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Volvo Ocean Race - The Race for the Chops featured image

Volvo Ocean Race – The Race for the Chops

Don’t let the title fool you… I’m not talking about the real VOR. Personally, I think those guys are crazy, going around the world on a 70′ rickety rocketship, eating freeze dried food with threats of fishing boats, nets, long lines, pirates and the Indonesian Navy.Rather, I’m talking about the Volvo Ocean Race Game (www.volvooceanracegame.org) that a few of us here in the office are playing. Officially, the stakes are for bragging rights, although there is talk that the last […]

Don’t let the title fool you… I’m not talking about the real VOR. Personally, I think those guys are crazy, going around the world on a 70′ rickety rocketship, eating freeze dried food with threats of fishing boats, nets, long lines, pirates and the Indonesian Navy.

Rather, I’m talking about the Volvo Ocean Race Game (www.volvooceanracegame.org) that a few of us here in the office are playing. Officially, the stakes are for bragging rights, although there is talk that the last person to finish in Singapore will have to grow out the ol’ mutton chops for a solid month.

There are seven of us currently making our way from India, around Sri Lanka, through the scoring gate due north of Palau We and down to Singapore… and we’re doing it from the comfort of our own couches at home (because, honest boss, we’d never waste company time on this…).

Right now, I hold a debatable lead over the rest of the group — I say debatable because I’ve made a fairly risky/bold/heinously stupid move to hug Sri Lanka while the rest of the group is taking a more true to life approach by staying further offshore. I’d love to tell you that I have some master plan associated with this move, but I basically didn’t plan on a wind shift and I was forced to head further north than I expected. Now, everyone else is moving at about twice my speed… so yeah, I’m basically banking on being able to break to the north before everyone else to save myself the humiliation of growing the most spotty and grotesque facial hair ever seen.

Taking a look at the current Rankings:
1st Place: Scoop editor, Chris (DTF = 1,478nm)
2nd Place: Scoop editor, James (DTF = 1,499nm)
3rd Place: Aaron from Customer Service (DTF = 1,524nm)
4th Place: Mike from Fulfillment (DTF = 1,531nm)
5th Place: Warren from Customer Service (DTF = 1,563nm)
6th Place: Jarret from Rigging (DTF = 1,576nm)
7th Place: Ian from the Storefront (DTF = 1,709nm)

Lucky for me, Ian was asleep at the helm this weekend, steering a due south course for the better part of 72 hours. Even though he has finally adjusted course and there’s a ton of race left, all of the analysts agree that he’s going to have to do some fancy (fake) sailing to avoid “winning” the Race for the Chops.

Unsexy Update: Due to the rules at the beginning of the race apparently being unclear about being able to cut between Sri Lanka and India, the folks running the VOR game are throwing up the ol’ virtual 1st Substitute penant and are recalling the entire fleet. This was apparently due to the complaints of a bunch of people that must have more on the line than having to grow unweildy facial hair.

The Race for the Chops will be restarting tomorrow at 0500 Eastern, when Ian will get a second life and my somewhat safe feeling about not having absurd facial hair will evaporate.

Leukemia Cup Glory and School Girl Giggles feature image

Leukemia Cup Glory and School Girl Giggles

At our staff meetings, we’ve been encouraging our staff to contribute something to the blog, to explore other perspectives of sailing beyond new products. Well, that and Rob, James and I aren’t nearly creative enough to write something new every day. A gold star goes to one of APS’ website and catalog production guys, Mike Carter, for actually paying attention in one of the meetings and putting something together. Why We Sail We are all guilty of it at some […]

At our staff meetings, we’ve been encouraging our staff to contribute something to the blog, to explore other perspectives of sailing beyond new products. Well, that and Rob, James and I aren’t nearly creative enough to write something new every day.

A gold star goes to one of APS’ website and catalog production guys, Mike Carter, for actually paying attention in one of the meetings and putting something together.

Why We Sail

We are all guilty of it at some point in our sailing careers — we get so wrapped up in the finding that right boat, the right race, the right crew, the right wind, the right race committee, and so on, that we lose track of why we are actually out on the water… to have fun! We are so focused on complaining about that bad start, bad RC call, some other boat’s foul, or some crew member’s mistake that we find ourselves going from regatta to regatta filled with negative energy and simply going through the motions. It is usually at this point that we say to ourselves, “Why am I doing this again?”

But, every now and then, the right thing does happen. The planets do line up, the wind sets in, the perfect crew is aboard, the RC sets up a good course and we have the sail of our lives! Sometimes that has nothing to do with the results, and other times you get that bullet as the whipped cream on top of that perfect sailing sundae. Either way, you have that day on the water that puts everything in perspective, reminds you why you sail, and why you love racing! It is simply… why we sail!

For me, that day was October 25th, 2008 racing in the Baltimore Harbor Leukemia Cup. Not a major regatta, certainly no KWRW or Block Island, but this race will go down in the annals of Bay lore as one of those epic days of Chesapeake sailing. There was the requisite carnage, with several boats losing rigs, blowing out sails, and all that one would expect in such conditions. The forecast was calling for sustained winds of 15-20 knots out of the SE, and the weather did not fail to make good on and exceed our expectations. As we motored out to the Baltimore Lighthouse for the rendezvous on the brand new BC27 Problem Child, it was chilly and windy with the promised 20 knots blowing in, as called for from the SE. I was of course decked out in all my APS purchased gear…best of all being my Gill Extreme Gloves and Rocky Gore-Tex Socks. So, my hands and feet stayed warm and dry, even in that severe weather. We had a fantastic crew aboard and everyone was excited to see how evil genius Brian Jones’ newest creation would handle the big breeze. Problem Child had only recently made her debut at Annapolis Race Week, handily winning the regatta with 5 bullets and a 2nd against a very talented fleet of racers. Since Brian built her to race on the Chesapeake and to handle all that the Bay could muster, the pressure was on to prove that what she did so well in the light breeze would carry over to the big breeze and heavy chop as well. This was only her second regatta.

No one, including Brian was sure exactly how she would go. As we lined up for the sequence and began making our moves, the breeze kept building and building. We decided to be conservative, given the conditions and managed a respectable place on the line and a good start. But, as it turned out that was of little consequence, for as soon as we got her dialed in, off we went like a bat out of hell. It became obvious right away that it was not a matter of if we would lead the pack, but when. And we did not have to wait long, because by the time we had rounded the second mark we were solidly in the lead of our class, and soon after that we were ahead of all of the fleets, even those bigger and faster boats that started ahead of us. We kept looking around at one another wondering if this was really happening, but it was. We were flying! I was sitting about as far to stern as I could, and was calling the pressure as well as I could given the slop that was behind us and the then constant 25 knots of breeze. Calling puffs in those conditions was like picking out a mosquito in a swarm of gnats. But, with each call of “PUFF ON” we would get up and go even faster. And on it went for most of the remainder of the race…As we turned into the Patapsco River to make our final run into Baltimore, the wind had built to nearly 30 knots, with puffs considerably higher. It was around this point that I and the rest of the crew had our “WOW, this is why we frickin’ race!” moment.

We had quickly caught back up to the single A0 boat that had waterlined us on the previous “upwind” leg, and put her easily behind us. And there she stayed! As the wind continued to build over to 30 knots, our competition faded out of sight, and there we were all alone in first without even a glimpse of another boat off of our stern. As each new huge puff came in, we felt Problem Child grab and harness the breeze as we surged faster and faster, eventually topping out at just over 18 knots. I’m not ashamed to admit that at several points during this experience, I was downright scared. And judging by the looks on the rest of the crews faces, so were they! These were all very experienced big boat racers with blue water experience, and in some cases had been sailing at the highest levels of our sport. But, a funny thing happened as we were peaking out at max speed….someone started to giggle. Not a laugh mind you, but a silly, child-like giggle. The kind of giggle you once let out when you were sledding down that huge hill as a kid. Apparently, it was contagious. Because in seconds, everyone was giggling like school girls, and with that all our fear abated. As I looked around at the crew, we were all ear to ear smiles as we ripped along at 18 knots, slicing through or sailing off of waves, dodging tugs, barges, and clueless powerboats. And none of that mattered, or perhaps all of that mattered, as we were simply enjoying the very essence of sailing, harnessing our primal fear and excelling at something we all loved to do…sail. Yes, we did win the regatta, finishing an uncorrected 7 minutes ahead of the next boat across the line, but that was just the icing on the cake. And, yes there were a few mishaps and damage during the final leg, but they will forever just add to the legend and improve upon the endless retelling of the tale in sailor bars and regatta tents around the world, as such events always do…

As for me, I couldn’t wait to get out and sail again. I had once again become enamored with racing, and less concerned with the silly details that had before preoccupied my sailing mind. That day for me, defined why we sail!

Jet 14 Frostbiting featured image

Jet 14 Frostbiting

One of the boats that I race is a Jet 14. “What the hell is that?” most people wonder at this point. I usually describe it as either little Thistle or a Snipe with a spinnaker. Basically a two person dinghy with a kite – not a very large class but it’s a fun group. I usually sail with my father and since it was his recently his birthday I figured I’d give him a shout out here on The […]

One of the boats that I race is a Jet 14. “What the hell is that?” most people wonder at this point. I usually describe it as either little Thistle or a Snipe with a spinnaker. Basically a two person dinghy with a kite – not a very large class but it’s a fun group. I usually sail with my father and since it was his recently his birthday I figured I’d give him a shout out here on The Stern Scoop. So here’s my dad with my Jet at the dock of Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis.

James' dad with the Jet

The Jets frostbite every other Saturday during the winter along with the local Interclub fleet. Last weekend we raced in a light 3-8 kt southerly. The air temp was in the mid 30s which made for a very nice day of racing. We had 8 boats out which made for some exciting starts on the short line. In this one your author on 1140 clearly dominated all the way.

Jet 14 start linePhoto courtesy of Ted Reshetiloff

Editors note: I am forced to admit that there is some possibility that this picture was taken prior to the gun and I am in fact not dominating anything other than a solid OCS in this particular race.

Karma Feature Image

Karma?

“The effect of sailing is produced by a judicious arrangement of the sails to the direction of the wind.” – William Falconer, Universal Dictionary of the Marine: 1769. “Introducing the new J22 spin pole…easier to stow and now designed to fit in your sedan.” – Rob Beach, (APS Marketing Dept) on the benefits of the outcome of the first photo. Note: Like any good bowman does, prior to sailing that day Rob inspected his equipment. Finding a pole with stuck […]

“The effect of sailing is produced by a judicious arrangement of the sails to the direction of the wind.” – William Falconer, Universal Dictionary of the Marine: 1769.

“Introducing the new J22 spin pole…easier to stow and now designed to fit in your sedan.” – Rob Beach, (APS Marketing Dept) on the benefits of the outcome of the first photo.

Note: Like any good bowman does, prior to sailing that day Rob inspected his equipment. Finding a pole with stuck ends “Resourceful Rob” decided to “borrow” a pole from APS’ owner Kyle who, fortunately for Rob, was too scared to go out.

Weekend Sailing Haiku

Weekend Sailing Haiku

The following is a haiku from our very own Customer Service Representative & Poet Laureate, Aaron Freeman. We’re going to let the great literary scholars of our time debate where this effort resides in the pantheon of haiku’s, but it does sum up the weekend nicely. First though, a little background information for those of you who aren’t familiar with the topic of the haiku, the Turkey Bowl. It’s an annual J/22 Regatta here in Annapolis, held in conjunction with […]

The following is a haiku from our very own Customer Service Representative & Poet Laureate, Aaron Freeman. We’re going to let the great literary scholars of our time debate where this effort resides in the pantheon of haiku’s, but it does sum up the weekend nicely.

First though, a little background information for those of you who aren’t familiar with the topic of the haiku, the Turkey Bowl. It’s an annual J/22 Regatta here in Annapolis, held in conjunction with Thanksgiving, where the winner of the event actually wins a turkey (a 23-pounder this year). Personally, I think it would be much cooler if the award was a live turkey, but early reports indicate that Butterball had taken the spryness out of this particular bird.

So anyways, 17 boats registered for the event, but only 10 brave (possibly insane) teams actually ventured out to the race course on Saturday morning. Temps hovered just above freezing and there was a fairly sporty breeze of about 20-25kts; when all was said and done, it was APS’ very own Warren Richter and Aaron Freeman (along with Gene Peters) winning the event.

Oh yeah, the haiku… right. So here it is, an Aaron Freeman original:

Turkey Bowl race day
It’s cold blowing dogs off chains
Masts hitting water

Warm in Bora boots
R1 and Musto toasty
Extreme gloves hands cold

Boats fast giddy-up
Three great races thanks RC
Happy Thanksgiving

Aaron Freeman is a member of our Customer Service team and is also the unofficial Team Gear guru for those of you looking to do an embroidery/dye sub/screen/heat transfer order — reach him at 800/729.9767, ext. 113.

Welcome to “The Stern Scoop”

Welcome to “The Stern Scoop”

Welcome to APS’s new spot on the Internet, The Stern Scoop. So, what’s the point of the The Scoop? Well, the idea of starting up a blog isn’t a new one for us… however, it only recently took off after a meeting of the APS Brain Trust, made up of this blog’s three “esteemed” editors and the president of the company. We decided it was time to launch this donkey because APS gets hit with new/exciting information all the time, […]

Welcome to APS’s new spot on the Internet, The Stern Scoop.

So, what’s the point of the The Scoop? Well, the idea of starting up a blog isn’t a new one for us… however, it only recently took off after a meeting of the APS Brain Trust, made up of this blog’s three “esteemed” editors and the president of the company.

We decided it was time to launch this donkey because APS gets hit with new/exciting information all the time, and it’s time for us to share that info with you. Also, the three of us really enjoy acting like we know something, despite years of evidence to the contrary.

Expect to see posts about why we like/dislike a certain product, customer feedback on new or existing items, how a product has worked for us, information from our suppliers (read: new products will be “leaked” here), regatta reports from our staff, technical information, etc.

We’re also developing ideas like posting video of our staff training sessions every Wednesday morning, so you can know what we know. Basically, it is our intention to throw out information and posts to help you make better decisions about gear for yourself or your boat. It’s also our intention to have some fun in doing so, usually at the expense of each other’s pride/dignity.


The three characters who will be doing the majority of the posting here are:

James hiking with backpackJames McKenna
Storefront Manager

For those readers who have been to APS’ retail store over the past half-decade, you have probably met James. Our Elf Lord of the cash register, he’s well versed on virtually every product that we carry. It’s actually a little scary sometimes; James has one of those minds that remembers details and picks up concepts at a rate usually reserved for CIA agents and folks putting satellites into space.


 

Rob holding up large fishRob Beach
Marketing Manager

The mind behind our catalogs and advertisements, there isn’t much that goes on at APS that Rob doesn’t have his hands in. At the beginning of every year, he’s part of our product selection process and he’s always on the front lines of the new products that are coming to market. His humor can be an acquired taste (be sure to check the weather in Annapolis before reading), but his product knowledge is pretty much unrivaled.


 

Chris sailing giving thumbs upChris Teixeira
Website Manager

You’ll forgive me if I feel a little weird about saying much about myself. I work on the website for APS and I know some stuff about some things. I’m a big fan of eating ice cream and I really enjoy a nice pair of slacks. Like Rob, my humor can take a little while to get used to… unlike Rob, that’s because my humor is at a 3rd grade level, at best. Oh, and I have a distasteful amount of vowels in my last name.


 

There you have it — we’re going to do our best to make this blog informative, interesting and occasionally humorous for you. We do ask that you always keep in mind that we are sailors, not writers; there’s a reason that we’re writing for a totally unknown, niche blog and not for the New York Times. That criticism of our literary skills aside, be sure to check back often and tell your friends (I get a bonus if enough people show up, so get to it).

Oh, in case you’re wondering about the name, The Stern Scoop, here’s how it came about. On the way out to the race course, there are always “those guys” that stand in the back of the boat and shoot the breeze while the rest of the crew actually does something productive and rigs the boat.

These conversations on the stern usually range from really dirty jokes to thoughts about the rigging and gear. Since that’s the kind of blog we’re planning on having (minus the dirty jokes — sorry, blame Legal), and Rob prefers to stand on the scoop at the back of the boat when he’s being one of “those guys”, we went with The Stern Scoop.

Yeah, there’s also that play on words with “scoop” and us dropping new info here, but that’s not as good a story.

Cheers!

The One Design Sailing Symposium

The One Design Sailing Symposium

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the One Design Sailing Symposium. The Symposium is a yearly conference put on by US Sailing to get together people involved in one design classes across the country including fleet leaders, class officers, sail makers, industry leaders and really anyone who is interested in coming. Many of the head honchos at US Sailing were there including several members of the Board of Directors. It was held at the Atlanta Yacht […]

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the One Design Sailing Symposium. The Symposium is a yearly conference put on by US Sailing to get together people involved in one design classes across the country including fleet leaders, class officers, sail makers, industry leaders and really anyone who is interested in coming. Many of the head honchos at US Sailing were there including several members of the Board of Directors. It was held at the Atlanta Yacht club, which was really neat club on lake Allatoona northwest of Atlanta. I really enjoyed the symposium and picked up a lot of good ideas to use in my own Jet 14 fleet here in Annapolis as well as making contacts with other classes that APS focuses on.It was a pretty standard setup, a number of different sessions going on at the same time and you pick the one of interest to you then do it again an hour later. A few of the interesting sessions I heard were about the Lightning boat grant program, a good talk about sponsorship by the new Marketing Director at US Sailing and some interesting ideas about coaching from the Thistle class that they do at their Midwinters. The Lightning program is one of the most interesting class development programs out there. They basically give new boats to a team of young sailors (college or just out of college for the most part) for a year and pay for their registration fees and help with travel expenses. It’s been going extremely well and I hope other classes adopt similar ideas so we can be sure to get more young people into OD classes.Dave Perry was there and gave a talk about the new rule changes Sunday morning. Some of them are interesting but there aren’t a lot of big changes. Everybody is aware I’m sure by now of the change from a 2 boat length circle to 3 boat lengths for determining overlap at mark roundings.They’ve also removed rule 18.4 when rounding at a gate and in general changed around some wording in section 18 in an effort to make it easier to understand (it’s still not exactly light reading). Hopefully this will make mark roundings go more smoothly but I imagine we’ll still have plenty of these:
Perry also gave a talk Saturday night that was pretty hilarious. Lots of jokes and poking fun at people and everyone really enjoyed it. This may have been related to the free rum drinks that had been served before the talk, but I’m sure it would have been very informative even without the booze.
Craig Leweck also spoke Saturday night. For those who don’t know he’s the guy who brings Scuttlebutt to your inbox every day. He gave a great talk and had some really good ideas to share with everyone about ways to market and grow one design classes. Craig focused on the importance of the internet and getting the relevant information about your regatta out to people quickly. He made a really great point that even if you have 100 boats at your class Nationals, there are likely still hundreds of other sailors from your class who aren’t there. They are likely just as interested and involved in what is happening; and we need to provide them with information about what is happening at the event as quickly as possible. Scuttlebutt also has a great page about regatta press releases including an email list of major sailing publication editors for you to send your press release to.Overall I had a really great time hearing about some of the ideas that other classes are implementing. There are a lot of great ideas out there for developing and improving your class and fleet and a whole lot of people willing to help you do it. It was great to see a group of people so motivated to growing one design sailing in the US.