Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More ACWS Portsmouth photos

More ACWS photos from Saturday. The eagle eyed will spot that some had already been posted but have been clipped tighter.





Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ben Ainslie Racing wins the 1st Portsmouth America's Cup World Series!

It was the first America's Cup race in British waters for 164 years, and the thousands thronging the Portsmouth and Southsea shore waited expectantly.

There were not disappointed, as our Ben fought his way from the back of the fleet to cross the line at its front (above).

The sun shone and the AC45s flew, with just enough wind to get them up on their foils.
To quote Queen Victoria: who was second? Well in the first race it was Oracle just ahead of Team New Zealand:
However in the second race Team NZ just pipped Ben Ainslie to the line, and over the day showed good form, gaining second overall. Here they can be seen passing one of the forts that will be familiar to anyone who has sailed the Solent.
The gusty conditions meant the day wasn't without its "interesting" moments, but all boats and crew were to return safely:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Portsmouth ACWS Organisation Disappoints

Two good results for Ben Ainslie Racing but there's still the double points Sunday to come so lets hold off judgement and instead focus on the organisation of the America's Cup World Series in Portsmouth today.

Lets start with the queues, which were long. There were lots of orange volunteers doing nothing while a long queue snaked slowly in. Half an hour each was the general rule and there were lots of them.

Then directions, or rather the lack of. Take the queue above, which I spent a long time in. Turned out there was no point as it wasn't for the "fan zone", yet the marshals said it was the right queue for those with that ticket.

Inside the "fan zone" the facilities were insufficient. The rule was no food allowed to be brought in but the catering queues were another half an hour wasted. Maybe the VIPs got their canap├ęs and champagne quicker.

Another requirement are the "facilities" which in this case had broken doors, no locks and had run out of water in at least two trailers. So I ended up wandering around with soupy hands trying to find some water to wash & rinse them off. I saw one man use his water bottle.

There was lots of glitz by the sponsors, such as BMW and this bubbly:
But what would be more in the budget of most of those there were t-shirts, and there wasn't a single AC or BAR clothing stand there. Not one, zero, zilch. There was, however, room for this fancy car:
To get merchandise you had to leave the "fan zone" and enter the festival area, which should have been easy as they were next to each other. Except of course it wasn't, as that was considered "no entry" so one had to walk around the fenced off block.

Then the small Team BAR half-stall was as packed as Oxford Street on Christmas Eve and had as little stock. There were many sailing enthusiasts with questions about when they'd get some more and whether there was any other place selling (say) AC clothing, to which the staff knew nothing.

They weren't alone. I asked a policeman if he knew if there was a way out by the stage and he had no idea. His fellow officer didn't either but she had a map so we three had a look and found out that yes there was another exit.

But given that the police would be responsible in an emergency to direct the public this lack of information was a bit disturbing.

Maybe we were spoiled by the wonderful Olympics.

There was plenty of time in the queues to talk to neighbours and the contrast in organisation between the two was a conversation topic that came up again and again.

The only resource that seemed over supplied and hence empty were the bars:
Hmmm..... did the organisers make the mistake of giving Buff a job?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Two little boats

Spotted recently on the Thames - very dinky. I wonder how they came over from The Netherlands, whether across the Channel or by trailer?

Just big enough to sit and enjoy a cup of tea.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Stranger on the river - revisited

Recently I went kayaking on the Thames for the first time in.... well, lets just say a long time. Actually my paddling muscles said it was a very long time. The waterproof camera was equally underpowered and the battery went flat straight away, so no new pictures were taken. 

So I'm forced to re-post the pictures and text from the last time I went back on the river after a long gap, with suitable editorial updates.


INT: Wild west saloon, honky tonk piano bashing away, polished wood bar with assorted cowboys with their beers, miners drinking whisky etc etc. To one side are racks of kayaks, canoes, PBDs, skirts, paddles etc - the art director isn't sure about this bit.

Soundtrack: clip-clop / squeak of bike brakes / theme to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

There's a shadow by the door, then enter: the Stranger (JP)

All look round: the bar goes quiet.

Sheriff
Howdy stranger (he spits) Haven't seen you around these parts.

JP
I've been out East

Sheriff
We don't want no trouble (spits again - what is it about spitting?) We want a nice safe paddle.

JP nods then walks over to the bar.

Old timer serving behind said bar
Oh my giddy eyes. God-darn it if isn't old JP. How've you been youngster? (ok I made that last bit up) You look older (alas didn't make that up)

JP
It's been a tough 6 months, old timer. Been back East working, and had family health troubles.

Old timer
I'm right sorry to hear that JP

Enter glamorous woman, think Jane Russell / Scarlett Johansson / enter your choice here. She approaches JP and slaps him on the face

Glamorous Woman / Scarlett
That's for leaving me lonesome, you double timing no good heart-breaker (ok, totally made that bit up, but its what should have happened).

[Editors note: Still didn't happen - doh!!]

Old timer
Go easy on him, Scarlett, life hasn't been good to JP - sounds as bad as finding a rattle-snake in your jack-pants

Glamorous Woman / Scarlett
Oh you poor thing, you come here now and let Scarlett take care of you (still making it up)

[Editors note: ditto]

Old timer
No time for that Scarlett, I'm taking JP off up Thames canyon for old times sake. What you riding JP?

JP
I'll have that fibreglass slalom kayak

Cut to: EXT: Thames Canyon. Sound track clip/clop splish/splash, backdrop ol' Father Thames

JP
So what's new, Old Timer, looks just the same to me.

Old Timer
All the same? Haven't you seen that darn yellow monstrosity? Those PLA boys did that (he spits - its ok, they're on the river.)

[Editors note: this time we went down river not up so didn't get to see this buoy. But did get to paddle passed a barge that friends live in and say hello, which was cool]

JP
And that?

Old Timer
(shivers) We don't talk about that JP. No good comes of asking about that.

[Editors note: the Michael Jackson tribute has gone - hurrah!!]

JP and the Old Timer go paddling upriver towards a fine sunset...

Fade to black. 

- The End -

Friday, July 17, 2015

Outbound and Inbound

My absolute most favourite thing to do on a plane is to look out of the window, which is almost always better than any in-flight entertainment system.

There is nothing is more frustrating than when there's a "keep the blinds down" policy (Is this North Korea? Aren't we allowed even to look out of a window? What other point is there to a window seat?).

Anyhow, here's one photo (above) outbound to Annapolis of the icy shore of Labrador and then I guess you'll know where this inbound flight photo is:
My absolute favourite phrase that I've heard this week is that New Horizons is now "outbound from Pluto".

Sigh.

Outbound from Pluto!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lunch in Annapolis

I had crab with artichokes, but this osprey seemed to have another idea, perched on its channel marker home.


Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Wedding Crashers Sailing

I had a very frustrating time in Annapolis.

It was a place crammed full of all things boaty, where you could hire a kayak or sailboat and head out into the Chesapeake Bay, yet I wasn't feeling too good and had a stack of work to do.

Only on the last day did I have a few hours spare and enough energy to get out of the hotel so went out for a quick trip on the schooner Woodwind (above).

This is the yacht that can be seen in that romcom movie, the "Wedding Crashers", which isn't that bad but then again not brilliant either.

It was a lovely just to be out on the water and to be honest given I wasn't feeling great quite nice to just sit and pull the odd rope and have a short spin on the wheel.
Then it was time for lunch.... and I had a feeling crab would be on the menu.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Sailing out of Annapolis

 Any guesses as to the name and history of the boat glimpsed here?



Saturday, July 04, 2015

Photos of Annapolis


A couple of photos for the Americans readers from my trip back in May to Annapolis.
Historic with lots of boats - what a nice place.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Volvo Ocean Race Video


If you haven't seen it already, worth checking out this 10 minutes video of the recently finished VOR - great stuff!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Picture puzzle

What's this rather hazy feature and which side of the channel were the red lights?

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Westeros Cup: The Hall of Memories

"And this is the Hall of Memories" said Sam, candle in hand.

Gilly looked around, intrigued.

"All these books" she said.

"And drawings" said Sam. "Records of the greatest ever yachts to enter the Westeros Cup. Each tells a story."

Gilly looked at the first, a gaff rigged cutter. "So what happ'n to 'em?"

"They won" said Sam. "But then the crew were kissed with poisonous lipstick and they all died."

"Oh."

She moved onto the next, an elegant catamaran in what looked like tropical waters.

"And this?"

"It would have won, but was attacked by a dragon and burnt to the water-line, along with the crew".

She made a face, but then cheered up at sight of a lovingly drawn picture of a young girl sailing a tiny dinghy.

"Oh, she's so sweet! Not dragon fire I hope?"

Sam made a face. "No, not a dragon" and steered her onwards.

The next was a noble yacht, schooner rig with a giant stag on its sail.

"So what happened here?" she asked.

"On the final leg of the deciding race they turned the windward mark first and thought they had it in the bag. Then the other yacht rammed into them, boarded, and slew all of them."

It was Gilly's turn to make a face.

"Every race, they seem to end the same."

"Not the same, this wasn't dragon fire. Swords, daggers and lances...." his voice trailed off.

There was one drawing left, of a yacht with darkened timbers and the sign of the Night's Watch.

"Oooh, did you sail this one?" asked Gilly.

"Was that baby Sam?" asked Sam.

"I didn't hear anything."

"You better go and check."

She left, leaving Sam alone, staring at the yacht with darkened timbers. Outside the light was fading.

The silence was broken by the craw of a crow.

"Never more" it cried and the candle flickered and went out.

Sam was alone in the cold with his thoughts as dark as night.

Winter is coming.



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