After 5 very challenging and interesting months with
Schickler Tagliapietra in Amsterdam, I have been asked to join the engineering
team at Hall Spars & Rigging in Breskens. I would like to take this
opportunity to thank ST Yacht, and in particular Doug Schickler, for giving me
the opportunity to be part of a very progressive team and help design and
engineer some groundbreaking boats. Personally I cannot wait to see these projects
come out into the open and I am sure the boats will make an impact.
At this time however, the opportunities at Hall Spars &
Rigging will allow me to gain additional skills and be part of a larger variety
of sailing craft. My experiences at ST Yacht in naval architecture and yacht
engineering combined with my racing experience will allow me to develop the
products and service at Hall Spars & Rigging with the current team and
offer the customer an even better experience.
Feel free to contact me through the normal ways with
questions about what I can do for you, not just for a new mast but for anything
from rigging and halyard locks to spars and new builds.
Well, it is September so technically summer is indeed over. But based on the weather one can ask if summer ever really started. A brilliant spring was followed by a couple of very wet months...
So what is new?
Started on freelance basis as a naval architect at Schickler Tagliapietra and have been working on and off on a variety of projects continuing from my experience with this highly innovative office last summer. The biggest problem is that I can't share the projects with you but once the boats go afloat I can tell you which bits I have worked on. For more information on the office go to: STYacht.com
Sailing-wise there was Cowes Week, racing most days on MAT1010 with David Franks (whom I know from the Etchells class, having won a number of races with him in the spring). But I also had the chance to race with the Antilope program from Breskens. This boat (a Grand Soleil 46) is very different from Roark (Commodores' Cup 2008, best boat), only 3 foot longer but a completely different animal. Racing in 27-37 knots of breeze was an experience, racing with the team on board was a pleasure. Very impressive finish of the rig and rigging (Hall Spars), solid sails by North and quality crew throughout (Bouwe Bekking on tactics, Bert Schandevyl doing spinnaker trim and many others).
From Cowes it was a quick shower on Friday afternoon to head to Aarhus in Denmark for the X35 Worlds with an interesting mix of crew. 3 Poms (Tom Whitburn, Dave Kent and helmsman Rob Gullan), 2 Germans (Hans Hout, owner and Tobias Merkel), a Norwegian (Jorgen) and 2 Dutchies (Jochem 'the boatspeed doctor' and myself on the bow). Racing the old "Cool Runnings" we had the speed, but with 2 days practice and a new relationship required between tactician and main&helmsman communication was our week-point. A disappointing result in the end with a sixth (out of 29).
(shot from the Worlds)
From Aarhus it was back to the office but the future is promising a nice couple of events to interfere with starting life as a grown up after graduation... First there is Voile de St Tropez where I will be racing with what TheDailySail called "the best looking race yacht" the JV60 'Spirit of Jethou' (see also video below). After that I will be racing with David Franks again at the Etchells Europeans in Hoorn and then there is a chance of doing the Middle Sea Race as well.
Plenty to do, plenty to see but still no long term employment. Yes I can still be hired for small and large yacht engineering/design related problems. That said, life is pretty good still...
So after many years trying it has happened: obtained a university degree. I will now listen to “Master” seeing as it is now ‘L.A. le Clercq, MEng. Hons, AMRINA’.
All kidding aside, after some very tense, busy and at times stressful couple of months having finished and gotten confirmation it is now time to focus on the future. From finishing (apart from collecting the piece of paper itself) straight out of the UK and back in Holland. Race a regatta (Kaagweek, 9th overall in de Regenboog-class even though we finished with a bullet and many thanks to Frans and Michiel Sluyters for the ride) and now get set-up: get back online after a week offline and start looking for permanent employment. Change of pace though, instead of trying to fill the agenda with racing I am much more focussed on getting that interesting, challenging and fun job. Still, being dropped two weeks before the Copa del Rey because the team want to pay someone to come sailing was a bit painful, now looking what to do with Cowes Week and X35 Worlds for which rides are confirmed.
Anyway, it is blowing a force 7 outside (gusting 8bft) and the rain has been continuous and horizontal for many hours. Answer emails and follow up on earlier calls, not much else to do I suppose.
Be back in the UK next week to collect my diploma, just need to keep enjoying life (apart from getting soaked when stepping outside, it really isn’t that hard).
never ever did I think a deadline could actually come close to kill me but it happened. Two weeks of very little sleep, a lot of stress and even more worrying but in the end, well about 5 minutes before the end, 200 pages, printed and bound were submitted.
Over the past 4 years in Southampton I've grown accustomed to tight deadlines and hard work but adding dependency on 5 others gave it all a completely different dimension and not one I look forward to repeating. But with all that behind, there were a couple of days where the university was closed, the weather great and sailing happening on the Solent in extraordinary conditions.
I received an invite to trim on a Grand Soleil 43 (of the same vintage as Roark, which back in 2008 was the best boat of the Commodores' Cup and I had the pleasure of racing on board), not completely the same but interesting none the less. After trying to fix the rig when the Easter challenge had started (but the boat was not racing), I was trimming their mainsail for the 4 races we participated in on Saturday and Sunday. I must admit it took a bit of getting used to (especially as I was originally scheduled to do upwind trim) but by race three I was comfortable with the set-up, had a feel for the numbers (in the 4-8 knots wind range) and as a crew we started to focus on the racing. I feel it was a bit unfortunate the boat was missing a number of their regulars but we improved each race and the weather was outstanding.
Today, the university has re-opened and that means that after a couple days off it is back to work: finishing a revised sail plan and engineering a rig and the rigging to hold it up. Another bank holiday weekend coming up before lectures start again. The weekend itself looks very promising at the moment, back in the Etchells (different boat this time), racing in the competitive Cowes fleet. Should be great fun again and fingers crossed we'll be able to get a nice result.
With the deadline for my MEng thesis looming, not being able to do your work because the building with the only computers that have the software you need is closed could be perceived as a big problem. It still is but I battled through and instead had to enjoy the Solent for the first time in 2011 (which I did). Below is the press release of the Etchells fleet on the weekend's racing (and for those who can't be bothered: yes we won). More on the local fleet here.
Etchells Race Report:
Spring Series - Cowes Etchells Fleet - 2nd & 3rd April 2011
enjoyed ideal sailing weather in the Solent for its first outing of the
year. It was a good shake down, and also
introduced some new sailors to the fleet .The fleet enjoyed 6 races: 2 long races
on Saturday, and 4 shorter ones on Sunday.
Sarah Ross on
loaner boat Palaver, having never
helmed an Etchells, accounted for herself very well grabbing a 2nd place in the
final of the 6 races. She said “the sailing was in lovely conditions, and
the Etchells maneuverability is astonishing, it will turn on a sixpence”. Her husband Dave Ross called the tactics, and
the atmosphere on their boat was excellent and the crew were clearly exhilarated by the experience.
the previous owner of the ¼ tonner ASAP, sailed with Ian Law on Pale Tide and apparently commented on
how as bow man he enjoyed impersonating an Octopus, and is looking forward to
his next chance to sail after his wife gives birth due later this week.
Rob Goddard’s Ragtime and Rob Elliot’s Esprit tied for 2nd place overall. On
the count back it was almost impossible to separate them. They each had the same number of 1st
places, the same number of 2nd places; and finally, they had the
identical number of 3rd places.
Even after discard, they couldn’t be separated. So unusually the split came down to the
winner of the last race: Ragtime was
therefore promoted to 2nd place and Esprit relegated to 3rd.
final 6th race was easily the most exciting as Rob Goddard put it “You could have thrown a rope around the top
four boats at the top mark – they were probably no more than two boat lengths
apart”. Rob Elliot added “at times it
felt more like match racing, we were all so close”
David Franks’ Elvis with Graham Sunderland and Luuk Le
Clercq are now leading the spring series by one point which concludes next
weekend 9th – 10th April
Corinthian Yacht Club organised first class racing, and provided some welcome
food and drink for the hungry sailors as they came off the water. Our thanks go to Andrew Millband, Race
Officer, and his team along with David Tillson and Pauline who saw to the hot
Since the last update, things have been actually really rather busy. Back to normal you could say, from the point of a Shippie. Mostly just a lot of work and effort has had to go into university work but besides that I have attended a forum in Hamburg, finally managed to catch up with some friends in Hamble and help a few students throughout Europe by sharing my experiences from my paper/bachelor thesis.
So Hamburg, what a nice place and what an utterly brilliant maritime museum. Countless impressive models and just a fantastic collection showing almost all aspects of ships and shipping. A tour of the museum (where I joined among others the designers Mark Mills and Jason Ker) only added to the overall experience. I also attended a day long forum where different topics where discussed and I had the chance to catch up with many friends and acquaintances. Some of those there (in addition to mr. Ker and mr. Mills) where John Corby (for whom I have spent many hours sanding an upturned hull doing a short placement), Simon Rogers (who has designed two boats with which I have achieved some of my best results in sailing), Mike Castania (ORM & skipper during the victorious Baltic Sprint Cup), Jocki Christophers (CYM) with whom I enjoyed many good times in Cowes on the water and in the pub, Doug Schickler (ST-yacht, I worked with him over the summer) and many others. The day provided a great insight into the rating offices viewpoint, the designers, the builders, the suppliers and not least the owners. The organisation itself was also very well done and the combination with the annual price giving of the German offshore club added a special twist to the evening (more info: www.iyfh.org/ ).
Back to the UK for an update on day-to-day life. Results are in and the road to graduation in July is still clear: passed all the modules of first semester (easily) and the final formal meeting on the GDP before the hand-in (MEng final project) went well and has given the group confidence in finishing with a quality product. Life at the moment is a combination of attending a few lectures a week, spending many hours on calculations and write-up for the Group Design Project (GDP) and making enough of the time left to work on the design for the Wolfson Unit thought module and the coursework and preparations for the other 3 modules. Luckily I manage to sneak in a night or two off every week to wind down which has also allowed me to meet up with those friends I have outside of university. I don't have any photographic evidence but I even managed to find fitting baby clothes to give as a present when visiting the newborn addition to the family of some great friends.
It will be another month (5 weeks to be more precise) before the major deadline (GDP) and being able to take a couple of whole days off. NOt much time to think about that right now, finish the work first... And you know what,
With the first semester exams finished and second semester just about kicked off, life is pretty strange at university right now. 5 Months of work, 6 months till I've got my hands on the degree itself and yet, strangely, life is actually quite relaxed. I mean, it is still possible to keep up-to-date on all sailing news without feeling guilty. Now that I mention sailing, don't forget to check out Wouter on his current trip round the world in the Barcelona World Race on board Hugo Boss. For me, the upcoming season is looking promising, but at the same time very little is confirmed. I suppose only time will tell in the end!
In the mean time focus is very much on life in Southampton and at university. Two projects and two other modules provide more than enough distraction from life, especially as these will be last parts to the 4 year journey. Did I mention yet I will be a graduated naval architect in 6 months? Anyway, the projects are the most interesting bit at the moment I think. The first one is "the big one", the GDP (group design project, group based thesis for the MEng-degree). Progress seems to be okay as well as the cooperation, the end-result will tell if all has gone well during the final stint (I'm confident it will). The second project is pretty awesome when considering where I am, designing a sailing yacht (hull, appendages, structures, rig, sail plan) in cooperation with and help from the Wolfson Unit. Anyway, there is still plenty left to do before that piece of paper is mine, guess that means I'll have to keep you all up-to-date for a bit longer.
Finally a quick shout to all those new parents, to many to name but it has been very impressive to hear about all the new-born babies in the past 2 months or so. Many, many congratulations to you all (again).
Term has ended, the world is white, UK is come to a halt: Christmas is here!
Having had dinner with about 18 of us (housemates and friends) on Saturday there are still plenty of leftovers to keep me fed whilst doing a bit more coursework... A brilliant dinner (stuffing - pheasant(2x) - stuffing - turkey), many thanks again to all who were present and specifically Pete for being our head-chef!
Right, whilst on a break from work I've also had time to look at the different contingency plans to get to Holland for Christmas (even if Southampton Airport seems to be coping a lot better than Gatwick and Heathrow with the weather). Need to get the limit on my credit card raised though before I can use "www.flymenow.co.uk" to get back...
Not even December, Sinterklaas has not yet left the country, temperatures are below freezing and it is that part of the year where I realise I have not yet fully adapted to the British. Christmas adverts have been around for a number of weeks (admittedly, Coca Cola only has branded the packaging Christmassy but the trucks have not yet been shown on TV) and life is revolving around deadlines.
This final year is a bit odd, an extra week before Christmas for lectures and deadlines with a week less after the break before exams. 5 exams to work on, 6 modules with coursework requirements and of course the GDP taking up all spare time. At the same time life after university needs to be considered and visiting the METS and HISWA Symposium were part of that. Catching up with industry people and getting an update on the latest developments and state of the marine leisure industry was worth the trip.
The trip did results in checking up and making plans for the upcoming sailing season, an updated boat for the Med and looking at the state of the best monohull racing in the world is just brilliant. With real news lacking, the rumour mill is very active: 2 new B&C TP52 confirmed (Quantum, Synergy) as well as 2 new JV-TPs (Matador & Ran). Then there are some more mentions in various media: All4One supposedly has a new JV boat in build (raced the 2008 Mean Machine last season) and after mothballing the Juan K boat after the last MedCup event twitter now talks about Team Origin back with a different helm (Mr. Percy). Bribon has bought the very fast Matador and it is expected the Russian team on Valars returns after a sabbatical. Bigamist, Pace and us are expecting to make a number of appearances and Christabella should be even faster than last year with the experience of a year with Quantum sails. Very promising indeed and the schedule of racing seems to have been drawn around my workload at University.
Anyway, the snow is staying away and inside it is nice and comfortable. Time to get stuck in some more Matlab, MaxSurf and perhaps some HullScant.
Although the worlds finished nearly two weeks ago, I haven't had the time to share some of the photos from the various official websites: just too busy catching up with University life I suppose. But here they are: