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Whats next for Patagonia’s Common Threads Programs?

January 18th, 2011

The following is an excerpt from the Spring 2011 Patagonia Workbook. Common Threads is just one of many efforts Patagonia has undertaken to fulfill their Mission Statement: Make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

For Spring, 2011 90% of all Patagonia products are recyclable. This puts them shy of their original goal of 100%, but represents a major achievement involving five years of effort.

Their holdout styles include four accessories, five wetsuits, 21 fishing pieces and all 27 pack/luggage styles. They are addressing what it will take to include these in Common Threads in the future without compromising performance.

Common Threads as a program will take a new turn beginning with Spring, 2011 – and become a more comprehensive approach to keeping all Patagonia clothing and gear in use for as long as possible and out of landfills forever. They will provide full details this fall.

Common Threads is a key component of Patagonia’s efforts to reduce their environmental footprint. But it’s not the only one. They chose where possible (in 65% of all styles) raw materials they call “e-fibers” that cause less environmental harm than do their conventional or non-recycled competitors. They use recycled rather that virgin polyester or nylon, organic rather than conventionally grown cotton, “Tencel” rather than nylon.

Patagonia has supported the independent “bluesign standard” since 2000. Nine of their textile suppliers have now also signed on with “bluesign” to reduce resource consumption and vet dye and finish chemicals used throughout the supply chain. They are working with other companies in the outdoor industry to encourage their suppliers to adopt the “bluesign standard” as well. The Patagonia line now contains 20% “bluesign” approved materials.

Through their “Footprint Chronicles”, they track, measure and report the environmental impact of many of the products they make. They also build everything to high quality standards to last longer and require less frequent replacement. They design clothing that retains its appeal for many years.

Other companies are now following suit with the recycling and/or recycled content programs of their own. And the outdoor industry as a whole is at work on a promising consumer-facing environmental index. Patagonia applauds these efforts, and welcomes the hard work of everyone to lighten their footprint as fast as they can.

Crunch Time for Chris!

January 10th, 2011

Today was the last day of qualification, before the fleet gets split up into Gold and Silver fleet. Conditions were again mostly breeze on but with a bit more overcast, which kept the windspeeds down when the clouds were in. As soon as the sun would pop out the breeze would increase a couple of knots. Being in the blue fleet I got to race twice on the outer loop, which had some flatter water and big gusts off of the shoreline. My main goal of the day was to improve my boathandling. And I did! No capsizes or pitchpoles resulted in three top ten finishes, albeit I might have been OCS in the last start. I pulled the trigger a second too early, realized my mistake, tried to slow down and almost capsized in the process. It was a good races nevertheless, battling back into the top ten and eventually finishing ahead of Simon Payne. Sailing around in the back end of the fleet on the first beat (after that lousy start), I noticed how my confidence level dramatically improved. I knew that I was going faster than everyone around me and that my boat handling was going to be better. That all led to a lot smoother sailing, than when I was duking  it out with the top guys at the front. Now I just need to do the same when I’m ahead of those guys.
Bora had a good day with two 2nds and a forth. He’s going faster now after having replaced his rudder vertical which was splitting down the middle! Nathan Outteridge had another 3 bullet day, so he will start off the final racing with a 1st on his scoreboard. Pretty impressive on his part!
At the BBQ after racing everybody was more or less complaining about beat up bodies and sore hands. We all need a day off, but Gold Fleet racing commences tomorrow! Hopefully on Wednesday we get to relax a bit and lick our wounds.

Tough Day on the Water for Chris!

January 9th, 2011

Lets start off with some humor to lighten up the day a bit!
 The name of my boat is a play on “Lorenzo Van Matterhorn” which was a scene in the Series: How I met your mother. Check out the youtube clip…We have been watches the complete series on Bora’s MacBook and it definitely is funny!

 Back to reality…..
Tough day on the race course for me today. The conditions were challenging with breeze in the low 20 knot range and some nasty chop at the bottom of the course. Again we sailed three races and the top guys had big smiles on their faces even before the race started! They knew it  was going to be a boat handling day that would separate the boys from the men. Unfortunately I’ll have to count myself to the “boys” group , still. But I’m determined to change that! I’d be looking real good up the first beat, showing great speed of the line. But then the dreaded moment would arrive: I would have to tack! and in the process lose all those hard fought meters, hiking my butt off, keeping the boat at the perfect angle, keeping an eye out for those big puffs rolling down. All of it would be obliterated within two seconds. It kinda reminds me of that movie : Anger Management with Adam Sandler. It’s not really THAT bad, but I might start singing “I’m pretty, so pretty, la la la la” soon if I don’t sort out some more consistent tacks.
Needlessly to say my results weren’t anything worth writing home to about. After a day like today I usually force myself to find all the positive aspects of my racing, so here we go:
Good placement on the starting line, great upwind speed, good laylines, Never-give-up attitude, nothing broke, finished all races, beat the current world champion in a race, sailing upwind at 16 knots, beautiful weather, nice temperatures, great team mates that are happy to help you.
Now, how is that for some self coaching!!! OK, I’m pumped up again for some more racing tomorrow, bring it on!
For me, you must understand, it can be quite frustrating having to deal with sub-par boat handling. In the 49er with Tim, we had put a serious priority on boat handling. We had set ourselves the goal that no one could “out-boat handle” us. We were a light-weight team, so every move had to sit perfectly. Good boat handling is the basis for your confidence and confidence is needed for good decision making. Good boat handling leads to good speed, good speed leads to good tactics and good tactics result in good finishes. Pretty simple, huh?

Chris Rast’s Input of the First Day of racing at the Moth Worlds

January 9th, 2011

The first day of racing is over and everybody is enjoying the BBQ and some beer…. just the way it’s supposed to be! The forecast called for lighter breeze today and it was actually pretty spot on. I opted to use my second sail, the MSL 13C which is a bit more powerful and I think it was the right choice. My speed was decent around the course, except when I hit the occasional patch of weed, which was a test of dealing with frustration. I believe I finished 4th, high teens and 6th, so obviously I’m fairly pleased. Bora had all single digits and is getting his Mojo back. All the other top players had decent results so no big surprises there… Except that Brad Funk sailed in the wrong group in the first race… Aaaarrrrgggh! Anyways, he bounced back nicely for the other two. Results aren’t up yet, but you should be able to find them here, once they are posted.
We have six more qualification races and then hopefully a day off before the finals start.

More News From The Moth Worlds, And The Solid Sail Development

January 7th, 2011

The second update from our imbedded reporter in Belmont regarding the development of the wing sail for the 2011 Zhik Moth Worlds.  Chris is there to compete, as well as test the new skiff line from SLAM ; for ore of Chris’ insights into sailing in general, and coaching you can go to his blog.

“I was doing 24 knots downwind when I stuffed the bow and stopped radically. The leading edge buckled and the rest, well the rest you can see…” was Charlie’s recap of what happened.
About an hour after Charlie had given an interview to media guys at the event and launched for another sail with  wing #2, we saw Rob Patterson towing Charlie back into shore with the wing folded in half on top of the coachboat. “That doesn’t look good..” said Bora. We retrieved all pieces and brought them back to the container for further inspection. (We believe the FAA is coming by tomorrow for a more thorough analysis.) This was wing #2 which had shown some buckling early on and we had fixed it… or so we thought. The leading edge buckled again a couple of inches below our repair. Charlie opted to sail again with it today in order to validate it and pushed it pretty hard. As far as we can tell the failure is due to inconsistent bonding with the core. The 75 gsm prepreg that we used is extremly “dry” with minimum resin content. While building the elements we did our best to maximise pressure in the molds in order to ensure proper bonding, but in the end obviously an autoclave would have been best. Lets make this clear, there is not a problem with the pre-preg. This TPT stuff is awesome, we just didn’t quite give it the proper attention it needs.
Yes, this is a set back for us but we will take some valuable lessons away from it and we are confident that we are on the right track. Charlie will continue sailing with wing #1 and #3 for the worlds.

 On the bright side Bear noted: “Well this is going to make the loading of the container easier…” :-)

US Airforce Team out

Spinnaker Trim

January 6th, 2011

Our good friends at Elliott/Pattison Sailmakers put together the following primer on downwind sail trim:

Spinnaker trim really falls into two categories; sails flown on a pole and sails flown on a fixed sprit. There are also a very few boats that fly asymmetrics on an articulating sprit but in general those articulate through a small enough range that flying them is nearly the same as flying a sail on a fixed sprit. However what you are trying to accomplish is the same in all cases. For that reason this article will focus mainly on trimming spinnakers flown on a standard spinnaker pole with some ideas on how to incorporate the same ideas for sprit sails.

There are four main controls you use to obtain the shape you want; pole position vertically, pole position horizontally, sheet tension, and sheet lead position. Basic wisdom has always been to fly the spinnaker pole pulled aft so that it is perpendicular to the wind, fly it high enough so both clews are level (on symmetric sails), then ease the sheet out until the luff of the sail just starts to curl over. While this will get you close it will also leave you lagging behind the good trimmers that take full advantage of all the controls at their disposal.

For pole position fore and aft, once the apparent wind is aft of 90 degrees, the pole should be pulled back just far enough that when the sail is sheeted so that the luff is just starting to curl the sail maintains an even shape from the middle down to the foot. If the pole is too far aft the trimmer will have to sheet the sail in tighter to keep it from breaking and you will see the foot of the sail is stretched out straighter than the middle of the sail is. If the pole is too far forward when the sheet is eased until the luff just starts to curl you will see the foot of the sail is much deeper than the sail is in the middle. The other thing to look for is that the luff goes straight up nearly vertically from the end of the pole to the middle of the luff but this doesn’t work for asymmetric runners on a sprit. These sails are usually designed with a lot of luff round so that as the sheet is eased the sail will rotate well out to weather of the end of the sprit and let you sail deeper.

Setting the pole so that both clews on a symmetrical spinnaker are flying at the same height is a good starting point but the more important point is to get the sail to fly square so that it takes the shape it was designed with. I like to look at the horizontal seam where the head is sewn on and the vertical seam down the center of the sail. The pole height should be adjusted so that the head seam is level and the center seam goes straight up and down; they should be at 90 degrees to each other. This technique is very important when sailing on a boat that uses asymmetric spinnakers on a standard pole since the tack and clew will never be at the same height. It also works fine and well for a properly shaped spinnaker flying with the wind aft of 90 degrees, but that is not always what you have. By changing the pole height you can also change the location on the luff where the sail breaks first, you can pull the draft further forward which also opens the leech, and you can change the amount of horizontal camber. You want the sail to break first on the shoulder, just above the head seam where the luff profile has the most curve. If the pole is too high the upper leech will twist open and break well before the rest of the sail; if the pole is too low the upper luff will be stretched too tight and will break later than the lower luff.

What about on reaches you might ask. Well since the pole height determines how tight the luff is stretched it acts something like the halyard on your headsail. As your lower the pole and tighten the luff it pulls the draft forward in the sail and also opens the leech. This is an advantage if you are sailing on a leg that is a tight reach because the open leech lets the air exhaust without closing off the slot between the main and the spinnaker as much which will give you better speed. However if you are sailing on a reach that is very tight, where you can barely hold the spinnaker you need to remember you high school math and the Gauss-Bonnet Theorem. It says that the total amount of curvature in a surface remains constant. If you increase curvature of a surface (your spinnaker) in one direction curvature in other directions has to decrease. So sailing down a reaching leg you start out with pole slightly lower to open the leech and go faster but as you approach the mark you find the leg is getting tighter and tighter and you need to keep the spinnaker up because the next leg is also spinnaker leg. By raising the pole up in this condition you increase the vertical camber in the sail which decreases the horizontal camber which will let you sheet the sail tighter and point slightly higher. You will also go a little slower so this technique should only be used for short distances. The rest of the time it is better to sail slightly lower and keep the spinnaker working at maximum efficiency for a little longer then the switch to you headsail and come back up for the remainder of the leg.

In positioning the spinnaker sheet lead block there are two things to consider. First, the further aft you have the lead the wider the sheeting angle becomes, which helps keep the spinnaker spread as wide as possible when running; and second, the correct lead angle for reaching. It is best to sail the boat on a tight reach with the apparent wind just forward of the beam and check to see how the lead is. In this condition you adjust the lead much the same as you would for a genoa. When the sail is sheeted in tight to the point where the foot is just pulled out tight the leech curve should follow the twist in the mainsail. If the lead is too far forward by the time the foot is in tight the sheet will be pulling down too much on the leech which closes off the slot between the main and spinnaker. If the lead is too far aft the leech will be twisted too open and you lose power from the top of the sail. If this position ends up being near the transom then you can get by with just the single lead; however in most cases you will find that you want to sheet the spinnaker quite a bit further forward for tight reaching. The simplest way to accomplish this is by using tweakers, basically a block that the spinnaker sheet runs through before it gets to the sheet lead block. The tweaker block is attached to a line that runs down through another block fixed to the rail about half way between the transom and the shrouds, and then to a cleat. By pulling the tweaker block down you effectively move the lead position forward. Tweakers also give you the ability to move the lead aft while reaching if you are getting overpowered (just like moving your jib lead aft to depower) and when running in heavy air conditions you can move the lead well forward which chokes the spinnaker down and helps prevent oscillations.

Rigging A Wing for The Zhik 2011 Moth Worlds

January 5th, 2011

 We are supporting Chris Rast’s endeavour at the above regatta. One of the most interesting pieces is the use of a solid sail on these boats. Here is Chris’ first update from down-under. I will warn you that the video is not the best, but it is facininating none the less. 


“So finally racing has begun here in Belmont. It’s about time! Racing is actually still underway as I’m writing this. I opted to give my body a break as my hands are killing me right now (a little remainder from the thin lines during my 49er times, thanks Tim! ;-) )
For the next two days the Australian Nationals are on and everybody is checking in to see how well their boats and crazy designs actually work. Obviously one of the big questions is: Will we actually race with the Wing? Answer: Yes and No. Our testing phase was too short to really validate all points and get comfortable to race with the wing. Nevertheless Charlie McKee is biting the bullet and is committed to sail the Australian Nationals and the Worlds with the wing. Together with Rob Patterson they have worked hard to get all systems working well and finding better downwind speed. Successfully so far actually! Ever day Charlie has been going better…

To give you guys a better idea of what it takes to rig a wing on to the moth I have attached a little video explaining the process.

US Airforce Team out