October 4, 2013

A Folkboat Frenzy

The Folkboats are coming! The Folkboats are coming! Okay, they’re already here and have been for some time, but their International Championships run through tomorrow.

© Peter Lyons

The 2013 Folkboat Internationals hosted by the Richmond YC started on Monday and runs through tomorrow. Nineteen Folkboats with three-person crews from Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Great Britain and the United States are competing in uncharacteristically calm conditions. Unlike in years past, winds have not exceeded 15 knots for the entire regatta.

Mellow breeze has made for relatively mellow sailing on San Francisco Bay.

© Peter Lyons

Monday’s light-air practice race on the Olympic Circle, where the American teams placed at the top, proved only that the Europeans are fast learners —  some know the Bay almost as well as the locals. Although David Wilson (USA), managed two bullets on Tuesday, Germany’s Christoph Nielson took locals to school, winning both of Wednesday’s two Cityfront races and giving spectators at the St. Francis YC a remarkable show.

The Europeans’ ability to place well in this regatta stems not only from their competitive home fleets, but is likely due in part to the local Folkboat fleet’s overall condition, which is better than it’s been in years.

Sailors from all over the world are competing in the regatta on borrowed local boats.

© Peter Lyons

Don’t throw in the towel for the Americans though. Dave Wilson leads by three points, followed by Nielson (GER) and Ersnt Gaede (GER). Two races are scheduled for Knox today (wind permitting) and then it’s back to the Olympic Circle for the the regatta’s last race tomorrow.

We hope to have a full report on the event in the November issue of Latitude 38.

Russian Crazy Craft

We quizzed our readership last week to see if anyone could properly identify the purpose of the unusual Russian sailing craft pictured below.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a. . . vodka delivery device?

© 2013 Larry Radcliffe

Truth be told, we actually have no idea what specific use it was designed for, but we figured some worldly reader out there in ‘Lectronic Latitudeland might know. And if not, we were certain that our query would at least yield some amusing explanations. Here’s a sampling: 

"It’s bound to be a downsized prototype of the next-generation, energy-efficient, Russian passenger ferry." — Bill Crowley 

"I was unaware that one could build a sailing vessel out of Legos." — Matthew Satterlee
 
"This is actually Larry Ellison and Team Oracle’s first prototype!" — Marin James

"It’s a Loom Boat, a multihull that weaves its own sails. Missing in the photo is the shuttle that zips back and forth, under and over the warp which is yet to be re-strung between those two rectangular things, called gallnettles, and you can see some of the fabric its made frapped to the jaspal, which is that masty looking thing sticking up in the middle. They have their own language for such things in Russia." — Brooks Townes

"Prototype vessel for Captain Ron: The Sequel." — Darrell Andrews

"On good authority, this is a private enterprise prototype for a giant mouse trap to potentially rid Russian lakes of an invasive and non-native species of giant walking catfish (clarius batrachus)." — Skip Allan

"It was obviously built to be put on a train and then sailed to France where the man and his wife can travel the canals as they have always wanted to do. Bonjour." — John Eldridge

"It’s one of the new omni-directional trans-Siberian vodka delivery scows (ODTSVDS) capable of operating on water, snow, or ice. Safety regulations do not allow booms (duh!), and operators must have current plank-walking certification. Looks like the amas are adjustable fore and aft." — Goose Gossman 

"Meet Ivan Foilov. Ivan has launched a grassroots, or as they say North of the Arctic Circle, permafrost campaign to start a Russian-based Trimaran World Series. Details are a little sketchy at this point, but the series will be conducted at sites North of the Arctic Circle. The trimarans will have to reach each racing site on their own bottoms. So you can see that the amas are detachable and will ride on the cabin top as sled dogs pull the trimarans to the next regatta over ice and snow with the skipper riding on the plank at the front of the tri. There already has been a lot of controversy on the rule that sled dogs will have to have been born in the country where the trimaran will hail from. Rumors have it that Iditarod sled dogs are already establishing residency in countries fielding strong teams in hopes that their offspring will be granted citizenship. There has also been a lot of talk of where dog food cans will be stored aboard while racing and appropriate penalties have already been written into the rule to guard against cheating. The aero plan is still up in the air, so to speak, with soft sails and salvaged Mig fighter wings at the top of the list. He wants to make this an ‘affordable’ event and hopes a lot of teams will participate. In the spirit of this rule, rudders will have to be able to ‘kick up’ in case of hitting bergie bits, and the cant of the amas will have to be fixed five minutes before the start.

"Ivan has been delighted with preliminary sponsorship interest. He is leaning toward each team being sponsored by a different vodka distiller. He has approached some prominent rum distillers that support sailing but so far they have given him the cold shoulder. Latest news has interest from New Zealand, but they want to have at least one event south of the Antarctic Circle. Ivan was unavailable for comment." — Pat McCormick

And finally the following, which we suspect is the most accurate — though certainly not the most amusing. For his (seemingly) correct answer Bill will be receiving some official Latitude 38 swag:

"It looks like it’s designed to cruise canals and other narrow waterways with low bridges. The side decks flip up, which allows the pontoons to swing in. The mast can be tilted down to clear low bridges, a la upper Santa Cruz harbor berths." — Bill Ogilvie