Rocket Launch

Rocket Moth rigged for her maiden voyage

The new Rocket Moth design has taken to the water, with a tune up sail at Queen Mary against the Ninja death squad followed by the Tiger Pursuit last Sunday. Early impressions are great and it’ll be good to start getting some air miles in.

Order book is fast filling up and it’s looking like a busy season!

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Rocket Launcher

So the Rocket finally took to the skies at Queen Mary yesterday. I’ll post a bit more in depth later on but I figured I ought to put something up for those poor people not on Facebook ;-) . Things went hitch free thankfully and I spend a good couple of hours blasting around trying to remember how to sail (not been in a boat since October) and starting to figure out what settings need tweaking.
You’ll have to forgive the ridiculously high boom, this was before I started playing with everything to get it all in the right place!






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Fresh start

So, it’s 2013. Wow – that one crept up pretty rapidly.

I’ve not sailed now since the Hayling open (which I failed to blog about as it sucked man balls) and as I’ve been boatless I was intrigued to see how fired I’d be when I finally got around to the thought of sailing again!

Suffice to say, I’m pretty excited about the whole thing. The build process for the Rocket has been a long one as I’ve been relying heavily on pulling favours for some major items (thanks Dave!) but as the end of it all approaches I’ve got a CnC’d hull blank and mould, a pretty awesome looking new mainfoil mould and a rudder mould landing any day. There’s a good stash of new thinking on this boat mostly based on my experience with the Ninja builds, I had a good blueprint in my head as to where I wanted to go with it all and a lot of it is the sort of thing you can only do with a fresh start – no ties to the past or backwards compatibility. I suppose all will be revealed and if you’ve been following my Facebook page you’ll probably have seen a few hints.

So, with my Fresh Start (TM) thinking in mind I’ve resigned from Cheddar. I’ll probably sail a couple of times there in the winter series but I suspect I’ll be doing most of my sailing from either Queen Mary or Weymouth – it’ll be a mission, but the competition is what I need to try to bring myself back up to scratch and give the Rocket it’s best chance. I’ve not been getting much use out of BCYC and there’s all sorts of behind the scenes nobbery with the committee running the place that’s forced other members out and it’s just not a great place to hang out.

Not sure what that means for the blog, but at least I still live near Bristol….

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Ninja 3767 (NOW SOLD)

Ninja 3767 up for sale. She’s a 2010 Ninja that I’ve had back to fully pimp out. All the control systems are now current, current spec mast and a set of prototype cut down foils. I’ve been sailing the boat since Garda and she’s been going very well indeed.

Recently refinished in metallic purple
Good condition MSL13 sail (not the one in the sailing pic, that’s my knackered MSL10!)
Custom Aardspar skinny mast with only 6 months use
Southern Boom
Cut down foils (maybe not suited for heavyweights) recently refurbished
Oligroglio adjustable wand
Adjustable pushrod
Adjustable rudder
Foil bags
Top cover
Launching trolley

In theory there is an unconventional boatbox which should be good for a trip across Europe. If you are overseas and looking for a boat I can arrange shipping. I’ll warranty the boat in the UK for 3 months, but would need to agree some terms for overseas buyers.


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Weymouth Moth open

The first GP event of the new 2012/13 season kicked off over the weekend down at Weymouth. Foiltown put on it’s usual mix of conditions for us which resulted in one beautiful days sailing followed by something truly biblical which meant we only got one days sailing in.

Gareth Davies was Mr consistent over the 4 races on the Saturday, always making sure he was there or thereabouts leaving it to the rest of us to try to lose it, which we all succeeded in doing to some degree with failed tacks, missed mark roundings and all sorts of shenanigins. Tom Offer continued his good form with a 1,2,4 to take second. Special Agent Barton took third with a 2,3,3 and I took fourth with a 1,3,5. Overall results here
It was a bit of a shame the turnout was so down, but it’s still pretty soon after Garda and a lot of people are between boats so I’ve got high hopes for the end of season event at HISC in a few weeks time. Helen and the folks at Castle Cove put on a great event for us and I reckon the Nationals here next year will be THE event to be at.

After seeing off Lord Shredder at Garda, my current steed is a 2 year old Ninja which I’ve been refurbishing and bringing up to current spec when I’ve had some spare time and is now fitted with a set of prototype Elite foils from a year or so ago which have been heavily modified since – The set up of which was a complete shot in the dark and was actually surprisingly good!

While none of the ropes were quite right, the toestraps started long and got progressively longer as the day went on and I ran out of rudder adjustment early on, the “Evil Midnight Bomber” put on a fine show and by the time I’d figured everything out she was going pretty quickly – taking the win in the last race by a good few hundred yards, despite massive cramp from the toestraps meaning my tacking had descended into ‘shove the tiller and pray’ rather than any meaningful technique! I’m planning on hanging onto the boat until after HISC open but she’ll be up for sale soon after to make way for the first of the Rockets.

Speaking of which, I’m posting on the Aardvark Facebook page as I’m going along with Rocket development so if you want to keep up to date with whats happening thats the place to do it.

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Standby for launch

After several good years with the Ninja design it’s time to move things on at Aardvark HQ. We’ve had some ideas as to where we’d like to take the Moth to move it forward and after some successful experiments this season we are launching a new design over the winter.

The Rocket will be an evolved version of the long-footprint Ninja that Giovanni Galeotti has been trialling over this season with a new hull shape and improvements all round with the aim of improving reliability and repeatability of setups. The hull plug is being machined in the next couple of weeks along with some new prototype foils and the Rocket will take to the skies in the Autumn….

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Post match analysis

I had high hopes for blogging/facebooking while out in Italy, but had some connectivity issues at the Univela. Probably a good thing as it probably prevented grumpy old Mike outbursts from reaching the internet!

I had planned on this worlds being a bit of a last swansong for the Ninja. I’ve got a list of things as long as my arm that basically mean a wholesale re-evalution of the boat, so I really wanted me and Shredder to go out with a bang, rather than a whimper!

I had good pace the whole time, but really struggled to understand the venue, as the tactics really seemed to shift around while the breeze was establishing. My lack of practice really showed on the big Wednesday and when Friday came around with more of the same, I decided to call it a day and let Ole Frey (Shredders’ new keeper) take her away without me launching myself into various parts for the morning.

When things went right I could get in the top 10 and stay there (2nd in the practice race and another in the Q series) but I couldn’t get myself there often enough. Fitness wasn’t an issue for me for the first time in a while, but if I’m to compete at this level I’m going to need to focus my sailing a bit more and find someone to train with. Bit of a problem when your only local competition is contemplating sailing something else (shame on you Offer!) and you can cross your local lake in a couple of minutes at 20 knots!

The rest of team Ninja did me proud though and scored some pretty tidy results in a fleet dominated by full time sailors.

The next month or so is tooling time. I’ve been taking on feedback from the Ninja Co-Operative and think I can improve most bits on the boat in some way to improve reliability and repeatability of settings. I’ve also got a couple of very experienced aero/hydro folk looking at foil sections and planforms and will have some prototype foils on the water with my new boat. The plan is for the bells and whistles versions to roll out in the spring.

The ‘Rocket’ is preparing for launch.

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Getting ready to roll

My plan a few months ago was to wind down work in the lead up to the worlds so I could make sure I was at the top of my game and everything was groovy. A combination of supplier problems, fiery compressors and general faffing around means the final fittings were screwed onto the final Ninja yesterday and my only sailing since the nationals was at Weston!

I took the opportunity to take Leigh’s shiny blue beast for a shakedown cruise before handing it over for him to start getting some time on the water then dragging Shredder out for a final pre-Garda sail. We were joined on the water by James Phare and a sneaky Ninja training camp occurred at 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon.

So my boat is now in pieces and I’m starting to pack the giant trailer with anything I can find in the workshop that might be useful/hard to find in Italy. Also trying to decide which sails to take – I’ve got a stash of crazy shaped sails which might be put to good use in the lighter afternoon breezes at Campione, my MSL10 has seen better days and my new Hyde had the battens poke through the cam ends after 2 sails so what should be a no brainer is harder than you might think! I’m sure everyone else had their equipment sorted months ago and have just been training with it, but where’s the fun in that?!

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Weston Weekend

Yet again, I’ve failed in my task of writing stuff for the blog. I’m starting to think I ought to rename the blog to reflect the complete lack of anything Bristol related going onto it! Ideas on a postcard…

Weston was a great weekend in the end. The forecast was looking a bit ropey halfway through the week and we arrived to no wind. The race team were confident we’d start on time and we thought they were having a laugh. This meant that quite a lot of the fleet were still ashore during the first race when the sea breeze had kicked in right on time!

Due to a lack of sailing, I was trying a load of new stuff on the boat, including a custom variant of the 2012 Hyde which I’d originally ordered for myself and due to some interesting lead times had ended up on Rich Westburys ‘Stop the Pidgeon’. The replacement for this had just arrived on my doorstep and I was keen to try it. Certainly looks how I wanted it and with some tweaks like tapered battens and replacing the top two cams with some that fit I think it’ll probably be my worlds sail.
I was also mucking around with my wand bias a little but ended up back where I started for day two as everything felt a little bouncy and slow.

I generally felt my boatspeed was actually pretty good over the weekend. I wasn’t losing out to the front runners when I was on top of things, but my first beats and starting was leaving me with ground to make up and that’s not something I’m going to be able to afford in a 100 boat fleet! 9 Days till hitching up!

Been following the olympic circus online in my tea breaks at work. Cheering on the Mothies in the 49er fleet – normally you end up cheering on your countrymen! It’s nice validation when you know that the top of your game is at the top of the world game!

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Post Nationals

Sorry for the lack of blogging, been crazy busy getting the last couple of Ninjas built to allow for my pre worlds last minute training!

I had a lot of fun at the Nationals this year. There was a laid back vibe to proceedings and while the weather gods were up to their usual tricks meaning we lost two days we had a varied series with a bit of light and a bit of breeze. Stone SC did an excellent job for us, with some excellent food, busy bar and the race team coped well with what was thrown their way.

I ended up in 5th overall after a disappointing day on the big Sunday when the tide caught out a lot of boats, including myself – lining up at the boat end and barely making the pin a minute after the gun has gone really doesn’t make for an easy ride and I deserved to drop from 3rd after the first day! The schedule of races also caught me out with big plans for up to 4 races on the Saturday meant I paced myself a bit more than I should have and after 2 races I really hadn’t given it my all. There is some phrase about ‘leave it all on the track’ and I’m not sure I had!

Chris deserved his win and the results really showed who has been putting the hours in this year. Gareth Davies got a well earned 4th amid rumours from his Stone SC buddies that he’d been out practicing an awful lot! Si and Chris had their usual fight at the top, but it was the fleet following them that was the most interesting – more boats than ever and fighting it out. It good to see so many overseas entries, with welcome boats from France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and the Irish contingent. Apparently the fleet is picking up over there and they are trying to get some dates together for an event around Dublin which could be great!

So, just Weston lies between now and the worlds. My get fit by cycling plan is coming along nicely and I’m planning to spend a bit of time getting my boat handling back up to scratch and test a couple of sails (should they actually arrive on my doorstep before then!). Entries now at 60 boats and rising – should be a good one!

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