Monday, April 30, 2012

Welcome New Members! Here are some Rigging Tips and Tricks

Last Saturday CBI held an open house and welcomed close to 100 new members.  Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped conduct orientations, take new members for sailboat rides, and helped cook some delicious b.good burgers on the grill. It was a breezy day with it's share of capsizes.  We measured the water temperature and it's creeping up to 70 degrees....not bad.

For you new members we taught several rigging classes yesterday so I am going to share some tips and tricks for rigging a Mercury sailboat correctly and quickly.

1)  CVS is a Retail Store

Once you have pulled your Mercury out of the slip to the front of the dock and secured it with a NIGHT KNOT, put your  Centerboard down first, loosen the boomVang 100% (often referred to as simply the Vang), then uncleat the mainSheet.  Then you'll put on the Rudder  and bend on the Sail. (IMPORTANT! In order to keep the Rudder safe from collision with other sailboats while at the dock please leave it  until last.)

2) When bending on the sail remember this: front before the back and bottom before the top. I'll give you a clue, the tack is not the back, the clew is.

3) When hoisting the sail crouch in front of the mast where you can easily hoist and guide the sail's bolt rope into the mass groove. You will be positioned such that the boom can not bump you on the head and the boat will be very stable because you are centered athwart ship.

4)  TOP SECRET TRICK!! Better than the secret handshake!!!  Do not tighten the boomvang until you have cast off from the dock and are a boat length away. AND when you are returning to the dock make sure you have loosened the boomvang as soon as you are inside the island or similarly close to the dock.

Next blog I'll continue to reveal some of the most helpful tips and tricks about tacking, gybing, avoiding irons and docking on a breezy day.  Stay Tuned.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Friday Night Racing - Giving Informal Instruction

Last Friday was a fun evening for sailing and racing on the Charles River - The breeze was up and down and a bit shifty.  I want to recommend that you use Friday night racing as a good opportunity for giving informal instruction to newer and less experienced sailors.  I raced with a young man named Matty.  He's got a Solo rating and has been sailing for a couple of weeks and had not a clue about racing sailboats.   I warned him in advance that a good part of the evening would be me giving him direct commands such as "trim, ease, weight to leeward, hike out now, centerboard up, centerboard down, tack, gybe, etc. He would learn more by doing than by me explaining.  On one race, approximately 45 seconds before the starting gun he started to ask about how the jib telltales work.  "Later" I said, "TRIM!".   He picked it up rather quickly. We had a great time. By the end of the night he was shifting his weight in and out, forward and back, while paying close attention to the jib's trim, and starting to "see" the puffs before they hit us.  I found an opportunity to give him a short lesson on telltales.  I think he learned a lot and enjoyed the whole experience. He asked me if he showed up next Friday night would he be likely to find a crew position. I said yes.

I think that what I described here is a small slice of the essence of CBI. I hope you agree and will join in by inviting more novices to crew on Friday right races too. I can tell you with complete certainty that Matty will be a great crew in the next couple of weeks and probably will be skippering his own Mercury by the end of the summer.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sailing World Archive 1997 - Recovering from a Bad Start

In sailboat racing a lot has changed since 1997. There are new composite materials for hulls, rigging and sails. The shape of hulls and keels are not what they once were, and in the America's Cup both competitors will be catamarans going very fast with a good chance of capsizing when the breeze pipes up. However, some thing stay the same.  Check out this article from 1997 by Terry Hutchinson - "Recovering from a Bad Start".  Still works as well as it did15 years ago.  I know. I had a bad start last week.  After applying the principles enunciated in the article - voila! first across the finish line.  Thank you Sailing World!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tweaks to CBI's Boat Sign-Out/Sign-In

CBI Adult Program Director Andrew Alletag writes today's blog.  You probably have noticed a number of small changes to various standard procedures at CBI  this year such as a new flag color (yellow), bright pink floats at the tops of the Mercury masts, and we  now require that adult members (as juniors already do) leave their membership card at the dock house when they sign out a boat.  This of course means signing the boat back in when you return. So we've added a step to the process of going sailing here.  Our goal is to improve CBI's management of your safety on the water.  And so far on that front we are very satisfied. However, we've noticed that we still have a little work to do in making this new process of signing back in flow smoothly.  Andrew here offers some suggestions that you can follow to help out and we both thank for any and all thoughts on how to make the new system work better.  Shoot us an email!


Dear CBI Sailors,

As you may have noticed, the Dockstaff will now retain membership
cards at the dockhouse when you check out a boat.   We have received
 a lot of useful feedback, and we thank you for taking the time to 
express your ideas and thoughts.  As we get further along into the season, 
and the dock becomes busier  we will need to streamline the process a bit 
more. Here are a couple of things that you can do to help keep the line 
moving and help us get everyone out on the water quickly and on your 
way home after sailing:

When you arrive at the boathouse, grab a PFD and a sail before coming

to the dockhouse. Remember to line up starting at the ramp instead of
the stairs to limit confusion and traffic.  If assigned to an incoming
boat, wait on the dock away from the boathouse.

These small things can help improve the flow of traffic around the

dockhouse and we believe will speed up both sign-outs and sign-ins.  Thank you for
helping us out with this and for an amazing first couple of weeks of
our sailing season.


Friday, April 13, 2012

CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS! CBI Prepares For April 28 Open House

We're planning on holding an Open House on the 28th and we need some help.  Our goal is to introduce folks to CBI, sign them up for a membership, take 'em for a sail and treat 'em to a delicious grilled gourmet CBI hot dog or burger. good.  What we need: CBI Volunteer Sailors available from 11 to 3 to take folks out for a sail and CBI Grillers to individually cook and serve delicious and succulent burgers and hot dogs.  The cookout will have a suggested donation of $5.  For anyone who purchases a full year membership on the 28th the cookout is on us. 

So...A Call To Action!  :

1)  Email me at or Andrew Alletag at  Let us know that you can volunteer as either a Sailor or Griller.  Many Thanks!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

America's Cup Get's Interesting

Check out this link to see the latest footage of America's cup racing . I have to confess, that after the last America's Cup where gigantic sailboats (one cat and one tri) cancelled racing one day for some pathetic reason such has too much wind,  I lost complete interest in America's Cup racing and took up wall paper watching.  Trust me, watching wall paper was more interesting than watching the last America's Cup.    However, it is very good news indeed for those of us who love the sport of sailing to  see the current version of America's Cup racing.  The byline today  is "The Best sailors. The Best Boats." They might have it right. The racing is great to watch. The boats go fast and crashes are not uncommon. There's a reason the crews wear helmets.   I wonder if they might be interested in hot pink floaty things (that's a technical term) at the top of their masts?    Whether you know anything about sailboat racing or not, you will find a lot to enjoy in the competition which has become the new America's Cup.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Learn to Race Class to Kick Off in April

I've spent a good part of my life teaching sailing, and sailboat racing.  Throwing yourself into sailboat racing is the best way I know of to learn the fundamental boathandling skills you need to truly become an excellent sailor.  It's not the competition per se but rather the instant feedback loop.  You know immediately if your sail trim is off, your point of sail is off, if anything is off,  as you watch your competition's transom as they sail away.  When I can't figure out why my competitor is pulling away from me I go through a systmatic procedure of comparing and contrasting what I'm doing and what she is doing.  If this doesn't turn the light bulb on for me then when we get back to shore I seek her out and ask her what the heck she was doing to go fast.  I've learned a lot about sailing and racing in this way.  So I want to encourage you as you develop your skills as a sailor at CBI to start racing.   And we have the perfect way  -  CBI's now famous "Learn To Race Class ".  Taught by the extraordinary CBI volunteer Jennifer Bodde, this is a series of three classes, Intro to Racing, Basic Racing Rules, and Basic Racing Strategy.  The first series runs for three consecutive Wednedays, April 18, 25, and May 2, from  7 to 8:30 at the boathouse. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

In memory of Norman Priebatsch

CBI's President, Karyn Brudnicki has authored today's blog remembering  Norman Priebatsch.  Reflecting the complexity of life, we all have our own memories, recollections and feelings when we lose someone. I know I'm not alone in expressing deep sadness that comes from losing a friend. Karyn has remembered Norman beautifully.  Thank you Karyn.


Walking out on the new docks, it is impossible to miss the red shed hosting a fleet of windsurfer sails and the array of windsurfing boards hanging on racks beside it.  Perhaps like me, you’ve even abandoned the comparatively stable (and dry) boats to check out a windsurfing class.

Our windsurfing program has come a long way from where it was when I first joined CBI in 2002.  We now have an impressive fleet of over two dozen windsurfers, with a range of beginner to advanced boards, a dedicated crew of volunteers that fixes the equipment, and robust class offerings including windsurfing clinics.

All this is possible largely due to the efforts of one particular volunteer, Norman Priebatsch. 
He dedicated countless hours to improving CBI’s windsurfing program, leading working groups to acquire new equipment, as well as to maintain and improve the quality of the programming offered at CBI.  He was passionate about infusing his zest for windsurfing into countless members’ lives. 

A week ago, Norman emailed out to announce that Dan Weiss of US Windsurfing would open the season with a rigging class in the morning of March 31st.  On that Saturday, Norman led his last volunteer effort for CBI, helping rig sails and prepare the equipment for the season.

Thus it is with a very heavy heart that I write to share this news with you.  Norman was hiking the Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington on Sunday afternoon with friends and family when he fell into a deep crevasse.  Rescue efforts have been suspended.

I always knew Norman as the go-to windsurfing guru, but it was not until I joined the Board in 2008 that I got to know him on a more personal level.  He welcomed, encouraged, and supported me on the Board.  An award to recognize the efforts of our volunteers was his idea.  At his request, I drafted the wording for the volunteer award, the first of many policies I created or reviewed, thanks to his initial inspiration.

Norman always had a bright smile on his face and an even brighter idea to share about how to improve CBI.  It was a challenge to keep up with him – he was more energetic than 10 members, putting those ideas into action and spurring others to participate.  A noted entrepreneur, he employed his business talents serving CBI as a Board Member from 2007-2009.

You could always find Norman on the water.  The classic Norman outfit was a pair of sneakers, white socks, and sporting a walkman.  How many people do you know who still rock a walkman, much less on the water?  Norman carried it in a plastic bag in his fanny pack, while both windsurfing and running on the Charles.  (Yes, on the Charles, not just by it!)  He didn’t care if it got wet – it was only a walkman after all.  He generally listened to books on tape, turning to rock and roll only when it was particularly windy.  This truly embodies the type of person he was – someone with strong intellectual drive and a passion for active living.

An avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed exploring nature through windsurfing, cycling, running, skiing, and hiking, among other pursuits.  He truly seized life by the horns and would wish for no regrets.  In his honor, I plan to try windsurfing again this summer and I hope you’ll join me.

He leaves behind a strong legacy on the Charles River:  a superb windsurfing program with top-notch equipment and enthusiastic volunteers and sailors.  His efforts will be felt by members of our community for generations to come.  Norman, you will be sorely missed.  I invite members to share your favorite memory of Norman, to celebrate his life and impact on CBI.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) Receives International Recognition

Link to CRWA Prize

For quite a few years we have been telling folks the good news about the water quality of the Charles River.  With the exception of the swimmers in the annual Charles River One Mile Swim, CBI sailors, windsurfers, and kayakers, have a more intimate relationship with the water of the Charles River than just about anyone. So we've witnessed first hand the significant and steady improvements in the water quality over many years.  Many hands have worked hard at making the Charles River clean.  However for all of us here at CBI I extend a heartfelt thanksand congratulations to the folks at CRWA for their leadership in advocating for a better Charles River.