Thursday, May 29, 2008

Accepted knowledge...and the skill trumps tech conundrum.

We've been sitting in Road Bay, Anguilla the last few days...It's nice here!

One of the nice things about Anguilla is that they have a very active ( some might say rabid) racing fleet. Day in and day out the local boats go out...The local sloops don't have engines so they sail...and sail...and sail.

The Anguillan sloops are hardly the thing of high tech. ballast is bodies and sand bags, masts are more often than not started life as a light pole . Slack rigged with jib set flying and not a winch or whisp of carbon and Kevlar in sight it is interesting to note that sailing into Road Harbor which is pretty much always a windward slog the home boys outpoint the cruisers coming in with much more weatherly and teched out rigs...

So how do they do it...Accepted knowledge being that the modern Bermuda sloop is the best to weather!

Well my less than scientific observation has made me note a couple of things about the cruisers coming in here...Not a lot of patience being one... and a motor that works being the other. Almost always a boat will begin to tack in and after the third tack ( or more likely second) the motor comes on the sails get rolled up and they beeline in to the anchorage.

So it goes

The guys in the Anguillan sloops have to sail in...but then from the looks on their faces they are enjoying it and having a fine time of it in the process! Because they do sail and do it a lot it is hardly surprising that they get pretty damn good at it....and did I say these guys sail fast?

Now I'm not a Luddite ( well only a bit) but just maybe the reason people don't go to weather so well is that they simply don't do it enough to upgrade their skill set and part of that is simply always taking the easy road when offered and turning on the engine...Tack in for 45 minutes or motor in ten? Then again once you get better at it maybe its more like tack in for 25 minutes or motor in 10 minutes...

When we were cruising in Loose Moose 2 we got pretty tired of people telling us that we were idiots for having a gaff rig that could not point as high as a Bermudan sloop. Yet time and time again we would outpoint the Bermudan sloops we sailed with simply because we had worked at it (and to be honest the motor was a hassle on LM2) but most of the time we beat to weather we seemed to be the only boat not running our engine...Gaff rig indeed!

So why the mania for boats that point high if you are not going to point high? Inquiring minds want to know!

I'm all for high tech and can gear lust with the best of folk but if I were a betting man I'd always bet on skill over high tech and so called modern design. Skill almost always trumps tech. That is if I were a betting man...

Here is the crew of Sonic with some serious business to windward (it being Miller time)