2015-02-05 / Nature

Perfection on the Water

By Joe Berkeley

World-class photographer Onne van der Wal documents the Fleet 413 experience at Sail Newport. (Photo by Joe Berkeley) World-class photographer Onne van der Wal documents the Fleet 413 experience at Sail Newport. (Photo by Joe Berkeley) One of the most important pieces of gear for racing a Laser at Sail Newport on Sunday, Feb. 1, was a snow shovel. Many of the 23 competitors donned New England Patriots hats and dug their boats out of snow banks to clear a path to the beach.

Those who shoveled and then rigged up were rewarded with a picture perfect day of racing, with blue skies, long low light, and a pleasant breeze with a snowcovered Fort Adams as the backdrop. How good was the light? So good that Onne van der Wal, one of the greatest marine photographers and a winner of the Whitbread Race, showed up to shoot some video of Fleet 413 members. His work is at vanderwal.com.

Attention, Tiger Moms. As a way of boosting participation among youth sailors, Fleet 413 is pleased to announce the College Letters of Recommendation Outreach Campaign. Any youth sailor who competes with Fleet 413 and sails with integrity will be eligible for a college letter of recommendation from a fleet member. While Fleet 413 members may appear to be a motley bunch when they’re out on the water, on paper they are an impressive crew. Youth sailors are always welcome in Fleet 413 and there is no entry fee for high school or college students. Yes, students sail for free.

Fleet Co-Captain Jack McVicker is pleased to announce that Fleet 413 now has not one, not two, but three fleet boats. Two of the new fleet boats are being outfitted with modern gear by the good folks at Laser Performance.

Peter Shope won the day with impressive finishes of 1, 1, 5, 2, 1, 1. Shope is in top form as he heads down to the Laser Midwinters in Florida. Steve Kirkpatrick was second overall, Ed Adams was third, Andy Pimental was fourth, and Nick Ewenson was fifth.

Last weekend, Kirkpatrick broke his mast in half in the sporty breeze, and this created some good discussion in the boat paddock while rigging up. Adams, a two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, said that he frequently inspects his spars for spider cracks and signs of corrosion in high load areas, such as where the boom vang and goose neck fittings are attached to the mast and the center block of the boom.

When he sees corrosion or spider cracks he drills out the old rivets, end for ends the spar, and remounts the hardware with new rivets. Per class rules, the old holes are filled with rivets to maintain the bend characteristics of the spar. According to Adams, this practice doubles the life of his spars from approximately five years to ten years.

Joe Berkeley is a freelance writer who finished seventh overall on Sunday. His work is at joeberkeley.com.

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