Traveller Tips #13 Approaching the Windward Mark (on flat water)
We all know that the closer you approach the windward mark on your penultimate tack the easier it is to judge the layline and thus the exact moment to make your final tack.
No matter how close you are though you inevitably include an extra bit of ‘comfort zone’ in your decision (ie, sailing beyond the precise layline) in case the wind direction changes or you’ve misjudged the angles.
My opinion is that in club-level sailing we tend to make this ‘comfort zone’ far too big, and it’s quite common to see boats going two or three full boatlengths further than they need to before tacking for the mark.
It’s easy to understand why though – when you’re thinking “Crikey, those boats aren’t far behind – I must make sure we get around this mark safely!” an extra couple of boatlengths before tacking may seem a sensible precaution – but, looking at it another way, you’re offering those boats behind an easy way of getting 40 feet closer to you and possibly even overtaking.
Of course those boats behind might simply copy what you did anyway, because another tendency in club-level sailing is for all of us to base our decisions on what we saw the boat ahead do – but if you can force yourself to make your own decisions instead – and then force yourself to not include that comfort zone – you will find yourself frequently taking big chunks of distance out of other boats.
It can go wrong of course – without that comfort zone there will quite often be times when you find yourself approaching the mark from slightly below the layline and unable to get around without doing two more short and very messy tacks.
How you can avoid those extra messy tacks will be the next tip in the series!
Helm, Jeremy Arnold, FF3936
Waples Wines Traveller Tips!
And now another of our regular Travellers Tips, this time from Richard Lovering:
Traveller Tips #12 Gybing in lots of wind!:
“When it’s windy the crew pulls the main over during the gybe from the centre main sheet, because this allows a better pull on it. Also, before going for the pole make sure the boat is flat and fully under control.”
“Finally, before you go into the gybe you should also make sure the pole is at the right height, in order that you can get the pole back onto the mast quickly after the gybe without fighting the downhaul. ”
Helm, Richard Lovering, FF4402
Traveller Tips #8 Following Others:
“It is good to watch what other boats do but not to slavishly follow them. They may have made route decisions relative to other boats or the wind conditions at the time which would be different by the time you reach the same position or on the next lap
At inland venues just because something worked on lap one it will not necessarily work on lap two. Whilst it is good to watch what others do, try to work out why it worked to help you make your decision.
Finally, remember: if you have not been able to understand what was going on, go and ask the experienced sailor after the race – they are usually more than willing to help!”
Helm, David McKee, FF4005
“When travelling for the first time or as part of a new team here are a few tips to make packing the boat up and rigging run smoothly:-
- Owners are fussy and like things to be carried out in a certain way, take time to work out how they like things done, then commit them to memory and try to follow the routine every time.
- Work on opposite sides of the boat – and work methodically through everything coming together for the two person jobs, such as taking the rudder and mast out.
- Have proper straps and padding for everything not an assortment of bits of string of indeterminate length.
- Leave as much as possible on the trailer (tied out the way) so you don’t have to find it later”.
Helm, Keith Jamieson ƒƒ3903
Travellers tip #5 Communication:
“Lots of Communication is good so you both know what each of you are thinking and doing. After the start it is important to communicate compass numbers to work out lifts and headers. Boat speed and height. Also if you are looking to tack making sure you have a lane to fit into is important and that you are not tacking into someone’s dirty air”.
Helm, Richard Lovering, ƒƒ4002
Travellers tip #4 Mast gate/mast heel:
“Check you have no sideways movement in the mast gate and the heel of your mast is solid all these things can affect your boat speed and are easy rectified”.
Helm, Bobby Salmond, ƒƒ202.
Travellers tip #3 Rudder play:
“The next time you are in the dinghy park go around the other Flying Fifteens and see if you can move the bottom tip of their rudders. If you can there will be movement between the rudder bushes and the rudder stock. This is bad when sailing, as the rudder will vibrate and upset the flow of the water across the rudder causing drag and slowing you down.
The solution is to replace the nylon bushes which are found top and bottom of the rudder tube. I would recommend that you replace one at a time starting with the top bush and see if that solves the problem. To get the bushes out first try and tap them out with a long shafted screwdriver and if that doesn’t work you may have to use a junior hacksaw blade and wrap tape around one end to form a makeshift handle and cut saw drafts in the bush all around but be careful not to damage the rudder tube you will then be able to pull the bush out with a pair of long nose pliers.
You can then clean off the inside of the tube with fine sandpaper, apply a spot of epoxy glue and replace the old bush with a new one that you will be able to purchase from Pinnell and Bax. While you are attending to the rudder bushes you may also check that your rudder fits snugly to the hull. If there is a gap of over 6mm then you are again upsetting the flow of water across the rudder which slows you down. You can either push the rudder further up through the rudder tube or you may have to reshape the flange of the rudder. Either way make sure that the rudder then rotates freely without scrapping the hull”.
Helm, Bobby Salmond, ƒƒ202.
Travellers tip #2 Kicker setting: “On my boat the kicker is one of the most constantly adjusted settings. In simple terms, other than the main and jib sheets it is the control which mostly affects the speed and balance of a fifteen. Therefore, it should be in a very accessible place. I have mine on the mainsheet jammer which I like because you never run out of adjustment which can happen with the twin control system if they are not continuous. There are well documented numbers about kicker tension in different wind strengths but my view is you should learn to develop “feel” from the rudder without looking at the sails all the time.
Light winds upwind and downwind i.e. when the crew is in the bottom of the boat; it should always be very slack. You don’t get much rudder feedback from a fifteen in these conditions. Medium winds upwind. This is when you can “feel” the difference. Start to apply kicker just as the boat starts to become overpowered (ie: the rudder loads up and you find yourself having to ease the main to stop the boat heeling and luffing into the wind). You will find as you pull on the kicker the boat will heel less, the rudder will “feel” more balanced and you can keep the boom centralised which will help with pointing. However, you must be quick to ease the kicker again if the wind lightens as the leech of the main will quickly become too tight and will stall. You should “feel” the boat rapidly slowing down and the rudder going very light. I can’t stress enough how important it is not to be ‘over-kickered’ when this happens.
Medium winds downwind; it should always be slackish.
Heavy winds upwind; keep pulling on the kicker until the mainsail shape distorts (excessive creases from spreaders to outhaul) and then let it back a bit. If boat is set right the rudder should “feel” almost neutral (ie: a little weather helm but you are not fighting it all the time).
Heavy winds downwind; firstly, make sure you ease the kicker lots before bearing away around the windward mark. This will make the manoeuvre much easier as you will not have to fight a rudder which is trying to make the boat head into the wind. It will also be kinder on your gooseneck fitting! When reaching with the kite it should be well eased. This will let the spinnaker do the work and keep the boat flat, the rudder neutral and the boat will “feel” under easy control. When running it should also be well eased but if the boat starts to lose control and keeps trying to bear away into a gybe pull the kicker back on a bit until the rudder loads reduce and the boat is back under control”. Helm, Greg Wells, ƒƒ4030.
Travellers tip #1 Boat/equipment stress: “Many people seem to be constantly worried their boat or equipment is not right or their boat is not properly setup. This takes up a good deal of nervous energy and affects enjoyment of sailing. Don’t worry too much about your equipment and boat set up. I recommend you check your boat over at the beginning of the season, replace worn or damaged fittings or rope and then check the boat set up. This is a fairly easy process, there are tuning guides available from the class sail makers and there are always people willing to help if you are not sure you can manage it yourself.
My message is that on smaller water, similar to many of the Waples Wine Series events the legs are fairly short, so differences in equipment and set up have a relatively small impact. The biggest gains can be made by concentrating on sail setting, trim and getting the strategy right rather than radical changes to the equipment. Set the boat up, make sure everything does what it needs to do and then put this out of your mind and concentrate on the things that make the biggest difference”. Helm, David Mckee, ƒƒ4005
In association with Waples Wines, the Northern Travellers Series will be publishing regular tips for faster sailing direct from the Maestro himself, Dave McKee!!
Keep watching and stay tuned – first tip due on 21st!