Saturday, June 24, 2017

Missed Days, Challenging sailing, gear breakage

Shields 88 hit the course after 4 missed races today.  It was a very challenging day, but we felt better at the end of it and have improved as a team.

The conditions were tricky, as it was anywhere from 12-25kts of breeze out of an usual direction at WNW.   We were tuned to our tight setting at "1" which translates to 48.25" on the North tuning guide swing forestay lenght. The first race was in 12-18kts, the second and third had fairly wild puffs with shifts up into the 20's.

The second race was... interesting.  We led the first leg after a bad start, had a bad douse on the downwind and then elected not to go chute up on the second downwind as we had about 10 boat lengths of lead. This was due to not getting chute down cleanly after the first run, and having lost a spin sheet under the boat.  We had hoped to hold off Shields 63 who was in second, but they went chute up (only boat, good for them) and managed to claw away at our lead, passing us in the last third of the run. We considered luffing them out to clear our air but didn't, which was a mistake.  We regrouped for race 3, ran a new spin sheet and won with a nice margin.

The second race was a lesson in compounding errors. A bad douse led to not having a chute, which led to a bad run, which led to a loss. Additionally, sailing without a chute caused some significant gear breakage which has been unusual for us. Sailing dead downwind with a jib is slower than with a chute, so the loads are higher. Additionally, we sailed fairly sloppy and forgot to the basics that come with a downwind leg ( ease upwind controls). If we had eased the jib halyard, backstay, cunningham, outhaul for the run,we  probably would have won as we only lost by about 2 lengths, but we also would have prevented some breakage that made us sail more conservatively and could have been worse.  We sailed the run with the cunningham still on, which took all the load off the booms tack pin. That let the boom rotate on the run, which twisted apart the gooseneck's stainless strap fitting.
As you can see, the toggle has twisted apart and begun to crack. This was pretty spooky to find right before the 3rd race, but seemed OK to sail on so long as we kept the torque off the toggle. We resolved to use no cunningham, limit manouvers and put up the chute on the run.  This saved the part until we could get back to the mooring. Every time we go jib only on the run I always regret it, and this time it cost us in metal! We will fix this break up, perhaps with  a solid piece or better yet will just sail clean and take care of the boat.

We tried 2:1 on the gross tune mainsheet, and believe we have found the upper limit. We were actually able to trim it in, but the problem was in easing as the load was quite high, so it took lots of effort to release the cleat. I had trouble with this at the top mark roundings.  I think for 15kts and over we'll go back to 4:1.

We got a 1, 2, 1 for the day, which has us in second place.  Full team next weekend so hoping for big air again to stretch the boat's legs a bit.

Zen thought from today; we believe we had the oldest sail invenory on the course, with our newest sail being our 2012 main, and our oldest being the 2008 chute.  If you're going to beat up your gear, at least it should be old gear!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

First race of 2017

The 2017 season seemed to come as a surprise to us, as the boat wasn't in the water in time for the first race. Fortuitously, the legendary Peanut luck held and racing was blown out that day. We used the new tow vehicle to bring the boat to the harbor last week, and stepped the rig in time for todays racing.

It was a pretty sunny day, if a little bit cold and light.  We saw between 3-9kts or so all day from the NE, which made for great warmup conditions.  There were only 3 boats out, us 67 and 45, but the speeds were close all day.

First race we won the boat with everyone mixed in together, and got lucky on a few shifts to finish well ahead. Second race the wind had dropped so we were actually late to the start by a few seconds, but less-late than the rest. 3rd race we thought we had 67 dead to rights and OCS'd, but let them get away at the last second to start on top of us, with 45 on our WW hip.  We tacked and ducked 45, trying to get into phase but succeeded only in being as out of phase as was possible.  We picked up a lucky puff near the top of the course, and snuck into second. After the rounding, 67 was ahead by about 4 boatlengths, so we played patient and tried to affect their air while waiting for the right time to gybe. We'd worked it out that we wanted to gybe first, so as soon as their bowman stood up,  we were mid turn.  We planted on them, and rolled with some extra pressure, extending for the lead.

We tried some new tuning and setup tricks today!

We went with a very long forestay. Our "3" setting on our marked turnbuckle is somewhere in the 50" range. Additionally, we tried a single 1/4" shim behind the mast to affect forestay sag and mast bend. We had tried this in the past with no noticable result, but it felt fast today. 

The most exciting change was going from 4:1 to 2:1 on the mainsheet. We were unsure of this change when we made it, as the Shields has a very large boom and main, and 2:1 is Laser mainsheet purchase, but it worked out well. The benefits were the speed at which we  could trim, and the lessened drag on the sheet. With only 3 on the boat today I was doing my own main at the leeward mark, and trimming half as much sheet made the turn really fast! Also, doing the main downwind was very easy as the drag as so low you could ease the sheet and actually have the boom go out. Jacob liked the feel upwind as well, so we will do this again on light air days.  The downside of course is that if the breeze comes up the main trimmer is going to have a serious workout on their hands (ha) but we're going to try this again until we find the point where 2:1 is not enough.  Plus we have the internal fine tune to take some load off if needed. I really think 3:1/6:1 would be ideal, but class rules say the mainsheet(s) have to be on the boom, which eliminates the cool deck level fine tune I would like.

A great day on the water and it was fun to be back. We've got some 1d racing coming up, plus some beercan handicap and cruising to do, so will update soon. We're going to have a furling assym on board for the beercans, which will certainly be weird.