Thursday, December 4, 2008

Summer Photos

Ok, I'm ready for summer again! While I actually enjoy much of winter (get stuff done, no 60 hour weeks, special projects) summer is definitely missed around here. While going through some 88 photos trying to find a shot of how we run our spin gear, I came across some neat photos of the last day of racing.

Here's the gang on the way back in to the harbor. Brian S driving, another Brian S trimming spinnaker, Jocelyn in the pit and Niki on the boom.

63 had another disposable camera that day and snapped this one. Not sure what the flags all aout. Thats us at the ww mark doing... uh, something strange with the jib. That was either to gas 196 or a woops-moment. One of the Brians driving the boat back in. He'd recently returned from sailing around the world and seemed to be a bit bummed to be back on land. Wish we could have gotten him out more, but I think he had a good time.

Behold the girls of Peanut:

Me and another Brian. He's a great trimmer, and in case of emergency I'm going to ask him to be my stunt double.
There was NOT a lot of wind that day. Still beats snow tho.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Mast Under Way

Since our old mast was damaged (we had a not-so-smart day on the water) we're getting a new one through Cape Cod Shipbuilding. In addition to making the new boats (same way as 40 years ago!) they're also the sole supplier of Shields masts.

Wendy at Cape Cod has been really helpful to us as we've gone through the Shields restoration process, and I was glad that we finally had an order to justify all her time! She was also kind enough to send some neat photos of the mast being built.

Here you see the bottom couple feet of the mast. The exit blocks are for the below deck exits for the halyards, and the ring further up the mast is the boom vang bail. We were going to go with a more-modern spectra strap for the vang, but the bail suits me better since I can lead lines down either side of it to make it below deck
Took me a second or 2 to figure out that this was the masthead. The cutout is for the main halyard exit box, which I think is a Schaefer 34-35. You can see the welds that hold the tapered tip of the mast together. The taper is formed by cutting the mast on both sides, in a curved wedge (thicker at top, thinner at bottom) The front and back of the mast are pushed back together, and then welded.

After it's all wedled together,they clean up the welds and voila! Taper.
More updates as they come, and we'll be doing our superboom soon, in the new CYR shop!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shields Fleet 3 Yard Day: Mast step mesurements

A bunch of Shields sailors met up this morning at the yard. We were going to measure our steps, look over the boats, and develop some winter project lists. I was also happy just to be around the boats again, which is a sure sign that I miss summer!

We measured boats with the owners present, and had at least 3 people on board from different boats to verify the measurements. We didn't really need this, but it's also a good excuse to hang out with sailing friends!

All the boats are legal, and no one was significantly disadvantaged in step postion. 88 was definitely the closest to max legal rake, with the other end of the spectrum having the mast step about an inch away from max. It should be noted that the boat with the most rake is about as fast as the boat with the least, and they were both top 3 for the season.

Partners at max aft
bury 34.5
y 134.75
max x 140.260
actual x 140.25
delta: -.01 (!)

partners approx 1/4" fwd of max aft
bury 35.75
y 135.375
max x 141.58
actual x 141.275
delta -.205

partners at max aft
bury 34.875
y 135.375
max x 141.13
actual x 140.250
delta -.88

partners at max aft
bury 35.25
y 135.75
max x 141.44
delta -.94"

partners approx 1/4" fwd of max aft
bury 33.5
y 135.5
max x 140.7
actual x 140.5
delta -.2

bury 33
y 135.375
max x 140.58
actual x 139.5
delta -1.08

It was fun to get together and talk boat with sailing friends, and hopefully this gets people fired up to work on their boats this winter, and therefore start the 09 season with well prepped boats. We also talked about some issues some of the boats have. 67 and 88 are getting new masts due to damage, and lots of us are making the upgrade to 8:1 finetunes. One repeated theme was cost vs benefit, specifically how much would spending $$ to fix ___ actually get us on the course? In just about every case we all agree that the upgrades would be less beneficial than sailing time! To that end Kevin from 150 is planning on sharing his coaching and practice techniques from his world class dinghy background with us, and we're going to have a practice schedule in place for next year. We're going to work on all the things that make sailors better: starting, manouevering, boatspeed. With our great base of sailors in fleet 3, and some quality time on the water, we can have a team of Chicago boats that can compete with the best at 09 Nationals. With our morning work, and tonights awards dinner, I'm psyched for the season to start!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mast Step rule update

The Shields class has a rule dictating how much rake the mast can have, and it's based on the relationship between the mast step and the mast partners. I recently asked the measurer for some clarifications on this rule. This was partially to see if I could move our mast step to get more rake, and also to prepare for measuring boats when we host the National Championship here in Chicago next year.

The clarifications I asked for regarded whether we were supposed to use the actual partner location, or the legal max aft possible position, and also if the bury measurement (from the mast step to the top of the deck) included partner boxes, such as the ones that we (and most of our fleet) have.

The answers were kind of surprising to me, but are actually the most literal interpretation of the class rules.

The partner measurement isn't based on the actual location of the partners, it's based on the max legal aft measurement of the partners, which is 135.75" from the bow chock on the Shields. Our partner box is exactly at this spot, so it's not an issue for us, but it does mean that boats with the partners further forward are able to get less rake.

The other surprise was that the bury measurment is from the top surface of the deck, even if the box extends above this by an inch or two. This means that boats with partner boxes have the measured bury lower than the effective bury, again meaning a bit less available rake. I wasn't sure on this in spring, so just to be safe the aft edge of our partner box is raked aft at about the 2 degrees of desired rake. Phew!

I recomputed our numbers based on this, to see if we could move the mast step or not, and definitely not!

Our partners are max aft at 135.75"
Our bury is 34.5 (not 35.5" as I said back in June, since we measure to the deck surface)
Our Y (from aft coaming to parner max aft) is 134.75
Our Max legal X (coaming to mast step) is 140.260
Our actual X is 140.250

While I like to think of myself as a "every last inch" type when setting up a boat, I'm not sure I want to chase down the last .01"! It only translates to a difference of less than a 1/16" of an inch at the masthead, and the possibility of the boat changing shape a bit in the water and making me illegal is definitely not worth it. As my old friend Kevin always says "thats worth 1 bad tack"

We've got our awards dinner coming up in 2 weeks, and that morning a bunch of us are going to meet up and measure the boats in the yard. I really miss sailing Shields, so this is about as close as I can get until spring.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Keel Repair

Bill, who owns a cruising converted Shields out west asked about the status of the keel seam repair I spent so much time (and brain cells) fixing. Since I don't get a lot of requests on here, I'm happy to share the photos.The good news is the keels still on! The first half of the year was quite windy, and we punished the boat a bit racing it. It's a bit funny being out there in the middle of a pretty intense race, wondering how the keels doing. The fiberglass sheathing of the seam worked out great, which is good because I never want to do that particular job again. In the above photo you can see the top of the keel joint looks pretty good (although it still has 36 grit scratches all over it, ugh.) You can also see the front of the keel looks a bit funky. At some point this year we hit something that must have been floating just under water. I tried to wet sand it when diving to smooth it out, which is why the leading edge looks weird. Honestly this looks a lot better out of the water and will take minimal effort to fix.
The second pic is a close up of the keel seam (or lack of) and the rudder fairing strips which also held just fine. You can see the weird blisters on the rudder. No idea what thats all about.
Unfortunately, the _other_ keel seam, where the lead meets the deadwood is still a piece of crap, which is why the joint shows and also leaks. Going to have to fix this one before it gets too cold for epoxy. Yay!

Have some more fun projects on the horizon: the Shields class has legalized a couple things I want to have on 88. Tacktick digital compi are now ok, so we're going to get a Micro compass and throw that on. Also a 8:1 mainsheet fine tune is ok, which is excellent news as the Shields main can be a bit of a bear for most people in breeze. We're considering a couple options for this, such as a super slick system with purchase below deck and led to the sides, but will probably go for the simpler (and lower friction) in boom system. The way I figure it, people can add a really great fine tune to their boats for less than $200. Honestly I've been selling boat stuff for so long that it's unclear whether thats a good value or not.

Friday, October 17, 2008

1 year

Delivered the boat to the yard today, which I suppose officially ends our sailing season. It's been great fun, which justifies all the other stuff (boat work, boat budget)

Our goal with the boat was to fix it up, race it with a top 3 result, and do lots of daysailing. The boat turned out pretty well, we won our season, and we've had a lot of fun taking friends and family out for little cruises. Niki and I just did our yearly sunrise sail, which was pretty great.

Last night we went out drinking with some sailing friends, including a couple people from our crew and also Kevin from 150. Everyones got lots of plans for next year, and it seems that Nationals 09 is already something to think about. While I'd really like to not do anything to the boat, I've got a bunch of things to fix, and even more to improve for next year. Hoping to be a lot more reasonable in terms of project scope this year, and have made myself a temperature limit; no work when it's below freezing!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Mast Rake

While prepping 3 of our fleets boats for a match racing practice, I had the opporunity to observe 3 different boats mast rakes.

The photo is from the side, and all 3 boats are more or less parallel on the docks. from front to back is 88, 45, 150.
It seems like 45 has the least rake, and 150 and 88 have a good bit more.

More rake seems to be a good bit faster, and lots of boats have moved their steps fwd to the maximum class legal limit. I've heard a couple different reasons for the speed advantage; I think it's becuase it moves the center of effort (from the sailplan) aft, giving you more helm earlier, which makes sense it light air. But it also seems like rakier (is that a word?) boats go faster in heavy air as well, which my friend Bam says is due to the more vertical leech. I also think it's because the extra helm lets you flatten and depower the main more, while still keeping the boat tracking upwind. Whatever the cause, rake is good. I'm going to max out our mast step position this winter, although it may mean we have to cut our (really nice!) floorboard up front. Hoping that our local boats will take the time to check/move their mast step position before nationals next year.


Monday, September 22, 2008

End of a great season

Very proud to say that Shields 88 won it's first season championship! The last 3 races were sailed on Saturday, and we came out on top with 26 points, with Yankee Girl having 32 and Insidious with 39.

All we had to do was finish 3rd or better in one race to win, but I was still pretty nervous going in, worrying about any number of ridiculous things that could screw it up. The day was really light air, and it was in doubt whether we'd actually sail, but the wind fillled in to about 8kts and we had a really pleasant sail. We got a somewhat disappointing 4-2-2, but it was enough to win the season, and today was one of the better days we've all sailed together. Boathandling was perfect, starts were good and if it wasn't for our upwind speed problem we'd have done much better.

That doesn't affect that this has been a great season for me, and getting the boat together has been incredibly satisfying. From the frantic launch and first races, to all the fun we've had on the course to the last fine day of sailing its been great. I've learned a lot about boats and racing, gotten to sail with great crew, taken friends and family out for cruising, and really watched Niki turn into a good bowman. One of my favorite moments of the season came in the last race Saturday. We were in 2nd heading to the downwind finish, with 196 about 3 lengths behind. They brought some new breeze in and were catching up quickly as we were closing on the finish. Out of nowhere Niki called a gybe and we went, only in the middle of the manouver did I realize that shes never, ever made a tactical call before! As we came out of the gybe, we settled into better pressure and gently pulled away to cross ahead of 196. She was the inspiration behind buying the boat in the first place, and I couldn't be happier with how we've done as a team with it.

So what next? We're going to keep the boat in the water for a little while to eke out the last bits of sailing fun for 08. It's going to be on the dock for our wedding next week, and then it gets loaned out (eek) to help a match racing team practice, and we're also going to try and do some practice ourselves. This winter I've got some plans for the boat, which I feel is operating at about 80% of its potential right now. Some future boatwork plans:

-new mast and boom. The mast was damaged back in July, and should probably be replaced. Since the new mast won't fit the old gooseneck I'm getting a new boom as well, and will use this opportunity to make "superboom" which will be lighter than the old one and have a couple trick features on it, like a mainsheet finetune and possibly a spin pole sleeve.
-bottom. The bottom was a rush job to make it into the water in time, and it shows! The keel repair held up great, but the lead/keel attachment is blistered and cracked, and the rudder is covered in blisters as well. Also we hit something (!) and theres a scrape along the leading edge of the boat from the waterline to the tip of the keel. No idea when that happened, but it's kind of messed up looking.
-going to rebed all the hardware and dry the deck out, possibly recoring a soft spot on the stbd side.
-who knows what else we'll come up with, but my goal is to get the boat perfected for next years nationals.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

pictures (non shields)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Shields racing 9/6/08

Kind of a tough day for Shields racing, but overall fun.

With all the heavy air we've had this year, Niki and Jocelyn have been hoping for a light day, and man did we get it this time! Super freaky conditions, with wind from 0-10kts, shifting back and forth all day. Made for tough racing, as being on the correct side of the shifts was key, but (to me at least) impossible to call.

We had a great crew out: Niki up front, Jocelyn in the pit, Brian Sa. in the middle, and Shawn O took a vacation from big boat racing to do main and spin. I was really excited about having this crew together, and was hoping for better racing conditions, but we still had fun and figured out a couple things about the boat.

The first race started in a huge right shift/lull, and the start was about 50 degrees boat favored. We won the boat with clear air, and had ok speed off the line. The wind did a little back and forth for the first third of the beat, and it was a bit of a nail-biter to stay on stbd heading right, as the shifts would sometimes put the right side (us) in front, and sometimes the left (everyone else.) it ended up that 150 and 88 were the front runners, and we swapped leads until the weather mark, with 150 in front. The downwind leg was pretty fun, as we got some light air downwind practice, and Niki really got the hang of reaching gybes. I felt we played the bottom part of the leg really well, taking 150's lead from about 8 to 1 boatlength, and rounding close behind. We decided to go left on the upwind, and 150 went right.

Tacking put us both on port (favored board) and we watched the wind shift back and forth, sometimes putting us in front, sometimes 150. Lots of wind shifts, but tough to play. Even though the breeze would make big (like 60 degree) shifts, playing them was kind of a dice roll, and this is where we lost out. We were tacking on most of them, and thats where we lost out. Very frustrating to get a 30 degree header, tack on it, and then get knocked 50 back on the other board! 150 won here, by just sticking it out and aiming at the mark. Additionally, 39 went all the way right, and picked up 4 boats (including us) and rounded the windward mark in 2nd behind 150, and ahead of us.

The last downwind had us mixed up with Etchells, which is good and bad. Good because it gives us more practice sailing next to lots of boats (like we'll be doing at Nationals) and bad because in this case we spent half the leg next to a boat that had us pinned! Again, it was good practice because we kept clear of them (leeard E22) and actually had pace on them (Shields must have a small advantage in 2-6kts for some reason) but bad because they ended up having us sail just a little higher than we should have been. Ended up getting ahead, gybing out but ultimately lost to 29 and 150.

The next race was called off, I believe due to the super light breeze. I would have preferred to get another race in, but can understand the call. The tricky part is that we now have 4 races left to sail, but only 1 series race day left. The SI's allow for makeup races to be sailed in the same series, but only 3 per day. That leaves one unaccounted for with no SI-legal way to make it up, so I'm not sure what the fleets going to do about that.

Really tricky day to sail, but ultimately good time. Happy to see our friend Kevin win one, and now he's tied with 196 for the season, at 34 points to our 22. Learned a couple hard lessons along the way, mostly about what to do in goofy light air (aim at the mark, be patient.) The crew mix was great, and I've been looking forward to it for a while.

Having Shawn on the boat helped us figure out a problem with our new main thats been dogging us for a while. We've had the new main up 3 times now including today, and every time we've felt a bit slow compared to usual. This was the first really light day, and it took Shawn about 5 seconds to figure out why our sail looked so funky up top (huge flat spot, with a big pinch at the front of the batten pocker) Our sail's cut for a tapered, or at least thinner top batten, and we've got all thick straight battens, which are probably fine for the other spots, but not the top batten. Got to track down a proper batten if we want to use the sail for the last race of the season.

One series race day left, with 3 races. I'm really feeling the end of summer now, wish we could frostbite the Shields!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Racing 8-23/best 4th place ever

Finally had more Shields series racing this last weekend. I say finally since it seems like our season has been chopped up with all the other events we've had going on, cancelled races etc. Our fleet has still had pretty good participation all year, but I think if we had a more cohesive schedule we could gain full numbers. Shouldn't say too much about that, as thats the kind of thing that gets you volunteered for fleet captain.

Favorite thing about racing this weekend was the short 1mile courses. This was to allow for a 3rd race (making up B1) and it was loads more fun! I would be all about doing 1 mile races as regular racing, and would actually be for 3 race days but I imagine I'm the only one.

Last weekend of racing had, guess what, good breeze out of the south-west! Never thought I'd see that more than once or twice a summer, but it's been our standard condition this year. Onboard it was Niki-bow, Jocelyn-pit/compass/jib grinder, Jacob-jib, Josh-main/spin and I drove as usual.
Races 1 and 2 were good; decent starts, sound tactics, 2 firsts. Had new sails aboard but upwind boatspeed still seemed a bit off. I think this was a headstay lenght issue. I tightened it up to ~47.5", and generally felt stuck all day, despite backing it off to 48". I think in future I'm going to err on too loose until I get decent repeatable numbers for this boat.
Race 3 started the same way, but then we F'd up! We were on port, looked to be crossing 63, who had 196 just to weather of them. As we crossed 196 they hailed protest, which is where things got interesting. I thought we were clean, Josh was 100% sure of it, but we did our circles anyway which dropped us back to 6th. I later heard from the boat to leeward that they thought 196 had ducked, and 150 said they definitely saw a duck, so I'm glad we circled despite thinking we were clear. Reasons being:
a)other boats saw a duck
b)even if they didn't duck/didn't have to duck, it's still a trip to the protest room, and one we'd likely lose
c)at the end of the day I feel like we retained the mutual respect that is so important in this fleet.

"C" is the important one to me (although losing bar/food time in the room sucks) as it seems like our fleet is the last place I sail that still has super friendly competition, where people err on the side of caution when it comes to these situation. My feeling is that it would take only a couple incidents (protests, disagreements over rules) to push our fleet into the "offensive rules" mindset, like so many other fleets. I definitely don't want to be the guy that starts that slide, and if it means eating circles, thats a small price to pay.

We ended up clawing our way back up, and being behind gave us some opportunity to compare boatspeed with the other fast boats. Having been there, I think our advantage is in upwind boathandling, and compass course. This would explain the feeling of being fast when we're not near other boats, and feeling same-speed/slow when we're next to someone on the same board. The upwind finish was truly excellent, as we (88, 196, 63, 150) all seemed to have the lead in the last 3rd of the race, and it was full of crossings, leebows and slam tacks. It would have been nice to get another bullet, but 4th in that tight pack was satisfying for its own reasons.

To get back to this blogs techinical bent there are 2 small rigging changes I'll discuss in the next time around. New jib halyard, more or less identical to the last one but made with white cover instead of black. This is all so that we can have a preset mark for hoisting the jib, which is often a problem. Helping to standardize our jib halyard settings is a new tack strop I've come up with. Hard to explain without a photo (forthcoming) but it's one piece of line, with which you can hold the jib tight to the forestay and also down to the tack shackle, without any kind of knots. It's all in the goal of getting repeatable settings.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Verve Cup Inshore

Superb race weekend. This weekend was Chicago Yacht Clubs Verve Cup, for one designs (now called the CYC Verve Cup Inshore Regatta), and for the Shields, it's historically been the most prized win, second to the season championship. For us, it marked our first big win, as we won not only the Shields class, but the overall Verve Cup Inshore!

Really exciting racing, and it's great to win stuff, but the crew made this one especially cool for me. Bam M came out from the east coast to sail with us, which meant we finally met in person! I spend like an hour a day on the phone with him, buying stuff and talking shop, but we've never met in person. Excellent sailor and it was just as pleasant to hang around in person as online and on the phone. Got John S out to sail with us, finally, which meant a lot to me, since he's one that got me started racing! Have learned a lot from him, and am hoping to continue to do so when he comes sailing with us again (nudge nudge). Brian Shaw was out again, which is fun for me since I'm getting to pass on stuff I've learned to the new(er) guy. Niki was going to sail 1 day with us, but it didn't quite work out. She still managed to win the regatta backpack prize somehow.

Racing: Tough!

Saturday was breezy from the west, and got in 3 looong races. Lots of attrition in our fleet brought the numbers down to 3 at the end of the day. Very rough to see Shields going in with broken booms, and in one case a shredded spinnaker hanging off the masthead. My starts continue to be a problem with this boat, but we were able to get speed and tactics on our side to win all 3, with 150 taking 2nds. We had a spectacular dial up in the 3rd race, where 150 took us head to (and beyond) the wind, and I consider us both shockingly lucky there was no contact. All still friends and the end of the day, but I think we both need some start line work this fall in dinghies!

Sunday was high teens from the northeast and some really big waves! I think there were a few 6' waves out there, and it was a challenge to keep the boat dry. We had a lousy start, and were 2nd to 63 for much of the beat. We engaged them in a tacking duel, and were able to grind away a a lot of their lead. Our boathandling all weekend was perfect, and it showed up mostly in our sets, but it was nice to see the crew work so elegantly highlighted. We called a better layline, and went on to lead the rest of the race. Downwind surfs were very exciting, and we had some nice sustained waves where I swear it was 15 seconds. The boat didn't break, and I was happy when the race committee called it a day after the first race.

Sailing was so great this weekend, as we had chemistry, attitude and skill on our side. I won't get gushy, but everyone sailed perfect on our boat. It was really cool to get the overall regatta prize, which I think we got since we had the lowest overall score, 4 points. The regatta itself was really well done. Very easy to enjoy the sailing with good RC and nice shoreside management.

This regatta marks our first overall win, and I'm really happy to be looking at a cool trophy, reflecting on a great weekend. Buying this boat was a great idea Niki!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Racing 7 26

More like it!

We finally had a light air day for Shields racing, and it was lots of fun. Every other race day has been big breeze, so I had no chance to see how the boat does in the light stuff. As it turns out, it does ok!

We had: me, Brian Shaw (main/spin), Brian Sabina (jib/tactics), Craig Capilla (jib/wind), and Eric Stuck (bow/bow) aboard today.

Boat was set up for base settings : 800 uppers, 300 lowers. On the way out we dropped a half turn off each lower, which would probably make it like 250ish(?)

Breeze was about 5-10 all day, mostly north, with only a couple shifts coming through. We got out early enough to get wind readings and do a practice leg (upwind, tacks, spin set, gybes, douse) We came up with a loose plan to play the middle left side of the course.

First start we got going a bit early and ended up 2/3 away from the favored boat end, but managed to get left early, catch good shifts and get out in front. Stuck to the plan all race and finished in 1. Had solid conservative tactics, and boatspeed that seemed just a bit faster than those around us. I love sailing with dinghy sailors!

Second race we got the (now favored) 1/3 pin start, but more importantly, came out rocket fast and were able to punch out early. I think this was mostly due to coming in on a fast reach, and having perfect trim: I didn't touch the tiller at all, and the slow easy trim on the sails brought us up to course. We were able to roll the boat to leeward, and also have enough speed to close off the windward boat. I changed our headstay setting to about 49", and we seemed to be a bit better paced upwind. This was the kind of race thats great to be in, but boring to describe: win start, extend, cover, extend, win by many minutes.

Had an excellent crew today, that made the racing easy and fun. All were college sailors, and perfect for their jobs on the boat. The one thing that I was shocked by after racing is that I don't think we made any mistakes besides the first start. It was super clean, and we didn't take any big risks. I tried to focus heavily on driving, as my guys kept a constant stream of tactical info coming, so I didn't look around much. Upwind it seemed like the best speed and height was maintatined with the jib leech about 5" in from the spreader, and the main set with boom on center, and the top telltale stalling most of the time. Doesnt sound right, but it was fast. Downwind we had awesome gains, as the front crew kept an eye on pressure/boats and me and Shaw worked on boatspeed ("getting light, come up" etc) It worked very very well, especially the second race.


I think theres a bit more speed to be had upwind in light air with this boat. I'm going to try chocking the mast a bit more forward.

College sailors rock

Need more beer on a race day. Had 9 beers and 2 ciders (?) and we ran out on the way in. I think a 12 pack plus rum would be more appropriate.

On light days, it would be wise to make the 6:1 traveler purchase into 3:1 for speed.

Had a really great day, and we have extended our lead in the series standings. So far we've done 10 of 16 races, and with drops we have a 10 point lead. Standings order for the top 4 ( I think) is

88 with 13
196 with 23
150 with 26
63 with 37

While we are obviously focused on the series, the next race we're doing is the Verve Cup, and we have a couple veteran Shields sailors aboard, which should be interesting!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Recap of last couple weeks

Mac rush is over, so I can think about my own boat again!

For the independence cup, Niki and I decided very late to sail, and thus had no crew besides ourselves. It was still pretty fun, and Niki got some good light air chute practice. I think we actually could have done well (being light) in the 3-5kts of breeze, but got a not-so-great start which was followed up by getting tacked on by anyone and everyone. We finished 6th and went in, but had a good time. Sailing doublehanded is great fun (at least in the light air.) Surprisingly, I found it harder to go upwing (working mainsheet, trav and backstay) than going downwing (gybing main and spinnaker)

The following wednesday we had Niki's parents out for a beercan, which we started 7 minutes or so late (due to wrangling with dinghies etc). It was a good test of light air speed again, and we ended up beating the 1 other boat out there.

Last Saturday was a series race (b1 b2) and we went out again in big breeze (AGAIN). Averaging high teens, gusting mid 20s. We seemed to lack our usual speed, and definitely didn't have the boathandling down. Additionally, I missed the first start by quite a while due to being way off the course while messing around with sails and compass headings. A painful 6 and 3. A couple lessons learned:

-dont leave the start area, and definitely not by 1/4 mi!
-need to practice gybing, sets, and upwind speed before the actual race
-wrapping kite is bad, very bad (I've only wrapped 1 Shields kite before, ever, and this weekend we had it 3 times)

The problems we had on gybes:
-boom out too far to make crossing boom easy: solution: shorten mainsheet with stopper knot
-spinnaker getting wrapped on headstay: trim old guy all the way back to shrouds before gybe
-overdriving during gybe: get everything gybed before following with helm

Got a chance to get our chops back this coming weekend, the 26th.

Thats all I can recall for now. Mostly happy the Mac racers are gone, so I can sleep again.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lost Photos

When we launched the boat, it was in one heck of a rush (bottom paint on while hooking up trailer rush) and I didn't have time to get any photos. My dad was there helping out and snapped a few, but we later couldn't find them on his cameras card. Last weekend we were working on something else and located the photos on the camera, and I was able to get them on CD. I'm really glad, since they document the crazy launching day.

We worked like mad to get everything ready to go, and then realized that the paint bay doors werent opening without a forklift. Since this was prime launching season, the boat yard guys were pretty busy, so we had to wait around. Here Mick and my dad kill time and a beer.

Right before leaving the yard, we did the traditional denaming ceremony with champagne.

Ray T saved our bacon when he agreed to use his tow vehicle to bring us down to the harbor. I love the above picture! It was great to see the boat in the light of day, which it hadn't seen in 3 years!
After a whole lot of hassle getting to the cranes (Etchells really like washing their boats on the crane!) we got to out lift and got the boat in. 2 shots here, of Niki, Josh and myself putting the boat in.

Once the boat was in, we promptly ran aground (argh!) but a friendly hand with a towline pulled us free and we made it to the crane, stepped the mast, and Niki christened the boat, with it's second bottle of champagne of the day. It wasn't too hung over, as it got 2 seconds the next day!

All good stuff! Really dying to get out and race the boat, but last weekend was cancelled due to Etchells worlds hullabaloo, and our next race isn't for a few weeks.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Blogs I like

Too dumb/little time to figure out how to put this on the sidebar, but have wanted to do this for a while. Theres a couple other blogs out there that I really like, and would read before summer rigging season turned my weeks into 70hr sweatfests. Here's a couple cool boat/tech pages I like a lot.

This is all about rebuilding a Shields, but taken in a completely different direction than 88. Where we wanted a race prepped one design, they (Bill the owner and Tim the craftsman) took Shields #9 and made a daysailor with a cuddy cabin. The 1d part of me rebels, but the way they're going about it is thoughtful and professional so I admire the project.

A very tech savvy friend of mine started this page to chronicle some of his custom projects. He has a nice little workshop that can turn out custom sailing parts, including a few things that have found their way onto 88.

My friend Josh bought an old wooden Lightning, and is going to go for a traditional resto with new parts under-the-skin. Since I own an old wooden Lighting (somewhere...) I'm excited to see how this comes out. The second I heard about it, I started thinking it would be cool to get our old boat going and get some sort of "heritage class" racing. This is an insane idea for lots of reasons, but anyone who digs boats will get the appeal.

Racing cancelled today, due to no RC, due to everything in the Chicago sailing world grinding to a halt for Etchells worlds. Bummed, as it was forecasted light winds, and I've never actually sailed my new boat in anything under 15 or so, and I'd love to see how she goes/what she needs to race in the light. Right now I'm thinking about softening up the shrouds until it sits straight 22 style, and maybe blocking the mast fwd in addition to the looser forestay.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

6/7/08 racing

More breeze! Had 12-20kts for races 5 and 6 yesterday. 88 did well, with 2 more 1sts. It was me, Frank on main/spin, Jocelyn on jib/pit and Niki on bow/grinder.

Glad we had more normal local weather than the last 2 race days, which were NW, which I find tricky to figure out. We had good breeze out of the south today, going between around 180 and 220. Our main/spin trimmer picked up on the shift and pressure pattern early, and we were able to capitalize on it. Clouds would bring more breeze when they came in overheard, and then as soon as they passed it would get lighter until the next set. Also, the wind went right reliably in the puffs, and left in the lulls. There was quite a bit of chop for S wind, especially later in the day on starboard, where it was like driving into a ditch, over and over again!

First race we wanted to be able to get right early, but the pin was favored, so we started about 1/3 of the way off the pin. About 5 seconds late but had good speed. I feel like we have very good upwind boatspeed, and were able to round second to Kevin in 150, after we overstood quite a bit. A very quick run today, with the waves really providing a lot of speed, and we rounded the bottom again in first, having caught 150 when they ran over their spinnaker. We were able to get ahead on the shifts upwind and led the rest of the race to finish 1st, followed by 150, 196 and 63.

Almost missed the second race! We were goofing around too far from the start trying to get the jib halyard right, and ended up sailing full speed to the start, and were at the boat with 10 seconds left. Really wanted the pin, but I'm just glad we made it! 150 jumped to an early lead, and followed them out to the right. They again led the 1st run, and it wasn't until the 3rd upwind leg that we were able to get ahead. Kevin knows me pretty well, and actually kind of tricked us into a tacking duel, and got us out of phase for a while. Once we stopped tacking so much we pulled away a bit, played the shifts and finished in the same order as the first race.

Lot of fun today, and we now have 8 points, with 196 having 16 and 150 with 20.

The crew we have has really helped me get more on top of weather. I'm normally a big boatspeed guy that tacks when the compass says so, but all our dinghy sailors seem to know a lot about more big picture weather. Especially today with the cloud patterns, I don't know if I would have got that on my own.

We also got the boat dialed in in the big waves and breeze. I find we're sailing the boat different than Kevin and I sailed 150. When I trimmed main there, it would always be backstay on/feather up hard in puffs, and with Frank trimming main it's been more traveller down hard/stay course. Not sure whats faster honestly, they both seem to work pretty good, but in general I feel faster and lower when we're sailing the way we want to. Luckily we can still really get into a high mode as well, working off jib and main sheet.

Tune was similar to last week. Headstay was about 47.75", lowers were very tight (like 450lbs) and the uppers were 850.

Someone on the RC boat keep taking photos, I'll see if I can get a few!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rigging Review

Here's a couple of the rigging details from 88

The main and jib halyards are switched inside the mast, so the main halyard is on the port side. This made sense to me since the main is less frequently adjusted (except when ours falls down) it can be on the lower winch, which is usually blocked by the spinnaker bag.

The reason ours was falling down is because I tried using a Spinlock SUA minijammer (top right in photo) for the lock off. It's a nice little design, but doesn't hold our main halyard. Not sure if it's the loads, or the fact that it gets bumped open too easy. No matter what the reason, it's been pitched in favor of an old fashioned aluminum horn cleat

Here you can see our entire kingpost. The funny looking arrangement on the stbd side is for our jib halyard. Mounting a clutch there, while unconventional, means that it can be released and even tensioned ( on stbd tack) from above deck. It works awesome.

Instead of using pins to hold our shroud turnbuckles in place, I loop velcro through both turnbuckle bodies. The velcro is stiched on one end, so it can't come loose. This makes adjusting a snap. It takes about 30 seconds to adjust both turnbuckles while sailing. This detail was especially helpful on our first race, as we only had about 45 minutes to break in and stretch out the shrouds, as they stretched about 1/4" when new. In the photo you can also see our twing system. That's just a sailmakers eye, spliced into some Robline racing sheet 4mm. Theres nothing lighter, but you have to get the sheets led right! It runs through a bushing in the deck, then aft to a turning block, then to the control boxes under deck. You can also see the sideways jib tracks. I'm so glad I kept the cars on these, as our second race turned into a reach, and we plugged a snatch block into the cars for the jib sheet, which gave us some really great legs on the people who didn't have a way to do this.

Whole bunch of stuff if this photo. The mast partner box is my design, made of G10 and epoxied/faired into the deck. The nice fitted shim are made by Bam to our spec (he's making one more to replace the temporary shims in this photo)

The shields shaped backing plates are Bams idea. I had a big uneven hole in the mast from where the vang bail had worked itself on the spar. We could have just used a round or square piece, but why do that when you can make something cool and 10x more complicated? They're bedded in with mylar film and riveted with duralac for corrosion.

The red lines there are our cunningham, nothing special except for the soft shackle holding it to the bail.

I'm especially proud of the vang on this boat. The cascade line splits into two ends, which are spliced to either side of the bottom fiddle block. This elimates the need for a SS triangle plate, and does the same job.

On to the bow. You can't really see it in this photo, but we've got a standard open body turnbuckle up there, but it's a prototype calibrated job from Hayn, which makes changing headstay tension between races a snap. It's held in place with some of Bam's velcro wrap pins. The tack fitting is a basic little snap shackle. The bungee (white line in photo) is there to keep the front of the pole from falling in the water. We had a moment this weekend where we were all wondering what the humming noise was. It was our pole travelling at 4kts through the water!

Round the back you see our traveler and back deck. The traveler is sweet! All of our gear is Harken wherever possible, and this thing works great. Its got a forward bend (matching the radius between our mast and the mainsheet bail) and is mounted on delrin risers (hollow delrin tube with the screws inside) to level the track, and actually raise the ends up a tiny bit. This means that when you blow the traveler line, the mainsheet doesn't get tighter, as it would with a straight track. The little bit of rise actually cracks it off just a touch. Its tough to tell, but the nonskid pattern is shaped around the traveler. All the purchase is below deck, and the white line is 1/8" Endura 12. The purchase is currently 6:1, although on light days I think I'll untie and move the purchase to 4:1. You can see our mainsheet, which is 9mm Robline racing sheet. Way in back there you can see our spinnaker turning blocks, which are 57mm Harken Ti Lite blocks. Nothing better.
Here's our control boxes. There are 40mm ratchets for the blocks, with Harken 150 cleats with the Extreme (2damax yo!) fairleads. Works really well. makes me wish I was trimming main! The litle cleat on the front is for the twings. Not sure if it's going to stay there or not. The vertical piece of teak is to stiffen up our deck, which is a bit soft. It was deflecting about 3" when everyone got on the rail. Now is solid as a rock. Instead of a spinnaker sheet winch, we have 57mm ratchets mounted on custom HDPE plates.

I just plain like this shot! I finally put our little eyestraps on the deck for the cover. It's green to match the old paint, but it actually doesn't look too bad. Im thinking the new cover (whenever that happens) will be dk red or blue. Thoughts?

Kristian: a billion? Actually I figured it out last week, and we're into the 450 hour range.

Happy Birthday To Me!

May 31 was our races 3 and 4. We got 2 bullets!

For crew we had me, Frank on main/spin, Josh on tactics/jib, Jocelyn on pit/grinder/compass and Niki on the bow. The day was actually a lot like the first race, with the wind out of the NW. Very puffy and shifty (around 15kts and 280deg)

We got out early and set a kite for practice. In this condition the Shields tends to be a bit hairy downwind: you steer dead downwind (or by the lee 10 deg) and pull the pole all the way back. This setup is fast, as you get the spin all the way out to one side, and the main the other, so the spin gets a lot of projected area before the wind. We also like to set the boat up so it heels to windward quite a lot, as it makes me use less rudder to keep the course straight. The part that's a bit, uhh, different, is the way the boat rolls back and forth. The Shields powers up pretty well, but its so heavy that it can't use the power to go faster, so it tends to try and throw you off with a deathroll! In addition, we had a wave angle that didn't match the breeze, so the boat tended to get pushed around a LOT on port gybe. We had a lot of new/newer Shields people on board, so I defintely got a couple skeptical looks in practice. We also took some t ime to sail upwind and get compass headings to help us make a plan for the first upwind leg.

During the start, we wanted to get the boat, and for once I got on the line ok and we came off the line going fast. The first beat was a bit tricky with the shifts. We tacked a bit too much, and stayed in the middle the whole time, but had a good eye on the compass/got lucky and had a nice beat. I think we rounded first or second, and hit the next bottom mark in first. We learned a lot about the wind direction, and were able to extend our lead on the second beat by tacking only on the important shifts. The last downwind we tried to beat an Etchells, but he got us at the end.

The second start, wow. We wanted the pin this time, but I got going a bit too early and ended up getting pushed over at the pin by 63. It took us forever to get back around the pin boat and restart. Eventually we started with a nice view of the back of the fleet. Our plan was to go left, which we were able to do. On the first beat we went pretty hard left for the first half, with 196 and 150 out to leeward, and we were able to round 2nd behind 130. We had an interesting situation on the run: square course, 130 ahead out to the right, rest of the fleet behind to the left. We were able to get left to cover the fleet behind, and pass 130 by sailing the "low and scary" way, with the boat by the lee, lots of windward heel. We rounded the bottom mark in first, but had a painful painful rounding/douse. Kite didn't drop right, jib didn't go up, and 130 snuck inside us. While rounding, they came out of the turn way powered up, and their rig slammed into ours, requiring us to hail protest. They did their circle, and we sorted out our problems and got going again. The 3rd beat was for the finish, and we ended up playing match race with 196 all the way up. it was a game of pressure or angle; we chose pressure while they chose angle, and we were eventually able to cross them, cover and win the 2nd race too. While the boring races (win start, extend, win) are what wins series', the come from behind stuff is always more exciting!

It was a perfect day of sailing, and not just for the wins. I really like everyone we've had sail with us so far, and it's pleasant to sail in a fleet where everybody gets along like our Shields fleet 3. It's days like this that make all the sanding and hard work worth it!

Right now we've got 6 series points, with 196 in second with 10, and 150 I believe has 14.


A couple notes on speed/tuning:

There was a lot of talk about rake/mast step settings this weekend since North Sails had two sailmakers out for a clinic. I'd measured our rake in the yard, but with all the talk wanted to double check it. I was curious to see if our boat had changed dimensions when moved from the cold yard/lousy trailer to the water with the rig up. For anyone who cares, here are our mast step dimensions:

Bury 35.5"
Y 134.75 "
Max Legal X : 140.54"
Actual X: 140 .25"

Our rig settings were tighter than the North guide, at 400lbs lowers, 850 uppers. Looking back at it, the lower tension helped keep the mast straight, but I don't think the extra upper tension did a thing. Our headstay (using the North datum system) was set to 48 1/4" which I probably should have tightened, but didn't seem to hurt.

We had good speed upwind. The rig setup was nice, and the trim was usually spot on. Since the waves were coming from right of the wind, port tack was nothing but suck going upwind. To compensate we had the stbd jib car one hole (.5") aft of the port car. Both were within an inch of the side tracks. On port tack we sailed with more twist in the main, mostly controlled with backstay.

Downwind the fast thing was as I said above: stick it dead down/by the lee, square back pole. Very important was vang tension to control the rolling. Lots of it, pretty much pull until you get the top batten parallelish. Driving the boat is a pain in the butt when the waves aren't square to the wind, and the crew spotted a couple wipeouts.

It's neat having crew that are great sailors, but new to the Shields. Everytime we get someone new on the boats thats used to other onedesigns, they have a couple things in common:

the main trimmers HATE the nash cleat (which I love when trimming, but may have to change)
downwind tends to make people nervous in big breeze
no one ever expects going by the lee to be quick
other one design sailors seem to rely more on twings for pole control, and less on downhaul
the j24 cowboy setup for the topping lift doesn't seem to work so good on Shields, at least not for us.
good sailors go fast no matter what the boat!

Friday, May 23, 2008

First Beercan Race/Dad goes to the races

Still slammed with work (have actually lost another 2 lbs!) so haven't had time to tweak our boat, or take photos. But.

Dad and I got the toerails on. They look great, although my eye still prefers the clean look of the smooth deck. That said, the foredeck crew likes it a lot! She may choose to stay on the boat all race from now on...

After work, I finally got my dad to sail on a Shields. He's worked on them for like 8 years now, but never actually sailed one. This wedenesday he sailed, and actually helmed, the entire beercan race. We won (although we were the only Shields) and there's a bottle of rum for him somewhere. Way to go!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Wow. I looked at the last blog update, and realized the week that just passsed was definitely the busiest of the whole project.

No pictures, there really wasn't time. I can barely recall all the work we did, but I know I lost 10lbs in the last week, from skipping meals and long long days. It was all worth it though, this week and the last 9 months, as the boat not only got in the water in time for the first races, she came out fast and looking great!

Here's a quick summary:

Longboarded the bottom, and applied 6 coats of interprotect. This generally sucked, but the interprotect was actually a real peach to work with. Sanded up nice to around 320 and gave a great finish. Put VC17 on it (about an hour before launch) and it looks good, although the orange color is distressing to both Niki and myself. We can't wait for it to turn blue!

Installed all the hardware. I did this whenever paint was drying, or the water running off. This continued until literally the last hour before raceday.

Launched the boat late friday with Niki, Ray, Josh and my Dad, got the rig up, denamed it, Niki renamed it (yes, the boat is really named Peanut!) , sat down and had a beer with Kevin, got up early Sat morning to tune and headed out to the races in a pretty strong shifty NWer. Reports on the dock range from 20-25, and I'd side with the 25. Let me just tell you, just about the most stressful part of this project was sailing this brand new (to me) boat, which wasn't entirely finished and hadn't even seen daylight for 3 years, into big breeze. The boat was pounding pretty hard, and I could see dust coming out of the fore and aft hatches!

I had a truly excellent crew, and their skill kept me calm, and even got us to win the day with two second places, giving us a 1 point edge over the next boat.

It's been a pretty crazy winter, and nothing more than the last couple days. Today I had a chance to slow down, clean the boat (we kept stepping on shavings and bits of glass all race!) and think about the whole thing. A couple things come to mind:

The old adage about figuring out what your boat needs (time, money) and then doubling that figure is pretty accurate. I estimated 200hrs, and ended up at a bit over 400. It was a bit much really, but now that we've gone sailing on our new boat, it all makes perfect sense!

Sailing and boats are wonderful, but it's the people involved that really make it worthwhile, and usually possible in the first place. There are dozens of people that have helped in this project in one way or another, and many of them haven't even seen the boat! Some of my experts (boat builders, Shields sailors, materials techs) aren't even in this time zone. The people close to home have been amazing as well, we had a ton of help working on the boat, launching the boat and putting it all together. The last week especially impressed me, as friends and family came out of the woodwork to make the boat sail on time, and race well. It will be another post where I thank everyone by name, but for right now; you know you are, THANKS.

For the first race, I drove, Josh B came out and absolutely rocked the house doing tactics and jib, Josh's friend Christian was our expert boatspeed guy (although I think his sportboating self would resent the term "speed" being applied to our Shields) and Niki did bow. The day started out a breezy NWer, and luckily we had time to practice our upwind and downwind sailing a little bit before the race. This also gave us some time to load and stretch our shrouds out (about 3/16") and retighten just in time. I botched the first start, but we had had conservative tactics and good speed that got us into second, behind Kevin in 150 and ahead of 126. Next start wasn't a great one either, but it enabled us to get right early, which worked out great. We rounded the top mark in second to Not Passis/Farr40 guys/Quantum guy on 63, but Gary on 196 ended up sneaking around us both while we played cat and mouse. He held on to win the second race, with 63 following us in. The boat came out first for the day with 4 points, 150 in second with 5, and 196 with 6. Tight spread, but we're only going to get better at this!

I've still got some work to do: Dad and I are going to put the toerails on, and I've got a few tiny issues to sort of with parts. I was thrilled to see that almost everything we did in terms of rigging fit perfectly and worked great (with our schedule, there wouldn't have been time to fix a thing) This week I'm going to photo and make notes on all the cool parts of our boat, and do a rigging highlight, just in case people want to try some of our tricks.

Right now though, it feels great to sit here and enjoy my sunburn, while staring at the one good photo of Peanut in the water.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Paint Complete

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Sprayed the topsides today with Mick, came out really nice.

Before that happened, I had to prep sand the primer. I'm so incredibly sick of sanding! I got it with 220, 320 and 400, then scuffed with a scotchbrite pad. After that, we washed the boat, again, and then taped off the topsides, again, plastic-ed the deck AGAIN and then washed once more, wiped with naphta, then washed the whole bloody shop to get the dust down. This took about 3 days. Here is the boat, in a rather ugly white primer stage.
After all that, the actual spraying is quick as can be. Wet down the shop floor and sprayed 3 quick coats of paint. Each one takes about 45 minutes. Happy with the results, although Mick keeps giving me guff about DA marks and muttering "owner prep" all day.

The paint is extremely shiny, here you can see Mick's reflection as he checks the finish with a light.
Here's a couple photos of the boat. The color is weird, at different angles and lights it can appear black, white and everything in between. Can't wait to tear the tape off, but we've got to shoot the white boot stripe first. I think the white paint there will really make the gray seem gray full-time!
Just to see if I could...
Hours, prep and painting topsides

Kristian 12
Mick 6