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Old 01-24-2007
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Quick Stop

I'd like to second the "Quick Stop" method referred to above. We participated in a Storm Trysail Club MOB seminar for Junior Sailors at Larchmont YC several years ago. Essentially, the method calls for the boat to tack IMMEDIATELY, all standing, and get back to the victim, while the crew works to get the jib or other foresail down. (Boats are simpler to maneuver with just the main up, and the victim is easier to see and approach with no foresail up. Our J/36 was fully crewed with 14 to 17 year-olds when we tried it for the first time with the spinnaker up in about 18 knots of wind. We were going about 10 knots when I threw over the cushion. The 16 year-old helmsman threw the helm over, and we tacked. The spinnaker draped itself back against the forestay and shrouds as the boat slowed and turned. The crew got it down, and we had the boat back at the "victim" in less than a minute. The biggest problem we had was getting these dinghy sailors to realize that a 10 ton boat doesn't just stop when you luff, the way a dinghy does. We zipped by that cushion two or three times at 5 knots until he got the hang of it. Subsequent returns were even quicker, despite "losing someone" in the middle of headsail changes and spinnaker jybes. Getting the different helmsmen used to the momentum, speeds and distances in an unfamiliar boat was the issue. It was also rough enough that the ladder, mounted on the transom, would have been a dangerous limb-breaker if it had been used. Having a tackle/harness system that ACTUALLY WORKS is imperative if you expect to get someone back aboard quickly.
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