Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sleek Rigging - Fit for a President

Often times, our riggers call really fancy work "Gucci." They say, 'That's Gucci' or 'Very Gucci.' The name has panache and communicates a lot. I'm taking the liberty to say today - sure, these lines have some Gucci going on, but really, they're Yves St. Laurent. There's no mistaking - these are some sleek lines.

Running Rigging Annapolis Performance Sailing

For example: check out this check stay - it has been constructed from white 5/16" Samson AS-90 - a 12-strand braid made out of 100% Dyneema SK-90. The strength of the line, along with the strand angle of the braid (which pretty much eliminates elongation) makes this a top choice for running rigging. The lines have been covered with New England DCS for abrasion-resistance.

Check Stay Running Rigging

The Samson SK-90 has been spliced around Ronstan Sailmaker's Thimbles. In this close up shot, you can see how the cover has been finished - nice and clean, tapered and buried. What does this do? It secures the line so stays in place and gives it a finished look.

12 Strand Splice Annapolis Performance Sailing

The materials used here are some of the nicest available on the market, taking advantage of the most current line technology in all its glory. When setting out to do this job, our riggers matched that top quality. The result? Well, you see - they're so nice, they're practically glowing.

Why so fancy? Only the best lines can be found on the boat referred to as the "Floating White House" in Kennedy's time, 1962-1963. Want some history? Click here to read more about the 62' yawl called Manitou.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

APS Spinsheet Chesapeake Racer Profile - Kyle Gross & the APS Story

Here in Annapolis on our local radio station, WRNR, it's advertised as "where the sailors shop." Those who know it well have described it as a "candy store for sailors." Far-flung sailors may think of it as a mail order or online catalogue for gear. Annapolis Performance Sailing (APS) has been one or all of those things in its 20 years in business.

On a muggy June day, I parked my bike outside APS - in the Eastport section of Annapolis, one block from the water - and stepped into the air conditioned store, where Mike Lindsley greeted me. I checked out some Patagonia board shorts as I waited to meet Cat Walton and Bryn Bachman, who are both tasked with pieces of the marketing puzzle. Walton walked me through the bustlings shipping area to the kitchen. I discovered that within my first few minutes at the store, I had already had contact with sailors of the E-Scow, Vanguard 15, J/22, J/80, J/122, Farr 40, and TP 52 - and those were only the ones I had spoken to of the dozen I had seen working.

A few minutes later, Kyle Gross came in and shared the story of how it all came to be. When he was a St. Mary's College sailing team member working in the boat house in 1990, he says, "I saw how difficult it was to source parts. Especially dinghy parts that came from the U.K. There just weren't any good retailers. That's where the seed was sewn, and it just kind of rattled around in my head. As I saw graduation coming, I thought, 'Hey, I'm giong to open the best dinghy shop and have all this hard-to-find stuff.'"

After college, Gross was finishing up his degree and working in Eastport at Black Dog Boat works with Bob Stein, who was a huge help by lending him power tools and his truck. In 1991, Gross got his start in a small storefront for which he built all the shelves, fixtures, and displays himself. For a couple of years, he was the only employee. APS now employs 30 sailors in peak season.

Spinsheet: When you first started your store, did you have a vision for what would come next?
I had a vision, but I didn't have any money. Some stores just stocked items that flew off the shelves. I wanted the store to be a complete resouce. If you were to buy a particular cleat, you could also get the base, wedge for angling, fair leads, and all accessories, in all sizes. Some of it would collect dust on the sheves, but I wanted to make customers for life.

Name a trend you've seen sailing over the years.
The customers' ability to participate in the sport has shrunk. Disposable time can be harder to find than disposable income. We have to be super efficient. We operate under the assumption that anyone ordering from us will be sailing the following weekend.

What would your advice be for a young person considering opening a sailing-related business?
On the record? [laughs] Love the lifestyle first. It's the most compensation you're going to get. It's a lifestyle choice. It's a passion choice.

We notice you have some job openings. What is the top benefit of working for APS?
The culture here is very team-oriented. Everybody looks out for each other. At the end of the day, when everyone is running to catch their boats, they're not going in separate directions. They sail a lot together.

Do you have time to go sailing anymore?
I get out on the water a lot, whether it's under power or sail, but I haven't been doing a lot of competitive sailing. I just bought a Sunfish for my two daughters. That's my priority.

What gear to you depend upon?
I love my Dubarry boots on a boat or in snow. Musto MPX GoreTex and padded sailing shorts.

How will you celebrate the 20th anniversary of APS?
With a backyard barbeque from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 10 at the APS Storefront (104 Severn Avenue) with food, drink, and extended store hours. A thank you to our regional patrons and all performance sailors visiting Annapolis. Stop by to join in our celebration. To learn more about the Anniversary Celebration, call Cat Walton at 800-729-9767, ext. 140 or email

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ponytail Payday!

This one goes out to the ladies....

Sometimes, customers send APS some love. Rarely, do they send gifts. A lightning customer out there was happy with APS customer service and decided to send a box to prove it. What was inside? A million hair ties! Woo!

This is the gift that keeps on giving. All the APS staffers are happy - the guys and gals with ponytails will not tape stray hairs up in your orders and the men at the shop with wives and daughters at home gathered up a bunch for gifts. Thank you, Lightning Sailor, thank you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

APS Dyneema Shackle Loops (DSLs)

APS Dyneema Shackle Loops
Often called soft shackles, softies, or loops - Spliced Dyneema Shackles are quickly becoming the norm on high performance race boats. Their safe working load-to-weight ratio was a popular characteristic that landed these puppies on an America's Cup boat holding the mainsheet to a padeye. Sailors like these loops because they are extremely light, they won't scratch up the boat, and besides looking slick - they're flexible and can be fastened just about anywhere.

Soft shackles can replace traditional shackles and happen to be ideal for jib sheets because they won't bang up your mast or get chewed up by inhaulers. They make the lightest weight halyard attachment when spliced onto the end of a stripped line. Our rigging department is proud to offer our very own in-house APS Dyneema Shackle Loops in a wide variety of diameters and lengths. To be sure the loops don't come undone when not under load, a velcro strap a.k.a. "keeper" comes with every shackle. If you need an attachment for your Harken T2 block or Harken Airblock, these shackles are ideal and can be a great block attachment on padeyes, toerails, or booms.

Jarrett Hering, one of our APS rigging gurus, explains how Dyneema Shackle Loops work and how you use them. With a little practice, you'll even be able to manipulate these with one hand...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bobbin, Not Banging

Trim your headsail just right.

This Double Bobbin Inhauler is made of milled aluminum. It's so strong, you don't have to worry about it deforming under high loads. A continuous splice of 1/4" AmSteel is secured around the bobbin. The splice acts as padding for the deck and mast. It has been designed for boats ranging from 35' to 45' - examples are J/111, Summit 40/King 40, Farr 40, Farr 395, J122, Swan 45, IMX-45. In this case, we're outfitting a J/111.

The bobbin is kind to line; it has a smooth surface that won't point load the line. With proper setup, this J/111 will be able to sustain a 4:1 advantage for ease of adjustment.

Press Release: APS Celebrates 20 Years of Outfitting Performance Sailors

Catherine Walton
Annapolis Performance Sailing
(Phone) 800-729-9767 ex. 140
(Fax) 443-433-4024

APS Celebrates 20 Years of Outfitting Performance Sailors

Annapolis, MD, June 13, 2011 – Annapolis Performance Sailing (APS) today announced it is celebrating 20 years of outfitting performance sailors. Best known for stocking sailing gear with your complete needs in mind, having knowledgeable customer service representatives on call, rigging anything you can think up, and developing Crugear, a top-of-the-line custom decoration shop, APS will mark its milestone anniversary with a back yard BBQ to be hosted Sunday, July 10th, 2011 at the APS Storefront (104 Severn Avenue, Annapolis, MD) from 12:00pm until 4:00pm.

Twenty years ago, Kyle Gross recognized a need for a one-stop shop where sailors could obtain everything they needed from foul weather gear to nearly impossible to find deck hardware. He opened the doors to Annapolis Performance Sailing in 1991 and in 1992, distributed the first APS mail order catalog. Slowly and steadily, APS grew from a one-man operation into a thriving international company run by a team of 30 racing sailors stocking over 10,000 sailing products. APS has revolutionized accessibility to boat parts and sailing accessories while building strong relationships with its patrons and vendors to support the sport of performance sailing.

“A sincere thank you goes out to our loyal patrons – without them, this anniversary would not be possible,” said APS President and Founder Kyle Gross. “For 20 years, our passionate staff has consistently demonstrated the drive to provide the best products and services available in the industry, and we, along with our vendors, have grown to better serve the sport. It is an honor to reflect on the success of the last 20 years and to strive for continued innovation in the next 20 years.”

The APS 20th Anniversary will be celebrated with food, drink, and extended store hours as a thank you to our regional patrons and all performance racers visiting Annapolis. Stop by to join in our celebration, meet and greet with current and Alumni APS Staff members, and to see for yourself how far we’ve come. Look for invitations to follow.


Annapolis Performance Sailing (APS) is the world leader in outfitting performance sailors. Located in Annapolis, MD, the self-proclaimed sailing capital of America, we are staffed exclusively by racing sailors and have been relied on by casual racers and the world’s top professionals and Olympians alike.

If you’d like more information about the APS 20th Anniversary Celebration BBQ, please contact Cat Walton at 800-729-9767, ex. 140 or email

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

APS in Lake Placid

Jarrett, one of our master riggers, was in Lake Placid over the weekend. (Yes, it's Wednesday, and we're still dreaming of the weekend...) Lo and Behold, he saw an APS race mark in the middle of the lake. Why? Because the lake is a summer-long training ground (water?) for IRONMAN Lake Placid! How cool is that? Thanks for using our mark, Ironmen and women in training!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Father's Day Gift Ideas

That's right, it's the time in the season when you're supposed to honor the old dad. You can bring him breakfast in bed or phone him long distance - but what's going to take him by surprise and make him feel like a special guy for helping rear you? I'm willing to bet nothing says, 'Thanks for being my dad' to your sailing father like an out-of-the-blue package from APS. The following gifts range from $6.00 to $96.00 and will surely make your old man smile.

Now, for the breakdown:


1. Spyderco Saver Salt Knife: Reinforced Handle, Marine Yellow Safety Knife...

What does it say?
"Dad, I want you to be safe."

"It is symbolic that I am giving you a tool because I am implying that I do not think you are a tool."

"This gift gives so much - you can send it back to Spyderco any time for a complimentary sharpening."

2. Aquapac Waterproof Bags for Electronics made to fit phones, VHF Radios, GPSs, Tablets, and Cameras or a Davis Self-Inflating Key Buoy...

What does it say?
"Dad, you love the water, and the water wants to swallow your belongings. Let me help you help them float."

"Clumsy, much?"

"I gave you so many headaches as a child, I'm trying to make up for it."

3. Any Sailing Books and/or DVDs to Sharpen Dad's Knowledge of the Rules and his Strategic Cunning. If your dad's a Laser Sailor, we recommend Rooster Sailing's new DVD - The Boat Whisperer Tactics...

What does it say?
"You fouled me at the leeward mark in that last around-the-buoys. I think you need to brush up on your skillz."

"Dunh Dunh Dud-dah! You're my dad! Go fast and conquer!

"You've still got it. Go school those youngings on the course."

4. A Fancy Carbon Money Clip by Pirate Carbon keeping your purchasing power looking oh-so-debonair...

What does it say?
"Dad, you are the coolest."

"Look what they can do with military spec carbon fiber? You can keep this in your pocket when going through airport security!"

"I love you, and I love Carbon Fiber."

5. Keeping in the theme of travel and purchasing power, these Travel Kits and Wallets made out of high tech materials come straight from your dad's favorite brands...

What does it say?

"Take that trip to the Med you've been putting off since I was born."

"You're not the most organized person I know. I think I should help you out."

"Isn't this brand swag great?"

6. Save Dad a trip to the marine hardware store and help him keep his boat looking brand new with a little Gel Coat/Epoxy help.

What does it say?

"Thanks for helping me keep my life in order all these years."

"I'm not embarrassed by that scratch in your gel coat."

"We all make mistakes, and luckily, we can fix them."

7. Favored by many a sailor, a monthly Subscription for Seahorse Magazine just may be one of the best Father's Day Presents you could give. It's a little spendy so Dad might not have indulged himself with this one...

What does it say?

"Thanks for teaching me how to read. Check out what Warren in Customer Service at APS calls inspirational sailing literature."

"My impression of you: You like technical and informational."

"Happy Father's Day. Boats and sailing are cool."


We don't want you to putter around on the internet all day so we'll leave you with just a few more ideas for inspiration. Dad's love multi-tools, drybags are always useful in sailboats, and Weems & Plath products are classic.

Good luck shopping, all you cheerful and kind-hearted children!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grand Prix Are We?

This Farr 42 got super technical with line this week, and our riggers were stoked to take on the project. Let’s start with the spin halyard. Green Maffioli DSK-75 Race PC was stripped (the gray core is exposed), bulked with Samson’s AmSteel Blue at the clutch, and chafe-protected with New England DCS at the shackle.

You should know by now: Stripping makes everything lighter, bulking makes line easier to cleat, and chafe-protection...well, we think you get that last one...

It's not just the spinnaker halyard that's going to turn heads. Check out this fine jib halyard:

Talk about reducing rigging weight. Everyone should know by now that Yale’s Crystalyne line is a workhorse of a line. It does the job right. Also, it’s relatively lightweight. I say ‘relatively’ because it’s not necessarily the standard measure of lightweight line. This Farr 42 Jib Halyard has been constructed with a Maffioli Vectran core with a DSK-75 Race PC cover. Measuring 130’ with a Tylaska Shackle, it weighed in at 6.8 lbs. A Crystalyne line of roughly the same footage with the shackle added on weighed in a little over 7 lbs.

The Vectran core is solid stuff. It tends to be stiffer than Crystalyne - therefore, it's going to run smoother thanks to the actual line construction/angle of its braid. There's also less creep, and it's coated better.

Don't get us wrong - again, we have to let the public know: Crystalyne is THE workhorse of line. However, to answer the title question: This Farr 42 IS Grand Prix.

Wonder why we're not linking to the Maffioli Vectran core? You'll have to give us a holler for custom orders: 800-729-9767.