Wednesday 19th of June 2024

of playing, of america's cup, of sydney to hobart, of uncle rupe, of tragedies and other windmills...


Sailing has often been described as a "rich man" sport... More to the point, RACING sailing boats has been and is expensive — unless you race Sabots. Even then, you might need to be a member of a sailing club or own a trailer. And most boat owners describe the floating thing as a black hole on the water in which one pours money. I know of many such poor people who enjoy a leisurely cruise in the afternoon of a glorious Sunday, here in Sydney or around the world, though...

But racing up-to-date sailing machines is a cash guzzler like you would not believe. But it often turns the wish of winning into a feat of technological experiment... Necessity is often called the mother of invention, but racing sailing boats comes a very close second on this score.
Most people would have heard about the America's Cup, declared the oldest sporting competition in the world (1851), which was first staged around the Isle of Wight, as a friendly race for a 100 guineas wager... When Queen Victoria asked "who's coming second?". the answer from her advisor was chilling: "Ma'am, there is no second"... America, the schooner owned by John Cox Stevens from Yankeland, had trounced the British fleet... Revenge had to be. Many rich barons tried and tried thereafter to no avail. 

Then, sailing was the only viable transport system across the seas, though the steam engine started to be developed. New technology and design provided hope for winning under sail. Racing boats became bigger and bigger till the J-Class was created in the 1930s... These were huge racing boats of more than 135 feet long with masts towering at more than 200 feet... Then World War II came along and ruined most people except the profiteers of this tragedy. No-one could fight for the cup apart from the Americans themselves but they were not allowed to challenge each other according to the "rooles"... The size of the boats was shrunk to the measly 12-metre class to allow the Europeans (the Poms) to re-enter the contest.. 

It was not until 1983, when "Australia II" won the cup from the Yanks of the New York Yacht Club, with a psychological winged-keel designed by someone who though that if things did not break, they were too strong, ipso too heavy, before Alan Bond — its owner — was committed to prison for fraud, that the old cup was grudgingly unbolted from the base of its daily-dusted glass case. The exciting win prompted the Prime Minister to tell any bosses who sacked an employee for being late at work after watching the race on television "was a bum"...
Dennis Connor, the Skipper of Liberty, the loosing Yankee boat, was chastised by compatriotic onlookers for having lost THE cup... One of the unwritten rules of "match racing" in sailing boats is that one needs to "cover" the other boat. That is to say place oneself in the same circumstances, wind and wave-wise, and stay in front. Dennis lost the race for not "covering". His boat was the best on the day, but he lost by not "covering" the competitor who got a better wind shift... Though having sailed skiffs (the 12 footers, 14, 16 and 18 footers on Sydney harbour) would have helped the skipper of Australia II with the nifty tactic of tacking downwind.
The history of this cup has been the subject of major studies to show what has been the glory and motivator of the rich to often en-debt themselves into poverty to win this silver mug, the "Auld Mug"... This racing competition made a many lawyer's bread and butter — as arguments about the "rooles" (the rules) were more than frequent and somewhat part of the "rooles". After winning the cup in Cowes, The rules were rewritten by the Americans and designed to favour them who had banned all mixing of foreign technology and crews, until they lost it to Australia, after 132 years of competition. The rules in England were quite simple : the "use of axes and ramming other competitors" were forbidden... I guess the Poms wanted to shift the buccaneering mentality into "fair play"... As an aside, the race may not have happened because the Lords in charge of the race thought the American boat "looked funny"...
Winning by the Aussies opened the rules and we have contenders and defenders from America with a brilliant Aussie skipper and multi-national crew where Aussies feature strongly. Swiss boats enter the competition. New Zealand won the thingster as well. 

Nowadays, the America's Cup races are run between two giant sailing multi-hulls, the mast thereof stand at more than 70 metres tall (230 feet or three quarters of a soccer field in swimming pool equivalent). Most of the sails are designed like plane wings with flexible foils to trim the surface. Few rich dudes can really afford to lose money on these very expensive contraptions and they form syndicates with advertisers... It becomes a sailing Everest with the machines used as promotional incentives and billboards. Mind you, these lightweight monsters would quickly break-up in the fairest of fair weather conditions encountered in the Sydney to Hobart Race... One needs much stronger boats.

Here, in the 70th year of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race, we can only wonder about who is doing it right and who is doing it wrong... We could think that it would be a straight forward run down the coast in a straight line, after a short run up Sydney Harbour, and then turn right into Hobart. The fastest boat would win... But as we know the weather and the currents can make things very tricky. You could have the better boat and still loose. This race is a "blue water classic" though sometimes the sea is very angry, and crews can notice the waterspouts.

News of the Sydney to Hobart race, 1958... Note "man shot in street"...

A few years ago, 1998, the race was hit by another massive storm. Six sailors lost their life and nearly half the fleet was damaged. Quite a few boats sunk. The price of fun had gone up. It could have been a lot more tragic had not brave chopper pilots (including Gary, Gary Ticehurst) and their crews winched stranded sailors off rafts in up to 12 metres waves truncated by fierce white caps, in ferocious gale force wind... 
Well, some people call it fun. The excitement of pushing "the limits" of boat's capabilities and the testing of endurance for the crew in "basic comfort" (meaning hell in a washing machine) are the motivations... For others, it's a non-missable sleepless nightmare to be remembered forever, as northerly currents against southerly winds can raise big waves with a short frequency — and make Luna Park worst ride appear like a picnic. Sea sickness can make you green in the gills. 
Eating cold sloshy tucker straight from plastic packets/pockets or munching on chocolate bars is also de rigour while spending most of one's time hanging-on for dear life on the rolling windward-side of the boat to provide queazy ballast — while being wrapped up in sailor's waterproof gear that tend to absorb wetness nonetheless, as sprays of salty water slowly penetrate inside the apparel down to the undies by five o"clock in the afternoon on the first day... No change of gear allowed. Minimum weight.. you see. Sleeping bunks are shared, if one can call this "sleep"...

This year was a text book in how to win and loose the race. There were many tactical and navigation errors as well as brilliant tactics... It's still too early to spruik but my amateur view is quite definite. Wild Oats XI ran a perfect race and discreetly pushed other boats into making tactical mistakes. That is to say other boats had to "cover" Wild Oats XI. But where it pushed other boats, the conditions were better suited for Wild Oats XI...  And there was little choice.
These sailing machines have gone massive and lighter in recent years, though limited to 30.x metres (100 feet, excluding a massive bowsprit) with new carbon fibre technology making things much stronger. It is this very same technology developed for racing sailing boats years ago that has now become used in making commercial aircrafts such as the Boeing Dreamliner. 
The race is also limited to single-hull vessels...

Carbon fibre allows for a lot less weight to more strength ratio. But it's tricky. Naval architects operate with engineers and carbon fibre specialist builders to develop massive masts and lightweight hulls under which a huge lead ballast hangs from a hinged narrow deep keel. Various strategically-placed sliding thin semi-vertical boards are also used to reduce side drift with a couple of rudders located a bit like tailfins on modern fighter jets, upside down. The stresses on the components are enormous, especially in the sloppy conditions where wear and tear can quickly dismast a boat or delaminate a hull... 
The massive sails are made of non-stretch new polymerised material and specifically curved at cutting and assembly stage, which is mostly computerised. They need to be able to be reefed with ease, while most of the front sails are able to be furled a tad or completely tight depending on the wind. Powerful "grinders" or winches help control the setting of the sails and on some boats these are electrically driven... There are many hydraulic jacks everywhere to tension the rigging in various parts, including bending the mast.
An array of electronic devices from speedometers to GPS, satellite-phones, radar and e-chart devices help the navigator make decision on where to go, though it is always left to the skipper to rule over a hyped-up bunch of more than 20 beefy geezers and to decide what's next. The "trim" is most important. This is why the crew needs to familiarise in advance with all the working bits in order to find which settings make the boat go a quarter knot faster while already doing 20 knots.... One cannot settle with good enough. Optimum speed with proper trim is the name of the game. Every setting is precisely measured and noted. It's the difference between winning and coming second — seconds behind the winner. Infuriating. 

But no matter how well prepared, how good the crew is, how fantastic the boat is, there is an element of luck in winning such races. Or a bit of nose. Or being very alert to small changes on the water. A feeling for the imponderable. This is where the experience of the tactician, the navigator and the skipper comes in.
For example when Australia II wont the seventh and last race in 1983, it was way behind the American boat. The skipper, Bertrand, of Aus II decided to take the longer route where he spotted a bit of stronger breeze... as mentioned earlier, the Yankee boat was sailing downwind straight for the marker and did not "cover". It ran into a light breeze patch while Australia II was tacking downwind alla skiff, back towards the marker... A2 rounded the marker a few seconds ahead of the Yankee boat and then "covered" tack for tack (more than 30 times if my memory serves me well) till the finish line... Well done. Bravo... You had to be there to see it... I was not but I know people who were.
Thus, wind knowledge is most important — and the shortest route may not be the fastest distance between two points. Electronic wind charts are now available, for local conditions and world wide conditions... 
Wind is the fuel for the sailing vessel. Knowing the patches of stronger or calmer winds will win the race more than any other factors for "equivalent boats". Most line-honour boats these days have their idiosyncrasies. Some will be all-rounded, some will be designed for better reaching (wind on the side) and some will be designed for being faster upwind (at about 30 degrees or less into the wind). 

From my observation, the boat "Comanche" was mainly designed as a reaching boat. Way faster than say "Wild Oats XI" in such a wind situation. But then comes the "character of the sea": wave height, wave direction and frequency. On a flat sea, "Comanche" would show far superior speed on a reach than the Aussie boat. We saw this in the Sydney Harbour leg, where "Comanche" got to the first marker in about 4 minutes, being at least five knots faster than "Wild Oats XI" — a much older boat than the new Yankee boat, with seven Sydney-Hobart line honours already under its belt. This difference of speed scared the owner of Wild Oats XI who though they had a major challenge on their hands... Interestingly, the two boats have been designed by two competing US naval architect firms.
And WOXI had a challenge, but knowledge of the VARIOUS conditions had to be a winning factor.
Comanche is designed like a super-light Scow, a flat surface barge, in this case with a pointy nose... Some of the America's cup boats were also designed with this in mind. It works. As soon as it heels, it behaves a bit like a catamaran as if one of its hull is in the air. The art in this case is to manage the balance between its massive sails, the heeling and the ballast being raise near horizontal under water while the thin boards are providing directional stability. One of the rudder is out of the water while the other is near vertical and provide maximum directional shifts as required. The "trim" is at maximum perfection. It's a beautifully engineered machine in perfect postcard conditions. Until one turns south. 

before turning south...
before turning south (1958)... Note the South Steyne ferry in the middle of the fleet. It would have carried spectators... meanwhile a child is killed...

In the new conditions, going upwind against short waves, Comanche was unable to shake Wild Oats XI — a more all-rounded vessel, adaptable to, and seriously good in most conditions. 
During the night, light wind prevailed after an average southerly. When the wind dies, the waves continue for a while under momentum. Light wind and largish waves would have been somewhat disconcerting for a boat like Comanche. It would have gone "flat", so it would have "wetted more surface than hoped" — becoming a bit like a floating iron instead of a thin cigar... Impossible to extract the best trim, with changing pitch from one wave to the next. It does not need to be much, but half a knot slower than the competitor soon adds up to a lot to catch up. Wild Oats XI overtook the Texan boat during the night and by the afternoon of day two was nearly 40 miles in front... I strongly believe, Comanche had been deliberately driven to "cover" Wild Oats XI into this patch of light wind. Tactical move. Being thinner, WOXI could go faster into the choppy conditions: southward flowing current versus southerly winds (coming from the south).
Meanwhile, Perpetual may have hit a wave at speed or hit a bit of flotsam that made the boat take on water. A crack in its highly stressed carbon fibre hull could have soon become a gigantic gash under the constant pounding against the waves. It had to turn back. 
Ragamuffin was lingering as well. It is an "older" boat that had been refitted like new, but designed a bit like Comanche... Eventually Ragamuffin rather than stick with unfavourable light air while following the two leaders, shot back towards the rumb-line at 22 knots and soon was in third position only 20 miles behind the leader — and catching up... to run into another very localised calm patch... There, it was overtaken by smaller boats that were cruising less than a mile either side... Quite uncanny! Ragamuffin doing 2 knots while the others were already avoiding the patch, at more than 11 knots. It would have been infuriating... But not to be unexpected. I kept my eyes on the wind e-chart and there, in this tiny area, was a circle with a dot centre in it. Flat calm. The vagaries of wind waves, of upward winds and down drafts... 
So there... Ragamuffin (see picture at top) on which I had my virtual money on for a tight contest, was in fizzle-place behind a Volvo 70 and Rio 100... all more than 150 miles behind the leaders... 
Trim, luck, roundedness for speed and tactics make a winner. Fur would have been flying...

As Wild Oats XI was rounding the Tasman Peninsula, Comanche was only about 10 nautical miles behind, in far more "suitable" conditions and catching up at speed — being about 6 knots faster. But it had to tack downwind, (skiff-like) in order to maintain this speed to use the Skow side-effect. So its speed and distance to Wild Oats were not in proportion because it was covering "more ground". Wild Oats seemed to have maintained a very steady approach to its direction, "trim", focus and plan. 
WOXI had to do a short dog's leg away from a patch of light air but then streamed full west towards Hobart at more than 10 knots... Then at 16 knots...
The coast of Tasmania, like that of Australia (and that of the rest of the world's continents), is quite new. About 10,000 years old. When the last ice-age melted, sea level rose about 100 metres (or a soccer field length in...) to what they are presently. Thus the rugged aspect of the Tasmanian coast is fairly recent in geological time. The "decoupage" of the inlet to Hobart is one of the most spectacular, and created some weird isolated landmarks like Bruny Island which is a divided mountains barely joined by a long narrow sand bar, five kilometres long and sometimes less than forty metres wide — itself dividing two "seas" as the Adventure Bay and Great Bay. On one side the sea can be tropical blue, on the other side it can be stormy grey...

cliffs of Tasman peninsula
cliffs of Tasman peninsula (picture by Gunter Ratingaher)

As Wild Oats is celebrated for winning by 10 miles ahead of Comanche, A passenger plane with more than 150 passengers has gone missing in Asia... Quite unsettlingly sad.
Life is weird... We made it that way, away from it's naturalness... We tempt fate, we do things. Should we stop doing such things as racing sailing boats?... Should we live like monkeys in trees? Or fly in big planes?... We feel the pain and the death of others... Life can be punishing and yet we still play. 
Playing teaches us to enjoy life rather than fight to the death, though playing is sometimes a simulation of the fight for survival, under specific rules of games with time limits. One can loose a game of 20/20 by one ball and pat the winners for a job well done. Then go and have more fun altogether. 

I'd rather see a humanity concentrating on games and entertainment rather than being obsessed with punishments — economic, religious or social — and wars. This is where Australia could have helped the world... Fun has been the underlying subconscious centrepiece that has driven this country's psyche. Two years ago, we were deemed to be the happiest country on the planet... But now with a rabid Turd in charge, the playfulness of this nation is being eroded into a morose feeling by the motley crew of Abbott misery guts who are hell bent on inflicting punishment and terror warnings. This is contrary to the spirit of this nation where Abbott has mistaken maturity for being a serious pain in the butt, being a lying bastard, a scientific ignoramus and a thief. No, maturity is the understanding that punishment is not the way to happiness. Tony Abbott appears to me as a sadist who smiles when he canes the back of you while telling you it's your fault.


Sailing boats have been our mode of transport for many centuries till the invention of steam engines. I know people who came as migrants on old square riggers, escaping the wars in Europe. As we burn more oil and more coal, we should pay more attention to the wind... And the sun.
Many rich people make money by selling oil, gas, wine, computing and all kind of goods we buy, even information or propaganda such as Mr Murdoch's... To a great extend we are part of the wind in their sails and sales... We buy their stuff. Should we not buy, they'd go broke...

Now is it better to win a sailing boat race — or a camel race or a cardboard cart contest — for fun, than to go to war and kill people with the strange belief that this will improve our sex life in the after-life?... Or could we do with more public parks for picnics? Is such competition bringing out the best of us? We watch cricket, horse races, local soccer games and get our kids to participate in sport. Do we need to be all-rounded?
Activity is key to maintain the human condition but we are lazy. Not all of us are such dedicated. We like a slow boat to China, a soft sofa and we become fat. The lure of winning competition might get us moving, though we need some reward even if we loose. Participation can be reward enough, though the ruthless world of capitalistic business we have created is geared to bury us if we don't cut it... Rather than a friendly sporting arena, where everyone wins, even if we loose, it has turned into a nasty jungle out there. It's Rollerball. Nature's jungle is more friendly. So some people cheat, some people lie or twist the truth and compete unfairly in order to be top dog. Some people need welfare to survive. Welfare is not an entitlement. It's the essential ingredient of people who "cannot cut it" to survive in this cut-throat environment. It is an essential part of the system that helps sales anyway. 
Advertising has become integrated with nearly everything we do via the local cricket ground "sponsored" by a local fast food outlet to the Oceanic Preservation Society that sponsors Comanche, (unless the owners of Comanche have decided to support this society and attract our attention to it). 
Advertising on sails was not allowed on such yacht races on Sydney Harbour until about thirty years ago. I believe the ban had nothing to do with government regulations but with sailing clubs pledges. One club, mind you, had started to advertise on 18-footers skiffs sails, back then in the late 1800s.

18-footers old style
18-footer old style

These short boats of eighteen feet were allowed to wear as much sail as they could, and during the downward leg towards the finish line, it was customary to loose some of the crew overboard to lighten the boat. They had teams of dedicated rowing boats picking up the floaters, swimming in kapok lifejacket. Thus these "flying" skiffs often had crews of up to thirty for ballast since the boat was not allowed a keel weight, only a centreboard. The 18 footers of today still have huge sails but only three crew balancing the boat on "wings"... They fly like racing cars on water. They are still allowed to advertise, though a lot of advertisers have moved on to the bigger boats like "Channel Seven" Wild Oats XI... The advertisers would have to think they are on a winner, including the owner of the boat, Bill Oatley, who advertise his own wines and "his" island, Hamilton Island... Perpetual of course advertise Perpetual insurance and investments. 

Thus through fun, people are encouraged to become aware of marketable stuff... And the race employs a lot of people from boat builders to race marshals, and advertisers. It is a commercial operation designed to provide fun for adults, like toys to kids.

But it is very disappointing that many of the rich geezers who may enjoy sailing and the wind, end up being against the use of wind for power supply — like our own Rupert Murdoch, who does not believe in climate change. Hey Rupe! It's not about belief! it is about scientific observation and precise deductions which tell us that burning carbon will eventually ruin our lives... We need to reduce the ruthlessness of business in favour of fun until the end... And this mean not only fun for the rich but fun for all with less grab and scrooging...
Whatever you say, Rupert, global warming is real... We should now think wind and sun power before we cook our future with carbon... I will fight you till the end... because you are simply wrong.

Meanwhile the AirAsia is jet is still missing... and we cannot but be devastated once more by such tragedy... But beware, speculations are often lies in the same vein as made up by our Liar-in-Chief, Tony Turdy, who blames Russia for the last plane catastrophe in Ukraine, when he has not a single proof...
Shut up, Tony.

May all the families of the dead come to term with the situation and rediscover life. Precious life. Enjoyable life... How long we allow ourselves to play after mourning is up to us... After a while, we should be able to play, win or loose, but participate while still remembering our lost ones... They would want it that way.

Gus leonisky
Your local sailing instructor. 

windmill in tasmania
windmill in Tasmania: Note the slats/paddles within the wing of the mill. see below for the clever mechanism that operates the opening of the slats/paddles. (picture by Gunter Ratingaher)



ingenious engineering


Ingenious engineering: The clever mechanism to "trim" the wind mill paddles to extract maximum efficiency and control the speed according to the wind. See story above. I guess the black ball is the tip of a lightning rod, unless it is decoration.


The mechanism is operated by levers down to ground level inside the mill

winners are grinners...

winners are grinners...


winners are grinners... Advert for Audi in the SMH (30/12/14). See article about advertising on sails of racing boats, above. Read from top.



The crew of yacht competing in the Sydney to Hobart race witnessed the moment a light plane carrying two people crashed into water off the Tasman Peninsula.

The Cessna 172 ditched into the water in the Storm Bay area south of Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula about 6:30pm (AEDT) Monday.

The plane, which was filming yachts in the Sydney to Hobart race, has yet to be found.

A 29-year-old pilot and a 61-year-old photographer were on board the plane.

The crew on the Sydney to Hobart yacht Mistraal saw the plane flying low.

Only moments later they saw the tail disappearing under the waves.

read more:

This is a sad part of risks we take to do things... All things we do have risks. 

By the way, one needs to mention betting and gambling... Soon after the beginning of the races of the 18 footers (old style) on Sydney Harbour in the late 1800s, betting on the boats was allowed and small steamers or ferries loaded with "spectators" followed the fleet. Bookmakers on board would take bets on which boat would round the first marker, the second marker, etc, to the finish line... This could have led to rigging the races, but there is no real history of this...

Winning and loosing on handicap...


The concept of handicap is a curly one, yet it is designed for "fairness". The idea derives once again from "betting" on the outcome of races, probably in the 17th century, when the hat (a cap) was passed around to take bets. But modern handicapping can be first truly related in my book to the America's cup, where, in the early years, a formula was applied to mostly disadvantage any non-American boats, under the cover of fairness, by the New York Yacht Club. 
Such a formula was also applied in 1999 to boot South Sydney football club out of the league it had helped create in 1908. But this is another story somewhere in the ether...
In horse racing, the stewards use weights to add to the saddle so that a faster horse is "penalised" in having to carry a bit more. This tends to even out the races... In golf, handicaps only apply to friendly social and clubs games where one is allowed a certain number of extra "free" shots. This handicap is calculated on previous results in such games. Professionals do not have handicaps.
In sailing the formula is rather complicated. There was one criteria that used to be valid and still used but it's somewhat obsolete. The hull speed of a vessel is quite relative to its waterline length. But, and there is a big but, a vessel can overshoot this speed by "surfing" the waves or developing a virtual waterline length in certain conditions. The size and shape of the boat thus matters. A bigger boat will have a bigger penalising handicap. Other factors are sail area, weight and a lot of other stuff that make mathematicians happy with complexity — including the girth, the amount of protrusion allowed in front of mid-ship below the waterline and so forth. This is where Ben Lexen was able to flaunt the "rooles" in the America's Cup (read rant at top). He designed a keel where keel-wings would not be measured in the handicap or certifying formula, that is to say, the wings were behind the mid-ship. This of course was a mana for lawyers at ten paces, but the rules were the rules and the wings had to be allowed, albeit covered under secrecy to the general public. 
But there is a big difference between a reasonable handicap and a massive dead weight. Politically Tony Abbott is like an ten tons iron-ball-and-shackle MAJOR HANDICAP on the feet of this country... No-one is going to win, not even the jailer — that unfair, immature infantile, incompetent and idiotic Abbott regime... It has to go holus bolus.
There I've said my democratic piece for the day...
Back to the fun...  Handicapping boats in a race is complex... This is why, the result of a boat race for "handicap honours" takes a long time to formulate. All the boats need to be at the finish by a certain date and time for the final allocation of the result. Age of the boat is also a consideration. 
So, it has been announced a couple of days after Wild Oats XI won the race to the line that its older version (Wild Oats) now renamed Wild Rose, won the Handicap race overall. Uncanny...
read more:

Some sour sods have suggested that the race should be exclusively raced between "cruising boats"... But then the fun would be a tenth of what it is... And who in their right mind would advertise on slow boats looking like they belong in a ma and pa kettle museum? Anyway, most boating handicaps are in favour of cruising boats... So there.

Here are the results for this year's Sydney to Hobart Race:

Wild Rose
Roger Hickman NSW - FINISHED

Pretty Fly III
Colin Woods NSW - FINISHED



the wind in our paddles...


From WOMAD 2014, Robyn Williams chairs a discussion about the generation of energy. A massive worldwide change is underway. The economics and structure of energy generation is being transformed from one of expensive, wasteful, polluting, distributed power under the control of large utilities, to cheaper, efficient, clean power generated locally and sometimes owned by the community.

Simon Holmes a Court describes an early community wind farm project in Victoria which generates the power for 2,000 homes. Now the scheme is being copied with solar panels on inner city homes. South Australia’s power comprises 30% wind power and 5% solar power. Renewable energy in SA has led to lower power prices. If South Australia was a country it would be at the top of the table for its use of wind power.

Paul Gilding describes the world scene where annual investment in renewable energy is between $250 and $300 billion. The revolution is being charged by volume and lower prices. The price of solar power has dropped 80% in the last 5 years. And over that period, the value of European coal utilities has dropped 50%.


Read more:

Read about the old Tassie Windmill at top and about sail power generating new-edge technologies... Most likely that the huge power generating windmills will eventually use carbon fibre technology developed to build huge sailing boats — technology now also used to build aeroplanes... The future is bright but keep an eye on that silly idiot Tony Abbott who wants to muck it up with "more coal" burning and give up on alternative renewable energy sources...


Note: I have added a few more interesting links in article at top, including the waterspouts: waterspouts..


of fun watching the grass grow...

There is a battle between traditional cricket played in white garments  — with the pools of players coming from county and state cricket — and the bash T20 cricket where "olde" players, retired for being old can teach the young ones new tricks, in colourful garb with wickets that glow in the dark when hit by sumpthin'.

I could not care less about any, a long as people have fun, though I must say, the grass grow much faster under the feet of players at a game of bash T20... Test cricket is slow and slow and slow...

While there is misery in the whole wide world, is it insensitive to have fun with games and fireworks? 

Well, We can and should do both. Be caring about us, about others and the planet while having a bit of fun. According to the bible, god, the female black queen, devoted an entire day for rest and recreation...

Fun is better than war. War is far from being funny, though a lot of god's dictum was about going and beating the shit out of others. Not a good look. Fun is better. 




A few of the Big Bash stats: in the 2013-14 season, the average crowd size for the matches was just under 20,000. Of those 24% were children (as opposed to 9% at Tests in Australia), 22% were coming to an elite cricket match for the very first time, and 50% of the female attendees were at their very first BBL match. There is a lot there for English cricket to be jealous of, especially at a time when recreational participation is declining. No doubt the potential is there in England – over 50,000 people turned out for two T20 games on successive days in London last summer – but we still feel like it is waiting to be well-tapped.

The perverse twist is that, as Nick Hoult has pointed out, English cricket had the chance to create its own Big Bash back in 2008. Keith Bradshaw, then the enlightened chief executive of the MCC, and David Stewart, chairman of Surrey, suggested a three-week long tournament in mid-summer, contested by nine franchises based at the major international grounds. It was scuppered by opposition from the smaller counties, who feared, understandably, that they would be sidelined. As may have been the ECB, who would have ceded a certain amount of their power and control to those franchise sides. The plan was reconsidered – this time the emotive word ‘franchise’ was omitted – in 2010, and rejected for a second time.

That original Bradshaw-Stewart document even warned, in Hoult’s words, “that there was only room for one more IPL-style comp and English cricket couldn’t afford to let another country beat them to it.” Which is, of course, exactly what happened. Reactionary attitudes prevailed, as they so often seem to in the world of English cricket. And now we sit, like Philby in his Moscow flat, studying scorecards from distant matches, mourning what once was, pining after what might have been.

read more:

an "oracle" and the ruthless joke of the power of cash...


An eccentric billionaire with a sculpted goatee and a penchant for daredevil feats, Larry Ellison isn't quite Tony Stark, but he's close. The founder of software giant Oracle partly inspired Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man character. And like Stark, he's made a hobby of championing fanciful ventures. According to Politico, Ellison has found his latest challenge: getting Marco Rubio into the White House.

Ellison will hold a June 9 fundraiser for the Republican senator at his Woodside, California, estate that will feature a $2,700-per-person VIP reception and photo op with the candidate and a dinner for supporters who have raised more than $27,000 for Rubio's presidential campaign. It's not an official endorsement, but having the world's fifth-richest person in his corner would be a coup for Rubio, particularly as his fellow Floridian Jeb Bush gobbles up donations from the Sunshine State's wealthiest Republicans at a record pace. Ellison, 70, is worth an estimated $54 billion. (His income in 2013, when he was still Oracle's CEO, broke down to about $38,000 per hour.)


He's known as a ruthless businessman: There are plenty of stories about Ellison's combative corporate style, such as this one from journalist Karen Southwick's 2003 book on Ellison called Everyone Else Must Fail: At an annual Oracle sales award banquet in Hawaii, Ellison displayed a photograph of a rival company's headquarters and declared, ''We're going to run them out of business and buy that building, which we're going to bulldoze. After that, we'll salt the earth. Then we'll go after their families.''


Gus: may Ellison fail in his bid to bring Rubio to the presidency... Actually, Ellison could be cleverer than we think and his "association" will Rubio will make Rubio unpalatable to many... And this could be the plan: a Judas kiss...

Who knows...

This comment has been placed in this column of articles, of course, as Ellison is the fellow who :

... NASCARized the America's Cup: After Ellison's Team Oracle USA won the America's Cup yacht race in 2010, Ellison earned the right to set the rules for the 2013 cup. His brash decisions sparked controversy and led to headlines such as this one from Business Insider: "Larry Ellison Has Completely Screwed Up The America's Cup." 


Read from top... and One needs much stronger boats.


Controversial businessman


Controversial business tycoon and former Australian of the Year [and convicted felon] Alan Bond has died in a Perth hospital.

Mr Bond, 77, died following complications from heart surgery he underwent earlier this week.

Two of Mr Bond's children John Bond and Jody Fewster, speaking outside Fiona Stanley Hospital, said Mr Bond had passed away a short time ago.

"His body finally gave out after heroic efforts of everyone involved here at the intensive care unit at Fiona Stanley Hospital," John Bond said.

"He never regained consciousness after his surgery on Tuesday."

John Bond paid tribute to his father, whom he said would be greatly missed.

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Alan Bond, of course, was the Aussie "financier" who funded the successful challenge to the America's cup, 1983. Read from top.




And it would definitely answer the kind of screaming front-page headlines seen along Australia’s east coast this week about “man eaters” stalking humans.

All we need to do is resurrect the spirit of a once-world-renowned Australian big-game fisherman named Alf Dean.

A biography of Alf written by Colin Thiele (who also authored the classic book Storm Boy) detailed some astonishing statistics highlighting the impact that a single, determined human can have on a top-order predator such as a great white shark.

Alf’s heyday was the 1950s. In January 1953, he became the first person on the planet to land a white shark that broke the barrier of the imperial ton, using only a rod, reel and brute strength.

By the time Alf hung up his rods in the mid 60s he had held seven world game-fishing records and caught six white sharks that exceeded the ton mark. As Thiele recounts: “He had brought in well over 100 white pointers during his fishing career, with a combined weight that would probably have reached 50 tons.”

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The newspaper of the late 1950s mentioned at top, with the South Steyne ferry, also had some articles about "SHARKS'  lurking about... There is an article where Bondi beach was closed three times due to SHARKS... When I swam at Bondi Beach in the early 1970s, the beach was closed quickly after the SHARK bell was rung... One had to swim in record time the 100 metres back to shore. SHARKS are creatures of the sea... In the 1980s, I saw a 5 metres SHARK lurking about offshore Pittwater... 

Divers around Sydney know there are a lot of SHARKS about. Different species as well. No need to panic and destroy a whole genus of animals... Just be careful...


sydney-hobart race...

As traditional since 1945, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is being run from 1.00 pm.

Wild Oats XI is the same boat but with major modifications. Seven feet were cut from the back, 32 feet cut from the front and a new section of 39 feet was added to the front. It could be see as a crazy thing to do but it all makes sense. In preliminary harbour races, WOXI has proven to be the boat to beat with the modifications.

The recut version should be faster downwind, faster into the wind and not suffer the effect of front-on wave actions as much, by being sharper up front and "beamier" at the back. Very nifty. Having displaced the centre of the hull in relation to the sail area and the keel, the boat is now more like a giant 18 footer. Faster, meaner, better.

May the seas and the winds not be too ferocious. Have a good trip.


Read articles from top.

brain damage from playing soccer...

John Stiles believes his father's brain was damaged by heading the football.

"Football (is) the only sport where a violent collision with another object is a daily occurrence and is part of the training," he said.

"It just seems to me to be too much of a coincidence."

Modern footballs are lighter and highly water resistant, unlike the heavy leather balls used in the past.

Players from the Sixties describe heading a heavy, waterlogged ball as like head butting a brick.

read more:'s-world-cup-triumph/7826618


In this line of comments, I think I have mentioned somewhere the frozen leather heavy football we played soccer with in the 1950s. One header still rings in my head...

I did not have time to scratch myself...

NSW supermaxi Perpetual LOYAL has stormed across the Sydney to Hobart finish to take out line honours, smashing the previous race record by nearly five hours.

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the aussie cup...

Oracle Team USA’s quest for an America’s Cup three-peat in Bermuda next weekend will begin with Australian Jimmy Spithill at the helm.

Then there’s the Australian who claimed Olympic gold in London and backed it up four years later with a silver medal in Rio. Yet for the duration of the America’s Cup regatta in May and June, Lake Macquarie local Nathan Outteridge will be steering the hopes of the Swedish entry, Artemis Racing.

Meanwhile Team New Zealand has another Australian, Victorian skipper Glenn Ashby. A world champion sailor, Ashby might hail from Bendigo, but is tilting towards trans-Tasman sailing in search of glory.

With Australia failing to mount an America’s Cup challenger for the last three decades and an entrant for the last 17 years a generation of the nation’s finest sailors have long had no alternative other than to be flexible. 


We have to get an Australian team somehow

Tom Slingsby, Oracle Team USA tactician



“There is no Australian challenger, however there are a lot of Australians in the teams. Ironically out of the six teams – there are three Australian skippers and even more personnel manning the boats on and off the water,” says the Sydney born Spithill, a world champion sailor for Australia and, for Team USA, a two-time America’s Cup conqueror and the youngest ever America’s Cup winning skipper.

“Probably a lot of people think back to 1983 and when Australia II Won. The next memory is Alan Bond going to jail and then followed by that is our boat, One Australia, sinking.”

The oldest sporting trophy in the world, the Auld Mug, is also perhaps the most tightly held. Since the first edition in 1851 only four nations can lay claim to having captured the silverware: the US, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand.

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playing hard, secretively...


To the uninitiated, espionage and sailing do not normally go hand in hand, yet before this year’s America’s Cup gets underway later this week, holders Oracle Team USA know every tack is being watched.

“It is funny, [there are] guys on the water right now taking photos of the boat and the system on board,” says Oracle Team’s Australian grinder Ky Hurst. “Whenever we roll out the boat they are always there taking photos. They are spying on us.”

It is a sentiment echoed by Oracle Team USA helmsman and Hurst’s countryman Jimmy Spithill, who will be steering for a third consecutive Cup crown when the competition begins on Friday in Bermuda.

“The defending champions usually have a target on their back and added pressure,” says Spithill, the youngest ever America’s Cup winning skipper. “The level of reconnaissance is right up there. It is like James Bond or the CIA. We all have teams based where the other teams are, watching them all the time.”

Accusations of subterfuge might sound paranoid, but surveillance really is just part of life in the competition and the six competing teams make no apologies for keeping a close eye on one another ahead of the 35th edition of world sport’s oldest trophy.

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Long have the days of the Aussie wing-keel gone... These days it's wing foils under water as shown on the picture above... Have a look. This technology has inspired modern planes. This giant boat with a "mast" as tall as the towers of the Sydney Harbour Bridge above sea level, and made of a vertical carbon-fibre folding wing, is travelling above water on only three thin foils. Mastery of design and of extremely difficult steering, in which a very small mistake will result in "planting" (the boat nosedive and sinks head first). 

Read from top...


noo zeelund wun !...


Peter Burling is the youngest ever America’s Cup winning helmsman after steering New Zealand to the 35th edition of the greatest prize in world sailing.

Emirates Team New Zealand completed the upset over holders Oracle Team USA with a 7-1 dismantling and put to bed the demons of a heartbreaking 2013 defeat in San Francisco that saw them turn an 8-1 lead to a 9-8 defeat at the hands of the Americans.

Burling and his underrated crew etched New Zealand’s name into the oldest trophy in world sport – the Auld Mug – for a third time, spoiling Team USA’s hopes of a third straight America’s Cup triumph.

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Note: Oracle was stirred by an Aussie -- who was the previous youngest winner of the cup... Where does this leave us, us the old sea dogs? At the bar drinking red ned...

a bad decision...

The international committee investigating the "incident" at the start of the Sydney-Hobart race between Wild Oats XI and Comanchee has erred wildly in my view. Wild Oats won the race fair and square and to place a ONE HOUR PENALTY for what was a IN MY VIEW a fair sailing challenge is a TOTAL farce. On the video, one can see that Wild Oats XI was clear of Comanche when Wild Oats tacked in front of Comanche. This is in the rule book of sailing tactics. It is part of Luff for Luff tactics. In my view, Comanchee should refuse to take the line honours for this race. Their win will stink forever after... COMANCHEE (a WIDE boat) LOST IT in the Derwent River. Read from top. Here one thing that the crew of Commanchee did not do is understand their own boat. In the Derwent, my personal view is that they should have taken the swing keel to the starboard side and in the light air make the boat heel to starboard about 10 degrees more than the light wind was. This would EXTRA heeling would have reduced the "apparent" width of the boat in the water — and made it faster.

What do I know? Nothing much... I have been sailing since age five when this was the sport of kings and of ordinary people in some Germanic Uberreich...


Read from top...

for gus, the record stands: 1 day 8 hours 48 minutes 50 seconds.


The tragedy of this race between two BIG boats is that one won fair and square but got "penalised" for doing a manoeuvre like a car on a racing circuit braking more than required on a curve, forcing the car behind to take evasive action. Nothing wrong with this. On the sea, priority is "relative" and captains are aware of this, apart from the US frigates that got rammed by slow cargo ships because, I would suggest, no-one was paying attention. Here, Wild Oats XI, on a (non-priority) port tack, was crossing the path of Comanchee, comfortably — say with quite a few metres to spare. Wild Oats XI decided to tack in front of Comanchee. FAIR TACTIC. By then Comanchee BECAME the pursuing boat, though going faster that Wild Oats. "Pursuing" boats have no priority on vessels in their path. Comanchee as the PURSUING boat has no recourse but to take evasive action — tack to starboard (becoming a port sailing vessel), slow the boat down (put on the brakes — there is no brakes on these boats but luffing into the wind, which they did — or peel off to port, while staying on a starboard tack (which they also did after slowing the boat). A protest here is unbecoming of gentlemen. A ONE HOUR PENALTY on Wild Oats is totally unbelievable! 

So on this site forever after, the Sydney to Hobart race record is 1 day 8 hours 48 minutes 50 seconds and belongs to Wild oats XI, whatever a jury of experts say on the matter... Congratulation. Sour grapes are unbecoming... Read from top...

clipping the blokes around the ears...

Australian Wendy Tuck has become the first female skipper to win a round-the-world yacht race — beating the only other female skipper into second spot.

It is the first time that two female skippers have finished first and second in the Clipper Round the World Race.

Tuck and 25-year-old Nikki Henderson were the only two female skippers in the 12-strong fleet of 70-foot racing yachts.

"There's never been a race, a round-the-world race, where you've had the two leading skippers both be women," said race chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world.

"This is a first. And when you look at what they are racing against, the experience of the other clipper race skippers, you realise that this is really very special.


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may as well cancel everything, including life...

As a former competitor and lifelong spectator it stings to imagine a Boxing Day without a Sydney to Hobart skirmish. Officially, race organisers are deferring a final decision until October, but there is no way the yacht race can go ahead in 2020 unless there are drastic changes to current health guidance.

The bluewater classic is one of the slickest sporting events on the annual calendar, and the race committee, athletes and media operators are all truly world class. They need to be.

This event caters for a global audience, and after 75 consecutive editions it now transcends sport as a cultural and economic tour de force for the states of Tasmania and New South Wales. Images of the start and finish are broadcast around Australia and the world.

There is no doubt a cancellation will be a difficult and unpopular decision given the unwanted economic consequence inflicted on professional athletes, boatbuilders, photographers, sailmakers, freelance journalists, event staff, caterers, equipment manufacturers, hospitality workers, event staff, hoteliers, publicans, tourism operators, restaurateurs, airlines and countless others that derive income from the event.

Not to mention the joy, camaraderie and friendships forged or strengthened on docks or amid the salt spray that will be surrendered in 2020. Or the lost Boxing Day chats featuring Wikipedia-pipped facts about Wild Oats XI to impress family and friends gathered in a post-Christmas haze to watch the race from the shoreline or on television. If ever there was an end of year staple to look forward to, it would have been this year as a small reward for those who have suffered during the lockdowns.

For a race steeped in decades long heritage and with hefty social and economic considerations at play, a decision to delay a final call in the hope of a drastic change is understandable. But the organisers will be forced to make the only decision they can in one month: to cancel the regatta and stage it in 2021.


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May as well cancel everything, including democracy... and sink Wild Oats XI...

cancelled race...

The 2020 Sydney to Hobart yacht race has cancelled due to a coronavirus outbreak in New South Wales.

Key points:

  • Organisers said quarantine rules imposed on travellers from NSW made it unrealistic to proceed with the race
  • Postponing the event or holding an alternative race was not deemed possible 
  • The race will not be held for the first time since 1945

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) released a statement saying the decision to cancel the the 76th Sydney to Hobart was made after the Tasmanian Government declared Greater Sydney a "medium risk" zone.

The yacht club said it was unrealistic to proceed with the race as restrictions would require all competitors, families, race management and staff to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Tasmania.

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meanwhile, doing 44 knots in 10 knot breeze...

As if written into the script, the final race was the one that mattered when it came to who would take the PRADA America’s Cup World Series Auckland trophy. With Emirates Team New Zealand and American Magic on even points, a win against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli would give the Kiwis the point that they needed to take the trophy.

And that’s what happened. Emirates Team New Zealand won the last race by 0:16 seconds over Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and opened the bottle of Mumm Champagne on the Race Village main stage in front of their fans. 

The Kiwis got the top seeding in the PRADA ACWS Auckland with 5 wins and only 1 loss. Second ahead of tomorrow’s PRADA Christmas Race come New York Yacht Club American Magic (4 wins - 2 loss), third come Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (3 wins -3 losses) and fourth INEOS TEAM UK (0 win – 6 losses).

Four match races have been held on the third and last day of the PRADA ACWS Auckland on the Race Course B, off the East Coast Bays, between Devonport and Takapuna with moderate to very light winds (8-15 knots). Top speed of the day was reached by Britannia (UK) with 43.3 kts, then Te Rehutai (NZL) with 42.6 knots, Luna Rossa (ITA) 41.2 kts and PATRIOT (USA) 37.5 kts.


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flying high with the scientific method...



of taxes and revolutions...


2023 race....







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