Friday, August 31, 2012

London Paralympics: sold out success

After the brilliance of the London Olympics (watch it all again here) its on with the Paralympics and its already a whopping success.

The Opening Ceremony was amazing (sorry if you haven't seen it), a whirlwind of science, literature, music and ideas, including a boat made out of a umbrella taking Miranda from The Tempest through storms, whales and on to the stars, led by one of the greatest of all minds, Stephen Hawking.

So am I going to the sailing? you might be wondering.

I have a ticket the stadium to see the athletics but the sailing along with everything else is sold out.
But there is another sailing event in the UK this weekend....

Images from: 4OD

Thursday, August 30, 2012

North west passage success

I wasn't sure whether to post about the Paralympics Opening Ceremony (good stuff, shame not well broadcast around the world) or on World Rivers Day (as previously blogged) but in the end decided neither after I saw this post from North-west passage on a shoe string.

So congratulations to the crew of Belzebub II, a 31 foot Halberg-Rassy, for successfully completing the north-west passage through the M'Clure straight, the first sail boat to do so.

As their press release stages:

A Passage Through Ice’ Sailing Expedition has just completed the crossing of the infamous M’Clure strait in the Canadian Arctic to become the first sailboat ever to achieve this feat. The international expedition team consisting of Edvin Buregren, Nicolas Peissel and Morgan Peissel have spent the last three months at sea on a 31 foot boat sailing from Newfoundland Canada to Greenland, through the Canadian Arctic to track the depleting polar ice cap and bring awareness to climate change

Impressive stuff particularly given the budget they describe as shoe-string without the full backup that comes from sponsors.

Of course its another sign of the melting Arctic which isn't at all good news.

I've been following their voyage for some time now and my own trip up to the Arctic Circle has just increased my interest in sailing at these high latitudes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Viking ship Helge Ask

One of the highlights of Denmark's National House at the 2012 London Olympics was the lovely Viking ship called Helge Ask (coincidently the Denmark team is as I type entering the stadium for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic games).

She is based upon a ship that was scuttled along with four others in the Roskilde Fjord near Skuldelev in order to protect that market town of Roskilde from attack. Back in the sixties the boats were recovered and treated and now are on display at the Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde.

The Helge Ask was built using authentic tools, techniques and materials including pine, birch and oak wood, wool, flax, grease, tar, ochre, horse hair and walrus skin.

The wood was not sawn but split so that it kept the natural strength -it was also not dried so is much more flexible.

What was amazing was one of the two Viking experts over in London stood at the stern and shook the boat so that it oscillated from end to end. The amount of flex was astonishing, she really was able to move to an incredible extent and you could imagine her at sea bending as each wave went under.

The Helge Ask is not a full sized longship that could cross the North Sea, but rather one that could be used in the coastal waters of the Baltic.

One of the Viking experts had sailed such a larger longship, the Sea Stallion, all the way to Dublin where I had a chance to see her first hand (blog post here). I was very envious of his experience, but it did sound rather hard, given the lack of shelter. 

Those Vikings were certainly tough and also, as was shown by the Helge Ask, skilled boat builders too.

The museum sounds really interesting and worth visiting - especially as there're meant to be opportunities to go out sailing in one of their boats. 

Definitely on my list of things to do next time I'm in Denmark.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Buff to patent the "sail"

G'day all! Buff Staysail here! Buff by name and Buff by nature!

I'm on to a cracker of an idea - Buff''s going to patent the "sail"!!

I know what you're thinking: your legal mind is probably going on about "prior art" or some other bit of jargon.

What you don't realise is that patent law has changed and that way of thinking is old hat. Look at Apple - they got a patent for a grid of icons despite there being examples going all the way back to Xerox Parc days. Even I remember them in Windows 3.0's program manager!

It doesn't even matter if the idea is so simple a baby could do it! What matters is writing it down on a patent application with lots of arrows pointing to numbered bits of a figure (see above).

Once awarded I'll license it to a US company and then sue a non-US organisation, preferably one based in a country once at war with America (Was it arranged that M*A*S*H be broadcast on local TV at the same time that the jurors got home? Genius if true!)

Forget putting the consumer first, IPR is what matters and Buff wants in!

This is Buff Staysail (TM) (c) (Patent pending!) over and out!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Geometry @ Brentford

I like a good bit of installation art, particularly if, somewhere, there's a sailing angle, but alas this one didn't really make the grade.

Its called "Geometry" and its currently doing its thing over in Brentford. The blub, which you can find here, says:

"The interplay of the different movements of the sculpture create a symbolic language of communication between the sculpture and the viewer"

What actually happens is that the two arms above rotate one direction, stop, then rotate again, maybe in the same direction, maybe the opposite.

And, yup, that's it.

There's a bit of an "oh" moment when you've realised what you've biked in the pouring rain to see isn't going to get any better the longer you hang around. Or at least not until dark, when there's meant to be lasers or something.

Never mind, the Thames Path is great enough to not need the excuse of a destination to get you out on your bike.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Commodore (rtd) Madeira's Committee Boat

Good afternoon to you.

I'm Commodore - or at least was, you see I retired a few years back - Madeira of the Lower Yottingham Boat Club and recent despatches have raised the question of what makes a good committee boat team, and I am only too happy to pass on my advice.

1. Dress the part. Remember you are the officers here and need to take seriously the responsibilities, so make sure your tie is well ironed gentlemen and your pearls shining ladies.

There's a lot of stuff and nonsense about how that's an old fashioned value - even bandy words like discrimination around. But if, like me, you have joined an Arab dhow sailing from Karachi to Muscat or seen Pamela, sadly is no longer with us, sail her gaff rigged cutter Diane single handed in a F7 you'll know we're all the same under the skin.

What matters is character, and how you dress is a statement to the world - vestimenta facit homo as they say.

2. Get your communications straight. My dear wife Margaret, who alas passed away a few years back, was always on top of things, passing messages around, hauling up flags. I got in a frightful pickle recently when all the flags but two got washed overboard so I was forced to resort to semaphore.

Unfortunately the today's sailors are not taught this skill and indeed young Zackery sailed past shouting something about "text me already" whatever that means, waving something white and plastic in his hand. Maybe its just as well Margaret and I never had any children.

I would have said something back but he tacked in a way that made me think of Pamela. How sweet and fair she looked at her coming out ball in ... I think it was 36? or was it 37? was quite the grandest affair that Upper Yottingham saw 'tween the wars, cum corda iuvenes.

3. Have a cup of tea. In the good old days Reggie, before he got that pneumonia and pegged it, would always get the tea on at ten to four whatever the state of play. You have to remember, he'd say, hanging up the race abandoned flag, that we need to encourage people to be officer of the day.

No one minded, it was quite the done thing. And there was none of this Ood business - which is what exactly? Some light entertainment from the tele-vision device no doubt. Melior audivit quam inspecti!

I remember - it was in '38! Of course things would have been different if she'd said yes: whenever I smell clematis I'm reminded of that last dance.

Long time ago now, but some things never change. Winds will shift and buoys don't move themselves: I'd do it myself but the joints aren't what they were.

Hey ho! See you in the bar.

Commodore (rtd) Madeira.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nelson's Olympic hat

I'm not a great fan of the traditional captain's hat (see this post), but this Team GB + torch style looks rather neat to me.

It's part of the London 2012 Olympics celebration and as part of a "hatwalk" (groan, don't blame me for that one) several of the top statues of this city are being given the milliner touch.

Joining Nelson (above) are the similarly be-hatted likes of Queen Victoria, Duke of Wellington, Shakespeare, Churchill, Roosevelt, Robert Burns and Napier.

More here and a some pics here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Buff exposes Bonnie, challenges Tillerman

G'day all! Buff Staysail here! Buff by name and Buff by nature!

The Olympics might have ended but Buff has bounced on to his next assignment, super investigative journo, cracking the tough stories.

And today we have a scoop from a source across the pond. Allegedly Bonnie's level 2 kayaking course involves a little more than the odd brace position.

As can be seen by this EXCLUSIVE video students will be forced to navigate treacherous waters and dodge skull breaking waters!

But it also raised a good question. We hear from Tillerman that the Laser is the ultimate, but could it sail those waters?

I'll buy Mr T a beer of his choice if he'll demonstrate how to sail the Laser between breaking waves and cruel rocks!

This is Buff Staysail, people's champion, setting the agenda, over and out!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The ex Olympic Tornado sailor & the Volans2 next gen rowing skiff

Three weeks ago I was on Putney Bridge, just after the men's cycle road race had flown through. There was a moment of communal togetherness that broke barriers and I got talking to the two people standing next to me.

Cees and Lenneke were from The Netherlands and here for the Olympics but also on business. It turned out that Cees (van Bladel, above) was also a sailor, and a good one at that, having competed in the Tornado class at the 1988 Olympics.

We had a good chat about Ben and sailing to the Arctic and I asked him what he was doing now - was it still sailing?

It turned out he and Lenneke had started a company to develop a radical new rowing skiff, the Volans2, and they were planning on demonstrating it to the Putney Rowing clubs the following weekend. Would I be interested in a trial? Of course!

So the following weekend I met them and had a go. Now the important to thing to note is I've never been in a racing rowing boat or skiff of any sort, but the unique design (and their patient tuition) meant I was able to get a least a few proper strokes in after only a few minutes and never once went for a swim.

The design is radically different in that rather than the rower's seat moving on sliders instead the rig arms move back and forward. The benefit is without the rower's body moving the hull remains flatter on the water and there is less instability even for an absolute beginner like me.

This design makes it much faster than standard rigs - so much so that it has been banned from racing against them after Germany's Peter Michael Kolbe used it gain success at the World Sculling Championship.

But that doesn't mean it can't be used by rowers out for their own enjoyment - or the basis of an entirely new class.

More information can be found on their web site here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

London Olympics: Not for sale

Ever wonder what happens to the Lasers used in the Olympics?

Apparently pretty much everything but the Olympic kitchen sink is for sale including the dinghies the athletes competed in.

Well almost everything - apparently Tom Slingsby's Laser is not available as its being kept by the company.

Put your bids in now - just over 5k a pop.

Picture from: BBC report

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

London Olympics: The spirit of 2012

The last three weeks have been simply wonderful.

I have absolutely loved the London 2012 Olympics Games, pretty much from beginning to end.

From the moment we heard London had won I was an enthusiastic supporter, which at times left me in a minority. However I had confidence in this great city and felt there was no reason why we couldn't pull this one off.

But even I had no idea it would be such fun.

Those trips down to Weymouth, on the Nothe, a perfect cone of grass, surrounded by happy, enthusiastic sailing fans, families of the sailors and seeing legends left and right, felt like a second home. 

And for those days where I didn't have a ticket everything was streamed live on the BBC web site, so you could follow every tack or use the brilliant iOS / Androd apps to get the latest results.

To support the actual games there was impressive organisation and those thousands and thousands of volunteers who gave London 2012 its heart. Bravo!

Then there were simply magical nights standing in front of the TV watching records being broken and new stars getting golds for Team GB, the likes of Jess and Mo, now household names for which no surname is required.

And what a result - Team GB 3rd in the medal table with 29 golds.

London itself seemed to be alive, partying, with the National Houses, tall ships and Vikings, Gloriana bringing the Olympic flame to Tower Bridge, where five coloured rings were interlinked high above the river Thames.

There was that amazing opening ceremony which captured and defined modern Britain in a way we are still processing. (Ok the closing was a terrible wasted opportunity but mentally I've replaced it with my own which was so much better).

Now it is over, and its back to reality on this isle full of noise, to quote The Tempest again:

That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

Less a tempest than a time of wonder, one that we knew at the time was special, one that will never come again, one that will become part of our history like a Churchillian speech filled with tears of joy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

London Olympics: The Team JP Closing Ceremony

All good things must come to an end so its time for Team JP to say our goodbyes.

The London Olympics has been AMAZING and the only thing that has been missing was a joined up closing ceremony so we've put our own version forward.

Alas due to a budget shortfall only this high-level overview was produced.

Theme: The London Olympic's Journey

Act I: Prelude to the Games

Soundtrack: Chimes of Big Ben
Stage: Trafalgar Square made of grey blocks
Stadium visuals: grey with red heartbeat pulse
Video: Singapore 2005, opening the envelope

"And the winner is....LONDON"

Soundtrack: Blur - Song #2
Stage: Explodes in fireworks and confetti
Stadium visuals: coloured explosions
Video: Trafalgar Square celebrates

Building the Games

Soundtrack: Girls Aloud - The Promise
Stage: Blocks that make Trafalgar Square are re-arranged into the Olympic Stadium bit by bit
Stadium visuals: workers diggers, nailing things together etc
Video: Timelapse of construction of Olympic site

Opening Ceremony

Soundtrack: Robbie Williams - Let Me Entertain You
Stage: Blocks become coloured; echos of opening, five rings of fire, Voldemort etc
Stadium visuals: Taken from opening
Video: Highlights of opening, Queen, Bond etc

Act II: The Games

Soundtrack: Tears for Fears - Everyone wants to rule the world
Stage: Setting up the games e.g. putting out markers, lines for finish etc
Stadium visuals: echoing stage
Video: Athletes prepare, limber up, stretch, get ready etc

Soundtrack: Snow Patrol - Run
Stage: Runners doing their thing, acted out, some in the air etc
Stadium visual: legs running etc
Video: Some of the big races, marathon, 100m, 200m, 5,000m, 10,000m etc

Soundtrack: Coldplay - Fix you
Stage: Actors trip each other, fall tired, poles break etc
Stadius visual: running without moving, line gets further away
Video: Athletes in tears, the South Korean fencer refusing to leave, Victoria Pendleton making heart sign etc

Soundtrack: Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Stage: Athletes wave flags, light flares, run arms in air, do that Bolt sign etc
Stadium visuals: stars exploding
Video: Athletes winning and celebrating

Act III: Thanks to Volunteers and Handover to Rio

Soundtrack: The Queen - George Michael - Amazing
Stage: Actors put on those purple jackets and dance etc
Stadium visuals: clapping hands
Video: Collage of the amazing volunteers laughing smiling etc

Soundtrack:  Duran Duran - Rio
Stage: Bring out the samba dancers! Carnival comes to the stadium
Stadium visuals: colourful sketch figures dancing
Video: Collage of Rio's beaches

Speeches, handover of the flag etc. 

The flames go out and lights fade to put stadium into darkness until spot shows.....

Soundtrack:  Spice Girls - Goodbye
Stage: Dancing, lyrically
Stadium visuals: hands waving
Video: The very, very best bits of the London 2012 Olympic Games

- THE END - 

London Olympics: Why the Danish National House was my favourite

My favourite of the three national houses I visited during the London 2012 Olympics was the Danish one.

Partly it was because they invited me for a trip on the tall ship Maja as it went under Tower Bridge the day before the Olympics opened.

Partly it was because they built a replica of the Olympic Village in Lego:
Partly it was because they showed me around this lovely replica Viking boat (more on that later):
But mostly it was because everyone I met was really friendly and helpful.

For example when I turned up the two Viking experts were eating strawberries and cream and yet despite that took time out to show me around the boat.

What can I say but sorry and thanks!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

London Olympics: French National House

Along with the Brazil National House I also visited the French National House, which was located within Old Billingsgate Market.

Alas it turned out the main part was only open to the public before 7 pm and, yes, that's when I arrived. And so with a very Parisian shrug of the shoulders I was told it was closed.

Just offshore they had moored the ship Belem, a lovely three masted barque:
I'd already seen Belem, the day before the Olympics started, when I'd sailed on the tall ship Maja. With typical Gallic style it went through Tower Bridge with all sails up (top).

But despite this beautiful ship France wasn't my favourite....

London Olympics: Brazil National House

The Olympics Games is winding down but before the Closing Ceremony time for a couple of posts on another side of London 2012.

All over the capital are the National Houses, showcases from countries all over the world. There's a full list here but I only got to see three of them.

First up, Brazil, host country for the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which is one of my all time favourite cities.

It was located within the fantastic Somerset House and included examples of Brazilian art and overview of the arrangements they are making for the next games, including the 3D logo.
There was also a stage for live music which alas I didn't get to see (it was the day of the beach volleyball ticket) but must have been a lot of fun.
However despite all that Brazil wasn't my favourite....

Saturday, August 11, 2012

London Olympics: The Last Match Race

This afternoon I've been gripped by streaming the final of Elliot 6m racing in which we've seen a broach and the Australian skipper swimming.

I think the match racing was my favourite of all the classes I saw on the Nothe, dramas of action and tactics, always with one winner (ultimately Spain, above) and one loser (Australian, below).
These photos are from my last trip down to Weymouth on Tuesday, and I really wish I could have been there today for one more race.

Maybe that's the way it should be, to leave us wanting more.

Thank you London Olympic sailing at Weymouth in 2012 - it was absolutely fantastic!

Friday, August 10, 2012

London Olympics: Sassi says hats off for the Nothe

Hi Guys!

Sassi's been loving it down here on the Nothe! Ok, still can't get my head about all these sailing rules but who cares when the sun's out, the beer's cold and there's Rihanna playing loud.

Big thumbs up to the announcers for making the atmosphere totally Glasto gig-like. Special mention to Hannah for her "I'll stick with boys" comment (*) just beating her colleague's "we all like a bit of roll-play" (**)

After this week's thrills I'm really getting into water sports, so just measure me up for neoprene and I'll be out there!

OMG, the Olympics - missing you already!!

Luv ya!

Sassi xxx

(*) Ed: er, Sassi, in the context of a discussion about the pronunciation of the word "buoy"

(**) Ed: in the context of preparations for match racing.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

London Olympics: Buff loses his shirts

G'day all! Buff Staysail here! Buff by name and Buff by nature!

It's not been the best of days down here on the Nothe in Weymouth.

Even a sailing journo legend like your truly has his work cut out when the wind fails to arrive. Given it was going to be a washout news-wise, I felt JP wouldn't mind if I switched to the hat with CEO Buff Enterprises on its rim.

See I'd come prepared! Here was thousands upon thousands of the world's greatest sailing fans, all looking for the perfect souvenir and what could be better than a "Olympics 2012 - its pure B.S." t-shirt!!

I found a space down by the Weymouth water front and laid out my stall and waited for the rush.

Business was a bit slow at first so I decided to up the game. Given I didn't want the sailing ticket anyhow I offered it as the prize in a lotto draw open to all purchasers of any of the "Total B.S. Weymouth 2012" range of products.

The crowds were just forming when I was man handled by two men in dark suits with matching shades. I could just make out the letters LOCOG engraved on their sunglasses arms.

They confiscated half my stock (surely that's theft? - anyhow no worries, got the other half safe in my B&B) plus my remaining ticket, which was painful as I'd super-glued it to my arm to stop JP pulling rank on me.

So JP it's up to you. Can you put an advert up so lucky punters can get their hands on EXCLUSIVE Buff Staysail Olympics t-shirts?

This is Buff Staysail, bruised but optimistic, over and out.

JP: I was of course going to help ol' Buff but just as I was about to publish a post there was a knock on the door and two polite gentlemen in matching dark suits and shades (and yes, Buff was right, you could just make out LOCOG engraved on the glasses's arms) who advised me that it wasn't in my best interest to do so.

It's a warm evening here in London but let me tell you a shiver went down my spine so alas Buff you're on your own on this one.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

London Olympics: Match Racing Photos

Some more photos, this time of the Eliot 6m match racing, also from yesterday's races off the Nothe in Weymouth.

It was always very close - in fact in the pic above there are actually four boats.

London Olympics: Windsurfing Photos

 Couple of pics taken yesterday, Tuesday 7th August, down at Weymouth.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

London Olympics: Tom Slingsby's Gold

Here's Australia's Tom Slingsby, officially the best Laser sailor in the world with his Olympic Gold Medal, being interviewed on Weymouth's Nothe Fort earlier today.

Alas I wasn't able to ask him Tillerman's question about pigeon-toed hiking, but I managed to put it to our favourite commentator, offshore sailor Hannah White (below, with Tom).

Her suggestion was that having feet go in different directions balances out the twist which is good news for the spine - or, of course, it could just be personal preference.

I am not a Laser sailor, I do not know.

London Olympics: Team GB Rowing Medal winners go to Beach Volleyball

After the beach volleyball had finished Sunday evening there was a great cheer as some of Team GB's rowing medal winners came onto the sand.

Cue.... "Team GB! Team GB!! Team GB!!!"

Monday, August 06, 2012

London Olympics: Team JP @ Beach Volleyball

As a break from sailing Team JP went off to see the beach volleyball in Horse Guards Parade. So what did we make of it? JP's reactions first then we'll pass over to Sassi then Buff.

JP: It felt a bit like baby sitting a hyperactive kid on a sugar rush. Whereas sailing you see them round a mark and then can relax for a bit while they make their way downwind / upwind (delete as applicable) with beach volleyball you can never relax.

In fact you barely have a free moment to watch the actual game.

There's music (snatches of), after a Mexican trumpet you're meant to do something (shout, wave hands, forget which), another sound you'd have to do that milking the cow action, there were Mexican waves, stand thumping, dancers, flashing score boards, squeaking announcer, flag waving, cries of "U! S! A!" or "Italia!" depending upon allegiances (and if you don't the announcer will prompt you with a "U! S!" or "Ita!" and expect you to complete it).....

And then, blink, its over.

Of course not a bad way to spend a summer's evening in the centre of London as the view is great, overlooked by the imperial era Foreign Office:
Anyway, Sassi, what did you think:

Sassi: It was fan-tast-ic!! It was go-go-go, beaches, costumes, Rihanna, Arctic Monkeys, we were dancing like Mike Jagger, there was even Kylie and Eurythmics sweet dreams for the oldies.

And the game was fast, full of girl power! No need to remember obscure rules, easy to see who won - USA! Woo hoo!!

Ok, fair enough, so Buff, your reaction:

Buff Staysail: ......

Er? You ok Buff?

Buff Staysail: .....

Sorry, Buff's eyes are glazed and he seems lost for words: maybe that's for the best.

Anyway an enjoyable evening at the London Olympics but needs to take a chill pill or two if you ask me.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

London Olympics: Ticket Frenzy

Every evening in London there's a fever of excitement as a small number of additional Olympic tickets are suddenly released, unannounced.

The whisper goes round, phone calls are made, texts sent - go online now to get your tickets. In the feeding frenzy you have to apply quickly - you snooze, you loose, and the web site's irritating waiting time eats away at nerves.

Of course you know what my first, second and third choices were last night for a ticket for today, but it wasn't to be. While checking with a friend suffering with 'flu the few remaining places for sailing were snapped up.

I tried again to find something else for but athletics, cycling, kayaking, rowing and tennis were all gone.

So I'm off to the beach volleyball - ah well, mustn't grumble.

London Olympics: Ben's golden race

First, Jonas, I'm so sorry, but golly what an afternoon!

There are events you can watch sitting down. There are events you stand in front of the TV. Then there are events like this afternoon's sailing you can't stand still, the tension is so high you're pacing from side to side.

Ben did it after all.