Friday, August 12, 2011

♥ Some SA/OTWA Love

 Here is the link to the most recent piece I wrote for Sailing Anarchy. It's about the Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge, where we scored a 2nd Place in our fleet. I wrote a sister piece about the Solomon's Island Invitational - it's further down on this blog, titled "Serenity NOW".

Pool Party - Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge

You know you want to give SA some love - they have given me a lot of support over the past couple of years, and I love writing for them and I especially love sailing in events when the OTWA team is on the water. And there was that one time they gave me the microphone and all hell broke loose, but we don't have to talk about that. Let's just say that I'm hella proud to be OTWA alumna, and I can't wait to see them on the water again.

Here are two of my fave recent On-The-Water-Anarchy productions for you to check out:

2011 Charleston Race Week 

Little AC!!! Newport was off the chain for this event.

By the way, yes I see what time it is on a Friday night. This is not lame at all. I just got back from Philly for the USA vs. Mexico soccer game and I'm still recovering (and I'm a little rejoicing over not being in jail). So let me recover from my hangover by watching my little sailing videos, and I'll stay out of your face. But first here's a picture from the game:

That's my BFF.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

» I'm Ready!

I haven't posted in over a week, and I'm kind of busy right meow, so here is a funny picture.

My crewmates Chris and Jermaine were working hard to pack all of our gear, sails, coolers and whatnot into the truck so we could haul ass down to Chucktown ... and I was upstairs playing dress-up.

Yes, that is my shirt. My friend Jon sent it me when I was in Iraq. It was the best care package I ever got.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

♦ America's Cup Uncovered

Eat your hearts out, sailing enthusiasts. There are going to be 90 of these:

Wait ... What?

There are going to eighty-nine MORE of these???

Woof. Where is the hype?!

Okay, okay, okayyyyyyy. I know a lot of you are going to hate me for not being ecstatic about this video. But, come on. I know people who can make more interesting shows using stuff they found in a 7-11 parking lot. Not to mention, my generation is all about extreme sports and challenges, and we want that same energy to come through in our media; the AC is really going to have to step its game up if it wants to compete for our attention.

I'll give them this: a lot of the visuals in this video are quite unparalleled. But, the show is still pretty "meh" for me. It's missing something ... or maybe it has too much something ...

And is that Randall from the Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger video doing the narrating?

Okay, I'm projecting a little. It wasn't all that bad. But, it wasn't all that great either, and this stuff NEEDS to be tops in order to get the non-sailing community interested. Shouldn't that be a priority?

Anyways, here is some quick commentary on my favorite parts (in pictures!):

I fucking love helicopters. I had to include this shot. 

I always secretly laugh at the little people clinging to the tramp when I see a catamaran capsize. And then I hope that they're okay.

Another shot I loved because I'm REALLY into spy movies. These shots of San Fran definitely had that edgy feel to them.

America! Fuck yeah.

Can't really make jokes here. This was a pretty cool rendering of the AC-72.

Hey Paul! You should check out San Francisco based Paul Oliva's column here. (Paul has informed me that the above rendering of the AC72 shows the seabreeze coming from the wrong direction. Woops!)

More capsize footage. It never gets old. They did a cool thing here by integrating actual news coverage into the show. The last time I saw sailing on the news was when the whole Abby Sunderland thing happened. Er, didn't happen, I should say.

America's Cup history. Lots of math. Before I watched the episode, I expected there to be more history/foundation than anything. I hope they go more in-depth in one of the upcoming 89 episodes.

Guy says "epic". I hate that word. I really had no idea that the next America's Cup is going to be a really long poem

Cool mock-up of the AC village in San Fran.

I can totally do that. In heels.

Jimmy eats a sandwich.

Jimmy drives a Camry.

Jimmy eats another sandwich.

4-minute spotlight on Sweden and the Challenger-of-Record. PSYCHE! It's a 4-minute spotlight on New Zealand. I'm a little confused.

Random Kiwi talks shit about Jimmy.

Teaser on the next episode about Sweden and the Challenger-of-Record. PSYCHE! It's a teaser about an episode about China and Korea. I'm a little confused.

Okay, so I'm clearly no expert. I liked the video, and I'm happy to share it. But I can't promise that any of my friends are going to be interested, or happy that I'm shoving yet another sailing video down their throats. (I'm totally going to, anyways.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

∞ Serenity NOW

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I wanted to go for a boat ride, so I sent out a few texts to see if I could find someone to race with. Except, I accidentally sent out this

"Hey, I'm going to be in Annapolis tomorrow night if you know anyone looking for screw." 

Woops. I'm really quite the dumbass sometimes. 

Anyways, my friend John Schlossberg invited me to race with him on Tim Lyons' Corsair 43 Triple Threat in the Solomon's Island Invitational, a fifty-ish mile race from Annapolis to Solomon's Island. I had done this race before and I needed to get to Solomon's anyways, so I immediately signed on for the race. I was totally stoked! I'd never sailed on a trimaran before, so I was excited to get out and see how it worked firsthand.

After meeting Tim, the owner, and Joe Ament and Harry Murphey, the two other crew, we got the boat ready and pushed off the dock to get to the starting line. After John and Tim guided us through a great start with Joe and I on the main traveler and Harry maintaining sight on the line, we set on down the bay with some decent wind and optimistic thoughts about our tactics. 

A rare calm and collected moment for KB

I'll tell you what, that race was the most refreshing sailing I've done all year. I told Harry that the only thing I could complain about was the wind direction (on the nose), and he said he couldn't even complain about that because then the sail would be over too soon. What a great perspective to have; sometimes it's nice to concentrate on the quality of an experience rather than how fast you're going. I rarely do that.

On top of the good breeze and cool air, the moon was full and there was not a cloud in the sky. We could see for days out there in the middle of the bay, and the feel of the trimaran gliding through the water at about nine knots all night was unparalleled to any sailing I've done in months.

The sunset shortly after the start.

As this race serves as a feeder race to the Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge, I usually try to take it a little easy, knowing full well that I'm going to have to get another race boat ready for a regatta once I get to Solomon's. 

I wholly failed to do that this year. Big time. 

Though the sail down was phenomenal and not very taxing at all, I cannot say the same for the way I treated my liver once we got to the dock at 5am. Poor liver; the rum-and-pineapples started flowing immediately, and they were strong. There was nothing I could do! And come on, when the tent party starts at sunrise after not sleeping all night, there really isn't much defense for sobriety after a certain point. 

In the end, we didn't do as well as we'd hoped, but sometimes even a loss can't take away from the good feeling you leave with after an event. I'm going to go ahead and chalk this experience up as a big win for myself, because it was fucking awesome, and also because I survived the worst daytime hangover I've ever had.

Photos by Joe Ament, Triple Threat crew.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Δ The Dyneema Experience (!!!)

Earlier this year, we started a campaign with Dyneema to get all new lines for Wairere, Pete Hunter's Thompson 30. The campaign is called The Dyneema Experience, and our intention is to take our experience with all of the running rigging (all new FSE Robline made with Dyneema) and share it using social media. Here is a quick write-up of our experience so far:

After receiving the new lines in a gigantic box, we basically shipped them straight up to Annapolis Performance Sailing with all of our old lines, asking them to "make this new stuff look like that old stuff." Easy, right? For us it was.

It was a big project for APS, I'm sure, but they did a great job with it. Everything works exactly like it's supposed to. I think. You can read about the rigging job on their blog, where they share specs and technique to explain the process of transforming a gigantic box of lines that do jack nothing into a gigantic box of lines that move sails up and down on a boat.

I imagine that replacing ALL of the lines on a boat at one time is a pretty rare deal, but I don't really know because I don't own my own boat. I own a toaster oven. It's pretty sweet. Anyways ...

That's a SWEET jib halyard.

We've sailed with our new FSE Roblines twice now (podium both times, holler), and we're pretty happy with it. We're not a professional crew, but we have enough skill and knowledge between the nine of us that we fully recognize the quality job done by APS. And by that, I mean that we haven't managed to foul it all up too bad yet.

I don't really know any technical stuff about lines, but if I did, I would totally be like, "Yeah, and the tack line is made out of some technical stuff and it holds the kite better than any tack line I've ever used." Something like that. I'd use a bunch of numbers, too. Since I don't have that expertise, here is what some of the crew thinks of the new stuff after racing with it:

From front to back of the bus:
Angry Bowman, Jay Price: "When you lashed me with that spinny sheet, all I could do was cry out More! More! More! But seriously, they had a good feel to them."
Mastman, Carey Hardesty: "The finish work on all the lines is top notch! When we pulled the halyards out of the bag, we had a local rigger standing by and he was quite impressed with the work. As for the line itself, it's super strong and light, and the covers have held up quite well - no burning or flat spots!"
Trimmer, Chris Korpman: "The kite sheet is solid with very little stretch; I had lots of control on the kite. Same with the jib sheets, and the halyards all run freely."
Trimmer, Todd Hart: "The lines were great. The splicing was done extremely well. Any issues I had with the lines were not the manufacturer or the rigger's fault. The slickness from being new and too much length are easily fixed."
Main Trimmer, Nick Turcotte: "The lines are pretty yaaaaaaaaaaaaayy.  Jay, do the new lines make you less angry?"
Runners, Wiley Price: "Stuff didn't seem to stretch in the runners - creep slightly/maybe. A plus is it didn't want to twist up as badly between the blocks like the prior lines did."

I guess now you guys are wondering what the hell it is that I do on the boat. Check it:

What did you expect? (Photo from Stephanie Sweeney)

Anyways, I'll make sure to bring the camera and go-pro out at our next race so that we can get some good footage for Dyneema and APS. Meanwhile, you can go here to sign up with our campaign; Dyneema is giving away all sorts of stuff, and you totally might win something.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

↕↕↑ WTF, another upwind finish ...

Everybody loves an upwind finish on a W/L course if it puts them closer to home, but let’s get down to brass tacks. Forget the ape; how much does an upwind finish cost the integrity of a handicapped race?

 I’m sure you really love a Course-5 when you’re racing on a boat that has a decent waterline and can go upwind for days without hardly a hike, but what if you’re sailing on what they call a “downwind sled”?

I’m not at all against upwind finishes ... in one-design. Hell, in one-design racing, you could lay out a course shaped like a dodecahedron for all I care. Same goes for box-rule. But when different boats with different ratings for different reasons are racing against each other, I think the course should be completely even.

Basically, what I’m against is a course without a matched "L" for every "W" in a handicapped W/L race.

Every time I’ve voiced this opinion in the past few years, I’ve always been rebuked with, “well, that’s handicapped racing for you”. As if it’s MY fault for sailing in a handicapped fleet. (Yeah yeah, we all know I belong in a handicapped SOMETHING, but let’s just keep this to sailing, okay?)

Granted, this complaint about an additional upwind leg is a pretty trivial matter. I mean, what is one leg? One to two miles? That’s it. No big deal. But I don’t know … I’ve seen one or two miles make or break races for boats that had no business making or breaking anything, you know what I mean?   

Look at some of the factors that go into a boat’s rating - sail area, spars, foils, ballast, hull design, weight, interior/exterior design. All of these things factor into making a fair rating, but they all affect performance differently depending on wind direction. Yes, I understand that other conditions factor into the equation, but let’s tackle these issues one at a time.

I’m just saying that if the point of handicapped ratings is to put all of the boats on an even playing field, then shouldn't the playing field itself be an even playing field?

These are things you don’t really think about until your breeze does a 180 a few times on a Course-5 and you get stuck racing four upwind legs and only one downwind. Talk about a brutal DFL; I think I have post traumatic stress disorder from that race.

Anyways, I feel like a pansy for even bringing it up. I'm never one to shout about things not being fair because I either genuinely do not give a shit or because I don't see the point in complaining. But maybe this is one of those things that could use some changing, so maybe I'm okay for being the little bitch and complaining about it. Just this once.  

Oh god. Did I just write about a "neither here nor there" topic again? 

♫ A Little Tribute to Magnus

Ever since Magnus Wheatley left the internet scene, I’ve really been missing the witty commentary and punditry he offered the sailing community with his Rule 69 Blog. I always saw a little of my same style in his writing, and I truly enjoyed his work. I have always gravitated to sarcasm and wit over dry journalism, and Magnus’ blog was one of the only sailing websites that supplied that kind of candid “reporting”.

But now:

What a cheerless little statement.

So anyways, here’s my ode to Magnus. Hold on … I don’t even know what an ode really is. If it’s a poem, we’re all screwed. How about a haiku?:

I don’t know any
Thing going on in sailing
Without you, Magnus.

Um … maybe that works. It’s not a correct statement, but the syllable count is absolutely precise. I think that’s the only thing that counts in a haiku.

Look, I’m not saying the guy is the god of all things quip, but his stuff was funny. There were a couple of times when I wholly disagreed with him on a subject, but his writing was forthright and free-flowing, which is more than I can say for a lot of the journalism going on in the rest of the sailing world.

I don’t know if I can provide commentary at the level of Magnus Wheatley, but I will do my best to just tell it like I see it when it comes to racing. And I promise to throw in some crazy stories, too.

So in all seriousness, welcome to my blog. I'm a bit of a joke but I’m slowly making progress, and this has been a long time coming. (So I’ve been told.)

Much love,
Katie Burns
(PS - I really hope things are going well for you and yours, Magnus. Best wishes.)