racing - windward speed help

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In yesterdays race ( flat seas, neap tides, 15 to 20kn true gusting 25) , we held our peer group on a close reach and downwind with all white sails, but performed less well than we needed to do hard on the wind. And less well than I remember us doing when we first got the boat.

The hull is clean, the folding prop folds, the sails are in decent nick. We sailed with a full main and between two and four rolls in the genoa. Genny cars were adjusted OK to have all woolies flying at the same time. Only thing I can think of is that the toe rail was under some times with a full half turn on the wheel, suggesting too much sail area. But no rounding up.

Ideas please.

Anybody know of a racing school that will attempt to train an old dog? Or would one of our racy members take on the task?
 

Robin

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Sounds like too much sail and maybe the slot between genoa and main was choked. 15-20kts true wind is 20-25kts apparent +/-tide effect and I suspect if the sea had not been flat you would have had less sail up instinctively. There is a point beyond when dumping wind temporarily out of a full main is fast and when it becomes a sloooow move.

Other than that you have a problem with the nut holding the wheel..:)
 

Twister_Ken

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I'm with Robin - the conditions called for a reef in the main (or the main to be fully flattened if you have a bendy rig); once the gunwale is near the water you're over-canvassed - boats sail better flatter. Plus, a part-rolled genoa is never going to be an effective blade for cutting your way upwind. Combine 1 with 2 and you have a recipe for poor pointing and excessive leeway.

Note - unless you have a big genoa and a small main, I'd always look at reefing the main before rolling the genoa. And, if you're really serious about racing, buy a couple of smaller flatter genoas and change headsails rather than rolling.

EDIT: One more thought - did the competition have a bunch of big lads sitting on the uphill rail? If so, they'll have been able to carry the same sail as you, but more effectively.
 
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bbg

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You make no mention of the shape of the main which is crucial. Did you flatten it with cunningham, outhaul and backstay? Those are really important sail controls.
 
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You make no mention of the shape of the main which is crucial. Did you flatten it with cunningham, outhaul and backstay? Those are really important sail controls.

No (havent got one rigged) yes and yes. Used halyard and the max draft was about 40% back from the mast.

Masthead rig so backstay tensioner does less than on a fractional. Shape of the main was quite good but a fair bit of the time we were running it down track to avoid too much wheel.
 

Martin_J

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First thing that comes to mind to me is the weather helm (As shown by the rudder angle) and I would say this could be caused by a combination of too much power in the main or too little power in the genoa. The rounding up will also be accentuated by the heel of the boat (hull shape then causing a turn into wind).

As the others have said - increase the weight on the rail and adjust the main (either reef - or as previously mentioned first try flattening by increased outhaul and cunningham).

As you have found - sailing whilst heeled too much and with the rudder turned too much is not helping.

Backstay tightened will also flatten the main by bending the mast but only if you are fractionally rigged.
 
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Sounds like too much sail and maybe the slot between genoa and main was choked. 15-20kts true wind is 20-25kts apparent +/-tide effect and I suspect if the sea had not been flat you would have had less sail up instinctively. There is a point beyond when dumping wind temporarily out of a full main is fast and when it becomes a sloooow move.

Other than that you have a problem with the nut holding the wheel..:)

I was that nut! :D

I try to use the genny ( which is a cruising laminate with a foam luff) when just a bit of reef is needed because letting out main reefs to go offwind and then taking them in again is a slower process than 3 or 4 rolls on the genny. And visually the genny does seem to set OK with that level of reefing.

Did contemplate getting a number 3 but decided against since sail changing and storage is less well organised and less easily used on what is a cruising boat. Where do I store a soaking wet laminated genoa on board?
 

flaming

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If my recolection of the Starlight 35 is correct, it's a masthead rig with a big genoa.

As I came to racing after this was the norm, I have only a general idea of how to tune that rig, so detailed tuning hints will have to be left to others, but I would say that rolling a genoa is a complete no no if performance is your aim. I seem to recall you were having a blade number 3 built, is that right? That would be the sail for those conditions.

A full half turn on the wheel also doesn't sound great. The ideal rudder angle upwind is 5 degrees. Most racing boats measure this when the boat is out of the water, and put marks on the wheel and will not tolerate greater weather helm.
On a well set up inshore boat this normally means flattening the main and changing jibs - together with feathering the boat through the gusts. The aim being to leave the main until absolutely necessary - as you want the area to go downwind.

Something worth mentioning - don't underestimate the effect the genoa has on weather helm. If the main is at the bottom of the track, and you still have too much weather helm, drop the cars back a bit to twist the genoa off a bit.
 

flaming

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Where do I store a soaking wet laminated genoa on board?

Why would you need to?

You're racing a cruising boat with roller furling. Simply select the sail you'll need for that day and bag the other before you leave the dock - before it's wet.

And whilst strict adhearance to the rules would require you to have the other sail on board, you could always ask your comittee to let you leave the other on the pontoon - on the basis that if the wind did change and you needed it, you'd be at a disadvantage anyway.
 

Juniperskip

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Would agree with most of the comments. I would always reef the main before rolling the genoa (particularly if you were experiencing weather helm) - need a clean slot and most rolled foresails struggle to generate laminar flow in this config. Without knowing the boat sounds as if she needs to be sailed flatter so lots of vang, outhaul and fashion a cunningham. Traveller fully down the track and try reefing the main earlier but shake it out off the wind. As the breeze increases drop the genoa cars aft to spill at the top of the sail, again to reduce heel. Re the backstay, on a masthead rig its biggest effect is going to be reducing forestay sag so crank it on!!
 

Robin

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I was that nut! :D

I try to use the genny ( which is a cruising laminate with a foam luff) when just a bit of reef is needed because letting out main reefs to go offwind and then taking them in again is a slower process than 3 or 4 rolls on the genny. And visually the genny does seem to set OK with that level of reefing.

Did contemplate getting a number 3 but decided against since sail changing and storage is less well organised and less easily used on what is a cruising boat. Where do I store a soaking wet laminated genoa on board?

That is understandable in a boat used for club racing and cruising. Don't underestimate the mainsail controls though, I had assumed those were in use, like a flattener 'reef' in place and backstay tensioner on. With fully battened mains (I guess yours might be?) the flattener, which in reality is a Cunningham plus a clew outhaul a few inches up so you can apply extra tension in both spots without going past the black bands, only flattens the lower third of the sail. However the Cunningham bit of the setup will allow more luff tension than you can easily achieve with halyard alone yanking from top down.

On our FB main the sail dimensions were such that it set anyway to the bands in light winds, any more halyard or outhaul tension for more wind would have taken it past the bands so this was accomplished with the flattener.

We also had a wide coachroof mounted mainsheet track which allowed the main to be really let off, yet still kept sheeted, in the gusts. However doing that regularly might have kept the boat upright in strong gusty winds but it was slow as it closed the slot totally.

I think the confusion also came from the flat seas, because normally the seastate would have had you adapting more instinctively. In the windspeeds you mentioned, with our SL41 we would have had the first reef in and some rolls in the genoa, maybe even thinking about the second reef. That is despite the fact that we could just as easily have had full main and genoa, just gone slower doing it!
 

ianat182

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If the weather helm is showing as you mention then the first reef in main only is a good starting point ,assuming the the track and flattener are already adjusted. Aim to bring the helm back to 12 o'clock position, even slight backwinding of the main is not critical but avoid overdoing this aspect. A piece of tape at the 10 to and 10 past the 12 o'clock position is a good indicator as to timing for reefing, more than this the boat is overpressed and any more corrective helm slows progress. This is valid for masthead or fractional rigged yachts using wheel steering;15 to 20 degrees from amidships on tillers consistently advises the same condition and reverts to mid -helm or 5 degrees after the reef. Probably you are already aware of this though.

ianat182
 
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Robin - we dont have a flattener reef though the sail ( short battens) is loose footed so the outhaul can be used to flatten the foot of the sail. And yes we did have the backstay cranked on, as much as I dare do.

Flaming - yes I did think about a blade jib and got well down the road of speccing one, but didnt like the practical problems of storing at least one wet laminate sail on what is a family cruising boat. I wish to stay married.

The consensus based on the info I have given seems to be that we were over pressed so I will try reefing a bit earlier next time and reefing the main first. Still not sure however since we never rounded up. The First 31.7 we were reaching alongside had full main and what looked like a no2 up. He did round up despite 5 blokes on the rail but still left us for dead upwind. He has same LWL and near enough the same PY.

Anway, anybody ever been to a racing school? If so was it worth it?
 

flaming

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The consensus based on the info I have given seems to be that we were over pressed so I will try reefing a bit earlier next time and reefing the main first. Still not sure however since we never rounded up. The First 31.7 we were reaching alongside had full main and what looked like a no2 up. He did round up despite 5 blokes on the rail but still left us for dead upwind. He has same LWL and near enough the same PY.

Anway, anybody ever been to a racing school? If so was it worth it?

Comparing the behaviour of a 31.7 and a Starlight 35 is not really comparing apples with apples...

The Starlight is much heavier, and has a much "fuller" underwater profile. This will make it much less likely to round up, even though the sail plan could still be quite unballanced.

So whilst the control issues aren't there in the same way as the 31.7, the lack of ballance is still slowing you down. And without the obvious hints, can be harder to realise and correct. And to be honest if a 31.7 is "leaving you for dead" upwind in the heavy, the alarm bells really should be ringing. (Sounds like they are though!)

I've never heard of a "racing school" in the same way that you have crusiing schools. However, there are plenty of coaches who would be willing to come out with you on your own boat, either just for training or on race day, who would be able to give you some pointers. Been on the receiving end of this a few times, and it is worth every penny.
 
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Comparing the behaviour of a 31.7 and a Starlight 35 is not really comparing apples with apples...

The Starlight is much heavier, and has a much "fuller" underwater profile. This will make it much less likely to round up, even though the sail plan could still be quite unballanced.

So whilst the control issues aren't there in the same way as the 31.7, the lack of ballance is still slowing you down. And without the obvious hints, can be harder to realise and correct. And to be honest if a 31.7 is "leaving you for dead" upwind in the heavy, the alarm bells really should be ringing. (Sounds like they are though!)

Thanks. Never thought of it that way but the Starlight does have a huge rudder by comparison to previous boats I've had so what you say makes sense. The 31.7 albeit with racy carbon / kevlar sails, took 3% out of us over the 90 odd minute race. And they arent renowned locally as sh*t hot sailors.

I've never heard of a "racing school" in the same way that you have crusiing schools. However, there are plenty of coaches who would be willing to come out with you on your own boat, either just for training or on race day, who would be able to give you some pointers. Been on the receiving end of this a few times, and it is worth every penny.

Our problem as must be obvious by now, is that only one of us has any racing experience and he is very much the one eyed man in the kingdom of the blind. But none of us can abide losing.:) So provided the cost wasnt silly I would be happy to pay for someone to come along and help us race.
 

fireball

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It is amazing seeing the difference in performance when you put a **** hot crew member on board ...
Especially when it means the helm can get on with concentrating on helming whilst the others do their jobs - directed by the skipper. If the skipper is always helming then he cannot concentrate on that as well as direct the crew - not that it means the skipper cannot helm - but just not all the time.
Having a crew member who can (and does) call the shots is extreemly valuable when racing - especially upwind where I get my helm to sail to the jib telltails and I call the tacktics.
 
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especially upwind where I get my helm to sail to the jib telltails and I call the tacktics.

Which implies you sheet the genny to a certain point and then sail to it. But what is that point? Do you trim to where it touches the spreaders?

I always helm by the tell tales. I take your point about skippering - just a bit nervous of anyone else helming my P and J in the starting melee. :eek:
 
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