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!