Sunday, March 24, 2019

_________________________ DIFFICULT TIMES _______________________

I have blogged about sailing since the horrific events in Christchurch last week. Why? Why not blog about the unfolding events?

I think my actions are a function of my disbelief, denial, despair and the fact that like most Kiwis I am totally stunned by what has happened. It is hard to own such things let alone write about such evil.

I take these cruel events very personally for a couple of reasons. First I grew up in Christchurch. It is my Turangawaiwai ( The place where I stand / belong). Christchurch has endured two large earthquakes - now this. The second reason is that our daughter in law is a Muslim. Two of our three grandchildren are Muslim. We have a small personal window through which we can observe the effects of such a holocaust.

The larger window is harder to look through, because when we look we are seeing ourselves, our society, our collective values and beliefs along with our racism, bigotry, prejudices and fears. Aspects of our world view are challenged.

I don't think this is a time for too many words or too much hand wringing. It is a time for action both personal and political. We have seen this action in an emphatic outpouring of solidarity with the Muslim community. We have heard emphatic words regarding massive changes to New Zealand gun laws.

Lets hope that the much needed personal and political action endures, develops and matures. I pray that we don't just return to type within a few months. Lets walk the talk. Proof of our words of love and solidarity is revealed when these things are incarnated into the world through our actions.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

__________________________ SUNDAY RACING _________________________

The likely lads were out on the water today with 9 other sailing dinghies and their skippers. We raced 4 back to back races. Each course consisted of two triangles and one windward - leeward leg.
A wind of 3 to 6 knots fluctuated and oscillated all day with tricky wind shifts that were difficult to read. Don was first Zephyr home in every race. Burnie and I shared 2 seconds and 2 third places each. Our next set of races will be the Onerahi Yacht Clubs Tuesday evening series this coming week. We are also looking forward to the OYC club championships in two weeks time.

It is great to have another couple of Zephyrs to race against and I am grateful for that. Of course a big increase in the Zephyr fleet is what we would like to happen but this is easier said than done ........... but; I have a cunning plan; or two. Watch this space.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

______________________ WOOD, WIND AND WATER _____________________

Yes shipmates, I know; it's not a very good photograph. But I was so excited about the inaugural get together of our fledgling Zephyr fleet today that I forgot to take a photo with the boats rigged up and rearing to go. No matter. It was a great, great day. We had three back to back races (I had my arse kicked in the racing a few times) but the sheer joy of sailing on Parua Bay with a couple of other experienced skippers and their Zephyrs made up for anything self inflicted on my ego. Three imperatives are pushing this tiny fleet - enthusiasm, commitment and the love of sailing.

(Left to right) 'Bad Boy', 'Slipstream' and 'Venture' do battle again on Tuesday of this coming week.

I can hardly wait.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

_____________________ ZEPHYR NATIONALS 2019 ______________________

There were a number of reasons why I didn't compete in the 2019 Zephyr Nationals at Tauranga. Having watched this video I am determined to compete next year if circumstances allow. There should be a full Whangarei contingent going to the Zephyr Nationals in 2020.

As you can see Tauranga harbour is a very nice sailing venue, but, it is a very tricky place to sail. The harbour is very tidal with many sand banks. The challenges of these hunting grounds have meant that many of New Zealands best sailors have been produced here.

One aspect of the video stands out - the age of the competitors! One of the reasons (among many) for this is the nature of the Zephyr itself. The boat is just the right size to make it challenging, technical and competitive without it being gut busting like the Olympic Finn and some other classes. Also its just about the most beautiful small boat I have ever seen and even more beautiful to sail.

Friday, March 8, 2019


  Zephyr Nationals Worser Bay Wellington 2018 - I am sailing Zephyr 195

Imagine it is circa 1680 AD. You live in the province of Lombardy, in the city of Cremona in northern Italy. Your name is Luigi Romano and you are an amateur violin maker and modest violin player. One day someone called Antonio Stradivari rings you up on your cell phone. You have met him a couple of times briefly and know exactly who the maestro is. "Hello Luigi" he says, "It's Antonio Stradivari, the violin maker, I am coming to live in Cremona next month; lets get together sometime soon, we could help each other with some violin making and perhaps play a few duets together." ............. Hold that thought .................

Early in 2017 I wrote a blog post here:

This blog post is titled 'A Prophecy', which at the time was really just a bit of wishful thinking. But to my surprise and delight my wishful thinking came true when my mate Burnie purchased Whangarei's second Zephyr yacht. When I posted 'A Prophecy' I knew Bernie was looking to possibly buy a Zephyr, so it is a bit of a stretch to use the word 'prophecy', but who am I to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

The story of the arrival of Burnies Zephyr Racing Stripes is posted here:

The story of why, before the Zephyr Nationals Burnie changed the name of his Zephyr from Racing Stripes to its new name of Bad Boy is a story for Burnie to tell - my lips are sealed.

The story of our adventures at the 2018 National Zephyr championships is told here:

Then; almost exactly one year out from the 2018 Zephyr Nationals, like lightening out of a blue flagged sky I get a ring from Antonio Stradivari (aka Don Currie).

"Hi there Alden" he said. "We've sold our house in Auckland and have bought a house in Whangarei. We move up on the 22nd of February; let's get together sometime soon, we could help each other with some boat building and perhaps go sailing together" - "Yes! that's great" I replied, immediately empathizing with how Luigi Romano would have felt when Antonio Stradivari held out the hand of friendship and equivalence in a similar way back in the 17th century.

Equivalence is true of course in terms of zealotry for sailing, but in terms of boat building skill Don Currie is a Mr Stradivari of sorts. In terms of sailing skills he has already thrashed me several times on the water which won't do me any harm. But best of all; apart from being an intelligent, interesting and engaging individual, Don has an enthusiasm for boats of all shapes and sizes in general, and a depth, breadth, experience and knowledge of Zephyr construction and sailing in particular, which is going to be a huge asset to our fledgling little fleet.

It is most heartening that there will now be three Zephyrs here in Whangarei sailing and racing regularly. We can hardly call ourselves a fleet yet, but I keep telling myself that providence has a way of casting a fruitful net upon a faithful ocean.

Then there is this: I have heard that there is a another master violin maker who hasn't moved to Cremona in Lombardy, in northern Italy ... Yet.

His name is Giuseppi Guarneri ........... moreover, there are others. The ordinary folk of Lombardy. All with a passion for violin making and playing. I have no doubt they know exactly how to use a cell phone. Luigi Romano is waiting in quiet expectation.

So shipmates here is the drill. The new trio of skippers have decided to sail two days a week. These days being the Tuesday evening racing at the Onerahi Yacht Club (3 - 4 back to back well organised races) and Sundays at Parua Bay Yacht Club. Here the mornings will be taken up with rigging, tuning and discussion combined with on the water sailing and racing tactics practise. In the afternoons we will compete in an all comers series of back to back races - Wood, wind and water, bliss really.

Don Currie (aka Antonio Stradivari) completing the woodwork on the first ever fiberglass hulled Zephyr.

The very high degree of woodworking skill is apparent in the completed fiberglass hulled boat.

Don Currie (left) master mind and master craftsman behind the restoration of 'Julie' complete with traditional wooden mast, boom, beautifully varnished deck and flash wooden rudder and dagger board finished in the traditional manner. (From NZ Boating World  2019).