Tuesday, January 31, 2012

First Look: Spinlock Deckvest LITE

Update:  Spinlock Deckvest LITE is now in stock!  

We received our first batch of the Spinlock Deckvest LITE!  With perfect timing, they were featured in this Monday's Morning Product Training, where new products are shown and described to all of the APS staff.  

The Deckvest LITE certainly got everyone talking and all agreed that this life jacket is a great inflatable PFD option for any around-the-buoy, inshore or coastal racer looking for a well equipped, cost effective inflatable.  

Here's Product Manager James showing us all the key features!

To read more about them, visit our site here

At METS (Marine Equipment Trade Show hosted in Amsterdam) this year,  Spinlock premiered the newest addition to their extremely successful line of Deckvests: the Deckvest LITE.  Designed for coastal or inshore sailing, the Deckvest LITE is perfect for around the buoys racers who want the safety of a life vest but don't want to wear any bulky foam.

As its name implies, the Deckvest LITE is lightweight and super minimal.  It won't get in your way as you move quickly around a raceboat, and like all the Deckvest products, it will be comfortable to wear for long periods of time.  

The weight savings on the LITE comes from the removal of the integrated harness, sprayhood, and emergency light found on the standard Deckvest.   The LITE is not a replacement for the Deckvest for offshore and nighttime use, but it's great for crew who want to be safe during the day inshore and prefer wearing inflatable vests.

The Deckvest LITE will be available in 4 colors: black, blue, white, and yellow.

I was able to try one on at the Annapolis Sailboat show this year and have to say, it really is very comfortable.  I think a lot of sailors who currently wear a Mustang orsimilar type PFDs will really like the colors and comfortable fit of the New Spinlock vest.  There is a flat spot on the front of the vest where you can clip on a radio or other handheld device like a GPS, which is a nice feature to keep your hands free.

It has certainly made an impression on the Marine Industry, winning the DAME award for the Life Saving and Safety Equipment Category.  For those not familiar with the DAME Awards, they are the Design Awards givenout yearly at the METS.  Awards are given out over 8 categories with 1 overall winner by a jury. 

Winners are based on design, styling, quality of construction, overall impact on the marine industry, suitability for its intended purpose, level of innovation, cost effectiveness, and favorable environmental impact.   With entries from 21 countries, Spinlock’s Deckvest LITE shined in the safety category!  Congrats Spinlock!

Look for the Spinlock Deckvest LITE to be available sometime this Spring. The price hasn't been confirmed yet, but it will definitely be less expensive than the regular Deckvest.

Annapolis Performance Sailing APS Spinlock Deckvest Lite

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The End: Key West Race Week Wrap Up

We think their sticker is pretty awesome too.
Another year, another Key West! Full of smiles and tans, Matt F., Warren R., and Lynn B. returned to APS, recalling their 2012 Key West Race Week.  Stories of sunshine, warm temperatures and great racing filling up our Monday morning.

The Conch Republic treated them well, with Matt F. placing 3rd on the Farr 30 Mummbles, Warren R. on the Beneteau 10M, L'Outrage, winning PHRF 2.  Photos of their boats are provided by Photoboat.  Lynn B. was also there, catching many days out of the water photographing the Melges fleet, where her team was racing. 

Here are their reports...


Well, I am back from another fantastic year in Key West, but this year it seemed even more special. It’s always an awesome time; the competition is great, the weather is amazing, and there is no place I would rather be in the third week of January than with some of my best sailing friends than in Key West.

We opened the week with a bullet, setting a fantastic tone for the week, and sailed to a second in the next race to put us tied on points for the first day, with three.  Tuesday we posted a 2-1-2, good for a second for the day.

The forecast was pretty light for Wednesday, and after two extensions of postponement, racing was canceled for the day which allowed our team to relax and see some of town.   After a relaxing dinner at the house, we were very ready for the three scheduled races on Thursday. 

Thursday brought moderate breeze, and with great crew work and excellent tactical positioning, we were able to reel off three straight bullets. This set us up for a finale on Friday with two races scheduled. With a first and a second, we were able to seal the deal and sail in as winners.

The feeling is great to win such a prestigious event against some of the best competition in the world, and I would like to thank my skipper Bruce and the whole team on L’Outrage for an unforgettable week! 

Well, now here I am, sitting in my desk in Annapolis, wearing a sweater to try to stay warm and regretting shaving my beard halfway through last week (it seemed like a good idea when it was 80 degrees out, I promise).

On Friday after racing we derigged the boat as we sailed back in, with the kite up so we could be hauled out as soon as possible. With a lot of help from the entire crew we dropped the mast and tied the boat down, all before sunset. We had celebrated one last night in town on Friday and then got on the road first thing Saturday, arriving in Annapolis on Sunday morning to 29 degrees and 1” of ice and snow on the ground.

Untying the boat on Sunday morning, I lost feeling in my hands because I still wearing flip flops and only had a sweatshirt on, but so it goes.   I shouldn’t really complain; Warren,  Lynn and I are all sporting newly acquired tans while the rest of the company is still diligently working to pick up the slack left by us (THANKS GUYS!).

Overall, my experience in Key West was a good one. I’m glad I had the opportunity to sail (Thanks Brad), even though my credit card might think otherwise.

The atmosphere was great, the regatta parties were great; it was just an all around blast. I already heard rumors there will be a Quantum Key West 2013 and look forward to the opportunity to go down to the Conch Republic once again and enjoy a mudslide or three and of course some competitive sailboat racing in the middle of January. 

For as much fun as I was having on and off the water, and as competitive as the racing was I couldn’t help but continually think to myself what Key West must have been like when they were getting total boats in 200 and even 300 range.   112 boats are all fine and good, but it would be nice to get some numbers back and see Key West as it once was…maybe next year.

Last, but not least, a few images from our Melges (and more) photographer, Lynn.

It's not all sailing in Key West... it's sunsets and manatees too!

Thanks APS Staffers for giving us an sneak peak at KWRW 2012.  Now, back to work!  

Friday, January 20, 2012

Key West Race Week Update - Farr 30 Mummbles Makes Moves

APS Customer Service Staffer Matt F. said he'd keep us in the loop while he's racing in Key West for the week. Check out his regatta report:

(Note - if you're not a fan of the drawing below, check out the APS homepage photo. It's a little more realistic Key West picture...)

Day 1 report:

Great breeze, great racing. We had a 20kt breeze all day and 2 competitive races. Our team’s experience with one another caused a few mistakes and lost us a few critical places at critical times on the race course. We were able to plane readily downwind. Our max downwind speed was 2kts faster than the boat that finished directly in front of us, which just proves you have to have more than straight boat speed to do well.

The fleet seemed to be pretty well sorted as teams 1-6 went 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 all the way down the line.

Day 2:

What a great day of racing. Breeze laid down a bit from Monday and was steadily in the 13-15kt range laying down slightly as the day went on. Our boat work was a fair bit cleaner and it helped out a lot. Despite a wrap on the first hoist and a minor tear in the kite on the second, we were able to make moves on boats all day. We came into a few a few mark roundings in tight spots and were able to come away pretty cleanly. This being our third day of sailing with this exact crew, our learning curve is still pleasantly steep and each day we learn a lot more about one another. The race committee had us on the race course an hour earlier on Tuesday in anticipation of the light winds on Wednesday, and we were able to squeeze 3 races in. We went 2, 3, 2 for a 2nd overall on the day in our fleet. We moved from 4th to 3rd only 1pt out of 2nd.

Day 3:

As former APS employee Chris Texiera said to me the other week, 'Key West would be so much better with a built in lay day on Wednesday' so that people can explore the island and really take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful place we're in. Well, this year, we had that opportunity. Race committee had an onshore postponement until 1 pm but eventually called off racing.

Fortunately, we were able to quickly mobilize thanks to some connections (no thanks to me) and went out fishing. Caught a black fin tuna and brought it to the Farr 30 class party! What a great way to spend the day! Good crew bonding, too.

Day 4

Determined to meet the 10 race goal stated by race organizers, we had another early start on Thursday to squeeze in 3 races. Conditions were a little light at the start which led to an on the water postponement as the breeze worked in. Eventually a steady breeze established and racing began. At the start of the day we were 1 point out of second place and were set on challenging the Swedes for second place.

The first race of the day was super tight with the Swedes and we ended up finishing bow to bow with them in contention for second place. I didn't think we got second but several people on my boat (and their boat) did; resulting in us sailing the entire day unsure of where we had finished.

The second race of the day wasn’t especially noteworthy, except to say we lost another point to the Swedes and determined to do everything we could to stay between the Swedes and the finish line in the third race, and we did.  In fact, we helped them into their worst finish of the regatta; unfortunately it was also ours too.

Sailing back in, one of our crew pulled up the results on his phone, only to discover we got third by 1 second in the first race.

It was a fun day of racing, but a tough one. Especially the first race since, I alone, can think of a dozen or so things I could have done slightly differently that could have been the difference between second and third place.  On the day we missed several critical shifts which hurt us in the end, but with the rest of our sailing clean and our boat speed was slightly above average, we were still able to walk away with fairly decent results.

At the end of Day 4, we sit 2 points out of second and 5 points in front of the fourth place boat. The first place boat, Groovederci, has little risk of losing first place.

 Day 5

This is when racing sailboats is at its most fun (at least for me); coming into the last day of an event with the opportunity to make some moves on the score card. Team Mummbles sat 2 points out of second and 5 points in front of our fellow Chesapeake boat, Gotcha (who had some really sweet new rigging courtesy of the APS rigging staff, found here).

Of the four windward mark roundings on Friday, we were overlapped with the second place boat 3 times and of those 3 roundings, we had to do a turn once and the Swedes had to do a turn once. Even when one team split right and the other split left upwind just to find some separation, we both ended up at the windward mark at the same time.  Unfortunately, after doing our turn after the first rounding in the first race, we were able to come back to striking distance and finished fourth. Now we stood 4 points out of second and 4 points out of fourth.

Our last windward rounding of the week we were overlapped with the Swedes and found themselves in a position to have to do turns, which didn't seem to hurt their position relative to us at all. They split left and we split right downwind.  Behind them on the score sheet by enough, even if we beat them in this race it wouldn't change our overall standing.  Ultimately we finished third, which was pretty indicative of our overall performance: knocking at the door of second place but never moving up from third.

On Friday our downwind boat speed was lacking and understandably hurt the results. It was one of those days where you’re asking one another whether or not you’ve run over a patch of sea grass, but unfortunately solving our issue was not as easy.

Overall, we finished third on the day and third in class for the event. I wish we had taken a better shot at second but am happy where we finished. Looking ahead we should have a few of the same boats to race against come the Annapolis NOODs so look for some more updates in early May.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kicking off Key West Race Week 2012

Customer Service Rep Matt F. continues to blog down in the Conch Republic.  He sent us this on Saturday:

After all the work we've done to get the boat down here and set up (admittedly only three days), I'm just looking forward to getting out on the water and sailing.  Here’s my day-by-day, by day report.

Thursday was spent setting up the boat and catching up on sleep after the road trip down. 

Friday, we splashed and motored our boat over to its home for the week. There, we completed more general set-up.  End whips, winch maintenance, some one drop here, one drop there.  Oh, and the electronics, too - that's always important, or so people tell me.  

We were able to weigh in that day, which worked out well.  I weighed in at 5 lbs less than expected.  That was surprisingly easy to do on the tail end of a 24-hour road trip after a full work day.  Admittedly, several of our meals consisted of beef jerky. 

It’s Saturday now, and two more of our crew showed up at noon.  Currently, we’re ready to set sail and work out any kinks.  Looks to be a great day - high of 67°, "North winds near 20 knots, seas 2 to 3 feet, nearshore waters choppy to rough, isolated showers…"

How's Annapolis looking today? 

Well Matt, Annapolis is looking cold.  I'm sitting at my desk still in my fleece and scarf.  

Today, the high is 34 degrees, which to those of you who don't want to do the math, is less than half of the beautiful 73 degrees you're experiencing.  

 Regardless of the cold temperatures here, it sounds like a great day to kick off some racing.  With those sunny 73 degrees and the added bonus of some notorious Key West Breeze, the forecast is calling for E/NE at 15 - 20mph.  Good luck to all, and let the racing begin!  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quantum Key West Race Week 2012

Customer Service Rep Matt F. is down there already warming up on Farr 30 Mummbles, Purchasing Manager Lynn B. headed out of town two days ago to be support for an Ohio boat, and Customer Service Rep. Warren R. is the only one left at the shop who’s planning to head South for the 25th Anniversary regatta.

I sent an email to him earlier today to get – quote “all up in his business” – and here’s what we came up with.

What boat will you be on – name and type?
L’Outrage, Beneteau FC 10

What gear are you bringing – why?
Henri Lloyd Smock, Ronstan Gloves, Rocky Gore-Tex Socks, Prowik Shirts. It is usually pretty comfortable in Key West, and not too much gear is needed. Plus, I am in the back of the boat and generally stay a bit drier.

Are you flying down on an airplane? If so, which airline and why?

Yes, flying down. AirTran because the flights are the most reasonably priced.

Who’s driving you to the airport?
Family member.

Are you traveling with other crew?
Two other crew are on the same flight; plus, at least 8 other people I know are on the same flight.

Who took the boat down? Was it on a trailer?
It was on a trailer. A friend of the boat owner towed it down for us.

How are you going to get to the boat?
We take a car from the house to the boat every morning as the boat is several miles away on Stock Island.

Do you want to win?
Yes, I have a great desire to win. However, this is a very competitive regatta, and everyone will be well prepared. You have to sail well for five days to win. Plus, given that it is a five day regatta, you will see lots of different weather patterns and need to sail well in all conditions. We’ll measure where we stand on Friday evening.

Do you already have the taste of victory in your mouth? -Feel free to skip that if you don’t want to jinx yourself.

Anything else you want our readers to know?
There is really no better place I can think of being in the third week of January than Key West Race Week. The competition is great, the weather is phenomenal, and it is nice to go sailing with friends and get out of the cold for a week.

Warren, thanks for sharing with us. We wish you a great week of sailing, and not to worry – there will be no desktop pranks played on you while you’re away…

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Farr 30 Averages 47 Knots for 23 Hours Straight!!

We're happy to report that our Customer Service Guru Matt F, fellow members of team Mummbles and their Farr 30 have all made it safely and obeying speed limits to Key West!  Completing the 1,248 mile trip in 24 hours!

Here's his recap:

Thursday. 4pm : Phew! Well the longest day (or two if you're being technical) of the regatta are basically over. 

We left Annapolis at 10:30am on Wednesday and drove non stop til we hit Key West which had us arriving around 10am today, although the exact time is a little fuzzy. With three of us driving we could do two-on one-off which worked great even through the night.

We went right to work at Truman Annex unstrapping the boat and taking off all the clear wrap on the mast. We stepped the mast put the boom on, ran the main sheet, installed the rudder, and did some other general clean up. The boat is all set for splashing first thing tomorrow. 

For as tired as I am, I'm extremely pleased I did not do the feeder race from ft lauderdale down to key west which appeared to be a tale of two days. 

An upwind slog into 25-30 kts of breeze yesterday and most of last night, only to wake up to exceedingly light winds. At this point (4pm) only 3 or 4 of the original 45-50 racers have finished.

Now it's time for me to get a desperately needed shower and what I consider to be a well deserved adult beverage. Or two. And maybe a nap. Or two. 

Thanks for the update Matt! Your view looks nicer than the one we had here at APS today!   

We're all looking forward to getting more stories and on the water action from the Farr 30 course throughout the week.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

New World Record for the Fastest Sailing Circumnavigation

Every Monday morning, the APS staff gets together in the storefront at 8:30 AM to do what we call “Product Review.” This is how we ensure everyone at the company – from the accounting dept. to the shipping center – knows what products are good for what kind of sailing/boats and why.

James McKenna, the APS Product Manager, sits on the front counter and has everyone gather ‘round as if he’s about to tell a story. Normally, the narration only involves a new product or an upcoming feature change. Today, we got a real story...

On Friday, 40m maxi-trimaran Banque Poplulaire V won the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest circumnavigation aboard a sailboat! Congratulations go out to Loick Peyron and his 13 crew. If you read the press, you’ll find, the boat had an average speed of 27 kts and met their victory with cheeriness, energy…and A LOT of champagne! Oui-oui!

Brush up on your French and enjoy one of our favorite videos (BFMTV - French news) showing snow balls, high seas, and speed. We bet the crew was glad for their Musto HPX Gore-Tex foul weather gear and Atlas Warm Gloves with removable liners.

Congratulations once more, Banque Populaire V!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ti-Lite Soft Attach Blocks - Lashing Harken T2 Blocks using APS Dyneema Shackle Loops (DSLs)

Here, an APS Rigger shows you how to properly lash a soft attach Harken T2 block using an APS Dyneema Shackle Loop (DSL).

Background: Harken's T2 Soft Attach Blocks represent the first blocks with no fasteners, rivets, or other metal parts - making them incredibly light. These blocks paired with soft shackles will give you lightweight, high performance without compromising strength.

Whether you call them soft shackles, softies, or loops - it's clear that spliced Dyneema shackles are quickly becoming the norm on high performance race boats from the America's Cup to moths and everything in between. Extremely lightweight and strong, these can replace shackles almost anywhere you need them and happen to be ideal for jib sheets as they won't bang up your mast or get chewed up by inhaulers.

APS Dyneema Shackle Loops are also a great way to attach blocks like the Harken T2 or Airblocks to a padeye, toerail, or boom when you need a block to be able to rotate and pivot in ways a shackle won't allow. A Velcro securing strap comes with each shackle to prevent the loop from coming undone in no-load flogging situations.

These Dyneema shackle loops are offered in a wide range of diameters and lengths. Developed in-house by APS expert riggers: They are all made in the APS rigging shop and can be custom made to any length you need.

Monday, January 2, 2012

APS 2012 January Rigging Sale is ON!

We started pushing out blogs last year to highlight APS's extensive line offering and pictures of real-life custom rigging jobs and pre-spec'd one design packages. Most of all - we wanted to inspire you. Good rigging is an art and a science.

You've had insight into the best lines available, details on the advantages of stripping halyards, and tips of how spending $40 more to put a chafe sleeve on that stripped halyard can elongate its life by years. The response has been really great, and you've been keeping our riggers busy. Thank you for that!

To kick the New Year off right, APS brings you the 2012 January Rigging Sale.

If sailing faster is one of your resolutions for 2012 - now's the time to update your rigging. For the month of January, you get 15% off Cordage and Wire, 20% off OD packages, and 25% off custom rigging charges! Click here for details and promo codes.

Some of our continued goals for 2012:

• To keep providing you with the line you want - from single braids like Samson's AmSteel Blue to Dyneema/Polypro double braids like Maffioli's NewSwift and everything in between.

• To keep giving you day-definite & AWESOME custom rigging services.

• To keep providing you with pre-spec'd one design rigging clarity whether you're sailing a laser, a J/24, the list goes on...