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Old 04-05-2013
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Ideal winds for beginner?

Hello out there. I'm very new to sailing bought my boat last October it's a 15'albacore. I've taken it out once and ended up doing a lot of paddling not so much sailing. The weathers great and I want to get out. But the forecast all this week has been winds of 10-15 mph with 20 mph gusts. I'll be on a small lake sailing alone since I can't convince anyone to go with me. Would these winds be too strong for a beginner? Maybe just the mainsail? Any thoughts advice stories would be appreciated thanks. Nick.
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Old 04-05-2013
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Re: Ideal winds for beginner?

Nick,
I have a new-to-me Albacore, too. What year is yours? Where do you sail?

Gusts to 20 will give you a very "spirited" boat. It could be a lot of fun, but I'd suggest that, for your first time(s) out and out alone, that's probably more than you really want. 5-10 is good, especially if its fairly steady. That gives you "room" for gusts to 15 or so.

For the winds this week, the big questions are the condition of the boat and the rigging, and your reaction time. If you're sailing along with the sheet cleated and a good gust hits you, you're going to heel, and possibly get knocked down, unless you have the presence of mind to pop the sheet from the cleat and ease the sail. What happens if the gust puts extra strain on your rig, and a shroud breaks or chainplate pops free? Are you ready for that?

I'm not trying to scare you, just trying to make sure you're safe. After you know the boat and get more comfortable with your ability, a 10-15 MPH wind could be a lot of fun. But for your second time out, and out single handed, I'd probably hold off.

If you do go out, I'd consider running with just the jib, rather than just the main. In my admittedly very limited experience, I think a gust hitting the jib is less likely to capsize the boat. I also think it's easier to tack a jib than tacking a main, especially on a little boat like that where the boom is near head height. On that boat, all you're doing is turning the boat into the wind while holding the leeward jib sheet (the one that's actually under tension) in your hand. As you cross over and the wind is on the other side, let go and pull in the other sheet (which is now the leeward sheet) until the jib is trimmed for your desired course. No fuss, no boom hitting you in the head.

Good luck!
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Old 04-05-2013
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Re: Ideal winds for beginner?

Welcome to Sailnet and to sailing!

In general, "ideal" is relative. What concerns me most is the "alone" part added to medium high winds (for a boat that size) and a beginner. I don't know where you're located but in most parts of the US the water in lakes is still cold enough to hasten hypothermia should you capsize or go over board.

Of course, if you wait long enough someone here will just say "go for it." You'll have to decide what your tolerance for risk is.

Good luck and have fun!
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Re: Ideal winds for beginner?

I'd say that 5-10 knots is a good starting range, esp for lighter dinghy type boats, with towards the 10 knot range if you're going to be doing a lot of downwind sailing. This will introduce a beginner to a fairly gentle start.

Once mastered, though, you'll soon be looking for more! 20 knots is plenty for anyone, and takes some practice to know how to handle, esp in high performance/lighter boats.
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Re: Ideal winds for beginner?

Jim. I'm not too sure of the year on the title it's listed as a 1965 mastercraft. But all the research on the mastercraft says that mastercraft didn't even make boats for another couple of years and they have never made a sailboat. But it looks like an albacore it's the closest match I've been able to find. I haven't been able to locate any hull markings to verify what it is. Best guess haha. I'm in Santa Clarita Los Angeles county sailing on local lakes. Thanks for the advice I think I'll sit it out today and wait for winds that suit my level of experience. But if they don't come I'll just head out and try with the jib only.
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Re: Ideal winds for beginner?

Donna, I've read that ideal conditions do vary a lot by the boat and sailors experience. I don't know my boat and have little to no experience. So I'm guessing my ideal conditions will show up another day. I'll sit this one out. As long as they aren't like the first time I went out there wasn't even enough wind to bob around. The life guard pulled up next to me after about an hour and when he did we both started laughing. There was zero wind breeze puff. Lovely day though I learned how to rig the boat that's a plus. I'm learning on a small lake only 3 miles of shore line. I could easily swim to shore if I get in trouble and there are always people watching. Thanks for the reply.
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Re: Ideal winds for beginner?

Another question is the sail plan's ability to be adjusted for wind strength. Does the main have a working reefing system? Do you have a smaller jib suitable for higher winds?

When I looked into incidents of Wayfarer capsizes (when I used to sail one), the consensus was that most capsizes were a result of flying larger genoas in gusty winds. I believe that's because it is a lot quicker to dump the main sheet, than to dump the jib sheets. A genoa also has a tendency to form a huge scoop in a gust, while the main tends to maintain it's shape better (a function of the boom, I think)

So it might be safe to go out in 15 to 20 kts IF you can adjust the rig accordingly. For my Wayfarer, that would be a double reef in the main, and a smaller (80-90%) jib (or no jib).
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