J35 balancing question - SailNet Community

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Old 01-07-2011
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J35 balancing question

The J35 class rules allow I think 1650 # of crew weight. And in anything over about 9-10 knots if you don't have max weight on the rail the other boats are going to go right by you upwind. (try crewing on a J35 when there are only 4 of ya and the other boats have 8 or 9!)

BUT, a number of singlehanders have sailed J35s offshore and done well.

My question is two part.
One, does a single/double hander get a better rating if they are racing in a short handed race and
TWO: how do most people compensate for the lack of railmeat? Do they just go to a smaller headsail? Do they just accept life on a greater angle of heel?

Just curious; a guy I know was asking me questions about sailing and one thing led to another about balancing out the boat...
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Old 01-08-2011
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Smaller, non-overlapping headsails and wider angles. Idea is still to keep the boat upright and balanced.
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Old 01-08-2011
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I think you will pretty much be stuck with the rating for example around here a J24 gets a 174 in Spinnaker or Main and Jib divisions

And the weight think is and area of HUGE disagreement with some pretty ugly fights about it as the advantage changes with wind speed


There is generally a single/double hand division and the only allowance is the use of and autopilot
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1981 J24 Tangent 2930
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Last edited by tommays; 01-08-2011 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 01-08-2011
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Boats that are intended to be raced single-hand have sail inventories and hardware layouts that are different than for crewed racing. Assuming that the boats are reasonably prepped for single-handing the actual spread in relative speed from one boat to another boat are generally about the same whether single-handed or racing with crew. That is not to say that a single-handed boat is sailing as fast as the same boat would be with full crew.

While there are certain points of sail and certain wind conditions in which a single-handed boat will have equal or better speed, for the most part, the on most points of sail a crewed boat will be faster. This is especially true upwind in a breeze where the crewed boat will have a better VMG, both with greater speed and less leeway. On the other hand, when I have raced single hand on a course with crewed boat, that speed difference was often less than I would have expected.

To some extent the closeness in the speed between crewed and short-handed is a product of a specialized sail inventory. I don't know how J-35's handle their inventory but as someone who races my 38 foot, fractionally rigged boat single-handed, I can tell you how I handle this. First of all, I have a very different sail inventory for single-handing than I do for crewed racing. The sails are slightly smaller, cut slightly fuller and designed for greater headstay sag than my crewed racing sails. They are made from a low stretch material (panel cut mylar/kevlar without taffittas).

The idea is to get as wide a windspeed range out of my headsails as I can. The fuller sail shape and lighter weight cloth, allows me to use a smaller sail down into a lighter air wind range and then take out the headstay sag and flatten the sail to go into a higher wind range. I generally sail with more twist in my sails in higher winds than I would with crew weight on the rail.

My singlehanding sail inventory is smaller than the crewed inventory. Crewed the boat carries a light #1, AP #1, #2, #3, a storm jib, storm trisail, flat sym. reaching (moderate wind AP) spinnaker and heavy downwind sym. spinacker. Short-handed and cruising I only carry a specally cut number 2,(140%) and a specially cut #3 (111%), the storm sails, a heavier weight AP sym. spinnaker

Since I lose less time by reefing than by doing a single-handed headsail change, and since my jibs have a wider wind range, racing single-handed I reef the mainsail at around 20 knots while my mainsail would almost never be reefed when racing with crew. I never sail with a partially furled headsail. On a short course I either blade or reef the mainsail and do a sail change on the spinnaker leg, and on a longer leg, I will do a headsail change.

For what it is worth the single-handing sails are also great cruising sails as well.

Jeff
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Old 01-08-2011
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Jeff: Thanks for a very thorough reply. That is pretty much what I suspected only by way of a much more complete explanation.

I also like a frac. rig for the reasons you have enumerated on various threads. The little bit of Lightning sailing I have done convinced me of this!

I really like the J35, 36 and even the 37C for their ability to take a pounding and go offshore, yet still be quick on the Bay w/ its light air.

PS. what races have you been doing?
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Old 01-08-2011
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I'm glad I'm not the only one on Sailnet that sails Lightnings! Look at the book A Manual of Sail Trim by Stuart H. Walker. It is mostly for fractional rigs and has alot of info that will pertain to the J35 and your problem of a lighter crew. It doesn't go too much into sail selection but it does give a good basis for ways to reduce heel and increase VMG.
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Old 01-08-2011
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I have mostly done single- and double-handed races here on the Chesapeake although I also did a few single-handed races when I lived in Savannah. Over there years there have been serveral attempts to get single-handed racing going on the Bay. EYC had a brief series of races back in the late 1980's and then there were some random events during the 1990's. Most recently there was a short-lived series out of Annapolis Harbor that had a lot of promise but eventually died prematurely.

I had hoped to eventually do some distance single-handed events but I really don't have time or the finances to do anything major at this point. There is a fellow on the creek where I live who is prepping a J-105 for offshore single-handed racing and hopes to do the Bermuda 1-2.

I had forgotten to answer your questions about weather helm and keeping the helm balanced. I think this will vary with the specifics of each boat. On my boat, I tend to sail with a slighter greater heel angle than I would accept if I were sailing with crew. In a gust, I tend to trim the feather the boat a little, then the backstay, traveller, and as a last resort mainsheet pretty agressively as a way of minimizing weather helm. As a fractional rig, the backstay adjuster is my best friend. The jibs are not exactly set and leave, but they are smaller and respond very well to luff sag (back stay tension) so I adjust them far less than the mainsail.

In a gust I will typically start by tensioning the backstay, which simultaneously opens the leech of the mainsail, tensions the forestay (and so takes fullness out of the leading edge of the jib), and slightly opens the leech of the jib, all of which collectively reduces weather helm and heel angle. I will then feather the boat until I can get to the traveler where I want it. In a building breeze, as the breeze builds, in addition to smaller scale backstay, mainsheet and traveller adjustments, I move around the boat adjusting halyards, outhauls, vang, jibsheet leads, until I achieve a maximum VMG, a reasonable heel angle, and a moderately neutral helm.

Synergy is surprisingly responsive. I can hold the wheel in one hand and appliy the backstay adjuster with the other until I feel the helm lighten to the point that it feels balanced, but she tollerates higher heel angles, and does not wipe out as suddenly as an many designs that I have sailed on, which was one of the motavations for buying this particular design.

I have only raced on J-35's that were fully crewed so I really don't know how they behave as single-handed racers. My sense is that they are inherently forgiving designs for that era and so althoigh they are not fractional rigs, they might be a good choice. Another masthead rigged boat that appealed to me was the Express 37, but they were 8 inches deeper and I was concerned about getting in my channel with one of them. The J-35 and Express 37 are actually faster boats overall in the light conditions of the Bay, but in making a decision for my own use I thought that the fractional rig's smaller headsails might be easier for me to handle.

Jeff
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