The AC75 Video that Some of Us Have Sort of Been Waiting For
Say what you will about the modern America’s Cup, but the launching of an entirely new class — and one of the most ambitious foiling boats to ever hit . . . or rather, skim above the water — is undeniably exciting. We’ve been eager to finally see the AC75s in action, even if we’re not entirely sure how we feel about the new Cup.
After months of talking about the new class, years of planning and designing, then more months of information, pictures and rumors slowly trickling out into the sailing media, the damned things are finally sailing. Sure, we’ve shared some distant, grainy footage of a few AC75s foiling, but yesterday, while perusing Dennis Conner’s Facebook page, we came across this footage of Team New Zealand’s Te Aihe:
“Boating Is [Still] a Big Deal in the US”
Over the last few decades, there have been some ominous statistics about participation in sailing. We take such signs with a grain of salt, but the sport and lifestyle of sailing faces some very real challenges, many of which are economic in nature.
But a recent report by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) says that boating — and especially fishing — is still “a significant driver of economic activity in the country, making up 2.2%, or $247.2 billion of the US Gross Domestic Product,” according to an article by Scuttlebutt. It’s not clear how sailing falls into this slice of the economy, but this is certainly good news for boating infrastructure as a whole.
“When looking at ‘conventional’ outdoor recreation activities, ‘boating/fishing’ was the largest conventional activity for the nation as a whole at $20.9 billion in current dollar value added, surpassing RVing, motorcycling, hunting, and snow activities,” Scuttlebutt said. “Dollar value includes all economic contributions by marinas, boat dealers, repair shops, in-state boat manufacturers and additional impacts.”
“At the state level, the BEA report cited boating/fishing as the largest conventional activity in 29 states and the District of Columbia, led by Florida ($2.7 billion) and California ($1.8 billion).”
More Salty Phrases
The ‘Whole Nine Yards’ was commonly used to mean “all in” or “totally committed,” though no one has gone the, ahem, whole nine yards in finding the true origins of this phrase. It has been attributed, with varying degrees of logic, to various sports; the volumes of graves and coal trucks; the area of a funeral shroud; the length of a bridal veil, bolt of cloth or machine gun belt — and lots of other stuff.
The nautical version is that most early warships had three yardarms on each of three masts, and those yards would obviously change sides during a tack. So during battle, when a ship tacked, the captain was said to go the whole nine yards, meaning he totally committed to the maneuver. (If it was a ruse, they might backwind only three or six yards, then flip back onto the same tack.)
Three days of distance and buoy racing attracted eight California crews to the 2019 Express 37 Nationals hosted by Berkeley Yacht Club on October 4-6. Lingering summer-like conditions brought light but shifty winds ranging from 3 to 14 knots.
On Sunday, with two races to go, Shawn Ivie and crew on Limitless led the fleet racing with a tally of five points (2-1-1-1). In the first heat of the day, Kame Richards on Golden Moon sailed to a first. Mark Chaffey’s Loca Motion followed a scant five seconds afterward. Bob Harford’s Stewball placed third, and Limitless crossed the line fourth. Limitless, edged down in the ranks, was then squarely tied for first with Golden Moon. “It took that final race to determine an Express 37 champion,” said Ivie, whose strategic maneuvering immediately north of the start aided his crew. “Kame came to the line a bit early. We got into position, then stalled to windward 30 seconds before the horn. This allowed us to nail the pin end and get a strong leap.”
Limitless went on to earn the Nationals title with 10 points. Second place went to the San Francisco Bay Area Golden Moon crew. Loca Motion, up from Monterey, rounded out the podium in third.
Ivie, whose boat is based in San Pedro, has participated in 2017, ’18 and ’19. Limitless has a winning pedigree. Ivie references the Express 37 Nationals’ silver trophy cup, adding that this hull has claimed the Nationals title on more than one occasion and for more than one owner. This year’s win was a repeat for Ivie.
In 1984, designer Carl Schumacher and builder Terry Alsberg of Alsberg Brothers Boatworks in Santa Cruz developed the Express 37. This masthead-fractional design attracts active fleet participation on both the East and West Coasts.
I had lived for the past year in Rio Vista, in the Delta, riding a Simmer Pure Slalom board and Enduro sail, doing some fast runs but also a lot of walks of shame (back upwind up-current along the road). Honestly, I never really dug the brown, bumpy water: it hurt the knees and was just a short quick run and back weaving through kiters. I’d say 20 years on Maui spoiled my ass. Then I got a job in Sacramento and thought, OK, time to hang up the cleats.
But I found this tiny spit of water where guys invited me to race Lasers and Thistles on the west side of the city. It was ugly industrial ship cargo on one side, but on the other, a clean sweep where the last of the Delta breeze could roll through in the late afternoon. I noticed a couple of guys out windsurfing, John Mathias on an old Mistral Equipe longboard, and Skip Goncalves on his Naish foil. There was a lady, Barbara West, with a big smile out there as well. I thought, I haven’t been on a longboard since the ’79 Internationals. I’ll give it a shot. Surprisingly, it was a nice feeling, and easy on my rusting parts.
Fast forward a year later, and I saw this Windsurfer LT. I’m good friends with Bruce Matlack, so I ended up buying the first board out on the Left Coast. The rig was too small for my fat ass, so I rang Kai Katchedourian up and reminded him that when he was still in diapers, I was a team rider, so he gave me the bro deal on a 7.8 Simmer Race XT, about the right size for the Lake Washington.
The wind comes up here around 5 p.m. like clockwork, and blows 10-15, with some days blowing harder when a front comes through. We have races every Tuesday night throughout the summer. I did OK for an old fart, and had some great battles with John. Skip went off to some stupid lake in Italy so there really wasn’t a whole lot of interest from people watching us sail around the course, but up to 15 were just coming out to play.
It looks like the sport is growing here year after year and it is largely due to the efforts of John Mathias. It takes people to drive a fleet. If you’re in the area, come join us. It’s only about 100 bucks a year to join, and even less to use all the club gear. We’re working on getting five together for the LT fleet deal but people are always slow to pull out their wallet, particularly when it comes to buying my book! Old school, new school, it’s a mix of mutts and really doesn’t matter as long as you get out on the water and go sailing.
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