Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mast Bend

We have been told by a number of excellent sailors that mast bend is important to upwind boat speed. This is also covered in some detail in Tom Hubbell's book "Sailboat Racing with Greg Fisher". We initially struggled a lot with getting Dare's rig set up correctly and felt slow upwind, especially when there were a lot of waves. Chris LeBord provided some hands-on assistance at Nationals, shimming the mast to induce pre-bend. The boat feels a lot better to us and we now seem to be moving a little faster upwind, probably due in part to the improved rig settings. Pre-bend is about .5 inchs and I have attempted to measure the bend under sail using a couple of pictures taken at a recent regatta. Based on these pictures, bend in moderate conditions is about 3-3.25 inches. The pictures also show slight wrinkles in the mainsail, from the luff towards the middle of the boom which is a healthy sign.

I would like to understand the correct amount of mast bend under different conditions, and then see how our boat compares.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Great Pumpkin Regatta 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Notes from a Clinic led by Bryce Dryden

These are a few notes from a Thistle clinic that was led by Bryce Dryden who is a fantastic sailor that has won Nationals twice. Bryce sailed on our boat and led us through tacking and gybing drills, teaching us the basics of boat handling. Mike Ross, the current AYC club champion and expert Thistler supported Bryce during the clinic.

Key concept - solid boat handling skills are critical and need to be in place in order to make good tactical decisions. The ability to tack or gybe with confidence to get the boat to where you want to be on the racecourse is key. Bryce and Mike Ross focused the group on basic boat handling including roll tacking and spinnaker gybes.

Upwind - Roll Tacking (from starboard to port in this example)

1. Skipper moves back on the rail about 3 feet to lift the bow out of the water helping the boat to turn.

2. The tack is initiated by gently pushing the tiller away. The mainsheet is also trimmed tightly for balance of the skipper, and to tighten the leach at the same time which helps turn the boat.

3. In lighter winds, any crew on the low (port) side prior to the tack should move across the boat to the new low side to encourage the boat to roll (to starboard)

4. As the boat turns, the radius of the turn gradually increases, but at no time should the tiller be "hard over" as this is not needed and would create extra drag.

5. As the main fills on the new tack, the boat will heal to leeward (starboard) and the crew should stand directly up and start to cross to the new high side. The helm should be standing with their right foot where the rear of the starboard seat tank meets the hull floor and the starboard rail should be very close to the water.

6. The main should be eased to the transom corner and the crew should stay on the new low side (starboard) until the boom has crossed the boat.

7. The helm should cross the boat, diagonally and forward towards the new position on the port rail. The boom can be used to push off on as leverage in light winds, and the tiller extension handle in the left hand can be placed on the port rail to help the helm maintain balance.

8. The boat at this point should be below her normal close-hauled course by perhaps 15-30 degrees on the new tack, depending on the wind strength.

9. As the boat is flattened on the new tack, the main and jib should be sheeted in together and the boat steered up towards her close-hauled heading. If this is done well, with good timing and a synchronized crew, the boat will "squirt" forward, accelerating on the new tack. The helm should by now have swapped the tiller to the right hand (hand on top near belly button!), with the sheet to the left hand, taking a big handful of mainsheet, generally above head-height.

10. Through this whole process, the helm should sit up, moving with confidence across the boat in a smooth motion, and not hunch over in the middle of the boat!

Downwind - Spinnaker Gybes (from port to starboard in this example)

1. The middle and skipper are on the port rail and the forward on the starboard rail.

For balance either I and/or both I and the middle crew might sit in a bit from the rail.

2. Forward crew moves under the boom and gets ready to gybe the pole and middle crew unhooks the guy and has all the slack out of the current guy line and is handling the line, not directly above the rail through the block, but from the turning block under the rail. Once the guy is out of the guy hook, it is easier and more natural to fly the spinnaker from the block under the rail.

3. Helm confirms that the crew is ready and gives the command for the gybe.

4. Helm steers to starboard to a "by-the-lee" heading and sheets in the main a little, while the forward moves the pole to the new guy. The right bottom corner of the kite at this stage should be close to the forestay, making it easy for the forward to grab the new guy and connect to the pole.

5. The spinnaker is best flown as much away from the boat as possible. Through the gybe, as the main comes across, the middle crew may need to tug just a bit on the original guy side. Immediately as the main has finished coming across, ease the new sheet and pull the new guy in a bit, not a lot (if you pull the new guy in a lot and do not ease the new sheet, the effect is that the spinnaker is sucked in close to the boat and under the main which in effect knocks out the wind in the spinnaker). As the spinnaker pole is attached, it will be easier for the new guy to be brought around more square to the boat, which actually depends on the angle the boat needs to head to the next mark. Don't worry about easing the main as it gybes. It might sound bad, but as long as the mainsheet isn't so long that the sidestay takes all the load of stopping the boom, it is ok to let it go full force.

6. As soon as the boom is coming across the boat and goes beyond the midpoint in the boat, then immediately begin heading back down doing the "S" turn. The skipper does not need to be in the middle of the boat or on the new side in order to begin doing so. The middle and skipper both stand and balance the boat while the forward crew finishes attaching the spinnaker pole. Once the pole is attached and the new guy is hooked by the forward, then the forward sits down on the lower side and simultaneously the middle sits down on the new high side. The skipper sits down once both forward and middle take their appropriate seats.

8. The boat should be heeled to weather until neutral helm in achieved, the amount to heel is dependant on the conditions.

9. The boom should generally cross the boat unassisted, although in heavy air, it will probably need to be pulled over.

10. NEVER release the boomvang in heavy air (or any other time during a less windy gybe). Doing so will make it even harder to have the boom come across because the leach is opened up and might actually go forward of the mast which can cause the boat to oscillate back and forth, proving to be unstable and uncomfortable for everyone in the boat. It is only advisable to have your hand on the vang line after a gybe is completed and the boom hits the water. Then it is appropriate to release the vang.

Wild Turkey Regatta - OSYC, Lake Sinclair, GA

Elliot on the dock with Dare, the breeze is starting to fill in a little in the distance. 15 Thistles were racing which was the best turn out for a number of years.

We removed Dare's red stripe which was faded to a light pink so now she looks like new with her freshly polished hull. The fact that we are now indistinguishable from 70% of the rest of the fleet did not stop us from being spotted over the start line early in race 3!

She looks good for 40 years old, we are proud of the old girl!

A shot of the "old-school" spinnaker pole that Elliot and I made out of spanish cedar. It works great but the lacing for the uphaul D-ring came undone at a critical hoist. We re-laced it and sewed it all together which should avoid a repeat disaster.....hopefully!

Although there was no wind at the dock, there was perhaps 8 to 10 mph out on the main body of the lake.

Good friends, Robert and Paul Mitchell who sailed well in their first regatta together.

I think we should have been hiking a little harder in this shot.

Elliot is trimming the spinnaker nicely...we seems to have pretty good downwind speed but were not so good at spotting the puffs and gybing in the right places.

Harry Reich is closing in on us to take our wind, we had a lot of close racing with his boat which made it a lot of fun.

I have trying to take big handfulls of mainsheet, as coached by Bryce, but still seem slow at trimming the main, especially at the leeward mark. Elliot was getting very upset with me when we let boats by on the inside a few times!

This is after racing was over on Sunday, we ended up paddling in as the dock was protected from the wind by a line of trees.

Garry Smillie and Sean Murphy, with Scott Harris in the background.

Dad always seems to end up with the paddle.....

We were really pleased with how we sailed with fewer than usual mistakes. Our spinnaker pole came unlaced during one race which was a big problem....a quick knot or two got us back up a running allowing a better fix before racing on Sunday. Our spinnaker halyard cleat also would not hold which nearly resulted in dropping it under the boat, so Elliot dismantled and fixed it later in the day.

Our starts were far better than usual as we followed a very simple plan.....stick with the fast boats! We also tried hard to sail to the favoured end of the line....if the wind shifts left...go to the pin, if right stay at the committee boat. The allowed us to sail with some of the best least for bit, on the correct side of the course, on the lifted tack. We also tried hard to keep the boat flat by hiking and playing the mainsail, letting it flog if necessary. Another thing we focused on was to steer by balancing the boat to keep pressure off the tiller, especially going downwind. We practiced sailing without the rudder the previous weekend with a very experienced Thistler from our club (Jim Smither), and I think this really helped raise our awareness of the affect of sail and hull trim on steering. A book I am reading by Dave Perry (thanks to Chris for the loan) makes a really big point about staying on the lifted tack, so we were working hard to spot headers and also watch other boats to determine what the next puff might do. Elliot is great at helping by reading the compass and has a good feel for telling if a header is real or not. The few times when I have failed to take his advice have not been a good experience!

We learnt a little about the racing rules at several points. We were on port with Jim Roberts and Bryce to leeward and ahead as we overstood the windward mark. We were gently asked by Bryce to tack and I thought we perhaps had broken the rules but we were in the right and could have sailed them to the opposite shore! We tacked together for the mark and somehow Jim got inside us! During one start were were probably too timid and backwinded our main to avoid going over early. Paul Abdullah was to leeward and slightly ahead and pinched us off beautifully....I wonder how he does that?? The over early incident was at the pin, I think in race 2. Greg Griffin (who won the regatta), was just to leeward and he ducked back over the line but we forged ahead. I was pretty sure I was over the line, but was hoping that our white hull had saved us from being spotted! I think there was a judge at the pin end that saw us....serves me right for cheating!

The closest Elliot gets to a smile :)

Congratulations to Greg for taking the regatta! It was really nice to see Jim Roberts do so well with Bryce as crew.

Rank Sail No Helm R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Nett Notes
1st 3976 Greg Griffin 2.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 1.0 9.0
2nd 3980 Michael Lenkeit 5.0 8.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 19.0
3rd 3997 Scott Griffin 6.0 2.0 4.0 1.0 7.0 20.0
4th 3998 Jim Roberts 3.0 5.0 3.0 8.0 4.0 23.0
5th 1167 Bob McCormack 4.0 3.0 5.0 5.0 6.0 23.0
6th 3985 Paul Abdullah 1.0 4.0 WD 4.0 2.0 28.0
7th 3746 John Fewell 8.0 6.0 8.0 6.0 5.0 33.0
8th 3951 Sean Murphy 7.0 7.0 6.0 10.0 8.0 38.0
9th 3974 Scott Harris 9.0 11.0 7.0 7.0 9.0 43.0
10th 3783 Harry Reich 12.0 13.0 9.0 12.0 10.0 56.0
11th 3444 Maureen Bresnahan 13.0 9.0 10.0 14.0 12.0 58.0
12th 2177 Dale Newnham 11.0 12.0 OCS 9.0 11.0 60.0
13th 3335 Tim Chambers 10.0 10.0 DSQ 11.0 13.0 61.0
14th 2918 Robert Mitchell 14.0 15.0 12.0 13.0 14.0 68.0
15th 2450 Don Read DNF 14.0 11.0 15.0 15.0 72.0
16th 3029 Kat Mahaney 15.0 16.0 DNS DNC DNC 82.0

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Old Goat Regatta

The Fleet are around the point...Arlene felt that we would never come in..

First signs of Autumn, in the club camp ground

Drifting in after the last race Sunday

Most of the 47 boats on the way back in on Sunday

Tarrant, Jessica and Eleanor go for a sail after the racing

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thistle Nationals

Crossing a big river (not sure which one), on the way North.

We did not expect to see a Mosque one the way to Lake Erie!

Classic 70's concrete monstosity

Finally made it...Lake Erie!

The measuring tent

Eleanor and Jamie.

Elliot, Jamie, Eleanor and Thistling friends.

Jamie beating up Elliot!

The dinghy park...we had spot 25 which was nice and close to the hoist.

The channel from the club with Lake Erie beyond.

Shot from the roof of North Cape Yacht Club.

The pipers.....git in my belly....

Brian, Elliot and Michael returning to the dock after some pretty nice wind out on the lake for Junior Nationals.

Brian proudly displaying the ball of weed that was clinging to a trailing spinnaker line.......perhaps it slowed them down a bit....!