Solo news Late Jan
Well - we certainly had some wind on Sunday. Kudos to Paul and Peter H who braved the conditions even if in the end the conditions won. I won't be there this seek - hopefully skiing in France - so I hope you have great conditions and that the AGM is well attended. This is a bit of a bumper edition again as we missed a week and as it has several video clips to keep you amused till I get back J
Since I was the only finisher there isn't a huge amount to say about Sunday’s race - up the first beat Paul and I both got away cleanly but on the first tack I didn't go hard enough and failed to gather way on the new tack getting stuck in irons - each time I pulled the sail in the boat turned into wind again before I could get enough speed to steer. The rudder doesn't work until you are moving. So I guess we have one topic - how to get out of irons! The Toppers call it push pull pull. Push the tiller away from (and perhaps push the sail out) you as the boat starts to go backwards so you reverse onto the right tack (a bit like a three point turn in a car) then pull the sail in and as the boat starts to move forwards pull the tiller towards you. That's fine in light weather but I'd add one extra - lift the centreboard quite a lot. It helps the boat blow onto a tack and not want to turn head to wind as you start to pull the sail in. Once you get moving again put the board down again. Sadly I have that bad tack on video.
You can see I get round but just don't quite accelerate out of the tack. I still suspect there was a slight shift at the wrong moment. If you watch carefully you can see it takes two shots at reversing before I go far enough round to accelerate away. Why did it happen? – I needed a good tack to be able to cross Paul so I was trying too hard to not over-rotate and ended up not getting quite far enough round. I keep banging on about practicing tacking – that one tack cost me about 50 yards.
So Paul ahead at the first mark. I chased him down the reach, not much change there, then we get to the gybe mark. I see Paul gybe and it looks as if he's OK. I start into the gybe but get a huge gust and don't gybe because I'm just not balanced. Because I pulled out of the gybe and almost broached so I wimped out and tacked thinking how much ground I'd lost - only to see Paul upside down. Didn't see what happened but Paul said afterwards that he just wasn't stable on the run – he probably caught the same gust that stopped me gybing.
I had a few hairy moments myself on the run - the key is mainsheet control and getting the kicker tension right. Too slack kicker and the boat will roll to windward. Too much and the boat will tend to broach (uncontrolled turn into the wind). Both are ways to get wet! The key to control is the mainsheet and steering the boat under the sail (like steering into a skid in a car). Pull in more and the boat will heel to leeward because the sail starts to push sideways. Too much out (especially if kicker is looser) and the top of the sail twists forwards and the top of the sail develops side force to windward. Sadly rolling in either direction is unstable so you have to correct quickly. If the boat rolls to windward pull in on the mainsheet and push on the tiller (stop the boat turning further downwind and into an uncontrolled gybe). If the boat heels you must dump sheet very quickly (before the boom hits the water and pull the tiller towards you to turn more downwind reducing the side force of the sail. It is a balancing act that is very dynamic. - Centreboard should be about 1/4-1/3 down - too much down and the boat 'trips up' over the plate - tends to round up too easily and broach. Too little down and the boat tends to weather roll and is very hard to steer.
(Weather roll plus gybe and start of beat)
In this clip you can see me get nearly dumped in to windward - cause - centre board had come almost completely up - I need to tighten the friction pad. If you watch carefully you can see me pull hard in on the mainsheet to haul the boat back up and regain control, and then reach for the plate to get it back down a bit. I was very nearly dumped out the back of the boat - just had one foot left under a strap. As the boat heeled to windward I was almost thrown out! It's important to keep steering and keep control of the sheet even when almost under water. The clip follows on into going to windward in a blow. There's another great still photo on the club facebook pages.
Yes – if you sheet in quickly you can get out of rolls like this.
Back to basics part 2 - Going to windward.
Many people don't believe me when I say that most of the time I have the main pulled in and cleated and I control the boat by steering. Look at the first clip before the bad tack and you can see several times when the whole front of the main flapped as I pushed luffed during a bit gust to keep the boat flat. Also look at the second clip after rounding the mark.
Here's more proof - this clip is the start of the first back to back from Sunday.
(Going to windward in a blow)
Blowing old boots - you can see me approach the line, wind up the speed and set the main. Then I'm steering to keep the boat flat - heel too much - luff a bit. Boat coming towards me bear away a bit. There was plenty of power so I'm steering to keep flat. In lighter weather I would be steering to keep the tell-tales flat with maximum power. In this much wind I'm dumping some power by sailing closer to the wind. I hardly touch the mainsheet - in a very big gust I might momentarily spill and sheet in again - but the tiller is very dynamic keeping the boat balanced.
The key is keeping the sail powering as hard as you can to balance your weight. In lighter weather you are just going for maximum power from the sail and you lean out to counter. Once you are fully hiked you can't lean any more so you have to reduce the power. First you can flatten the sail and let the top twist - outhaul really tight and start applying Cunningham. Once you've depowered the sail shape you have to continue to depower by pointing a little too close to the wind. Steering to windward is critical - you are also steering to react to changes in wind direction as well as strength.
Finally… it happens to everyone from time to time…
Overall though it didn’t cost much time did it J
Small prize for first person who explains what I did wrong (that I agree with, and no ‘you capsized’ is not good enough to win)
This is what it should look like…
(A better gybe)
See you in a couple of weeks