualities and additional features that accommodate the high performance dinghy racer. In line with the racing function, Gill's Pro Dinghy line has a sleek design and even more appealing color combinations.


Pro Dinghy Smocks
All versions of the Pro Dinghy Top/Smock have been engineered for non-restrictive movement. The neck of the garment has been redesigned with a PU seal that adjusts with Velcro. The Velcro adjustment on the neck is unique - You simply pull two elastic tabs backward and adjust for a snug fit. The PU seal with Velcro adjustment is also present on the cuffs of the Gill garment. The Pro Top has a front zipper neck closure for cooling and ventilation with a gusset behind. This zipper component is nice compared to other Velcro closures that tend to close on themselves when moving around the boat. The waistband also adjusts with Velcro and is made of a non-lift neoprene so the Gill Pro Dinghy top for men, women, and juniors will not ride up while sailing! There is a hidden, non-intrusive side pocket on the waist of the garment that can be used to store small items. And in case you get soaked by a wave, the pocket is self-draining!

Pro Dinghy Salopettes
Gill's Pro Dinghy Salopettes have the same basic look but with some different features and adjustments. A high-fit chest and back give greater protection from wind and water. They feature a semi-elastic waist and an articulated fit so the trousers move with you. The fabric is abrasion-resistant reinforced on areas that are worn harder - i.e. seat and knees. Gill's Pro Dinghy salopettes for Women are more accommodating and flattering for a women's body shape.

Gill's Pro Dinghy line is ideal for dinghy and around the buoy racing. It offers the comfort, breathability, and protection needed when racing. It's also an important item to bring along on a day sail in case there's a quick change in weather. It's good to be prepared!