single handed round the cans racing

Birdseye

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my new to me 30ft boat is tiller steered and not directionally stable. I am struggling to organise myself for round the cans racing single handed., particularly when rounding marks.

any tips?
 

Channel Sailor

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Race with a club that allows tiller pilots for Single handing racing. I think this is essential on many boats because to stay safe one needs to be able to look around a low foot genoa often. Maybe even start with a few turns furled on the genoa at the start so one can short tack without having to lift the foot over the guard rail, less sheet to haul in and have better visibility all around. BTW I think have a high cut cruising genoa for racing is rather tedious, it is bad enough not using the downwind sails so often so I would not want to compromise on upwind as well.
Use the No Spinnaker handicap option until one gets better organised and on courses you know will have long legs.
Enjoying doing what you can, it is still good fun.
choose light air days to race, avoid heavy air days. Pick your battles.
If you can, join with Solent SOLO races which have longer legs and everyone has the same challenges.
I try not to be a hazard to the full crewed yachts e.g. position your boat to allow for it to take longer trim up fully for a beat out of a tack or hardening up at the start line.
Buy an auto/tiller pilot that does Steer to Wind.
Without crew on the rail, some boats I reckon just cannot compete with fully crewed yachts anyway. When solo with a reasonable breeze I would often be reefed earlier or stupidly over canvased (which with a single rudder is never a good idea) and often making noticeable leeway.
 

Praxinoscope

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Regularly raced round the cans single handed in my old Invicta 26, not so often now in my Sadler 25 but still do occasionally, and I found the Autohelm was an essential, especially when trimming the sails.
The spinnaker single handed on the Invicta was more trouble than it was worth when racing round the cans, so never used it, the cruising chute on the Sadler is just about OK but still to be avoided unless a very long downwind leg.
One big problem, no-one else on board to tidy up the sheets so they either get left in a mess in the cockpit, or you risk taking your eye off the course as you try to tidy them up before the next mark.
Also sometimes you lose sight of the next mark as you may be trimming sails etc. and take your eyes off the mark, which can lose you valuable seconds.
 

Alfie168

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Also sometimes you lose sight of the next mark as you may be trimming sails etc. and take your eyes off the mark, which can lose you valuable seconds.
Not single handed, but we won a race in the Solent when the leading boat " lost" the next mark and took half the fleet with it towards the wrong mark. Our Nav man was made of sterner stuff and insisted we did not follow. He was right n' all.
I'm sure its happened to a few on here, one way or another.

I don't think there is a realistic alternative to an auto pilot. An uncontrolled yacht of any size is dangerous....however......I have sailed standing with the tiller between my knees leaving two hands to pull the jib sheet and force the foresail into a tack. The boom usually takes care of itself once you alter course and you duck quickly enough.
Wheel steerers please apply elsewhere. I have no answer for them.
 
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Birdseye

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The boat would be unsailable without a tiller pilot because the sails cannot be trimmed without letting go of the tiller and then the boat immediately rounds up. So the issue is more one of slick operating in a tack or gybe. Hand tacking or letting the pilot tack? If hand tacking then the issue is to get the pilot ram onto the tiller, the pilot engaged and the boatback on course before even adjusting the sails ie with genoa either flapping or backwinded. Or do it the other way and overtack a bit, engage pilot, get the sails sorted and then bring the boat onto the wind accurately. I am nervous of using the pilot to tack when there are other boats close by at the mark.

Currently I havent had the time to go out and try options between the weekly races which would be the obvious thing to do. So I wondered how others tackled this issue. On my last boat with a wheel, a wheel lock and a pilot permanently connected and switched on with a button press near the wheel it was a doddle.
 

Praxinoscope

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I don’t think there is a single answer on this it depends a lot upon what the new course is likely to be, I usually hand tacked then shoved the tiller pilot on and sorted out the sails, but this didn’t always work.
 

gdallas

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Recommend talking to the crazies on Sailing Anarchy forum. Thick Skin may be needed but there are some serious short and single handed sailors there
 

steveeasy

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Ok this has been a bit of a learning curb this year for me. I always singlehand, well most of the time. Ive been out a few times this year racing if you can call it that and just made a complete hash of it. Last year all was fine. I tend to find it takes me a few weeks to get back in to the swing of things. your navigation needs to be spot on and cope with everything at once. In reality its just not possible though and preparation is everything.

Top tips, yes a tiller pilot is a must. loops in the ends of your genoa sheets and prepare those course plans in advance

Steveeasy,
 

Ingwe

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If one is available buy a wireless remote control for your autopilot so that you can wear it around your neck, makes life a lot easier as you can be standing with your genoa sheet in hand and just press tack once your ready. Also makes gybing spinnakers a lot easier if you can change your course from the foredeck.
 

James_Calvert

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If you can't stick your tiller in your bum to steer whilst releasing and pulling in your genoa sheets you've got the wrong boat. Ditto mainsheet.

Winching them in as necessary, one hand in the tiller and one on the sheet winch handle, should also work. You've got self tailers of course?
 

Gixer

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If you can't stick your tiller in your bum to steer whilst releasing and pulling in your genoa sheets you've got the wrong boat. Ditto mainsheet.

Winching them in as necessary, one hand in the tiller and one on the sheet winch handle, should also work. You've got self tailers of course?
Yep, been there done that when my tiller pilot packed up during a race.

All I can say is practice, practice, practice, I'm afraid. My 27f twin keel tends to shoot off like a Jack Russell when I let go of the tiller, it is quite challenging single handed. Being honest I wouldn't be happy single handing anything bigger than my boat in round the cans racing, things happen really quickly in close proximity to other yachts.
 

Birdseye

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Bum not big enough for both tiller and mainsheet :ROFLMAO:. But to be serious I have got the wrong boat if it was just for racing - bilge keels, high topsides, no directional stability. But it wasnt bought just for racing.

No, a self tacking gib isnt possible

The answer of course is a crew but trying to race single handed is both a challenge and a quick way of learning how to handle a new boat
 

Gixer

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My boat sounds the same as yours :)
I race just for fun, an excuse to go out, practice boat handling and learn sail trimming. When things get hectic I tend to back off and let the 'big boys' slug it out.
I don't have a self tacker either, I do get some admiring glances when I compete a tack on my own. From a distance it looks like a well choreographed dance.... apparently.
 

Praxinoscope

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It’s a lot easier with a crew, but I do enjoy single the occasional handed around the cans, it really does test your handling skills and there is a deal of satisfaction when you beat a fully crewed boat.
 
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Birdseye

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My boat sounds the same as yours :)
I race just for fun, an excuse to go out, practice boat handling and learn sail trimming. When things get hectic I tend to back off and let the 'big boys' slug it out.
I don't have a self tacker either, I do get some admiring glances when I compete a tack on my own. From a distance it looks like a well choreographed dance.... apparently.
My efforts so far look more like Norman Wisdom.
 

dukeofted

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I use a double loop of 8mm bungee cord between the rear mooring cleats. You can put a wrap round the tiller and adjust tension to get the boat tracking straight ish. Upwind mine will track straight for a surprisingly long time, gets worse the more downwind you get. It gives me enough time to make trim adjustments before returning to steering. I can tack ok by steering with the tiller between my legs and leaning over the the winch. It would be a lot easier with self tailing winches but you got to make do with what you have. I have just bought a secondhand tiller pilot so it will be interesting how much easier it makes things. One thing I'm looking forward to is motoring in a straight line whilst lowering and raising the main!
 

Channel Sailor

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As one becomes more confident the list of equipment for short handed racing keeps increasing. After tiller pilot (later with a remote) and self tailing winches, then (after a broach or two and handling downwind sails solo) twin rudders start to sound attractive. But boats with twin rudders are possibly rather sticky in light air when a solo sailor can have an edge compared to a fully crewed yacht.
 
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