Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Results APS/ICSA Team Race National Championships


It wasn’t all flip flops and sunburns over Memorial Day weekend.

Fourteen schools were psyching themselves up for the APS/ICSA Team Race National Championships in the cold Pacific Northwest – The Gorge at Cascade Locks, Oregon. For the competitors, this weekend meant dry suits and sailing. The weather was anything but predictable, and teams were faced with strong currents, too much wind, too little wind – you know, everything that’s par for the course in a good regatta. The result: Some darn good sailing!

In the end, there was a warm-your-heart victory for Roger Williams University as they take home the Walter C. Wood Memorial Trophy.

Congratulations are also in order for Boston College taking Second, College of Charleston taking Third, and Georgetown finishing Fourth. Nice work, sailors!

This is the first time Roger Williams has been on the scene at the APS/ICSA Team Race Nationals, and they gave a strong performance. In what were very challenging conditions, they kept their minds right. Going into the last race, they were tied with BC. Focus and good sailing led them to their first place finish. Big shout outs go to skippers Cy Thompson ‘11, Alec Anderson ‘13, Sean Bouchard ’12 with crews: Kelly Stannard ‘12, Sophie Bellacosa ‘13, Bianca Rom ’13, Tyler Wilson ’12, Cameron Pimentel ’13, Joshua Saltmarsh ’11, Haley Powell ’13 and Alyssa Seifert ’13.

Everyone's back in the game already. Up next: ICSA Gill Co-ed National Championship.

Have some time to kill? Check out this Sailgroove video, a team race between RWU and Georgetown:

Watch more video of ICSA / APS Team Race National Championship 2011 - College Sailing Nationals on sailgroove.org

APS Spinsheet Chesapeake Racer Profile - Paul Parks

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

If you're tempted to brag about your cutting edge race boat here on the Chesapeake, you might want to meet Paul Parks and hear about his boat to give you some perspective. Park's SeaCart30 Sundog, a trailerable 30-foot carbon trimaran designed for inshore and offshore one-design racing, is intended to reach speeds up to 30 knots. At last month's inaugural Annapolis YC Coast Guard Foundation Race, in which Sundog sailed the 120-mile course, the crew of five (including Park's wife Kathy) saw 19 knots of boat speed as they ran up the Bay and finished first.

Raised in Cambridge, MD, Parks grew up sailing and racing on Hampton One Design (HOD) with his dad, a former Star sailor. Following his studies at Sailsbury University and a stint in the Army, he bought his own HOD and then, a Thistle "just to learn about spinnakers," he says.

His first boat was a Sparkman and Stephens designed Tartan 10, in which he did quite a bit of daysailing and raced Wednesday nights on the West River as well as in overnight races such as the Down the Bay Race, Solomons Invitational, and Governor's Cup. "One year, I kept a log and sailed 100 days," he says.

It was during his J/35 years that he met his wife Kathleen at the West River SC. "We campaigned it hard for a few years. We got it before it was an active class in the mid-80's. It was a lot of fun." Then, the parks had a Tripp 33 they didn't keep long, and next, a custom Farr 40. "It was quite a sailing machine," he says. They raced her all over the Bay and in the Annapolis to Newport Race and Block Island Race Week. Next in Park's go-fast mission came a Melges 24, a Melges 30, a Henderson 30, and a DynaFlyer 40, the prototype canting ballast twin foil sailboat. After sailing an Esse sport boat, Parks became interested in multihulls. Shortly after his retirement from the mortgage industry, at the end of 2010, he flew to Athens, Greece, to see SeaCart 30. She had him at hello.

In the new Sundog, Parks and his team's goal was to compete in the atlantic, Pacific and Great Lakes. Their first event was the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race in February, in which they were first in class and second in fleet. Next came the Border Run in April from Newport Beach to San Diego, CA. They were second in class and corrected to first. The goal of completing the trifecta will be accomplished if the crew is victorious at the Chicago YC Race to Mackinac in July.

When asked if one boat was a big leap from the other, Parks says, "I'ts not just about the boats. It was a natural progression. The science of racing had changed materials, construction, sails, instruments, navigation, keel shapes. There has been a real evolution, and it's all improved. The one constant through all of the boats since the J/35 has been Kathleen. in fact, I was considering a daysailor, and she pushed me to SeaCart trimaran. She not only races in the boats but has often been important ground support."

With one exception, all of Parks's boats have been named Sundog, a term he found in a clipper ship's log for a phantom or mock sun, which appears when ice crystals in the atmosphere create a prism. It seems an apt name for a racing machine that's gone before you get a chance to get a good look. As for the current Sundog, Parks says, "it's a spectacular boat for only 30 feet. We still have a lot to learn . It's just fun to go sailing."

Spinsheet: Who are your standard crew members these days?
Kathy Parks, Tim Mangus, Dave Bechtold, George Saunders, and Will van Cleef.

What is your favorite place on the Chesapeake?
The West River. I like to watch the sun go down and the moon go up there.

What books have you read recently that you would recommend?
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, The Race by Tim Zimmerman, and Call me Ted by Ted Turner.

What are your non-sailing passions?
Backpacking. We've been to Yosemite, North Cascades, Glacier, Yellowstone, Olympic, and Big Bend National Parks and the Brooks Range in Alaska.

What sailing gear do you depend on?
Musto foul weather gear, Sperry STS 35 sailing shoes, and prescription Kaenon sunglasses.

What would be your advice to a young racing sailor?
Go sailing any chance you get as many different boats as you can. Each boat has different qualities, quirks, experiences and people. Go early and stay late to help. If you're somebody who does that, there's usually room for you.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Just In: Laser Harken Mainsheet Blocks to be Sold Individually

We just received word today from Laser Performance that the Harken Laser boom and traveler blocks will finally be available individually in addition to the all-in-one kit as before. This means those of you who have been holding off on upgrading your boom because you didn't want to spring for the cost of the full kit or didn't have the time to drill out the rivets can now buy these blocks à la carte.

To me, the big benefit here is the ability to swap out your old traveler block that's all wrapped up in duct tape or or shrink wrap and make the jump to the sweet Harken traveler block. Not only will the ball bearing upper sheave help your mainsheet ease faster, but you won't have to deal with the tape or worry about the block coming undone. I think the block can also help by standing up a just a little bit straighter instead of folding off to leeward as the old block might.

We're told these blocks won't ship to us until the middle of June at the earliest (end of June for the aft boom block) but we've put in an order today. Think about getting ahead of the game, and pre-order your Harken Laser mainsheet blocks , too!

ICSA National Championships Are On! Starting today: APS/ICSA Team Race Nationals

The ICSA National Championships are on! Big congratulations go out to URI for winning the Sperry Top-Sider/ICSA Women's National Championship! Connecticut College took second, and St. Mary's College of Maryland finished third.

Conditions have been challenging this year in the Columbia River Gorge with rain and light winds at the start of the regatta, but the wind has been building. Today marks the start of the APS/ICSA Team Race Nationals. APS Web Manager Katie C. gives a little background on the mechanics of the sport. Good luck today, racers!

P.S. These photos are from last year's event. For this year, just think a little more gray, a little more mist, and mountains!)


Where you don’t need to be in first to win, team racing combines boat handling, tactics, and a modified set of the RRS to create high intensity, exciting racing. Team racing combines the team aspect that’s lost in every other kind of sailing. It’s a chance to work together with two other boats to out sail and outsmart the other team.

For those who are unfamiliar with team racing, it consists of two teams with three boats on either side. Scores are done by place; 1st place is 1 point, 2nd is 2 points, etc. In order to win, your team must have 10 points or less. As you sail throughout the course, you must always have in the back of your head your team’s combination. Winning combinations include; 1,2 anything, 1,3 anything, and 2,3,5.

Each team has their own style and plan on the course. Teams work together to finish in the right positions to win. For every leg, there is a different tactic you want to use, and depending on the team and competitors, changes for each. For instance, some teams chose to tail at the start, essentially mimicking every move of their opponent in an effort to drive them from the start line… and hopefully rattle them a bit before the start. While others decide to start in a more conservative fashion and split up on the line. One boat starts at the committee boat, one in the middle, and one at the pin in order to get on the line without covering their teammate.

No matter what your starting tactics are, once the gun goes off, it’s an all out battle. During any given leg, boats can cover others even to the point of luffing their jib to give the leeward boat bad wind, allowing a slower teammate to catch up and pass. Mark roundings are always a bit more interesting, and mark traps are set. If there is an opponent in between you and your teammate, the first boat can put themselves in a position close to the mark where the opposing team must sail to windward of them, the leeward boat takes them head to wind, allowing their teammate to pass both boats.


In team racing, it’s a necessity to know the rules. There’s no room for error when you’re trying to use them against the other team. In case you’ve never checked out Appendix D of your Racing Rules of Sailing, there’s a whole separate section dedicated to team racing. Here rules are modified or deleted to allow you to pull off these high tech maneuvers. These rule changes include: Ability to take an opponent head to wind when you are the leeward boat (as opposed to in fleet racing where you can’t take them above close hauled), rule 18.4 is deleted (inside boat must gybe at a mark to sail her proper course), a finished boat may not interfere with a racing boat, and finally the zone is changed back to two boat lengths.

It’s an exciting way to move around a race course. Working together with teammates, you learn their skills and weaknesses and able to balance those out among the group. Through different types of plays like in any sport, team racing offers fast paced, exciting racing. The Gorge is bound to throw some interesting conditions at the racers, where in addition to all of the team race strategies and tactics, there’s also ripping currents and typically strong breeze to compete with. Should be a fun few days of racing, and we hope you take a look at the coverage and see the top of collegiate sailing battle it out.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 Vanguard 15 Mid Atlantic Championships

APS sponsors over 200 regattas a year. Why do we do this? Because we're all about sailing and want to show we care. Last weekend, Annapolis was host again to the V-15 Mid Atlantics. Here, the fleet president Nick Muzia gives us a recap of the event. Notice that APS's very own Bryn Bachman (yes - make the connection, she is the artist credited with the APS storefront painting gracing the 2011 catalog cover!) made top 5 crewing with the author of this blog entry...

APS Sponsorship Vanguard 15 (V-15) Mid Atlantic Championships2011 Vanguard 15 Mid Atlantic Championships are annually hosted by the Severn Sailing Association. This year brought warm weather and light breezes. Only 5 races were able to be completed in the 4-7kt SE breeze on Saturday, and despite promising forecasts for Sunday, the Chesapeake Bay let us know how unpredictable it can be. However, this did not stop the 15 boats from having a good competitive regatta. The regatta was won by Jack Field and Brooke Dow (pictured on the right) with a convincing 8 points in 5 races. The remainder of the fleet was left to fight for the Top 5 spots.

APS Sponsorship Vanguard 15 (V-15) Mid Atlantic Championships
Full Results can be found here.

1 Jack Field/ Brooke Dow 1 3 1 1 2 8
2 Scott Gelo/ Jen Bickford 6 2 3 2 3 16
3 Madeline Gill/ Sarah Hamm 2 1 7 4 4 18
4 Nick Muzia/ Bryn Bachman 3 7 5 7 1 23
5 Rob Kotler/ Grant Beach 4 5 6 6 5 26


APS Sponsorship Vanguard 15 (V-15) Mid Atlantic ChampionshipsThe local SSA fleet came out with strong participation and an apparent resurgence in the Vanguard 15 fleet here in Annapolis; 12 of the 15 boats were sailed by local fleet members. The Regatta included great food provided by Dark n’ Stormy's, and everyone was welcomed by sunny mornings and jams playing from the V15 lot at SSA. The 2011 Mid-Atlantics were sponsored by APS - Annapolis Performance Sailing, Sailing World Magazine, and Spinsheet's Chesapeake Sailing. There was plenty of cool swag and gift cards to go around thanks to the amazing sponsors. Interested in Vanguard 15 sailing in Annapolis? Contact: Nick Muzia, V15@severnsailing.org

The Vanguard 15 fleet sails every Tuesday evening from 6pm until sundown. Racing is free, just bring a boat. For more information on the Annapolis V15 fleet, check out http://www.severnsailing.org/fleets/v15/.

Nick, thank you for the recap - and Congratulations on a successful event. Hopefully, participation will continue on the upswing for next year...

Slam BOR Spray Top

In preparation for a somewhat significant sailing race a while back, you may have heard that BMW Oracle Racing Team partnered with SLAM to provide the foulies and gear they needed to stay comfortable and dry while cruising along at 40+ knots. (Snail speed, we know.) One of the benefits of all the R&D (research and development for those of you not in the know) SLAM put into outfitting the DOGzilla crew is the BOR Spray Top, which APS now has in stock. I was fortunate enough to get a sample of the top back the fall and have been putting it through its paces on dingies and keelboats.

The BOR Spray Top is a top of the line piece of gear. It definitely falls into the same group as the Musto MPX Race Spray Top, which up till now has been a step above all the other spray tops out there. Made from a 3-layer waterproof & breathable fabric, this top also features 4-way stretch throughout. The stretch is really what sets the BOR apart from other tops out there - allowing for freedom of movement even with lots of layers and letting you take advantage of the slim fit. I wore the top often for frostbite sailing on my J22 this winter and had no problem layering up to keep warm and had no problems with range of motion.

The neck seal is a fairly common type of setup with no tabs or zippers but a flap that folds over onto some Velcro on the shoulder and some more Velcro on the neck itself. It has a fairly wide range of adjustment even allowing fitting my skinny neck but able to be a lot larger. The waist adjustment is a pretty standard affair as well with double Velcro tabs. The wrists have double cuffs which is nice for when you're getting really wet though I found I usually just cinched down the outer cuff and that was enough for me.

As far as other features are concerned, it's a pretty simple top. Reflectors on the shoulders keep you visible but mostly provide that extra bit of sailing style for those who want it. The front kangaroo pocket is fairly larger but obviously inaccessible if you're wearing a life jacket over top. After letting a sailing knife rust in an old spray top pocket because I forgot about it, I usually try not to use those pockets anyways so it didn't bother me.

The other notable feature on the BOR top is a DOGzilla-specific innovation. Under the arms are Velcro cinch tabs for sucking in sides of the top around your chest to cut down on any bagginess there might be. For Spithill and the boys, it meant reduced windage at 40 knots when every little bit matters. For the rest of us, it means a little bit of custom fit adjustment to keep the top slim and out of your way when moving around the boat.

You may have picked up on the fact that I used the word slim several times to describe the BOR Spray Top. Like a lot of SLAM gear, it's designed to fit the tall, athletic, and relatively skinny (contrary to what watching the Sopranos might suggest) Italian sailors. As a result, some might need to size up to get the fit they need. At 6'1" and pretty thin, the size large fits me great. The side cinches allow me to slim it down to fit and the sleeves are a great length. By contrast, my Henri Lloyd spray top is also a large, but it's definitely a lot wider in the body to the point of being too baggy for me.

I've done a lot of Laser sailing in it this spring, and it's worked great. It's definitely super breathable - I wore it in pretty tough conditions in Fishing Bay, VA where it was windy and chilly enough on the water that I wanted to wear the top but was working hard and sweating a lot by the top mark. I never felt overheated or clammy all day and was really glad I had this top with me.

Overall, I recommend the SLAM BOR Top, and it is definitely my favorite spray top in our lineup. It fits me great, and I really like the full stretch all around as compared to the Musto where the stretch is just in the shoulders. I haven't had it long enough to see how it compares durability-wise with the Musto, which has proven to be excellent in that regard by many on our staff who have one, but that is the only unanswered question for me.

Definitely check it out if you're in the market for a new spray top and are willing to pay a bit more to get the ultimate in performance. Whether you're dinghy sailing, trimming on a Melges, or doing bow on a J/120 the Slam BOR Spray Top top will serve you well.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Battle of the Bullet Blocks

Practical Sailor Bullet Block Test Selden 40mm Blocks Best Choice
It has been way too long since APS did a proper comparison test of products. (We will get on that shortly, performance racers!) In the meantime, we give it up to Practical Sailor for getting into the nitty gritty of the top ball/roller bearing bullet blocks around. The Ball Bearing Block 40mm Single Tie On and 40mm Single Swivel by Seldén win the honor of Best Choice.

Practical Sailor Bullet Block Test Bench

It's necessary to subscribe to Practical Sailor for the full run down. However, if you're in for the teaser, click here.

Some of our favorite points in the article:

•These 40mm blocks are a testimony to [Seldén's] commitment to stainless ball-bearing efficiency and long-term reliability.

•Seldén prefers metal because it won't deform under load or heat, and the alloy they choose is very corrosion resistant.

A close Second goes to Harken's 40mm Carbo Airblocks.

Nice work with your review, Practical Sailor. Congratulations go out to Seldén and Harken!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gill Spring Promotion!



Gill Spring Promotion at APS!

Gearing up with Gill this Spring is super sweet with free gifts thrown into the deal! Customers who purchase $150 of any Gill Product (sorry folks, we have to exclude those items on the Sale Rack!) are eligible to receive a free Gill 10 Liter Dry Bag! Customers who purchase $350 worth of Gill Gear, will receive their choice of Gill's Floating Sunglasses! Click here for details... Happy Weekend and Happy Spring, Everyone!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bike to Work Day 2011

No parked cars? Don’tlet the empty street fool you! Your favorite APS faces are still here working hard on this gorgeous Friday. We just took a different mode oftransportation today for the Annapolis Bike to Work Day.

Conditions were perfect! With sunny skies and temperatures in the low60s, a record number of pre-registered bikers came out to support the cause.



Today marks the 14th annual event to supportbiking in central Maryland. On the 3rdFriday in May, bikers from all of Anne Arundel County descend upon City Dock indowntown Annapolis to show their support.

Even local politicians get involved. Mayor Josh Cohen was in attendance, complete with a speech about his commitment to making Annapolis a more bike friendly community and we’re all for it!

One of our County Councilman, ChrisTrumbauer, was decked out in his business suit to make sure he got to work intime properly dressed.

It’s not allabout speeches either; the rally also raffled off of a new bike and a fewsmaller prizes. None of us were winnersthis year so we’ll just have to try again next year...


APS had a strong presence. Aaron, Jarrett, Mike, Zach, Matt, and myself(Katie) made our way to City Dock. We’lleven give James credit, too. He showed up conveniently after the speeches weredone…but just in time to grab a muffin.


After the rally was done, we joined with others heading back over thebridge to Eastport and made our way to work.


I also need to give Matt, the newest member of the APS team,credit for his impressive long distance bike ride. Matt did the 10 miles to work, which may notseem like a lot to some - but when compared to my… not even 1 mile commute…that’s a lot! Welldone, Matt!

Happy Bike to Work Friday Everyone!


31 Flavors of Dyneema

DSM Dyneema has partnered with top line manufacturers and selected forty skippers to receive new Dyneema line. The goal: skippers will rework their running rigging and test Dyneema in a number of varied applications as part of the 2011 Dyneema® Experience Team and share their experiences with the world. This week, APS got its first in-house taste of the Dyneema Experience.

New line looks so good. This Thompson 30 going to rock its new Dyneema:









For more info on the 2011 Dyneema® Experience Team, click here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hands On: Schaefer Carbon Winch Handle


We got our first look at Schaefer's new Carbon Winch Handle yesterday when their Sales & Marketing Director Steve Majkut stopped by our shop in Annapolis. This is the only carbon handle available on the market at this point since Lewmar has discontinued theirs. It's currently only available in an 8 inch locking version, but it sounds like a non-locking 8 inch may follow. No eta on a 10 inch handle but Steve said it's definitely something they're looking into.

The handle is made from compressed carbon so it doesn't have the look of a standard carbon fiber layup but it's super light and very strong. Steve told us they tested it extensively and really made sure it would stand up to heavy use and hard trimming. Even the beefiest grinders aren't going to be breaking this winch handle no matter how hard they try.

Read on for the Schaefer Press Release for the new Handle:

Schaefer is taking our well executed Winch Handle program to a new level. We have now ready for delivery our first Carbon Fiber 8” Winch Handles.

The handles are manufactured from compressed Carbon Fiber. The ultimate strength achieved from the handle is exceptional and the weight is stunning. We show a finished weight of .508 lbs or 8.13 ounces. The ball bearing single grip ensures a secure and smooth grip.

Friday, May 13, 2011

SOAK Halyard Clip Product Review

The following is a product review written by Matt in Customer Service. There's a bit of hype going around about this handy spinnaker halyard clip, and thanks to Matt - APS has it in stock. Hear what he has to say about it:


On one of my many late nights perusing the Internet for unique and new sailing products I came across a new item called the SOAK Halyard Clip. As a long time bowman, this product struck my interest. I gave our product manager the heads up, and before long, we ordered some for the shop. I was super excited to try it out.

The SOAK Halyard Clip is essentially a plastic clip you tie down with some line that comes with it (as an aside, I wasn’t a huge fan of the line that comes with it and replaced it with super inexpensive halyard leader that ties really good knots). You then slide your spinnaker halyard into the prongs of the clip when the spinnaker isn’t in use. The clip acts as an alternative to a Velcro halyard lock, using a snap shackle (shown here) on a 105, or taping the halyard to the stanchion.

The best part about the SOAK Halyard Clip when comparing it to these other options is that the clip is never fully locked. If you forget to “unlock” it as you approach the weather mark, you’re never stuck jumping down to the low side to open it up or spending time tripping the shackle.

The SOAK Clip can be used on a range of boats. They market the product as being able to use between 4 and 9 mm line, but in my testing, I found it best used for lines smaller than 8mm. At the high end and on boats larger than 35’ I found the clip works best with stripped halyards so the diameter in the clip actually ends up being closer to 6mm.

I had the opportunity in recent weeks to try the SOAK Halyard Clip out on a J/109 and on Jet 14. I didn’t think the clip was quite as well suited for the 109 and without a stripped halyard the double braid line ended up being too rigid to easily release from the clip.



However, when I tried it on Jet 14 the other night, it worked quite well. At first, I thought the clip may have been overkill for boats smaller than 20’. The 3 ¼” length of the clip seemed a bit too large for such a small boat. Despite my concerns – upon actually putting the clip to use on the Jet, I really liked it.

Like you may often see on boats like Thistles, Jet 14s, or Lightnings, the spin halyard is often hooked under the port side guy hook when not in use, but that method requires remembering to unhook it before the set, which can be hard if you’re in big breeze and are all fully hiked out coming in on starboard tack and forget to undo it on the penultimate tack.

The best indication of how well it worked on the Jet 14 was that after we flew the spinnaker, I asked my crew* how well it worked – and she said she didn’t even notice. It just worked.

All in all, I generally like the SOAK Halyard Clip. It makes things a bit easier for the bow, and anything that can make that job easier is always appreciated. My one complaint is that the plastic on the clip is a bit too rigid to be used on larger line, and the overall profile (just over 3”) may be too big for dinghies. Maybe in the future, SOAK will make two versions – one suited for smaller boats say under 25’ with max line of 6mm and one for larger boats with max line of 10mm.

*A few thoughts from that crew:
Although it was a light air sailing night, it still worked well. It eliminates one step coming around a mark. There’s no more worrying about whether you remembered to take it off of the clam cleat or eye hook and you can just worry about getting around the mark as fast as possible. I also skippered a race, and it easily came out as you were hoisting. It is a great addition to any dinghy!

____________________________________________________________

Thanks for the post, Matt. We look forward to learning your thoughts on the J/105 Upgraded Outhaul!

Anybody else out there tried the SOAK clip? If so, what did you think?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Blog Post GOLD

Hello Readers! I want to let you know, we will be posting very smart and important stuff here in the near future. (Seriously, we have a video how-to for doing a continuous splice with Marlow Excel Control Line in queue.)

That's the disclaimer. What follows is pretty hilarious. I'm working through our blog trying to make our tags/labels more useful for everyone. Below, you'll see one of my favorite old posts unearthed. Do they still do this!?! - Not sure what the results of the competition were - epic fail, no response? - but comment away.

P.S. By hilarious, I mean this is ridiculous! ...and please, don't watch the full video clips, they don't get better...

___________________________________________

With Rob working on our 2009 Catalog full-time, his role at the Stern Scoop has been scaled back a bit. In addition to pimping us out in certain places on the Internet, James and I rely on him to feed us any cool products or information that comes across his desk as the APS Marketing Director. This morning, before our weekly planning meeting, he tossed us some pictures from Gill's booth at the 2009 London Boat Show.

The first pictures weren't all that interesting. Sure, Gill's booth looks pretty sweet, but that won't pull in the readers to the blog. And yeah, the pics with the British military brass, where Gill is playing up their alliance with the British Services Transglobe Expedition, are nice but not groundbreaking.



(Note: The BSTE is actually kind of a cool idea; they are pitting the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force against each other in a transglobal yacht race aboard Challenge 67's. It's supposed to be a big ol' team building exercise that takes place over 13 legs of racing -- check it out.)

Hope was not lost for a good blog post though -- the last three pictures in the email from Rob were money. They were pictures of the Gill Fashion Show, which for some reason brought an immediate chuckle to me. Naturally, I flew to Google to find more.

At first, all I could find were pictures of Kelly Brook, some English model who was opening the London Boat Show. Yeah, she's not bad looking, but she supposedly was engaged to Billy Zane at one point, so I immediately lost all respect for her.

Then we struck unintentional comedy gold -- YouTube videos of the fashion shows from Gill, Henri Lloyd, Puma and Musto. We're asking you to tell us who's got the best/funniest show (vote via the poll on the right side of the screen) -- be sure to let them all wash over you before making your choice. Take everything from the ladies' unique base layering options under their bibs to the musical accompaniment into consideration. And we're just guessing here, but it's idiot commentary like this that keeps these kind of shows from occuring here in the States.

Gill:


Henri Lloyd:


Musto:


Puma:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tweak-tastic and Color Coded...

International 505 Jib Sheets

Talk about labor-intensive with high performance results. These jib sheets are made of that sweet high tech double braid Dinghy Control Line by FSE Robline featuring color-coded polyester covers with a Dyneema SK-75 Core. Measuring 1/4" - this line has a tensile strength of 3,700 lbs. Tough and strong. What's extra sexy about these sheets is the fact they have a smooth tack with tapered and buried covers.

APS Rigging International 505 Jib Sheets
Skinny on the Smooth Tack - Works really well on Small Boats

It's the nature of the brummel splice or luggage tag to have kind of an "angled area" (sorry for our lack of a technical word for this - please comment any good ideas...) where the line exits the splice or the loop respectively. That "angled area" is likely to chafe or get hung up on something when you're tacking. With a smooth tack, we're going for a smooth transition. Read: No more nameless angled area! Hurrah!

APS Rigging International 505 Jib Sheets
APS Rigging solution for this: Measure your line for sheets, mark that middle spot. From there, pull out roughly 18" of core (or however long depending on which boat you're working with), brummel splice it, and stick the core back it back into its cover. The result is a smooth point - cover over the place where the brummel exits - that will glide easily over shrouds. Our goal here is to have one less thing to think about; one less spot to chafe and/or get hung up on something.


The APS Riggers are pretty darned talented. Let your imagination run wild with possibilities, and these guys can make your dreams a reality. Click here to view just some of the possibilities.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Musto Performance Dinghy Smock

The Musto team has been at it again, this time providing forthe the skiff and performance dinghy sailors with the Performance DinghySmock. 100% waterproof and breathable with4-way stretch, Musto’s new smock acts as your first layer of defense againstthe windy, wet conditions you face in a dinghy. Made of 84% Polyamide/16% Polyurethane, the fabric combination is strong,lightweight, stretchy, and anti-tearing a.k.a. durable.

The Performance Dinghy Smock was developed in conjunctionwith Britain’s Olympic team GBR for their top end athletic dinghy racing. With no external Velcro tabs, there’s nothingto snag yourself on while moving around the boat. Musto’s smock is made for conditions in whichbeing completely dry is never an option.

In boats like skiffs or other performance dinghies, you’regetting wet…whether you’re wearing a spray top or not. This provides a waterproof, windproof, andbreathable option to keep your body temperature more regulated. With just a neoprene layer, you usually willfind your body temperature dropping more than you would like in coldertemperatures with high winds. Musto’s Performance Dinghy Smock help to solve this problem by pairing well with anywet gear.

The Good

The overall feel is nice and comfortable. It doesn’t have that sticky feeling that youmight find on traditional smocks. Thefit is designed for performance sailors, with long arms that allow you tomove. Super-lightweight. You barely notice it’s there and won’t…untilthat first wave comes, and you have a waterproof layer as your firstdefense.

The 4 way stretch is better than any other waterproof topI’ve tried on. The Musto MPX Smock onlyhas stretch on the shoulders – whereas the Performance Dinghy Smock has extremestretch throughout the entire garment. It’s great. With no Velcro orextras, you can move easily around the boat without snagging yourself. It can be easily worn above or below a life jacket or buoyancy aid, although personal preference with the buoyancy aidunderneath you can eliminate the possibility of getting caught on theboat. The sizing is forgiving, thanks tothe stretch built into the garment.

Overall
Sailing when dry is not an option; this would be a great topto have. It’s waterproof, breathable,and stretchy making it a great top over wet gear. Comfortable and minimalist, it will be agreat addition for any skiff or performance dinghy sailor.

The Bad

Musto’s new smock is not designed to keep you dry so ifthat’s a feature you’re looking for, this isn’t the top for you. The neck is a little hard pull over yourhead, though it seems wide at the neck once it’s on.
The wrists are just folded over and stitched fabric, makingthem not stretch well. If the wrists onthe Performance Dinghy Smock are sized well for you, then there’s no problem. However, if they’re a bit on the small side,there’s a chance you might rip a stitch or two the first time you put it on.

The top is not going to be the number one choice of all sailors. It will not fit the needs of all dinghysailors, namely those who can potentially stay completely dry with alternativeapparel options.

Overall
The top won’t work for everyone, making it a specialistpiece. Once it’s on, it’s great. But getting into it is a bit of achallenge.

Conclusion

Overall, the top is great for active sailors looking to findthat final layer, with no extras or tabs to snag while you’re moving around theboat. With input from team GBR, the topattributes of Musto’s Performance Dinghy Smock are it’s beingwaterproof, breathable, and stretchy. It’s a great piece.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Zhik ZKG Sailing Shoes

Here's a short follow up from an earlier blog (below) on the Zhik ZKG Deck Shoes...

I wore the new ZKG deck shoes on a J/80 at Charleston Race Week a few weeks back. They were a perfect fit and incredibly lightweight. The shoe strings were a little long and came undone a few times, but because of the built-in tongue, the shoe never came loose. (Just have to double-knot them next time!) The exceptional thing about the ZKGs for me was the grip on the bottom of the shoe. The bottom allowed for a superior grip. It made for easy footing while hoisting the chute and heeling the boat downwind.

The only precaution I can give about the ZKGs is that the sole is not substantial enough when landing on hard objects like cleats and hooks. You will not bounce back from impact!
In all, they worked just fine on the J/80, but I would advise using them sailing on smaller dinghies where grip and swiftness are key.

-Bryn (Marketing Associate)




What luck! The ZKG Shoe sample Zhik sent APS is my exact size, and I get to be first to try them out. These shoes are so comfortable - I'm going to get pair and using them as soon as dinghy season is in full swing!

Zhik unveils their new range of innovative footwear, and it's in the shape of a sneaker! Don't be fooled, this is a super functional sailing shoe made almost entirely of neoprene.

The ZKG Sailing Shoe is extremely lightweight and bends in every direction. The soles give you just the right amount of grip you need for traction on the boat. The perforated upper part of the shoe is made of neoprene and a breathable fabric that dries fast when your shoes are wet. To note, this shoe is designed to be worn in wet marine conditions. The soles feature small drainage holes to allow water flow out of the shoe to keep your feet comfortable and relatively dry. A flexible gum rubber sole offers limitless movement. The tongue on the shoe is built into the body. When you tighten the laces, the shoe fits snugly around your foot. You simply slide them on like any regular wet shoe.

I've tried these on several times and find them to be extremely comfortable! The ZKG shoe would be perfect for dinghy sailing. Your choice to wear socks or not - though, I suggest no socks. In the realm of sailing shoe styles and designs, this shoe is by the far the most unique. It looks similar to a skating sneaker or a pair of Chuck Taylors, and the fact that it's almost entirely neoprene is pretty spectacular. If you want to check out a short video for a full 360° view of the shoes, see video below. I'm excited to get the chance to try them out dinghy sailing this summer to see how they hold up. Look forward to my follow up with a full review!







Monday, May 2, 2011

APS Spinsheet Chesapeake Racer Profile - Keith Donald & Hope

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

When your grandfather wins the Newport to Bermuda Race in 1924 and your uncle skippers an America's Cup boat in 1964, it's pretty safe to say, as Keith Donald does, that he was plucked into a sailing family. As a kid, sailing Round Bay and out of Severn SA (SSA), as a student and instructor. "My sailing is pretty informal," says Donald. "For me, the top half of the fleet is winning. It's for fun."

Although he has competed in major big boat regattas, such as a few Annapolis to Newport and Fastnet Races in the 1960s and 1970s, he says, "I turned into a small boat sailor." After many years as a Snipe sailor, about five years ago, he traveled to Springfield, IL, on a whim and bought a Star. "I was tired of capsizing in my Snipe. I thought, 'give me a keel.' I figured if I bought it, I'd be forced to like it."

Today, in his workroom near Philadelphia, PA, he has two Snipes and two Stars, one wooden and one fiberglass version of each, and has restored the wooden boats himself. He discovered his latest project, the Star Hope, after learning about her existence at the Star Class North Americans in Vancouver, Canada. The boat was not for sale, but the owner was open to the right caregiver coming along.

Other than Skip and Mary Etchells owning her in the early 1960s, Hope's history is unclear. Donald believes she may have spent 30 years under a porch in New Hampshire. Although she was under a tarp in snow when he first saw her, "structurally, she was sound," he says.

With the Star Class 100th Anniversary Regatta in Larchmont, NY, in September in mind as a target date, three and a half years and about 400 hours later, he had completed stripping the varnish of Hope, replacing all hardware, and varnishing her. "After I launched, I stopped counting the days and money," he says with a smile. "It's probably two days of work for one day sailed, but that's getting better. I'm almost at the point where I am sailing more."


Spinsheet: What's to love about the Star?
The tradition of the class. I am very much a newcomer to the class, but I like that you can sail at every level from the Bacardi Cup to the fleet level, which is more in my comfort zone. It's a challenge. I thought of the Star as a light air boat, but it can be great when it's windy!


What does it take to be an ideal Star crew?
Crews are more important than skippers. A good crew will make it or break it. It's very physical, so youth helps. It's important to get the skipper-crew coordination down. If you don't practice strategy and working together as a team,. it's tough.


What's your favorite regatta of the year?
The Tred Avon YC Fall Wind Up in early October. The weather is ideal, and we have the whole Choptank to ourselves. They do a nice job catering to the Stars.

What's the best part about fixing up an old boat?
Finishing!

What part of it do you dislike?
I went through phases when I would ask, "Why am I doing this? Will I ever get done?" Of course, I was halfway through and too committed to give up.

Were there any surprises along the way?
After I launched, how far I was from having a boat that was problem-free. It was a whole summer. Even after the Bacardi Cup in March; I was still sawing, filing and drilling.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
We're working on a loaner boat program. I'd be willing to donate my fiberglass Star to the fleet, but I don't have the trailer for it.