Photos by Roberto Hajduk:

Photos by Roberto Hajduk:
Photos by Roberto Hajduk:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The cure for jet lag

We went to our local watering hole in Ojai. Look closely and you'll see Dane flying in the top right corner.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The long road home

We were just commenting at dinner how the trip has gone so smoothly. We've successfully navigated thunderstorms, the German autobahn, a manual transmission, German, French, Italian translations, a broken GPS and European road signs only to be stopped in our tracks at the Zurich International airport.

After waiting an hour to check in, the woman at the ticket counter smiled and checked our bags, charged us $150 for extra luggage, handed us our boarding passes and then nonchalantly told us our flight was five hours delayed and that we don’t have a connecting flight home from Toronto. “Thank you for being so understanding. Next." 

Thirty-nine hours after leaving Zurich, we’re finally home. The best sight of the whole trip was seeing Craig, Quinn and Moki waiting for us at the baggage claim at LAX.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


We had a spectacular night exploring Zurich with our new friends from the regatta, Katie and her mom, Patricia from Connecticut. We only had to time get a small taste of the city and strolled the streets window-shopping and admired the beauty and history of the city. Our dinner of salad with melon, pomegranates and figs and a risotto with asparagus, prawns and cherry tomatoes was inspirational. We head home tomorrow but may try to find the Marc Chagall stained glass windows if we get up early enough. That's the one site I don't want to miss.

Notice the "diving board" behind Dane and Katie's head. 

Now there's wind!

As we were checking out of our hotel to head to Zurich we looked out the window and the wind was blowing 20 knots at 9am. Blurg!

Last day of racing

Congratulations to Zach Downing and Andrew Cates for winning the 2011 European Championships!

Team USA had a strong showing:

Gold Fleet:
1st Zach Downing & Andrew Cates
4th Paris & Hans Henken
5th Tyler Macdonald & Willie McBride
21st Dane Wilson & Newt Cutcliffe (12th Youth Team)

Silver Fleet:
15th Jack Jorgensen & Tucker Atterbury
35th Andrew Mollerus & Matthew Mollerus
36th Sterling Henken & Michael Deady

Emerald Fleet:
13th Kate Shaner & Kaitlin Driscoll
26th Adele Whitmyer & Katie Kelley

A few facts from 29er North American website:
160 boats
16 countries represented
80% male or mixed teams
20% all female teams
71% all Youth teams

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gold Fleet Race Day 1

A lesson in expectations and head games… The sailing here in Lago Maggiore is tricky. As one can tell by perusing the scores of virtually everyone on race day one in the Gold fleet, consistency was hard to come by. The door was open for opportunity to move up, however, if your rhythm is not there, then a tricky day can become all the more painful. That was the case today for the boys. Having only a short while to process the fact that they were in 15th place overall after the qualifying rounds, there simply was not a good opportunity to let that settle in and prepare for the next round. No excuses, however, the lesson should not go unchecked. When you set your sites on a lesser goal and attain a higher one, sometimes it takes an adjustment period to re-calibrate. With this being only their 4th actual regatta there was really little gauge of potential, so readying for the Gold flight next time will be a more familiar process. Regardless, congratulations are in order for a very solid regatta thus far, and a little gratefulness for the valuable lesson that I’m sure will pay dividends down the road.

Friday, July 22, 2011

These photos capture the event beautifully

A talented photographer named Roberto Hajduk from Poland has been snapping away during the event. These photos describe the experience better than I ever could. Beautiful!

There's a few photos of Dane and Newt. Look for the kid with white sunglasses and red life jacket, sail number USA 1176 and a very blonde crew.

Here's the link:

The challenge with sailing in the Alps

From the 29er European website: "With the Lake so deep, the "anchors" are degradable concrete blocks with degradable line (hemp?) for the anchor line. The Race Committee has managed to set several of these around the lake and tie plastic jerry cans to them and then it's easier for the race management team to make mark changes faster. It's quite an accomplishment and ingenuity by the race management team. When appropriate, they can cut the line and these will degrade over time in the lake." Note:  my understanding is that it takes 20 minutes for the concrete blocks to sink to the bottom so they set these marks every 10 degrees to allow for wind shifts. Then they simply (or maybe not so simply) move the marks to these "jerry cans" (which I think are just little plastic bottles.)


Dane and Newt qualified for the gold fleet. The fleets were split into the championship fleets last evening with 25 in the gold, 44 in silver and 43 each in bronze & emerald. They are currently in 15th place. They will carry that score over to the championship series.

There are four US teams in gold:  Zack Downing & Andrew Cates; Tyler Macdonald & Willie McBride; Dane Wilson & Newt Cutcliffe; and Paris Henken and Hans Henken- all from Southern California.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 21st

They only got one race off today. I'll have Dane tell the story in detail, but it sounds like the boys scrambled to pull off a good finish. Only about 15 boats finished the race due to a 180 degree wind shift and not being able to cross the finish line within allocated the time limit. Dane said he saw the shift coming and had to change plans a few times. Strategy is what he loves about sailing. I think he's a lake sailor. He likes the shifts and the quick breeze changes. The race committee is expected to divide the boats into four championship divisions today: gold, silver, bronze and emerald. Or, they may decide to run more qualifying races. Where they end up doesn't matter. Dane seems most excited about the pure joy of the game. He talks about moments when it all works - rarely about results.

Dane and I had a lovely dinner on the patio of our hotel. There was a warm breeze, clear skies and lights from the village across the lake were reflecting on the water. Dane took 10 minutes to explain today's race to me. I didn't understand all the nuances, however, it was enjoyable to watch him be so animated about the multiple layers of the strategy of the race. Two more days to go...

July 21st

We were in a hurry to get to the sailing base by 6:30am and found we had been locked into our hotel! Our room key didn’t work on any of the doors. Luckily Dane was here and he wiggled us through doors and stairways and found an escape around the back. I think we’ll just jump off the balcony in case of fire.
I don’t know what I would have done without Dane on this adventure. He’s navigated the roads, interpreted the signs, handed me my credit card when I left it in a restaurant and generally has taken care of all the logistics. He’s a very capable young man and excellent traveler. He eats anything, is up for any adventure and puts up with my nudging too without complaint. I’m very proud of him.

These beautiful, vintage wood motor boats were docked outside our hotel. 

July 20th

We woke up to clear skies and the boats were launched at 7am. Dane and Newt's fleet spent several hours on the water trying to get two races in but they were abandoned due to light wind. Then back to shore for more waiting. The wind arrived with a vengeance at 3pm and they got two races completed in white cap conditions and winds estimated about around 20 knots. This is what they patiently have been waiting for. 

The races were held farther south in Italian waters. It was a long day, starting at 8:30am and ending at 8:30pm. Some unlucky teams had to be at the site at 6:30am. 29ers are not the kind of boat you can just relax in while you’re waiting on the water. They are not stable and have to keep moving forward to prevent them from capsizing. It’s exhausting waiting in the hot sun for hours.

The race committee is desperately trying to get each of the four fleets to complete at least four races before shuffling the fleets again. The qualifying series has been extended a day and the championship series will now just be two days instead of three.

I drove down to a charming little Italian town called Cannobio with a couple of U.S. moms. The border is only five minutes south of Brissago. I seem to continue to plan my adventures during the "siesta" hours of noon to three. It was nice to stroll around the empty streets, but things quickly change at 3pm.
Newt’s parents, Patty and Neil, generously hosted dinner at their apartment for the Santa Barbara Youth Foundation families (Newt, Dane, Tucker, Jack and Willie along with siblings and parents). Patty made amazing homemade lasagna. We had to “eat and run” to get Dane to bed by 10:30 because he needed to be at the venue by 6:30. (Painful for both sailors and their support team!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Examples of some well-funded teams in Europe

A nice surprise

After raining all day yesterday and throughout the night, we woke up to a cloudless sky. Even the flags were waving. Three more races today. Fingers crossed the weather holds.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 19th

My phone service has been a bit sketchy and I didn’t see a text about an early start. I woke up at 7:00 and looked out my balcony window and saw 29ers already out on the water. I quickly woke Dane up and we ran to the club. Luckily Dane and Newt were in the second wave. I came back and had a nice breakfast in my hotel. I asked the chef if I could take a few slices of bread because Dane missed breakfast. He said give me five minutes. He packed up two vegi sandwiches, watermelon and iced tea. I was worried Dane was going to be out on the water all day without breakfast or lunch. He was a lifesaver.

This quaint little local yacht club seems to be overwhelmed with the size of the regatta. They had 25% more sailors than anticipated. The race committee and jury seems to be understaffed. All of the stores and restaurants close in the afternoon for "Italian siesta." What amused me is that the race committee came in for lunch and left the kids floating out on the water. The regatta apparently has a siesta time too. Funny.

Today several members of the US, Great Britain, Norway and Spain have volunteered to help out on the water. Besides the racing conditions they were worried about too few boats on the water to help with safety issues. Some of the moms (including myself) who don't have race committee experience are volunteering with protest administration in the afternoons. Hopefully we won’t see any of our kids in that line.

USA 1176 got two races in today. The conditions were not great but they had two solid finishes. Some groups haven’t gotten in any races yet. Tomorrow is the last day of qualifying before they are divided up into championship fleets of gold, silver and bronze.

Our regular afternoon thunderstorm hit in the afternoon and boats scrambled in. Dane and Newt were not out racing at the time. Everyone made it back safely (well I hope so, no one is marking the kids coming in).

We had the best dinner of our trip so far at our hotel. Arugala salad, grilled salmon with roasted potatoes and vegis and toped it off with vanilla gelato. Then to bed early. 

July 18th

Another day of waiting……
The skippers’ meeting was held at 11:00 and the teams got divided into four smaller fleets of about 40 each. The race committee sent out two teams first. Dane and Newt were in the second wave. All was looking promising: a nice breeze, the ramp was repaired and it wasn’t raining.  Seemed to take the race committee a while to set courses. Apparently the lake is so deep it takes 20 minutes to sink a concrete block for the marks. By the time they were ready, the breeze died. Finally started one race only to abandon. Dane and Newt just waited for their fleet to head out. Then the familiar story…. The sky darkened, thunder clapped and we’re in the middle of  another lightning storm. I drove down to the sail base. The boys were safe in the grotto waiting to see if it would pass. Boats were still trying to get in. The temporary ramp system is very primitive and only a few boats at a time can come in. Several boats had capsized, but eventually everyone made it in safely. Noticed a few sailors had abandoned their boats. Which is the advise we’ve given the US Teams: “the boats are replaceable, but you are not.” We waited until about 6pm until the race committee finally called it a day.

I'm sure it was more of a "lost in translation" thing, but we thought it was amusing when the race committee explained the emergency plan if a thunder storm rolls through. He said:  “If you are strong, sail in.  If you are not, flip your boat, and wait for assistance”… Luckily our boys passed the test and were strong enough to scramble in. Some were not so lucky and abandoned their boats. 

Dane and I checked into our hotel. It’s lovely and right in front of the racecourse. We went to a quick dinner for pizza and salad again. Here's the view from our room.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

From 29er North American Website

Seven (7) US teams competed in the German National Championships sailed on Lake Walchensee July 9th-12th. Conditions were very shifty and winds were up to 14 knots. A good time was had by all sailors. Five (5) nations were represented at the regatta: GBR, GER, AUS, USA and AUT. After 12 races, Paris and Hans Henken won the Championship by 2 points over the Australians! Tyler Macdonald and Willie McBride were the 2nd Americans, 4th overall, followed by another new team of Zack Downing and Andrew Cates in 7th. Other good efforts were Andrew and Matthew Mollerus in 17th, Michael Deady and Sterling Henken in 19th, Newt Cutcliffe and Dane Wilson in 20th, and new 29er sailors Adele Whitmyer and Katie Kellie in 38th! The teams used this event as a warm up for the 29er Europeans, which will be the largest 29er regatta this summer.

What are they doing?

"For those of you who don't know....The 29er is a high performance youth sailboat. It is a skiff-type boat, which is able to sail faster than the wind. Designed by the world famous yacht designer, Julian Bethwaite, the 29er is a training boat for youth interested in sailing the 49er, an Olympic class boat. Currently the 29er is sailed all over the world. Like the boat, the sailors represent a new age, fun and youth.” (Quoted from the official program)
29er European Championships have 163 boats from countries all over the world. Sailors from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherland, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA are competing.

July 17th

Rain again!  The boys got their boat and sails measured.  Luckily it passed inspection. Several US sailors’ boats did not and they have to add weight or change out fittings on the boats. A few boats headed out sailing but were called back due to the storm. The boys had lunch with US team and are hanging out waiting for Opening Ceremonies.(Note the California flag)
Mary Pat and I headed to Italy to explore but had to turn around because her daughter’s boat didn’t pass inspection. It was for the best because it’s Sunday and the place is packed and we can’t find any parking. We’re going to try again mid-week. While we were looking for parking we got to witness two Italian families fighting over a parking space. Both claimed to have a right to it and the Italian gestures were amusing. One woman just stood behind the car trying to park and wouldn’t budge. A large traffic jam ensued and everyone got out of their cars to have a say. After a while, one side conceded, but I’m guessing their tires will be slit when then return (ha-ha). That was the most entertaining 10 minutes of the day.
The weather is supposed to clear tomorrow. Fingers crossed. 

July 16th

The boat finally arrived and the boys are busy getting it in order. It's raining and there's no wind. Finally, at 3pm a south breeze filled in and the boys sailed for a bit. The wind died by 5pm. Newt’s family arrived and Dane and I headed back to the Todds'.  The four of us walked through the neighborhood and ended up at a lovely little harbor restaurant. Dane and Chris entertained us with their favorite YouTube videos.

July 15th

Boat didn’t arrive today as expected. Blurg! Lots of waiting around. Dane entertained himself by diving and doing flips off a stonewall into lake. I had pizza at the waterfront with the Tucker and Jack’s parents. Chris and Marian prepared us another homemade dinner of shrimp in cream sauce pasta. We sat outside under a pergola covered with grape vines. After dinner we took a drive up the hill to the tiny village of Carona. It was dusk and we meandered through the narrow cobble stone alleyways. We then drove to Lugano in search of gelato and found a large festival in full swing at the city center. We walked around and listened to a classical pianist playing outside in the courtyard and watched an old silent movie being accompanied by a small four-piece chamber group. We strolled with our gelatos along the lake. The weather was perfect and the full moon reflected on the water - extremely festive and memorable.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

July 14th

Last night’s storm washed away the road to Brissago. We had an interesting detour through the hills of Lake Locarno. The boys boat ended up on a trailer in Germany that wasn’t expected to arrive until Friday afternoon, but they wanted to check out the venue and register. Frustrating to see other boats practicing on a sunny, windy day.

Only the northeast corner of Lake Maggiore lies in Switzerland. The rest is in the Lombardy region of Italy. We decided to try a different route home to avoid the long lines of the detour. Italy is only about five minutes south of Brissago.  Once you cross the boarder I was surprised to see how the architecture and energy changed. We drove south and caught the ferry over to the other side of the lake then wove our way up to Lugano. I think it was a longer route, but fun to see Italy and another part of the lake. Driving through the narrow Italian villages takes lots of concentration with the foreign signs, rules, stick shift and narrow, narrow roads. We took a swim in the lake to recover.
Chris fixed his homemade pesto and Marian prepared Newt a second dinner of German bratwurst and sauerkraut.

July 13th

5countries in two days: Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Italy.
We began our drive to Switzerland this morning. We added one to our party. Willie needed a ride to avoid a 14-hour train trip so we squeezed one more in the car. The drive was rainy through the Bavarian Alps. We decided to push through and only stopped for lunch. However the views of the Alps with its waterfalls, castles and little villages was spectacular.

We arrived in the tiny Swiss village of Morcote on Lago Lugano (population 740). After navigating narrow, cobbled lanes, we found our destination. Our good family friends, Chris and Marian Todd generously opened their home to our crew. The boys went for a refreshing swim in the lake until a storm cut it short. By the time they got back to the house a freak lightning storm hit. The insane rain was blowing sideways and it began to hail. We watched a giant construction crane spin around like a top and ran around closing windows. We had a wonderful home-cooked dinner and took a tour of the neighborhood after dinner. Their apartment is in a 700-year-old building. It’s been renovated with huge glass windows and ancient raw stone walls left exposed. The juxtaposition of the ancient and modern works surprisingly well. Narrow stone stairways took us to Chiesa di Santa Maria del Sasso. The views are breathtaking and the church has 16th century frescos. We also spend time in the church’s graveyard and saw monuments that we decided were large enough to live in.

July 12th

The boys ended up 20th out of 45 boats. I think this was a good solid result considering they have only been sailing together nine months and this is their third regatta together and first regatta in a large fleet. Dane loved the shifty conditions of the lake and the large fleet. It reminded him of Opti sailing and liked the challenging strategy the lake conditions created. They had several top 10 finishes and one 2nd place over the event.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 11th

Luckily, no adventures today.  Took a long walk and finished my second book of the trip. The weather was lovely and windy. The race committee got off 5 races today. The boys are working on their starts and seemed happy with their improvement.  After the regatta, they hung out at Willie and Tyler’s apartment and had pasta for dinner. When I picked them up to bring them home they asked about having a second dinner. I guess they worked up an appetite today!  I took them to a restaurant and found a few US parents to chat with while the kids ate with friends. I had dinner earlier at our hotel and ordered a freshly caught fish from the lake that was staring up at me with beady eyes. It was tasty once I removed all the bones. As I was dining, a very German grandmother complete with her hair in a bun came up to my table and asked the waitress to interpret for her. She heard I had two teenage boys from America. Her 17-year-old granddaughter was visiting from Santa Cruz and she wanted them to meet. The granddaughter in tow looked horrified. I invited her down to the yacht club tomorrow afternoon. I doubt she’ll show up, but I hope so.

Monday, July 11, 2011

My favorite painting from the Franz Marc Museum

While the boys were sailing, I went to the Franz Marc Museum with Mary Pat Whitmyer. It was surprising that a little museum in the middle of nowhere had works from Franz Marc and Paul Klee. Franz Marc is the artist who painted expressionists works at the turn of the century. His most famous are of the bold blue horses. This was my favorite painting in the museum for two reasons: my favorite color is purple and I'm known as a bit of a donkey myself (steadfast and true with a little stubbornness thrown in for good measure). We had a nice lunch at the museum that actually offered a vegetarian soup and insalada mista (first vegetarian item I’ve seen in Germany) While the boys packed up the boats, we took the trolley up to the top of the mountain to see the aerial view. 

Coaching tips from home

Now that you (Team Dangerous Neutron Bomb) have the discovery you can do it... and the confidence to do it... it's time to leave the dock knowing you will do it. Go kick some ass, or go down in flames trying. Unleash your "NESS*."

Believing in you,
Coach Craig

July 10th

We had a restful afternoon since sailing was called short. Boys read, listened to music and played video games on Newt’s ipod.  We went to dinner for pizza and pasta (again) and ran into two sailors from Connecticut. Adele and Katie. They joined us for dinner and then the boys stayed and walked to the sailing center for “disco” night.  I don’t think much dancing went on*, but they hung out with friends. The girls drove them home (Katie only has her learner’s permit).  Dane said I needn’t worry because she drove so slow that no one would get hurt if she crashed.
*However, Dane did mention that they turned on the music during the thunderstorm earlier today and that’s when the sailors danced in the event tent under the crackling clap of thunder and real lightning disco lights.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 10th

The day started out quietly enough… The boys were at the yacht club at 8:45 but they didn’t head out until 1:00 waiting for the wind to fill in. I went back to the inn for a bit.  About 2:00 I looked out off our balcony and saw that the fleet was on the lake. I put on my tennis shoes and packed some water and snacks and decided to walk out to the point to see if I could get a closer look and take some photos. I was about a ½ mile into my walk when the sky started to darken.  Sound familiar?  Thunder sounded in the distance. Lake Walchensee is a busy weekend destination. There were many boats on the water and people swimming. People started ringing cowbells and yelling for people to get out of the water. I high tailed it back to the inn.  By the time I got to my car, there was a long traffic jam exiting the lake. I slowly drove to town while thunder and lightning exploded around me. I saw a bolt hit a nearby electricity pole. I was feeling nervous because the race on the opposite side of the lake. I’m guessing it's a good half an hour sail back. I was relieved to see a group of 29ers sailing into shore followed by a boat with sirens and flashing lights. Newt had said they had an orange spinnaker (1 of 3) Taking the odds, I saw two orange spinnakers in the group and changed direction to go meet the boys. After parking at the entrance and running to get them I found it was the German team. No Dane or Newt. Thankfully, Dane called me when I was headed toward the yacht club. He said they were taking cover under a boat and were going to run to the event tent. By the time I got there they were in the center of the storm. I can’t believe how loud and intense the thunder is. The sound shook the ground. Newt has experienced these storms in Canada, but we sure don’t get anything like this in Ojai. I’m actually relieved that the authorities take these storms very seriously and seem to react quickly. It must be a regular occurrence here. There’s an emergency flashing light to warn people to get off the water. The race committee responded quickly. This will be one regatta they never forget.
The fleet got in one race today. The report is that the boys got off the line well today but chose the wrong side of the course downwind. They wanted to work on their starts today, so that was a good day of sailing.

Sailing Day 1

The boys had a strong first day of sailing. They had 4 races and ended up 14th out of 45 boats. They got a 2nd place in one race.  I know they are not supposed to be focusing on results, but I’m proud of them. They plan to work on starts tomorrow. They are sailing fast and apparently have good boat handling but agreed they need to work on getting off the line and trusting themselves. I tried to remind them to make this a regatta just about learning and working on pushing the limits a bit and not worrying about results. I’m sure that’s easier said than done.