Wednesday, February 24, 2010

40 Years of Windsurfing

My life changed on a dime when I discovered windsurfing in the early 80's. I was living on a big lagoon in Foster City, CA. A friend gave me his board that he was not using. It was a classic Bic. Had some wonderful times on that old board, learning the wind and playing in the water. Moved up to a nice board the next year and then a Klepper after that. Got so stoked, I started a windsurfing club called Wind Power. Had some awesome times and made some great friends. Sailing the bay and delta was about as wild as you can imagine. Great times in my life. By the mid 90's I was moving towards boats, which was a nice progression. I still get out there and have some fun but nothing like the 60-80 days per year that I used to enjoy. Here is a look back at the very beginnings of the sport from the late 60's. Enjoy! Cowabunga!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Crew Capacity for a 30' Sailboat?

I sent the above query out to several sailing email groups (Newport Owners Group and San Francisco Sailing, both Yahoo groups if you would like to join). Anywho, I received lots of great responses with most agreeing that more than 8 would be too many. I agreed. Then I got a response from a fellow Newport owner with a picture of his boat and 22 crew! I don't recommend it, but it can be done!

Elephants Never Forget

In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Mbembe was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pretty Cool

Solar Dynamics Observatory Launch, Feb 11, 2010 HD VERSION A sun dog is a prismatic bright spot in the sky caused by sun shining through ice crystals. The Atlas V rocket exceeded the speed of sound in this layer of ice crystals, making the shock wave visible from the ground. The announcer can be heard in the video saying, "The vehicle is now supersonic."

How Deep is the Ocean?

If you ever asked yourself that question, we have an answer.

Two Ways to Cross an Ocean

Singlehanded from San Francisco to Hawaii in 27 days from nickj on Vimeo.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ellison to Bring Cup to the Bay!

Oracle Corp. Chief Executive and multibillionaire Larry Ellison won the America's Cup on Sunday, claiming sailing's most prestigious trophy for San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club. Now he hopes to bring the next edition of the regatta—which will likely be held in about three years—to San Francisco itself.

Mr. Ellison, 65 years old, cultivated his passion for competitive sailing in San Francisco Bay, which he dubs "a wonderful natural amphitheater for sailing." He adds, "I'm not sure there's any place in the world that is better for viewers."

Fresh off the America's Cup victory, Mr. Ellison—who is the Bay Area's wealthiest individual with an estimated $27 billion fortune, according to Forbes—discussed his favorite places to sail in the region and where in the Bay he hopes to hold the next America's Cup.

Larry Ellison, winner of the America's Cup off Spain on Sunday, says bringing the race to San Francisco could boost its appeal in the U.S.

Q: Is San Francisco a feasible site for the America's Cup?

A: Absolutely. We match raced [Switzerland-based rival sailing team] Alinghi in San Francisco Bay in the Moët Cup [in 2003]. It was a spectacular regatta because people could watch from office buildings. The boats are big enough that you can see the entire race. We had hundreds of thousands of people watching this race—it was probably the most watched sailboat race ever. And we beat them.

Q: How did you first get into sailing?

A: Reading an article in National Geographic by Robin Lee Graham, where he sailed around the world in a 24-foot boat. I was about his age when he did that. He started out as a teenager.

The freedom to harness the wind and go anyplace you want to in the world seemed magical to me. That kind of independence, demonstrating that kind of self-sufficiency, at least in my own mind became a very romantic idea and something I wanted to do as well.

Q: And your competitive side took it to another level?

A: I first started sailing just for the joy of being out there. I was in San Francisco Bay and I couldn't go around the world—I had a job—so I just did day sailing. I learned on a 14-footer called Lido 14 at the University of California Yacht Club.

[Later I bought] a 24-foot boat. As long as I was out in the Bay sailing, there were races, and I started doing these.

Q: To hold the cup in San Francisco you would probably need a lot of space, though.

A: Well, that's the thing. I intend to talk to Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, and we'll see if there's room on the waterfront to do this. Maybe we can get out to Treasure Island. We want to develop a sailing village like they have in New Zealand and like they had in Valencia [in Spain, where the America's Cup was just held.] We want teams from all over the world to come here.

Q. Where is your favorite place to sail in the Bay Area?

A: Starting down at the Bay Bridge and racing up to a buoy near the end of the Bay. That's a fabulous place and about two-thirds of the race is along the city front. We get very close to the headlands and people onshore can watch.

Q: The America's Cup isn't as popular in the U.S. as it once was. Would holding the race in San Francisco be a way to change that?

A:If we have the America's Cup here in San Francisco, it will allow many more people to watch it. But we also have to do a better job of televising it. We can make sailing much more understandable and much more exciting by putting cameras on the boats.

These boats twist and groan and the sounds are a very important aspect for gaining an appreciation of the sport and how much stress we are putting on these boats.


Have Watch, Will Sail

Go full screen on this one!

Rowing Across the Pacific

Rowing Solo Across the Pacific - without aid - a world first from Geoff A Charters on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Update From the Two Teens on Their Quest

Here is an interesting update on Abby and Jessica as they sail the planet. Read it here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is that a wing in your pocket?

Someone asked me how tall the wing is on the Oracle boat. At 223 feet she would not fit under the Golden Gate Bridge (220') at high tide. That is one big wing!! The designers of the wing think they can make an even lighter and more powerful rig on the next iteration. Can you say Extreme 40's on the SF bay in 2014? Now that would be cool!

Jailbreak Your iPhone

I had been tinkering with idea of a jailbroken iPhone for a while and decided to do some research on Youtube. I found out it is not illegal, it's easy in version 3.1.2.,you have a ton a cool apps, themes, and cool things that you can do that Apple does not allow. And you can always restore back to your last back up at any time and go back to your old phone. My two big reasons for jailbreaking where being able to listen to music apps and send an email or text without having to shut down the app, send a text then relaunch the app and start over. A little app called Backgrounder allows you to multitask without having to stop whatever you are doing at that moment. The other thing I wanted to be able to do was tether my phone to my computer so I could use the internet on my computer when I am on the water. The app is called Mywi and it allows you use your phones 3g network on your computer. Think of your phone as a wireless modem. There are so many other cool mods and tricks to make your phone 100% better than it is right now. Go to Youtube and explore. Start with a search, "Why jailbreak". It might be time for you to break free of the shackles!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mission Accomplished

The Fog is Back

During my sunset run in the hills yesterday, the wind was up as the sun was setting. My run gives me an impressive view of the bay from Mount Tam to Mount Ham and the bay. Looking west, I could see the first fog of the season coming over the San Bruno gap. This is a big deal for sailors in the area as it signals the start of big, consistent winds that make sailing the bay so amazing. We just had the bottom of our 30' sailboat painted and it will make for some fast sailing this summer.

On a sad note, my father in law, Richard Pooley, passed away over the weekend in Fla. He was a great man who loved the water. I took him sailing many times during his visits and it gave him great joy to be out in the SF Bay. His last wish was to have me spread his ashes under the Golden Gate from my boat. We will miss him greatly.

Video Highlights - Mavsurf

Click here for video highlights of the surf contest.

Transatlantic Voyage

Gemini 105Mc - Transatlantic Voyage from Will Hershfeld on Vimeo.

I'm Sailing

Monday, February 15, 2010

Replay of the A-Cup Race

If you missed the final race of the cup and would like to watch it, go here. The racing starts at about 1:20 in. (thats one hour and 20 mins.).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mavericks Looks Swell

The contest will be held on Saturday in Half Moon Bay! For updates and the latest news, click here.

Just as it was beginning to look as if the Mavericks Surf Contest might be doomed for the third time in four years, El Niño finally appears ready to deliver Saturday.
The official votes from the 24 invited surfers won't be tallied until noon Thursday, but the fast approach of the March 31 contest deadline and fresh memories of seasons that got away have pushed patience aside.
The big-wave adrenaline junkies want their fix — and a chance at the record prize purse of $150,000.
A poll of voters who have been poring over computer-model data suggests there is little doubt that the seventh big-wave champion will be crowned Saturday on the beach at Pillar Point. Waves measuring 40 feet on the face — considered the threshold for a big Mavericks day — are expected.
"Ninety-nine percent," is how longtime contestant Evan Slater described the chances for Saturday, adding, "It's not going to be picture perfect, but it's going to be big, real big if the forecast holds."
Santa Cruz's Zach Wormhoudt, another longtime competitor, was just as confident, saying: "Let's get ready to rumble."
The surfers' optimism might be colored somewhat by a desire to get the focus back on the wave. After swells in November, December and January were voted down decidedly by the competitors, attention surrounding the event turned to a lawsuit filed by contest co-founder Jeff Clark, who contends he was wrongly ousted as director by his former partners at Mavericks Surf Ventures in June.
This winter has proved that even with an early opening of the contest window (Nov. 1) and a flurry of good El Niño-charged swells, it's tricky to find a day that will provide the six- to eight-hour windows necessary for a big-wave contest.
"There are no slam dunks; you're just going to have to make the best call you can make," said Darren Brilhart, who serves as a liaison between the contest's surfers and organizers. "(But) I think it's pretty crucial to have a successful event this year."
The storm generating this swell formed quickly near the international date line early Wednesday and barreled east toward the Bay Area. It is expected to turn north just 600 miles off the coast by late Friday. The proximity to shore worries event forecaster Mark Sponsler, if only just a bit.
It's "definitely close," he said via e-mail. "The best would be if high pressure builds in a little earlier than forecast to dampen those south winds."
That would mean cleaner surface conditions for those negotiating treacherous drops at Mavericks. But bumpy rides or not, the chosen 24 are likely to be out there taking the plunge Saturday with brightly colored contest jerseys pulled tightly over their wet suits.
"Fasten your seat belts," Slater said.

Most Anticipated Tech in 2010

Transperant Display

It's been a while since I threw in a tech entry into my blog so here goes. With CES having a huge splash last month and Macworld kicking off this week, we have lots of cool gagets and new tech coming down the pike in the next 10 months. Are you ready for 3DTV, motion sensing gaming, genius phones, charging your phone using WIFI signals, tablets, 152" 3D TV's and many more. See pics and descriptions here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Aqualights - Iphone App for Mariners

Lights on boats at night came in many different forms and can be very confusing. Here is an app that can help determine what the lights mean and the type of vessel you are seeing. Just select the pattern of lights you see and the app will determine the type of boat and what the lights are trying to communicate to other vessels. Check it out here.

Can A Boat be Made Entirely of Duct Tape?

Trouble in Paradise

Monday, February 08, 2010

BMW/O to Win the Cup!

Valencia, Spain -- Software tycoon Larry Ellison isn't accustomed to losing.

He outgunned his corporate rivals for 30 years to become the world's fourth-richest man and king of database technology. He won the hand of a celebrated romance novelist and built a 23-acre Japanese-inspired paradise in Woodside.

The only prize that's apparently eluded the Bay Area billionaire is the America's Cup, a silver ewer that's sailing's most coveted prize.

Today, Ellison, 66, the chief executive of Oracle Corp., takes his third stab at winning international sports' oldest trophy - this time in an extreme sailing event in wintry waters off the Spanish Mediterranean coast.

The high-stakes grudge match between Ellison's BMW Oracle Racing syndicate and the current cup holder, the Swiss Alinghi team bankrolled by pharmaceutical heir Ernesto Bertarelli, will be sailed in the two fastest boats that have ever raced in the America's Cup. The best-of-three series on a 40-mile-long racecourse will determine the next cup holder.

"I don't like him. I won't beat around the bush," Ellison told The Chronicle. "If I was going to be nasty, I'd say, what has he done in his life that he's proud of?"

"I came here determined to shake his hand," Bertarelli, 45, said at a news conference Saturday that Ellison declined to attend. "Here I am, available, and he is not here."

For many sports fans, the notion of watching a sailboat race is about as thrilling as watching grass grow. But this year's showdown could be one of the most exciting matchups in the cup's nearly 160-year history. It is being broadcast live in Europe and streamed on the Internet.

The teams will race in giant, lightweight, high-tech multihulls that are screamingly fast, incredibly fragile and so dangerously prone to capsize that their crews wear helmets. In November, the $10 million towering mast on Ellison's 114-foot trimaran came tumbling down on its carbon fiber deck during sea trials off San Diego.

Bertarelli, an avid yachtsman, is the helmsman of his catamaran. Ellison, who has won pro and amateur regattas, said he'll serve as a tactician and strategist on his boat. Depending on wind strength, his trimaran will carry a crew of 12 to 20 sailors.

The 33rd America's Cup has drawn hundreds of journalists and the jet-set glitterati to Valencia. The port city staged a shock-and-awe fireworks display Sunday night in honor of a yacht racing tradition that began in 1851 when the schooner America beat a fleet of British vessels around the Isle of Wight.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Watch the America's Cup Online

Click the pic for a fantastic view.

Anybody getting excited about the Cup?? If the cup is taken by BOR90, the next cup would be in SF!!!! Racing is scheduled to start at 10:00am in Spain Monday Feb 8th. That works out to 4am Eastern Standard. 1AM on Monday morning for the West Coast.

The second race will be Wed Feb. 10 at the same time. The third, if required will be on Friday, Feb. 12.

It's a best of three - first team to win 2 takes the cup (until we drown in more court cases later).
The official event website setup by the city of Valencia Spain. It will have links to live coverage though I suspect that they may not anticipate the internet bandwidth they are about to be hit with...but it may be a good spot to find text news and possibly up to the minute video:
As a subset of that Valencia website, they claim they will be feeding live video at PLEASE NOTE that you will probably have to register to see the feed. That could mean that once they start red lining their bandwidth, they'll shut down registration. I was able to register a couple of days ago but I don't see the link to register anywhere on there now. Check early, check often. This could be one of the best sources.
I just discovered that Jobson and Randy Smyth will be covering the event for ESPN360 (thanks Karl!) so this will probably be worth checking out. I would imagine that ESPN360 would be better prepared for a lot network demand. PLEASE NOTE: you will also need to register and setup an account with ESPN360. It is FREE but takes some it early. Their player is intensive on bandwidth and CPU so if you have an older PC and/or limited internet bandwidth, you may have some difficulty with it. The player requires a few plugins and you will probably have browser compatibility problems if you are not running a 'mainstream' browser. Be sure your security is set to something less than "nuclear power station" and use (gasp) Internet Explorer 8 for the best chance of running it. Watch your upper notification bar at the top of the IE8 window - it will need to install several software plug ins to work and the notifications will pop up there in a faint yellow bar asking permission. It works pretty well for me (I've got a new computer running Windows 7 64bit and a speedy internet connection).
SailingAnarchy just got sponsored by Layline for the coverage and is working with one of the Italian teams from the last America's Cup to get their reporters out on the water. They also have some deal setup with an internet company that provides internet access for boaters (cruisers). Supposedly they are expecting to be able to upload a lot of stuff quickly. Sometimes hard to watch, sometimes juvenile, but sometimes ground breaking and without fear...the SA coverage will be interesting. I don't believe you will have to pre-register or anything for this one. THIS JUST IN. Our very own JC (FON) will be helping SA with their coverage... definitely worth watching now!
You're going to have to polish up your Francais on this one - but if you can manage to navigate your way through, this Swiss TV station is supposed to have some live coverage of the event.

Oceans - The Movie (coming soon)

Opens on Earth Day, April 22 - 40th Anniversary
Double click the vid to watch in full screen and then punch it up to 720 resolution. Very cool. Love the baby turtles!!

Plastiki Sails...Finally

The boat is the 60-foot-long catamaran Plastiki, which David de Rothschild, the 31-year-old scion of the British banking family, plans to sail across the Pacific to Australia, beginning in the first days of March.

What makes the Plastiki unique is that the boat's twin hulls are made of 12,500 plastic bottles that once held soft drinks or spring water. The bottles are filled with dry ice, which of course is a gas.

Except for the boat's two masts, the twin hulls, a small outboard motor for emergencies, and a few odds and ends like the galley stove, the Plastiki is made of a hard, tough, self-reinforcing plastic material called PET.

"It is totally unique," said Andy Fox, a builder of sustainable boats who lives in the western edge of England and was along for the ride Tuesday. "There is nothing like it in the world."

To tell the truth, the Plastiki is no beauty. The boat is a translucent off-white color, rigged as a ketch with a tall mainmast and a shorter mast aft. Both are metal, gleaming in the sun. The 12,500 bottles that make up the twin hulls give the vessel an odd look, like a kid's science project.

There is a low cabin, rounded like the back of a turtle. Inside are four bunks for eight crew members, a small galley and an area for an array of electronics the boat will carry. There will be plenty of electronics; one of the expedition sponsors is Hewlett-Packard. There is a tiny head, as the seagoing toilet is called. This will be an adventure in tight quarters.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

"I'm very excited," said Jo Royle, a 30-year-old Englishwoman who is the Plastiki's skipper. "I think it's really come together."

Behind the adventure is a dead serious message: de Rothschild wants to draw attention to a world of plastic waste. Only a fraction of the world's plastic bottles are recycled, he says. The rest end up in landfills or out in the ocean. He figures the way to get the recycling message across is a plastic sailing adventure - a message in a bottle.

Read more here.

New Docking Technique Demonstrated

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Oceanfest Film Fest - Today in SF

A bunch of water related films will be screened at Theater 39 on Pier 39 starting today and going thru Sunday. Surfing Dolphins will be screened there (see below). Check out the schedule here.

Interview with Greg Huglin - Surf Flim Guy

He did the dolphin docu from yesterdays post below.

Northern Lights

Auroras are associated with the solar wind, a flow of ions continuously flowing outward from the sun. The Earth's magnetic field traps these particles, many of which travel toward the poles where they are accelerated toward earth. Collisions between these ions and atmospheric atoms and molecules causes energy releases in the form of auroras appearing in large circles around the poles. Auroras are more frequent and brighter during the intense phase of the solar cycle when coronal mass ejections increase the intensity of the solar wind.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Caught in the Storm

It was seven minutes to 3 a.m. when the brass clock in the lower cabin of the Sean Seamour II stopped.

For 62-year-old Ottawa adventurer Rudy Snel, it came to represent the precise moment he believed he was going to die.

The clock froze as sea water poured through every crevice of the cabin following the 44-foot sailboat's rollover in near-hurricane-force winds about 257 kilometres off the North Carolina shoreline a little more than three weeks ago.

As one of three crew members aboard the sailboat, it had been a lifelong dream of the hobbyist sailor to cross the Atlantic.

Setting sail days earlier with two men he met via an online sailing forum, Mr. Snel never imagined it would nearly cost him his life.

In the three weeks since the U.S. Coast Guard plucked Mr. Snel and his European crewmates, Jean Pierre de Lutz, 58, and Ben Tye, 31, from the dilapidated life raft to which they clung for hours, they have confronted their mortality again and again -- recounting their survival after the sailboat was swallowed by the sea.

"The main part of it is not just thinking you're dead, but being convinced of it," said Mr. Snel.

He did not know at the time that the winds behind the storm would subsequently be named as those of subtropical storm Andrea -- a storm so powerful that one ship lost 21 containers, the U.S. Coast Guard would eventually rescue nine people, including Mr. Snel's crew, and four people lost at sea have never been found.

Continue reading here.

Surf Documentary- Dolphins

Click the above pic to read the text.

Amazing Stuff