racing - windward speed help - sequel

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This Sundays race was in 10 to 15kn easterly and as cold as a witch's t*t ! Grey clouds. It was over low water springs so the sea was fairly flat.

We put the first reef in the main and used the full 135% roller genoa, with a different mainsheet trimmer letting off the main when more than 10 degrees of rudder applied. We didnt tack on windshifts - they werent big enough and again this week the marks used ( lateral marks not a laid racing course) were all either near downwind or upwind / close reach, but we did luff in a puff.

The result by comparison with our peer group was a 4% improvement overall, and we managed to hold more highly rated boats to windward. So thanks to everyone who made suggestions and gave us food for thought.

Sadly we threw away some of the gain through a complete horlicks of a spinnaker hoist and the most basic of errors. :eek:

In the last thread a comment was made about sailing with water in the water tanks to give a balanced boat. Interesting suggestion - our like many other boats has a list to port when the diesel tank has fuel in it and the water tank is empty. Anyone else reckon this is a good idea?
 

Seajet

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Weight forward can help to windward punching into short seas ( even small ones ) and getting the transom off the surface is always a good idea, though I'd think 'added lightness' and moving crew around rather than weighing down the bow would be best for that.

I might consider filling a water tank if it looked probable it would be on the windward side a lot of the time; on the other hand, why are you racing with a full fuel tank ?!
 

flaming

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I am slightly suprised that you needed a reef in 10-15 knots. To me that sounds like you're struggling to depower the rig.

The comment about water tanks is more usual where the water tank is in the forecabin, and the boat has a great big @rse. Filling it in light winds then helps lift the stern out of the water in light winds, reducing drag.
But then in the heavy winds you might want to ditch the water to help the boat accelerate better, especially downwind.

If you have a list, I'd work on fuel management, aiming to keep a much lower level of fuel in your tank! For example, half a tank on the Elan is enough to motor clean across the channel to Cherbourg, and probably a bit further! We tend to keep the needle just off the stops and put in 10-15 litres at a time.
 
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I might consider filling a water tank if it looked probable it would be on the windward side a lot of the time; on the other hand, why are you racing with a full fuel tank ?!

We're not - far from it. But the designer put batteries fuel tank and cockpit locker on the port side and the water tank on starboard. Balances fine when everything is full but not with an empty water tank and maybe 5 to 10 gal diesel.
 
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I am slightly suprised that you needed a reef in 10-15 knots. To me that sounds like you're struggling to depower the rig.

.

We typically had between 18 and 22 kn over the deck though it began to fade a bit towards the end. With that wind and feathering the reefed main ( it has three reefs so the first isnt huge) we occasionally got the toe rail down to water level but mostly were above by 6 inches and had between 5 and 10 degrees of rudder. We held a 44 footer for most of the race and he is an ex winner of the series, so boat speed wasnt bad.

We didnt try to de-power the genoa by letting the top drop off - no need, we were just nice for most of the race but could have done with full main by the time the wind over the deck had dropped to 15 to 18 knots at the end.

Any cure for stupidity with the spinnaker? Believe it or not ( and despite lots of time pre start) we managed to rig the port sheet / guy inside the guard rails and found it out only when for the first time in ages we had a downwind, downtide start :eek: Not as if we havent rigged it many many times before!
 

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Any cure for stupidity with the spinnaker? Believe it or not ( and despite lots of time pre start) we managed to rig the port sheet / guy inside the guard rails and found it out only when for the first time in ages we had a downwind, downtide start :eek: Not as if we havent rigged it many many times before![/QUOTE]

Well who hasn't done that or hoisted by the foot! I usually ask someone to check the run of the sheets before the start or walk round the boat as we're motoring out to check myself.

Certainly endorse not having too much fuel on board but some sailing instructions (not usually round the cans) specify fuel for x hours of motoring shall be carried.

Another thought - you may want to take the anchor and chain out of the bow locker and putting more in the middle of the boat to keep the rudder in as she heels and reduce pitching. There may even be a handy wardrobe on one side that will counteract the fuel weight!
 

Twister_Ken

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Any cure for stupidity with the spinnaker? Believe it or not ( and despite lots of time pre start) we managed to rig the port sheet / guy inside the guard rails and found it out only when for the first time in ages we had a downwind, downtide start :eek: Not as if we havent rigged it many many times before!

Somewhere I've got Kodakchrome of Morning Cloud putting a kite up and finding the clew at the top of the mast.

So, you're in good company.
 
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Somewhere I've got Kodakchrome of Morning Cloud putting a kite up and finding the clew at the top of the mast.

So, you're in good company.

Not done that one yet, but two out of three races this series we have messed up the spinnaker. The first time we really did have a kite thanks to trying to take it down on starboard, jibe onto port and harden up all at the same time and about 50m from the shore. The language was as colourful as the sail - which is mainly blue.

We'll get there! When I used to go to the open golf on business, one of the joys was not watching the leaders but those of the greats have an off day and shanking a shot into the woods in just the way I made my trademark.
 

flaming

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My top, race winning, tip with regard to kites is.

Don't carry the kite right up to the mark unless you KNOW that your crew can handle dropping it and the required manouever. Far better to drop early, get tidied up and make a clean rounding.
 
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My top, race winning, tip with regard to kites is.

Don't carry the kite right up to the mark unless you KNOW that your crew can handle dropping it and the required manouever. Far better to drop early, get tidied up and make a clean rounding.

Thanks Flaming. We didnt intend to. The racing was inside the barrage which means legs of 700 metres round a windward leeward laid course - exciting with a 20 cruiser fleet. But I let myself get bounced into putting the kite up on the last leg. Normally I refuse to fly a kite inside the barrage even in very light winds - with cruiser style equipment and a crew of golden oldies, the chances of a cock up are greater than those of gaining a few yards. This time the sun was shining, spring had arrived, and common sense went west.
 

GruffT

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Any cure for stupidity with the spinnaker?

I was once told that as foredeck - look at what you're hooking up and follow it all the way back to the cockpit to make sure it runs clean, and as trim, look at what your about to pull and do the same. Also, if you touch a line, take responsibility for it, all of it - whatever position your sailing in.

2 pairs of eyes are better than one and usually the crew waiting on the other isn't too busy at the time (they're waiting!). Even if on the rail you can usually get a quick visual (to check before you're mid tack with the sheet under the pole....).

Amazing how many times that's saved ones bacon and the skippers blushes...

In short - empower your crew but give them ownership and responsibility too.
 

dt4134

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Any cure for stupidity with the spinnaker?

1) Practice -self explanatory.
2) Delegation & Accountability - make the bowman responsible for ensuring the kites are properly packed and the lines are properly run. Doesn't mean he does it, just he ensures it is done properly. And don't let the trimmers even think about complaining because they should've double checked. Same goes for the tactician and skipper.


Re Water Tank. There are times when filling the water tanks make sense. Think about:

Is there enough wind to mean the extra weight isn't really going to slow you down? You're not really the sort of boat that'll surf downwind, so you don't have that to worry about.

Extra weight will help you punch through chop.

You've got the added factor of the port list. A starboard list would be preferrable as chances are you'll be on starboard at the start and that where a little advantage to get clear air pays dividends.

Maybe start with the rule of thumb that if you think you'll be reefing that day fill the tanks.


And please tack on the shifts.
 
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And please tack on the shifts.

I still dont get this one DT. Its very rare indeed that the next mark is dead upwind and even then we never have no tidal flow to contend with. So one tack is always the clear making tack and since you never get 90 degree wind shifts, the normal wind shift doesnt change which is the making tack.

So how can tacking off the making one onto one heading off at 90 degrees ever be a good move?
 

dt4134

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I still dont get this one DT. Its very rare indeed that the next mark is dead upwind and even then we never have no tidal flow to contend with. So one tack is always the clear making tack and since you never get 90 degree wind shifts, the normal wind shift doesnt change which is the making tack.

So how can tacking off the making one onto one heading off at 90 degrees ever be a good move?

If you just have a course where all the legs are reaching legs then yes there is no reason to tack. It's poor course design however.

If you have a skewed beat then again common sense says take the longest beat first. I'd still tend to take some shifts doing that as long as I didn't get close to the layline. Depends upon the size of the shifts and perhaps more so on the frequency. The purpose of taking the longest leg first is to make yourself less vulnerable to the shifts.

Once you've taken the longest leg of a skewed beat the windward mark should be approximately dead upwind. Then you should be working the shifts.

You should look out for the shifts downwind too, although they always seem easier to miss downwind - and I've also been guilty of getting so engrossed in other things that I've forgotten to look behind.


Just thinking about the concept of the making tack towards the mark. It's a useful concept, but another way to picture it mentally is that you're sailing towards a line perpendicular to the wind that passes through the windward mark (of course with the proviso that you don't reach the laylines). This line pivots about the windward mark for every windshift. You're progress towards that line is pretty much constant (assuming you sail equally well on both tacks). However if you compare it to a fixed line that is perpendicular to the mean wind direction you progress towards that line much quicker when you take the windshifts. It would be easier to explain with a whiteboard, but I hope this helps.
 
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Interesting post. We have a bit of misunderstanding though. For practical reasons only a couple of races out of the 8 or 9 race series are around laid marks - with the depth of tide and speed of flow , its difficult to lay marks out in the Bristol channel so we race round the channel markers , cardinals etc of which there are quite a lot. But that does mean that the OD cannot usually put in a dead upwind beat.

But " Once you've taken the longest leg of a skewed beat the windward mark should be approximately dead upwind. Then you should be working the shifts." is really interesting. On the theory that every tack costs time, I've been tending towards staying on the making tack until I can lay the mark with the objective of keeping tacks to a minimum. What is the logic for your approach - why would that be quicker? And if you take that approach when do you do the subsequent tack?

Assuming you tack through 90 degrees, it seems to me that you cover exactly the same distance your way but with extra tacking manoeuvres. But it does explain why you say tack on the windshifts because then a decent windshift will turn one tack into the making tack.

I think I'm beginning to get it
 

dt4134

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Assuming you tack through 90 degrees, it seems to me that you cover exactly the same distance your way but with extra tacking manoeuvres. But it does explain why you say tack on the windshifts because then a decent windshift will turn one tack into the making tack.

With course design I would imagine the race committee have different courses for each wind direction to avoid too many reaching legs around the channel markers. Except in windward/leeward courses and similar you rarely get a dead upwind beat, but it is still a beat.


Another way to think about windshifts is to consider that at any moment you're sailing close-hauled at a certain angle to the true wind (call it 45 degrees if you're tacking through 90 degrees - a few degrees difference doesn't make any difference to this explanation). That true wind is shifting, but you always sail at the same angle to it in a given boat.

Now consider what the mean wind is doing. It doesn't shift (of course it is absolutely essential to distinguish between oscillations and progressive shifts. For oscillations over a shortish period - the length of a beat - there is a mean, for progressive shifts there isn't - so completely different tactics - hence the effort boats put into measuring that before the start).

Anyway, for oscillations the mean wind is constant. So when the wind shifts you are still sailing at 45 degrees to the true wind, but if you've been headed 5 degrees you're now sailing at 50 degrees to the mean wind. Tack and you're sailing at 40 degrees to the mean wind.

When it shifts back 10 degrees tack again and you are again sailing at 40 degrees to the mean wind.

Within the constraints of the laylines and assuming regular shifts 5 degrees either side of the mean, tacking at the right time is the equivalent of buying a boat that points 5 degrees higher at the same speed, but the cost is just a few boat lengths lost in the tack. And as a crew you can work at reducing the number of boat lengths lost.
 

Robin

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Interesting post. We have a bit of misunderstanding though. For practical reasons only a couple of races out of the 8 or 9 race series are around laid marks - with the depth of tide and speed of flow , its difficult to lay marks out in the Bristol channel so we race round the channel markers , cardinals etc of which there are quite a lot. But that does mean that the OD cannot usually put in a dead upwind beat.

But " Once you've taken the longest leg of a skewed beat the windward mark should be approximately dead upwind. Then you should be working the shifts." is really interesting. On the theory that every tack costs time, I've been tending towards staying on the making tack until I can lay the mark with the objective of keeping tacks to a minimum. What is the logic for your approach - why would that be quicker? And if you take that approach when do you do the subsequent tack?

Assuming you tack through 90 degrees, it seems to me that you cover exactly the same distance your way but with extra tacking manoeuvres. But it does explain why you say tack on the windshifts because then a decent windshift will turn one tack into the making tack.I think I'm beginning to get it

First off you should be making better than 90 degs between tacks, 80 degs more like! The idea then is to tack onto the 'making' tack and when the wind swings back to tack back to what now will be the new 'making' tack. If you tack to gain a 5 deg lift and back again when the swing comes (or you will give back what you gained) you will gain at least 5 but up to 10 degs if the swing goes the other way from the mean by the same amount. If you were tacking through 90 degs before, now it will be 80 on average and nearer 70 if you are pointing better like you should.

Downwind the same applies but more of a swing maybe before you gybe. Downwind however it rarely pays to sail dead downwind and never ever get stuck in the wind shadow of boats behind, clean air is paramount.
 
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