North Sails LOFT NEWS

May 8, 2019

GEARING UP FOR THE 2019 RACE TO MACKINAC

Tom Pease Shares Heavy Weather Tips At The Offshore Safety Sea Training

I attended and presented at the International Offshore Safety at Sea course hosted by Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan (SEAS) with instructors Brian Adams and Mike Bush last weekend.  For sailors participating in the 2019 Race to Mackinac Safety at Sea is now required for 50% of every boat’s crew.

As I have in the past, I was offered the opportunity of presenting the Heavy Weather Sailing portion of the seminar.  After two years in a row of fairly heavy air upwind work in the Mac I expanded the topic beyond the sails and rules to include more tips and techniques for sail trim and boat handling both upwind and downwind. A special thanks to Bill Gladstone and North U for some of the videos and animations. There’s no question that having the right sails for conditions greatly improves the boats performance and your results. I’ve found that it’s just as important in keeping the boat under control as it is in keeping the crew fresh and functional in trying conditions.  When you’re sailing in 25 knots, slamming into 6 to 8-foot waves that feel like they are barely more than a boat length apart, it is most definitely trying conditions for the crew, the boat and the equipment.

We spent a full day in a classroom setting covering numerous topics of safety gear and procedures. It’s a great opportunity to become familiar with the latest technology available for us to both protect ourselves and take advantage of while either racing, cruising or day sailing.  I know my shopping list was fairly extensive for both personal gear and boat gear, I suspect others had equally long wish lists. Other presenters on the first day included Whitney Kent doing the Weather module and Adam Grandlic giving us some basic Medical insight, as well as a representative of the US Coast Guard bringing us up to speed on their protocol and what we should expect should we need their assistance.

Day two is optional for the Race to Mackinac but was a great opportunity to get into the pool in full gear, test out our PFD’s and climb into a life raft.  It was a challenge in the pool with relatively warm water and a controlled environment; I definitely don’t want to ever experience a real life in the water event of myself or a crew mate.  Bottom line, respect the elements, respect your equipment and respect the reality that bad things can happen when you’re in the heat of the moment.

It’s always great to get together with a bunch of sailors to talk about sails, boats and equipment. Now I’m even more anxious for the season to start and get back out on the water.