Solo News 30 Nov
Not so much to report from the racing side as I was away last week and will be again this week, but I gather it was a close race between Rob, Paul and Tim ending with a win for Rob, and a tie for second between Tim and Paul. I’m also told that some of the fleet were a bit late getting going – how many times have I said aim to be on the line 10 minutes before the start…
The personal handicaps reflect the late start I suspect with the same top three in the personal, but Ben picked up a good 4th finishing ahead of Ian – great to see you two pushing each other up the fleet.
Even without much news I thought I would continue the off-wind series covering lighter winds (and with luck next week strong winds).
What do we do different in very light conditions?
Reaching in force 0-1
The key is to keep a flow of air over the sail. If you stop it’s really hard to get the boat moving again. Maintaining a flow of air over the sail means that you can’t make the sail quite as full. If you let the foot right off as you might in force 2-3 the increased depth of the sail makes it harder to keep a flow of air over the sail. You need the sail a bit flatter – but you don’t want to have to bend the mast to do that because you also want a free leech. So, for my sail that means a bit more outhaul out, not having the inhaul tight (I don’t anyway reaching). I also stand the mast more upright (less rake) – not really sure why but in general less rake upwind makes you go slightly faster but point less well, and slightly faster downwind. In force 0-1 you don’t care about pointing you care about going fast.
Very little kicker (slack) until you get a noticeable wind when you start to look at the leech streamers to make sure the twist in the sail is such that it sets all the way up. Then, as in force 2 it’s lots of attention to the changing wind direction – it will change even more in very light conditions so you have to follow it really carefully. The shroud cassette tapes are essential for me – the wind may be so light that sail tell tales or leech streamers don’t work. I usually replace the shroud streamers with fresh cassette tape and slightly than usual to catch each zephyr for drifting conditions. Then the other big thing is looking ahead to see patches of wind – as you catch each gust you have to make the most of it and as you come out of a gust you have to coats for as long as possible – that means that when the wind goes fine at the end of a gust you must sheet in and must not alter course. Any rudder at that point stops the boat moving and you want to prolong the glide until you get some wind again. You can use a fraction of rudder (or preferably balance steering) at the start of a gust to break away with the gust and try to stay in it longer but at the end you coast until the boat settles to the new speed and then maybe luff fractionally to try and keep speed.
Running in force 0
Very frustrating and very slow because you will have so little apparent wind. Lots of patience needed. Free everything off – except make sure your bow elastic is really tight. That’s all that will hold the boom out. Make the sail very flat but very loose kicker. (Outhaul tight, kicker loose). Sit well forward (for me that’s on the thwart with feet in front of it or straddling the thwart) Heel well to windward plate all but right up. Watch the shroud streamers – if it goes significantly by the lee gybe. Remember to drop some plate before you gybe to allow a bit of roll gybe to have something to bite against. A roll gybe with no plate down is usually embarrassing…. You also must watch your back – that is look behind to see if the fleet is catching the next gust behind you and which gybe they are on. Very frustrating if they catch you as the wind returns, but if you watch which gybe they are on you can usually stay ahead by being in the right place as it arrives. (As the saying goes spend a lead to protect a lead – use your lead to reposition ready for the next gust if you can predict it because doing nothing may let them sail right round you). If you are behind try to use a gust to sneak up on the boat in front positioning yourself to block the gusts path to him so you can get past before he accelerates.
By the way 3357 will shortly be for sale – she seems to be quite sound now – no leaks, tanks dry after capsises and most of the gear is working well. (I expect to improve the centreboard control shortly then she will be all done). If anyone is interested please let me know. I’d rather she stayed at the club but I will be selling her in due course one way or another.