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Stomach rumblings, Past and present

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Viva le "Cup"

So I expect Larry is happy now. His fiasco of a "Cup" event has the sensation and all of the excitement he could ever have wished for. I wonder if he ever sat down to think about just what the "Americas Cup" is all about. If he had done so he would have maybe realised that it isn't about launching boats into space. It isn't about breaking speed records, and it certainly isn't about ringing up a death toll to rival "Nascar". His attitude from the start has been about payoff and making a buck. His attitude from the start has been about "Bringing in the punters" on a scale never seen before. The last category failed over a year ago, and now maybe he will realise that the public wish to see yacht racing in a civilised manner and not an "Oracle" devised destruction derby. He has taken the base limits of a beautiful sport and lowered the baseline even further in the name of progress. That to me is not progress. It is simply a hype to try to gain sponsors and public wreck-watchers. "Hydroptere" is progress. A decade of trials and errors with lessons learned and duly recorded and a team dedicated to furthering the boundaries and frontiers of sailing. Larrys Leviathans are nothing more than a five minute wonder which will be remembered for making a huge packet of dollar bills for a few privelaged money-grabbers at the cost of the life of one of the worlds most talented sailors. Sail on Bart. You were an inspiration to many and a martyr to very few. WcW. Just wait until the next "Fastnet". "Oxygen bottles"? Check. "Body armour"? Check. "Crash Hats"? Check. Body bags????. "Oh don't worry, the insurance company supplies those".  

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From: The Vendée Globe game. Donkeys need attention.

6times7, on 18 December 2012 - 09:52 PM, said:   Ay, a slow 12 hours ahead, moight just get the donkey out and have me some fun to pass the slow times, to be sure, to be sure   Also notice I've crossed the half way mark - 12,880 to go, 13,544 sailed.... which means we must all be close to the same stage, only another 5/6 weeks to go!.   Also seems like a good time to say thanks again to brIar. Well me ould son. Oim hopin yez passed yer twelve hours witout problims nor flaying hooves, but, I should've given yez a tip or two before yez started crankin the handle an all. Furst: Mek shure the bugger is in idle, or at least layin down. Iffn it isn't, get yer missus ter sit on the buggers head, (It always confuses them cos it looks like a straw midden decending from above). Secund: Never ever mek the mistake of grabbin the startin handle before yev got yer glove on because one single swing of the "Dangerous Shenanigans Act" could leave yez limpin fer weeks. Turd: When yez've got the bugger hoisted... try an kep it there otherwise yez'll end up wit yer head down an yer feet up an gettin inter all sorts of bother just like I did before I'd even gotten me spanker into full swing. An Fort': Doncher ever, ever try ter do whatever it was that I did. I don't remember exactly what it was I did, but it was a bad move. There was a kind of screechin that sounded like a bloody banshee an then a tump around the left ear which trickled all its way down to me familiar impulses an that was that. I woke up to find dat I was doin 28 knots in one direction and the bloody donkey was doin 45 goin the other way, an that me friends,,, is the reason why me batteries have gone flat an me self steerin' is all over the place.. donkey engine n. 1. A small auxiliary steam engine used for hoisting or pumping, especially aboard ship.

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21-12-2012, We're all doomed

That's it my friends. We're all fucked. Unless we go climb a mountain in France or kiss our asses goodbye,, the friggin Mayas got it right. EEEHHh. Hang on a sec. If those clever little sods got it right then how come they dissappeared before they knew it?. OK. Let's try again. The calendar says that the end of the world comes on the 21st-Dec- 2012. Great, So if it's so accurate over 4000 years,,, why don't they tell us what time it will end so we can tidy our desks before the great "BOOM". Nah. I don't believe a word of it. I reckon that my kids are right. They demand money for "After" D-Day parties. They demand smart phones and iPads for "AFTER" the end of the world so they can tweet, twitter, and twaddle about how they survived without the help of a martian living inside a french mountain. And think about it. Who in his right mind would stop the Vendee Globe before the boats even reached Cape Horn? It's all nuts to me and I refuse to recognise that bolt of lightning that just struck my wife,,,,,,,,,and the poodle with the bobble hat on. You see I think it's all a big ploy by the world banks to get themselves out of the large cesspit they've managed to dig for themselves. If they can convince us that cash will not be an option after the 21st then we'll all run out and spend our every last penny on party hats and Malt Whisky. So it's on that basis that I shall be applying for a very large loan first thing on monday morning. .

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Sailing Handicap

I was having a gander at the Paralympic sailing the other day and very good it was too. It also made me realise just how handicapped us so called "able bodied" types really are. My wife has been in some form of assisted transport since childhood (polio victim of the 1960,s), and although a very sweet natured and highly intelligent woman in normal circumstances she can become an absolute demon when obstructed by ignorance or sheer bad manners. People don't seem to realise that she is in fact in control (very precise control) of a personal armoured car. Supermarkets are her favourite hunting ground where on one occasion she left a swathe of empty shelves in the canned goods section after being ignored repeatedly by two chatting employees to please pass her an item she couldn't reach. The supervisor was most apologetic as she sweetly explained that she had lost control trying to reach the said item after being given no help by the said employees. On a more recent occasion during a home visit from social services regarding a replacement for her faulty and now rather old wheelchair, she blithely parked one of her front wheels on the foot of a condecending "expert" who seemed to be of the opinion that "Polio" was a was a severe mental condition affecting only those with an IQ of "demented simian" level or below. The poor chap soon learned that 140 kilos of wheelchair and apparently helpless operator are not to be argued with and duly hobbled off to his car with all paperwork completed to my wifes satisfaction. He even apologised for spilling his tea into his own lap. She's a strong headed woman is my lass and I stand behind her all the way. I certainly don't stand in front of her just in case gets that wicked gleam in her eye. This brings me neatly along to the art of sailing with disabilities. I used to help out with transport and unpaid crewing now and again for an old guy who had a lovely little gaff cutter moored in the Swale behind the Isle of Sheppey on Englands Thames estuary. He was a curmudgeonly old sod with a love for life, sailing in all weathers, and good beer. He had one or two faults about his person, the least of which was a tin leg. The tin leg was of no great handicap to him at all and in fact most of his sailing was done single handed but it was a severe handicap to anyone who ever sailed with him. He only used to pick up a crew if he was overnighting across to Holland or France to stock up on booze or a particularly pungent Dutch pipe tobacco that he used to stuff into a pipe with a bowl the size of a marine toilet. Day watches were fine with the hot rum toddies running like a good following sea but what old George used to love was taking the late watches from midnight onwards and that is where the handicap came in. Usually after a long days boozing at the helm it was bliss to roll into your sack and let the skipper take charge during the wee small hours. Not with George. He would balance the sails beautifully and let the boat sail herself to within five or six degrees of her course and then brace himself in the companionway and let the boat roll beneath him. That's when the hapless crew became handicapped. His tin leg had a squeak to starboard. It never squeaked to port, only starboard which to Georges mind gave him right of way to squeak whenever he felt like squeaking. It wasn't a door like squeak or even a mouse like squeak. It was the squeak of screeching fingernails on glass. It was the squeak of a frequency honed over eons to sever nerve endings, shatter teeth, and to turn even the most exhausted of crew into quivering lumps of jelly. The tin leg was also a time keeper. It squeaked for 1 hour, there would be a silence for 30 minutes while George sat down and had a nip or two from his flask and then, like the seven bells of hell from naval days past, there would be a CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, as George bashed the dottle from his empty pipe on his artificial appendage prior to filling it up and restarting the whole sequence all over again. I discussed every measure with George regarding a remedy but he would have none of it. "Thart's a delikit instrument son and we don't wants ter go meddlin wi' them now, do we" he would say. Old George is long gone now and the last time I saw his lovingly kept boat she was hauled up on the mud looking neglected with a for sale sign hanging over the stern. I swear I heard a squeak as I walked past.

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Wanquors Aweigh

Brigand, Brigand, this is Midnight Mushroom over. Grnff, shnff,wassat I grunted through a cloud of rum punch fumes? Magic Nighty Mushroom, Brigand over I half whispered into the mike. " I'm being followed, over" said the Mushroom, "Can you help me?" Midnight Mushroom was the boat of a dearly beloved and crazy Irish character called Liam and anyone who found themselves within his circle of devil may care, I'll have a go at that, attitude to life was instantly smitten. We called him "Liam the Illustrious Leprichaun". He was a great navigator of sorts in that navigators calculate their course in the hope that they will bump into the place they want to bump into with the use of sextants and large books of complicated numbers. Liam was different. He had taken the art of navigating to a higher level in that he used to just bump into places without having to bother with the scientific instruments and all of those silly mathematics which spoiled his favourite passtime of sleeping with short breaks to replenish his bodily needs, "Gin and Tonic and tinned sardines".. I'll give an example of this. In 1988 I think it was, a group of us decided to tag along with the ARC rally from Grand Canaria to Santa Lucia. There were 6 "pirate" boats in our little group (Liam amongst them). We all set out on our merry way with goodbyes and "see you on the other sides", confident in the fact that we would all arrive around Xmas week for a good carribbean shennanigan to see in the new year. We surprisingly did all arrive within 4 days of each other just after xmas day, all except Liam. No sighting, no radio, no nothing. A week turned into two and then three and the worries started to appear within our little group. After a few weeks of cruising around the different anchorages we were all back in Rodney Bay Marina when I noticed a message posted in the old Frangipani Bar stating. "Gus. I'll be in next week. Liam". All eyes were peeled on Pidgeon Island Point for the next few days until, as notified, A small 26' cutter packed with boat boys and a half pissed Liam, entered the marina to the growling blasts of Bob Marley accompanied by Liams dodgy guitar playing. " Where the F&%ck have you been" we all asked. Oh, I got into Santa Lucia on the 30th, he replied, except that it was Barbados and what with all of the parties and whatnot it took me a couple of days to find out and which by that time I couldn't be bothered movin meeself from the hospitality and my new crew, "here, meet the lads". How on earth 6 strapping Rastas and Liam ever fitted aboard a 1960,s clinker built ex gaff (he converted it to bermudan as a gesture to modernity) cutter will be subject to speculation for many years to come but here he was, toothy grin in place and, as they say "Rarin for the Craic". We spent a couple of months or so blasting around the islands and generally having a good time until it was time to head our separate ways and decided that Prickly Bay in Granada would be a great final meet as four boats were heading north and re-crossing the Atlantic for home, I was heading south to Venezuela and eventually Panama and Liam had decided that sitting out the hurricane season in Trinidad was his cup of stout. It was on that final morning after a night of drunken farewells that my radio sparked into life. I stuck my head out of the companionway just in time to see Liam chug past and sure enough, he had a large plastic yacht on his tail. It was obvious from his predicament that he couldn't shake off his pusuer and that the pursuer had no intention of letting Liam slip from his clutches. It was only on his secong lap of honour that we realised that the "follower had no one in the cockpit and that the bow seemed to be attached to Liams dinghy. I quickly got into my dinghy and hot footed it over to Liam on what was now turning into increasingly larger laps and got aboard. "Head for the mouth of the bay while I have a look" I said". I climbed into his dinghy and immediately saw the reason for Liams phantom follower. While our hero was snoring off his drunken excesses our Frenchie plastic charter tub had came in looking for a spot to anchor and found one just behind the "Mushroom". They had then proceeded to dump (1) 50 lb CQR anchor, and, (2) about 200 feet of chain into Liams dinghy. We never did find out if there was anyone aboard or if they were ashore but we can be assured that they must have had a rather unwelcome surprise because at about 2 miles out into the mouth of the bay, Liam dumped their hardware into the briny and headed off in approximately the direction of Trinidad and I headed back to my boat. I never saw him again after that but I am secure in the knowledge that he is still "bumping" his way around from one adventure to the next and enjoying every minute of it wherever he is. "Bunch of Wanquors" were the final words I heard him mutter.

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Whoosh, Zoom, Whizz,,,,, And the winner is.

I sat down to watch some AC action today on the BBC and very exciting it was too. The only problem I found was that I couldn't for the life of me make a mental link to the Americas Cup. As far as I could make out it was nothing more than a bog standard grand prix event with added marketing. I've always been of the ilk that regards the Americas Cup as the Blue Riband of sailing. It was the Grand Dame of events, the big one. That just didn't come over from the little I watched. Maybe that will change when the "proper" boats arrive but I seriously doubt it. The AC was always about the "need for speed" but there comes a point where speed detracts from the spectacle. Many newcomers to the spectator sport of sailing were introduced by way of the AC and if you didn't really understand what was going on there was time to catch up and figure out the nuances of tactical racing at its best. Alas, no more. All we are subjected to now is a commentary which resembles that of a horse race and the garbled semi illiterate ramblings of a few "Celebs". They have ripped the heart out of an elegant and astute old lady and replaced it with a cash register. The AC has always been about elegance, from the grand old J-Boats through the Twelves and even down to the last AC32 boats. There was power and aura behind those boats. There was an attraction for both young and old, experienced or greenhorn alike. There was a spectacle, especially in the AC32 and to some extent AC33 "Spiders from Mars edition" which will be hard to ever beat again and when you think back to the infrastructure that was in place and the success of the formula of the event it's so hard to believe that it could have degenerated into a 15 minute adrenalin rush fuelled with intermittent double cheese burgers and king size soda pops. As I've mentioned before, (in my opinion) the AC is an elegant, sedate old lady and needs to be treated as such. The match race formula was perfect for the event and the crews were brought together from the top of match racing heap. Speed was a requirement yet it wasn't the be all and end and all of a successful campaign, having a well tuned tactical brain and being at the top of your psycological game was. I'm sorry Mr Ellison but from the little I watched, I can only say that you have taken Formula One racing and turned it into Nascar. I know I'll be accused of being a nostalgic old fool and of looking at the past through rose tinted glasses but you only have to search through the numerous online sailing related forums to see the huge amount of interest in bygone years and especially IOR related content to realise that I am not alone. Sailing is a wonderful sport for one and all, but speed isn't everything. Cheers. WcW

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Memories are made of this.

It's funny how some object or incident can trigger a long forgotten memory that really has no right to be cluttering up our degenerating brain cells. This morning I was watching my wife hose down the yard and in its panic to escape the hosepipe one of our dogs hit a water obstacle and skidded like a duck landing on ice, straight into the garden gate. For some reason my mind shot back to 1975-76-77 and Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club. I was a young buck then and racing regularly in the Fireball fleet. Felixstowe in those days was the club to belong to. Maybe it still is but as I haven't been back for years, I can't really say. Pete White- 505 world champion, Jonty Sherwell- OK National Champion. The Gray brothers trained there. Lawrie Smith and Andy Barker were regulars who used the place to train for their multiple championships in multiple classes. Stuart Childerley learned his trade there whilst crewing his dads Fireball. It really was a bitch of a place to sail out of with 6-8Kn tides and sandbanks and spits that arrived on one tide and disappeared on the next but that was the draw. If you could sail there you could sail anywhere. Back in those heady days it was nothing unusual to have quite astonishing fleets out 3 times a week just for club races. A normal Sunday morning could attract 20 505,s, 20-25 Fireballs, 15-20 Fireflys, 10-15 OK,s and a mass of Mirrors too numerous to count. The mass pipes and drums of the Lasers were still on the horizon and windsurfers were about 16 feet long and 4 feet wide. The Fireball fleet was now coming to terms with the fact that a wooden boat was stiffer, lighter, and stronger than a fibreglass one, and carbon was something the coalman used to deliver to heat your house. There were small boat builders a plenty. Tripp, Barker, Milne, Chippendale etc, all turning out beautifully crafted machines which were an absolute joy just to look at, never mind to sail. Sailing in those days was a highly competitive business and it was dog eat dog out on the course but the strange thing is, I can barely remember a protest unless it was for championship points. If you were in the wrong then the rest of the fleet soon let you know so you did your turns, or in one well remembered case, got left with a bar tab that could have paid for a new mainsail, but in nearly all cases a few "OOYII,s" from different boats would rectify the situation . I somehow can't see that happening today. More likely fisticuffs and a lawsuit I should imagine. Now this may seem like a load of waffle over my dog doing a four wheel glide into the garden gate but what it brought to mind was what should have been a mass DSQ incident during a Sunday morning bash around the cans. Anyone who knows Felixstowe Ferry will also know Bawdsey Spit. This is a huge gravel spit which curves around from the north to cover most of the entrance to the River Deben. On this particular day our course had a river finish and as it was at around low tide all of the fleets were resigned to the idea that we'd have to beat back out around the spit to make it back into the river. Not so. To our surprise we saw a 30 ish foot power boat heading straight for the inside passage where there was the glint of water. The whole fleet, as one sentinal being followed suit. Two things happened next. The first was the almighty crunch as a 30 foot power boat launched itself about 20 feet up on top of the shingle bank at about 20 knots, and the second was the impromptu meeting of the race commitee alongside same power boat. After much head scratching it was decided that all results would stand whether we carried our boats across almost half a mile of spit or relaunched and sailed back the long way round. It was a long haul back whichever way you chose and the general concensus of opinion back at the club was that the only person who deserved being protested was the silly bugger in the power boat for making us too late for the bar. Mind you, he paid the price. He was still there several hours later waiting for enough water to float himself off. Cheers WcW

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Beginning at the end

I actually wrote this first entry as a note to an old friend who had asked after me and it was already sent when I noticed that I could bloggitty blog all of my inner thoughts and secrets which got me to thinking that with quite a few months of recuperation from a very long illness ahead of me, what better way to stay out from under the wifes wheels than to bore the arse off of you lot. I hope my mate won't get shitty with me for publishing our private correspondence but I did say that he could pass it along to some of our old gang from the AC32 days.   Hi Hog. Just a "quick" update old mate. Finally got out of hospital today after an Aortic Femural Bypass which is hopefully going to be the end of my health problems of the last few years. It was either that or the bastards were talking about chopping my bloody legs off because of gangrene onset. Anyways, I've still got my pins and apart from feeling like a gutted fish, they, in their wisdom decided to remove my presence from their hallowed butchers shop and told me to "Fuck Off Home,,,, NOW". Must have been something I said. If you've got some spare cash to invest, I suggest putting it into Glaxo or Bayer as I can see their profit margins being very healthy for the near future. I needed a fucking wheelbarrow to get my medications home. I just love the jovial optimism of these knife throwers. Just before the op my surgeon pops by my bedside for a hearty fireside chat amongst old buddies and also to explain how he was going to open me up from my sternum to my balls, dump my tripes into a couple of plastic buckets out of harms way, and then stitch in a shiny new "Dacron" (he sounded proud of that word) upside down Y shaped gizmo which would carry the old engine oil around the blocked and corroded tubing (must have been fitted by a previous owner). Anyhoo, at the mention of Dacron my ears pricked up. I know that stuff and if it's anything like that genoa I had from a certain sailmaker a few years back, I'm well and trully fucked. Bloody sail only lasted three races. Well, with all my questions answered and me quaking like an aspen leaf he stood, he smiled a "don't worry buddy, you'll be safe with me" smile, and then proceeded to scare the fucking shit out of me by uttering these immortal words. "See you tomorrow, GOOD LUCK". GOOD FUCKING LUCK,,,, YOU'RE THE FUCKING SURGEON YOU BASTARD, LUCK SHOULD NOT BE POKING IT'S SHINY WET LITTLE NOSE ANYWHERE NEAR THIS EQUATION. I didn't sleep much that night. I slept quite a lot the next day though and awoke with more needles sticking out of me than a hedgehog. My first proper recollection of coming back to planet earth was of a fuzzy surgeonlike face hovering above me saying "Gus, Gus, Are you awake? My first articulate response was "Fuck Off Good Luck Boy. You are in my bad books".So there it is I can hear you thinking. And they all lived happily ever aft,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,STOP. They wheeled me to intensive care looking something akin to "Terminal Man" where my good old buddy Mr Scissor Fingers regaled me with tales of "just in time","lucky guy"(there's that word again) and "went like a dream". I relaxed a bit in my drug fuelled haze for the next 48 hours with regular visits from head honcho and as the smiles grew wider I bathed the warm bath of epidural exstasy. It was on the saturday morning that a slightly less smiley surgeon arrived to inform me that they would like to do a CAT Scan just to check a few things, 30 minutes later I was confronted by a definitely not smiley surgeon. I twigged straight away,,, that fucking genoa had blown out again. "It's only blown out on one corner" explained the doc. "Still blown out though" I explained to doc, What now? Erm we need to do a small operation to rectify the problem. When? "RIGHT FUCKING NOW" yelled a trembling doc. So, after another deep snooze I slipped back into the life of the semi comatose where my friendly nieghbourhood belly pork manipulator gave me the lowdown. The first op failed because of some dodgy stitching around the leach line. A second repair failed because there wasn't enough cloth left to attach a luff rope, and they finally fixed it all by sending a small spinnaker sock from one leg all of the way over my balls to join up with the other side so as far as I can make out, I'm sailing both port and starboard at the same time but it's going to be absolute hell next time I decide to dance a hornpipe. So far it's looking ok but there's about twelve weeks of home visits to look forward to so I'll leave you for now while I try to contort myself out of this bloody computer chair, Sheer visual comedy with authentic facial expressions. Cheers Hog. I'll get back to you soon. You can pass this around our old AC Forum crowd if you like. I don't mind. Cheers. Gus.There you have it. I told you I'd start at the end. WcW

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Who the hell are you?

Me? Well I'm a, how could I put it?, erm. I'm just me. Call me Gus. My real name is William Wallace but you can call me that until you are blue in the face and I still won't answer. I've been a sailor for most of my fifty harrumph plus a few years and although I've been grounded for the last few I'm hoping that soon I can resurrect myself and get the old tootsies damp yet again. I've sailed most of our oceans, done a circumnavigation, crossed the Atlantic 13 times (twice in a Robber 3 Quarter Tonner) and my last boat was the ex BOC 57 footer "Spirit of Pentax" which was basically a large pencil with a schooner rig stuck on top. I'm still convinced to this day that Macgregor nicked the design for his MacGregor 65. Aside from sailing I've been a pro musician, Americas Cup sailing correspondent, a reasonably competitive time trial cyclist, a window cleaner, a pig farmer, an orange picker, restaurant owner, and am all round alcohol recycling machine (who the hell needs hydrogen fuel cells. I've been a cognaq fuel cell for years), and that is where I'd like to begin this blog. I'll begin at the end and bounce around from christmasses past to future musings stopping at all stations in between. I'm hoping to keep the central sailing thread but don't be surprised if you end up on an Italian beach eating rotten cheese with maggots crawling out of it. So there you have it. That's me. Now who the hell are you? Cheers WcW (Gus's signature).

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