Monday, March 12, 2007

Of chickens and little piggies...

Michael of the Peconic Puffin had this post on his astonishment upon seeing center straps on formula gear in a picture posted by Steve Bodner. The chicken strap has been a vital piece of equipment on formula gear since its inception - rather chicken out downwind and go a little slower (but at a deeper angle) instead of swimming (which, as Rob Hartman used to put it, is surely the slowest point of sail). Of course, there's that point where even that won't do - that's when you start straddling the board and use the leeward strap (which Hartman used to call the little piggy strap - since when you're ready to use that, you're surely frightened to the point of squealing - cue theme from Deliverance here...)

Of course, real racers don't use these, right? In 2004, on the day before racing started at the US Open in Corpus, I was out sailing with Dale. He was on 9.8 (the smallest he brought), I ran a 9.1. The chop in the bay there gets really nasty - there's swell pitching up very steeply, then refracting off a number of seawalls, so by the time you get close to where the leeward marks and start/finish line were going to be off McGee Beach, you found yourself in a landscape of VW Bug sized moguls. On one run, we came downwind behind Micah Buzianis and Jimmy Diaz. I distinctly remember actually catching up to Jimmy (a feat never to be repeated), as he was alternating between the windward rear strap, holding that for a few seconds, then scrambling over to the leeward strap, then looking for middle ground. An hour later, he was seen on shore mounting a chicken strap...

And at the 2004 US Nationals in SF, Phil McGain (who had often announced that chicken straps were unnecessary) found that racing in the voodoo chop created by the ebb, tankers, container ships, ferries, and fishing vessels off Crissy Field could benefit from a chicken strap as well. He was asked about this by someone and replied: "I may be a proud man, but I'm not a stupid man."

Of course, speaking of downwind speed - Hartman used to credit his uncanny ability to hold the hammer down off the breeze in even the roughest water to his ability to simply turn off the frontal lobes...


PeconicPuffin said...

It's true, I was...well, curious if not astonished. There's no racing in my neck of the woods, so I was unfamiliar (though not so unfamiliar that I couldn't guess the probable usage.)

I was unfamiliar with your blog (until now) and I have added it to the list of WS sites on my own site.

Take care!


USA 4 Steve Bodner said...

HeyG42- nice blog!
To tell you more- the new double chicken strap on the L7 is a god send in the voodoo chop.
I also think that has to do with the narrower nose of the L7 for better control downwind- although after testing the other fw bds this year- Id be happy to be on any one of them but know the l7 with the double chicken will be the fastest off the breeze for the classic!
You gonna make it down for the nationals in august?

G-42 said...

nice to hear from you. Yep, at this point, I'm thinking Nationals are on the schedule unless something blows up. It'll be an interesting year with Canadian Nats in Squamish, NRT event in the Gorge, Nats in SF all back to back - that might require some serious pulling of strings and very good behavior on the home front.

I've often thought that it would be nice to have a pair of chicken straps slightly aft and outside of the current one on my Roberts - someting to play with, I'm sure.