sleddog

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About sleddog

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  1. sleddog

    Improbable

    IMPROBABLE's original transom hung rudder was built by Kiwi surfboard maker Rodney Davidson. Even without its stainless pintles, the unit weighed over 100 pounds. IMPROBABLE's transom rudder, though non-lifting, was influenced by Commodore and myself having sailed on RED ROOSTER in the '69 Admirals Cup and Fastnet, where ROOSTER's transom rudder added a certain cachet to an already interesting (and fast) design. RED ROOSTER's rudder could be cranked up vertically, along with the centerboard/keel, so that she could be made to draw about 3 feet. Once on the Solent, DC sailed ROOSTER between deeper draft competitors that were hard aground taking a shortcut over a sandbank.. RED ROO was red of course....and so had to be IMPROBABLE. IMPROBABLE never had an auto-pilot for deliveries. It was all shorthanded, watch-on-watch, manhandling the 7 foot laminated Kauri tiller. A tiller line to a windward winch assisted steering those late night watches..as did a small plastic hose dangling at the tiller's end, just forward of the tiller extension. The plastic hose led aft on the tiller, then down through a cockpit port to a hookah hanging under the cockpit. Listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin while partaking of DKW's best homegrown made those dark nights pass just a little bit faster.
  2. sleddog

    holy christ!

    Why Moore-24's have stern pulpits.. Morgan's crew on BRUZER blows the spinny halyard, and......
  3. sleddog

    Improbable

    That would be Jim Gannon, our token Aussie. "Ruddy" was only used by us Yanks when calling "ruddy about!"
  4. sleddog

    Improbable

    In '71, on the Solent, we quickly learned the inferiority of our North "CRS", close reaching spinnaker, with reef points. The Banks "Star Cuts" were a light year ahead in shape for close reaching and reaching conditions, the asymm or Code Zero of their day. Once we got the wind aft of AWA 100 we were OK. In breeze, the further aft the better. Several times in big breeze on the inshore races of the Admiral's Cup, Commodore would go forward and hang fenders off the bow pulpit as we overtook 60 footers. The photogs loved the audacity...they hadn't seen a fast red boat since RED ROOSTER, two years earlier...... Even Princess Anne, at a RYS cocktail party for overseas entries, commented on "why do you New Zealanders all speak with American accents?" Note the sun glistening on the IOR "bumps" at Bmax. And our beautiful transom hung rudder was gone! Dumb. Sailing on the Solent with a crew of 6 was a workout. Commodore was worth 3, so we actually had 8.
  5. sleddog

    R2AK 2018

    Too bad no drone to watch the leaders get flushed thru Seymour shortly before Max Ebb....7-8 knots of favorable current, with whirlpools for dessert will have some heads spinning.
  6. sleddog

    Improbable

    Bill Barton's labor of love, The Legend of iMP, has several chapters on IMPROBABLE, her conception, adventures, owner and crew. As poncho remembers, we were in Sydney with IMPROBABLE when SAYULA pulled into port, battered and bruised. https://www.amazon.com/Legend-Imp-Magical-Rocked-Sailing/dp/0615355315
  7. sleddog

    R2AK 2018

    Anchored in the bay at Finnerty Islands, north west corner of Lasqueti, swinging at anchor while taking a nap is my guess.
  8. sleddog

    R2AK 2018

    A better chance than you think. INCOGNITO can sail up to 1.5 x Team SAIL LIKE A GIRL's speed in many conditions. And yes, he has more than just "a jib and a main." His gennakers fly off an articulating sprit. Russ knows his boat, himself, the course, and easy in-out hidey holes. He's got the smoothest bottom in the fleet, water ballast, and great sails. His pedal drive speed is at least as good as Team SLAG, and he has a workable sleep management plan and good autopilot. Russell also has two shortcuts in his pocket, both of which he has transited and is familiar with. There's other reasons INCOGNITO could win the $10K, the most significant being that with Russell's preparation, this is the full package with fewer weaknesses than most. And Russell is calmly motivated. My 2 cents.
  9. sleddog

    R2AK 2018

    The FREE BURD video has them doing 12 knots through Seymour in zero wind, at night. The noise of water they thought was a whirlpool instead was a pod of dolphins.
  10. sleddog

    R2AK 2018

    12 hours before the PT start, the red tri seemed to have deficiencies that had yet to be noticed, much less corrected, as a proper presentation of hors d'ouvres seemed to be a priority. Despite having a Navy diver listed in the crew, a dockside inspection showed a dirty bottom. There was collision damage to the starboard ama bow, both above and at the waterline that at minimum looked and felt to be a speed detriment. Hopefully no leaks. A first attempt at the tri's rowing lashup also looked questionable with oars barely reaching into the water at a 45 degree angle. This is a team that needed to get its priorities together to be competitive.
  11. sleddog

    R2AK 2018

    Hi Ryan, Was the designer/builder of the proa Danny Daniels, an old boat building friend from CA I'd lost track of? Regards, ~skip
  12. sleddog

    Improbable

    Dave Wahle, no shrinking violet and garbage man by trade, was the "bosun" on IMPROBABLE. His switchblade saved us more than once. As we were short tacking IMPROBABLE up the IOW shore in the Solent, the genoa leech line hangs up on a piece of rigging. In a flash, David whips out his knife, presses the button, and cuts the cord free before any damage is done. I believe it was that Admiral's Cup race, or another one that week, when we were again short tacking westward down the Island shore. Along comes a port tacker, a nice varnished sloop named MORNING CLOUD, who skipper has cut the crossing a bit too fine. In the heat of battle, David runs to the bow of IMPROBABLE and shouts in his stentorian manner, "Get the fuck out of the way." I had to call David aft for a dressing down. "Brother, you've just told the Prime Minister of England to get out of the way." DKW says to me in no uncertain terms, "I don't care if he's the Pope, he shouldn't be sailing his boat like that."
  13. sleddog

    Improbable

    Possibly you've never seen Warwick (Commodore) Tompkins go hand over hand up a rig, even the headstay. He was up the rigging at age 4, off Cape Stiff, on his father's schooner WANDERBIRD....see it here https://lifeonthewater.us/cape-horn-passage/ Commodore was responsible for much of IMPROBABLE's layout, including specing the cross-connected titanium winches, Sunshine vents, park bench seats, 40 knot speedo, halyard fall boxes... IMPROBABLE's red hull, original transom rudder and tiller were homage to Dick Carter's RED ROOSTER, which Commodore and I sailed on in the '69 Admiral's Cup and Fastnet. Too bad IMPROBABLE came in about 2,000 pounds over G Mull's designed weight. Even still, surfing down the Windward Passage from Cuba towards Montego Bay was a revelation and we were able to catch and pass the S&S heavy hitters, the '56 footers CHARISMA and YANKEE GIRL. You are correct, "tacking" the lenticular rigging did not prove advantageous aboard IMPROBABLE.. We were sorry to have to curtail Commodore's enthusiastic mast climbing. The red hull with the stars and stripes on the rudder, our Easy Rider crew shirts, pony tails and other California paraphernalia did not endear us to the '71 Admirals Cup selectors. Even though we were high point boat for the AC Team selection in the '71 SORC, we missed the first race with the as yet unseen IMPROBABLE being offloaded from a freighter in Baltimore, delayed in her passage from the New Zealand builder by a back log at the Panama Canal. It also didn't help one of our crew, Ron Holland, was in the Clearwater jail, having been arrested in a "little misunderstanding" for driving down the wrong side of the street without a drivers license after leaving a bar, his Kiwi accent so incomprehensible to the men in blue that they put him behind bars for an overnight stay for his protection. Ron kept telling the police lieutenant, "But I'm here to sail on IMPROBABLE."" "Sure you are, kid." was the unsympathetic reply. And that's when IMPROBABLE arrived on the truck, tipped over at 30 degrees and dragging remnants of a phone booth and power lines from a now twisted bow pulpit. The truck driver just so happened to park in front of the City Hall, to ask directions to Courtney Ross' boatyard. In his hurry to avoid permits and delay, the driver had taken back roads through South Carolina and Georgia.... And then a stroke of improbable luck occurred. Ron Holland looked out his cell window, and there was IMPROBABLE parked across the street at City Hall. Ron couldn't believe it. Next he spotted owner Dave Allen pulling in with his station wagon. Dave had been shadowing the truck all the way from Baltimore. Ron yelled madly out his cell window for their attention, and Dave quickly bailed Ron out of jail. We couldn't wait to get sailing and the start of the crucial 370 mile St. Pete-Ft.Lauderdale Race was only hours away. We got to the start line with only minutes to spare, Commodore again up the mast installing the leeward lenticulars, Tom Wylie refitting the ripped off bow pulpit, and navigator Chan Chrisman trying to figure out how to miss the Tampa Bay shoals if we couldn't tack before Commodore was finished installing the port side rigging from England, which had different threading from the turnbuckles. The legend of the bright red boat with the "hippie crew" was born: bandanas, beards, tie-dyed American flag shirts and freak flags a' flyin'. In the 70 boat fleet, there was no one else out there quite like it. The East Coast Admiral's Cup selectors by-passed us for an all East Coast team of BAY BEA, CARINA, and YANKEE GIRL, likely a reaction to our long haired crew and the bold American flag painted on the huge stern rudder. But we were going to England, team or no team. We didn't have to brainstorm for long. Good friend George Kiskaddon, of SPIRIT and NEW WORLD fame, was immediately successful at recruiting the King of Tonga to appoint IMPROBABLE as a one-boat "Tonga Team." Again we were rejected, this time by the Royal Yacht Squadron, who curtly announced the Kingdom of Tonga did not have an official yacht club. Ron Holland, then age 24, had a brain storm. With the help of his father , Ron quickly became a member of the Royal New Zealand YC. Ron then "bought" IMPROBABLE for a dollar, the RYS accepted the last minute entry, and with Ron listed as skipper, we were in business, a one boat New Zealand Admiral's Cup team with 5 Yanks and one Kiwi aboard the Red Rocket.
  14. sleddog

    Improbable

    Gary Mull, IMPROBABLE's designer, insisted the crew keep crescent wrenches in our pockets. This was to facilitate adjusting the lenticular shaped (flatbar) standing rigging to aim into the apparent wind for less drag, something successfully used for aircraft controls and rigging, the 12 meter VIM, 6 meters, by John Illingworth, and, at some point, accidentally discovered by Bob Perry who temporarily grooved his backside lying against a lenticular rod while asleep on deck. Not only did we adjust the lower lenticulars, but Commodore Tompkins would unceremoniously hand-over-hand ascend the mainsail luff on each tack with his crescent wrench to tack the upper rigging. Haji could confirm. I believe IMPROBABLE still has her original lenticular rigging that we used to tack 47 years ago....
  15. sleddog

    Improbable

    Actually, IMPROBABLE's tiller was 7', laminated of Kauri like the rest of her hull. In breeze-on conditions under spinny, it took 2, even 3 drivers pushing and pulling on opposite sides of the tiller. In the '71 Fastnet, running back from the Rock in a SW gale, we were the only boat to carry a spinnaker the whole way, Ron Holland, Commodore Tompkins, Dave Wahle and myself power assisting each other at the Red Rocket's helm. No roundups, the only Admirals's Cup boat we couldn't catch was the well sailed RAGAMUFFIN, overall Fastnet winner. We had some sterling racing Down Under in '73-'74 against the likes of INCA, APOLLO, RAGS, LOVE&WAR, QUICKSILVER, PROSPECT of WHITBY, RUNAWAY, et.all. But the really good stuff was against D'arcy's 45 foot TEQUILA, which was the same speed as IMPROBABLE and well sailed by the entire Whiting family and long time crew. As IMPROBABLE's skipper I had a front row seat to D'arcy Whiting's bottomless supply of practical jokes, many on himself. The first was the day TEQUILA arrived in Sydney after a Trans-Tasman delivery, her entire cabin floor stacked 3 high with cases of beer for the anticipated Aussie Christmas beer strike before the S2H. D'arcy brought TEQUILA into the CCA docks under a good head of steam, throwing her into reverse at the last moment. Only there was no reverse. We watched in astonishment as TEQUILA rode up and over the dock like an ice-breaker. No problem. D'arcy and crew got TEQUILA backed off the splinters in time to host the entire yacht division of the uniformed Sydney customs crew of 8 for a little piss up in TEQUILA's cockpit. They were expecting TEQUILA's arrival with great anticipation! A few weeks later, after the 1973 S2H, TEQUILA and IMPROBABLE faced off in the Hobart-Auckland Race, D'arcy and crew were set on breaking KIALOA II's record of 8 day's 2 hours. TEQUILA and IMPROBABLE had a ding-dong battle out the Derwent, running side by side under spinnaker. Then we saw it ahead, the mean looking, low clouds of an incipient Southerly Buster moving quickly our way. Even though running in a pleasant NW breeze, we let TEQUILA escape ahead while double reefing and changing to the #5 jib on IMPROBABLE. As the Southerly Buster hit, we could just see TEQUILA a mile ahead pirouette under spinnaker, and take off downwind, in the wrong direction, up the Derwent, bow wave foaming. IMPROBABLE and TEQUILA passed going in opposite directions, about 5 boat lengths apart .....I could clearly see D'arcy frozen at the wheel, struggling to control TEQUILA while her crew figured out what to do to get the spinnaker down and the boat turned around. That was the last we saw of TEQUILA. In typical rugged Tasman conditions, IMPROBABLE set a new, unofficial record from Hobart to Cape Reinga of 7 days, and finished off Auckland Harbor's Orakei Wharf at sunrise. There was a welcoming crowd of thousands, and we were live on the radio. I'd never seen anything like it. In answer to some of the above questions, IMPROBABLE's transom rudder, built by New Zealand surfboard shaper Rodney Davidson, was scrapped after her win in the '73 Jamaica Race. We were headed to England as a 1 boat Admiral's Cup Team representing New Zealand, and the new IOR rule did not treat the transom rudder with any favor. IMPROBABLE was impounded in CUBA by Fidel's troops when her trans-Atlantic delivery skipper, Ron Holland, cut the western tip and got into local waters for a better view. Fortunately, Ron's wife, Laurel, had a supply of Playboys for just such an eventuality, a bribe ensued, and IMPROBABLE and crew got the hell out of there. NEW WORLD, George Kiskaddon's 68 foot John Spencer designed ultra light schooner, was lost on a reef in Micronesia sometime in the late 70's under new ownership.