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post #1 of 6 Old 09-22-2013 Thread Starter
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Basic cat sailing question

I've got a pretty basic sailing question. Today we were sailing our wave and we had some real nice conditions. It was stormy and there was nice waves and white caps.

A storm rolled in and the conditions got pretty hairy so we began to sail in the dock. The wind was parallel to the shore. I sailed in a run and planned on turning into the wind when I got between the Docks. As I got close to the Docks the wind shifted and I was now sailing directly downwind. At the same time I started riding down the face of a wave and my sail was all the way out because I was trying to spill some wind. All of the sudden the entire front on the boat was under water. My wife and I scooted back toward the rudder to get out of the water. The boat kept pealing, I tried sheeting in and I tried turning. The boat kept pearling. Finally it surfaced. I'm not sure what I did. I was hoping you guys could offer some advice. I'm only sailing three months now. How would you handle that situation?
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-22-2013
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Re: Basic cat sailing question

If you're sailing dead downwind and the sail is 'all the way out' unless it's a laser type of rig with an extra long sheet you can't let out any more.. If you can control the weather helm it's sometime possible to sheet more into the centerline and present less sail area to the wind, this can help but initially will try to spin the boat to weather so you need to be ready for that, and actually be able to 'steer' through that. Excess drive and limited forward bouyancy of a small cat makes them prone to 'pitchpoling', which is basically the boat trying to do a forward somersault.

Don't have much experience with cats, but I suspect that's what you ran into, and moving your weight aft and perhaps the passing of a puff saved you from a full wipeout?
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-23-2013
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Re: Basic cat sailing question

It reads to me like you did the right things; sheet out and move as far as you can toward the windward stern. Hard to visualize doing so near a dock, but it sounds like you'd have benefited from a trapeze, allowing far more weight aftwards.
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-24-2013
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Re: Basic cat sailing question

Heavy wind, dead down wind the boat pitch poled. That is it dug it's bows in and tried to flip over. In dinghy sailing some call this tripping the boat. Regardless, it is a function of physics. Simply put, the sail can move thru the air more quickly than the hull can move thru the water. Because a big stick connects the sail to the hull the result is the bow being driven downwards. Usually with cats this is more of a likelyhood on a reach than dead downwind. But, in heavy air, down wind, all bets are off on it not causing a pitchpole. That said, not a biggie. You did right by getting the weight back.

AS well, dead downwind puts you in a position with the least sail control. reacting to a gust or nose down situation, as you found out, not a lot you can do with the sails.You can't really sheet in. You could turn the boat but again, that usually takes you from the tramp to swimming.

When sailing downwind on a cat it is usually better to gybe downwind on a quartering run or broad reach. The boat is more controlable and faster. Once you figure it out, gybing from tack to tack downwind will always get you there faster than running straight downwind.

Again, no worries it's all a learning experience. And with cat sailing what doesn't kill you only gets you wet!

Last edited by TJC45; 09-24-2013 at 04:02 PM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-25-2013
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Re: Basic cat sailing question

With a catamaran you often need to slow down when the wind picks up, especially going dead down wind.
What you did was go so fast your bow caught the wave in front of you and stuck in it, while the stern was trying to go fast- classic pitchpole.
Preventing it is a factor of moving aft, and pulling in the main to de-power it (slow down) BEFORE it happens.

Larger catamarans hang warps or drogues off the stern to slow down in heavy weather. Same principal

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post #6 of 6 Old 09-25-2013
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Re: Basic cat sailing question

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Originally Posted by chucklesR View Post
With a catamaran you often need to slow down when the wind picks up, especially going dead down wind.
What you did was go so fast your bow caught the wave in front of you and stuck in it, while the stern was trying to go fast- classic pitchpole.
Preventing it is a factor of moving aft, and pulling in the main to de-power it (slow down) BEFORE it happens.

Larger catamarans hang warps or drogues off the stern to slow down in heavy weather. Same principal
Slow down when the wind picks up? And ruin all the fun?

Suit up, hook up, get your butt over the rail and hang on!!!!!

High wind is what these boats were made for and what Hobie sailors live for!

Last edited by TJC45; 09-25-2013 at 11:56 AM.
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