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post #1 of Old 08-23-2006 Thread Starter
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How to fly spinnaker faster

We raced Saturday 40NM on a point to point race across an open Strait. Winds were over Stbd Quarter at start 18knots and continued with gusts to 21knots True wind. Coming out the harbour were rolling waves so we kept the wind just starbord of dead aft to prevent a gybe. Then we gybed to adjust to new heading with wind again behind but this time a bit abeam of port aft quarter. After a time the wind lessened and started to move forward until right on the beam at a strength 8 - 12 knots. Direction pretty consistent but strength varied. Current was Port - Stbd < 1 knot but both boats on same tack.

Our boat is a Hinterhoeller Niagara 26 (outboard) with PHRF 182. We have a 4 year old North dacron racing main in a 2+2 configuration. The spinnaker is 1979 original. Boat is fractional rig with swept back spreaders. 3 weeks ago tightened rig to about 600lbs ... not sure if this keeps mast bent too much or not. Good for upwind though.

Our competitor in our class is an extremely well sailed Tanzer 26 with outboard. PHRF 210. Masthead rig. Spinanker new last year. Both vessels have similar LWL, beam, displacement and ballast. Niagara is 4000, 1700 26'8" 23'0" LWL 8'4" beam 4'0 draft flat bottom aft of keel.
Tanzer 26 LOA 26' LWL 22'6" Beam 8'8" Draft 3'10" 4350lbs 1950 ballast, similar hull shape. keel a bit swept back compared to Niagara.
Niagara I 29, J 10.42 P 30 E 11
Tanzer I 29, J 10.50 P 25.17 E10.25

During the downwind run we were keeping ahead of the Tanzer but not pulling ahead as would be expected with a 28 point PHRF spread. Both boats were surfing. Once the wind went lighter and more forward the Tanzer started to pull ahead of the Niagara. By the end of the spinnaker run the Tanzer had about a 12 minute lead eaven after the wind came back but was still abeam. This was after about 33NM.

The Niagara came 3rd of 9 and was ahead and close to the competitors in 4, 5, 6 as expected. However the Tanzer finished 25+ minutes ahead on corrected time.

The obvious question is why was the Tanzer so much faster? I would have thought that being better sailed it might keep up to the Niagara but not that it would be that far ahead.

So the questions.

On a windy day should a slower boat of similar size be as fast?
Does the Masthead vs Fractional chute make up the 28 sec/mile or a part of it?
Does a new spinnaker make that much difference?

What should we be doing with the spinnaker trim to make the boat sail a bit faster when lightish winds and on the beam?
What about the mainsail? Any trimming techniques when light wind and spinnaker on the beam? Should it be overtrimmed or let off?

We had backstay off, halyard slack, traveller low, vang on, outhaul about halfway. Tried to keep bottom three leech telltales streaming and top one ducking behind the sail.

The pole was not straight in line with the boom. Always found main flew better when let out more. Perhaps this indicates pole too far fwd?

Crew was one on coachroof running the spinnaker sheet, two aft in cockpit.

Boat is not laden with cruising gear, has no water in the tanks, etc... was sleeping bags, kit bags , etc aboard as this was an overnighter after the race. Not particularly heavy.

Bottom is VC Offshore but has been three weeks since scrubbed. Not sure about hull on the Tanzer.

I think we are running the boat well but are now seeing a difference between the great skippers and those of us in the pack. Time to take a step forward and get out of the pack.


Mike Hoyt
Full Tilt 2
Niagara 26 #002

Last edited by mikehoyt; 08-23-2006 at 09:03 AM.
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