São Paulo

I work at Automattic on the WordPress.com VIP  team and in February 2017 some of us travelled to São Paulo to visit our client, Abril. The whole week was a great experience, not just to see colleagues, visit the fine folks at Abril and all work together, but also to see a bit of São Paulo.

My first impressions of São Paulo were its vastness, traffic problems and heat. The skyscrapers seem truly endless and  it appears to me that in the same way life in Brazil’s rainforests is in the vertical, so too is life in the vertical in the city.

Security is big with gated skyscrapers, houses and buildings with security apparent everywhere.

Nestled among the skyscrapers are buildings that didn’t get pulled down and are now in many cases protected, and  everywhere are trees that survived urbanisation, a reminder of the landscape the city was built on. There is also great contrast between rich and poor with many living in ramshackle buildings, the favelas which I didn’t see, or sleeping rough.

There aren’t parks with the wide open spaces that Europeans would recognise, rather gated off areas where the rainforest has been left.

It was also interesting to see the mass of cabling above ground on large concrete poles, the garbage collection points, the rather toxic looking Pinheiros River and small old buildings

There is no shortage of restaurants and bars in São Paulo and the night life is vibrant. The city looks better at night and there is something to be said for being able to sit around in light clothing at all hours. The coffee is great and the traditional dishes such as Feijoada super tasty.

My lasting impressions will remain the vastness and density of the city, the traffic problems, the trees and rainforest parks, the heat, the great food and very warm and friendly people.

First sail in the RS Vareo

I learned to sail in Picos, moved up to Lasers, had a Solo for a year and recently acquired an RS Vareo, a boat which I took for its first sail recently.

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I never really liked lasers finding them uncomfortable, not that fast and either boring or exciting but unstable downwind. I very much liked the Solo which is pretty, very nice to sail, comfortable and with great controls, but for sea racing in a mixed monohull fleet of mostly quicker boats it was slow and whilst stable, also boring downwind. Recovering from a capsize was a pain too. If I was a lake or river sailor I could imagine them being excellent especially in fleet racing.

I tried an RS Vareo once last season (2016) on a reasonably windy day, got the kite up a few times, capsized a few times but got the ah-ha moment and I knew I had to get one.

I immediately liked it being light, responsive, comfortable, easy to right and drain, fast and quick on to the plane, easy to gybe and with the kite up really fast. Definitely addictive.

So how was my first outing?

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The conditions were ideal for a test, only 5°C / 41F but sunny with a steady easterly onshore wind of 8 – 10 knots. It was great, I was speeding along nicely even in the light wind and even managed a bit of surfing in the swell. I didn’t get the kite up on this occasion but that wasn’t the aim. Rigging and de-rigging is quick and I can see I’ll need to figure out some painter configuration to help with launches and recovery.

Next, I’ll sort the spinnaker rigging out and get the kite up and go out in increasing wind strength.

Winters in Germany

I lived in Germany for thirteen years mostly near Munich and some years we had really great winters. Now back in the UK  it’s basically always wet, cold and windy, it’s winter with none of the good bits.

I remember a lot of snow clearing, the endless fight to get a parking space, clear a parking space from snow  and prevent the car being buried by the daily passing snowploughs. And how after a few days of -10 to -20, a temperature of only -3 or -5 then felt relatively warm. Of scraping ice off the insides of car windows, the woods looking like Narnia, that wonderful sound of snow crunching underfoot, snowball fights and sledging. Decent winters.

Houses in Germany are built and insulated really well and cars have winter wheels with a set of winter tyres,  the country is well set up for winter conditions. I miss decent winters but, when it’s mild that’s good too.

Solo 3251

My Solo dinghy no. 3251 was fixed up by Chris Somner , she feels very solid now and looks lovely.

Edit 1st Sept 2016. Fond as I was of the boat she’s sold now and I’m back on lasers, for my next boat I’m thinking of an RS Vareo. Fast and fun downwind which is something that can get really tedious in single sail boats.

Edit: 18th Jan 2017. I have an RS Vareo now and took it for its first sail recently.