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  #1  
Old 08-15-2008
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Unhappy Rookie Catalina 28 Racer

Racing fascinates me... so I decided to get involved in the Wed nite races at my club and learn by experience. I have a 1996 Catalina 28 (STD rig) with no mods from the stock setup. Wing keel. full batten main. 135 genoa. No spinnaker. My PHRF is 201. Things were pretty rough the first couple of races, but I got alot of friendly advice from far more experienced racers and I was climbing the learning curve. Now a rookie with a half dozen starts under my belt I am have a problem. Racing my boat seems like playing tennis with a baseball bat. I am now making decent starts, I understand the rules, my tactics are basic but reasonable, my telltales are happy, and I just can't get out of my own way! I cannot point worth a darn. Everybody else seems to have at least 15 degree to the wind on me.. which makes for a long course! I am pretty much out of the race as soon as I cross the start line. My question is, for my boat, what can I do to point higher? How close to the wind should a boat like mine be able to perform? Should I use the motor? I am willing to invest time and some money, but I really don't have any idea where to start... any suggestions would be appreciated!
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Old 08-16-2008
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One of the really great things about racing is that you get to see these kinds of things that you'd never notice when you're sailing around on your own.

I don't know your boat, so I can't answer fully, but I would expect that you'd be able to get within 50 degrees (tack through 100) of the wind in a good breeze.

The most basic thing to check is your headstay tension. If it's not tight enough, that can really affect how high you point. I think your boat is a masthead rig, so the headstay tension is actually adjusted with the backstay.

That leads to the question of how much mast rake you have. Do you have excessive weather helm? If so, your mast may have too much rake, which would also affect your pointing.

Remember, though, that different boats perform in different ways. Boats designed for racing will often point higher than cruisers. You might kill them on a reach though, which is why they always fight for windward/leeward courses!

Eric
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Old 08-16-2008
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Rig Tuning

Thanks for the advice! One the things I plan to do is to find somebody who knows rig tuning to check out my boat and see if all those parameters ( mast rake, stay & shroud tensions, etc.) are correct. Again I am not trying to make a racing boat out of a cruiser, my goal is just to get the best out of my boat and have some fun in the club races. Problem is locating that knowledgable person who is willing to help! Next option would be books/references and those tend to be pretty general, (... "once the shrouds are adjusted to the proper tension" ). What I really need is a spec book for a C28, but I have not been able to locate that as yet. Anybody know where I get tech info on a Catalina 28?
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Old 08-16-2008
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Well, a tall rig and a fin keel would have been a better choice for the '28. But if you are still sailing with the original sails then it's worth to look at them. It can mean a big difference. And look for a book about sails and trimming for racing. Look at "www . catalina28 . net" for more advise.
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Old 08-17-2008
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A folding prop is a must,especially in light wind.
Phil.
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Old 08-17-2008
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If you've been trying to pinch up in an effort to point as high as some other boats, you may be finding out that that is slow. The Catalina 28 isn't exactly a weatherly boat - so you need to focus on what's fast. There's a relationship between how high you go and how fast you go; finding the best combination is the key.

While rig tune is important on any boat, it's probably not going to make a profound difference on a C28. Until you find someone that definitively knows - just make sure the mast is in column and that shrouds are about equally tensioned (see if you can borrow a Loos gauge from a racing buddy). Don't necessarily worry about the tension numbers, just try to get the shrouds about equally tensioned with the mast in column. After that, you can adjust by counting the number of turns you take on or off your turnbuckles. You're going for middle of the road here. Upwind in moderate breeze, your leeward shrouds should have noticeably less tension but should not be flapping around.

You'll find other things make big differences. How are your sails? If you really want to race, you may want to get at least a #1 and a main that you use only for regattas. You can use your cruising set for the beer can racing. It can make a phenomenal difference. Use a good local loft and get the sailmaker out to show you how to trim the new sails.

Also, how's the bottom? It should be very clean -certainly free of any hard growth. If you have an ablative bottom paint, don't scrub it every week, but keep it as clean as possible. If it's time for a new bottom job, go ahead and get one; that's good maintenance even if you're not racing.

A folding prop is nice. However, if you have a fixed two blade, then have someone hop in the water and position the blades vertically. Mark the shaft clearly at that location. Then, when racing, position that shaft at the proper location and lock the shaft by putting the transmission in gear while the motor is off. This will reduce drag.

If you have a three blade prop, then good luck.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcibul/Bob
My question is, for my boat, what can I do to point higher? How close to the wind should a boat like mine be able to perform? Should I use the motor? I am willing to invest time and some money, but I really don't have any idea where to start... any suggestions would be appreciated!
Use the motor???
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Old 08-17-2008
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Kidding about the motor..

..just kidding about using the motor, just desperation talking!

Thanks for the advice, the mast is in column, but I am going make sure the shroud tensions are equal. What about rake, or is that in the incidental category for my boat? I have a split backstay, but I could buy one of those roller gizmos that tension the backstay. Worthwhile?

My bottom is good ( alblative paint, smooth ) although here in New Jersey marine growth appears on anything in the water in about 10 minutes! Excellent suggestion about the prop position, I will trick my brother into making the dive to check the vertical position (I'll just tell him I dropped a beer off the stern..)

Sails may be the best place to look for improvement. The sail are original equipment (10 years old) and I have been told that the headsail ( roller furling) is a bit small for racing ( 135 ). Larger and new might be a good idea. How do you determine if you sails are tired?

Thanks again for taking the time offer advice, it is much appreciated!
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Old 08-17-2008
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DO you have adjustable genoa carrs? They can make a BIG difference in how well you can point in different conditions too. Also how far inward they are makes a difference too. If you have side shrouds that go out to the outside of your boat, your pointing ability will be less than my boat where my shrouds hit the deck at the side of the cabin, almost a full foot more inbound than if the shrouds are on the outside of the hull.

Yes, older sails do not work as well as newer sails. I figured that out really well this summer. Older blown out sails are like drag racing a mid 60's mustang with a 300K mile motor that is spewing blue oil smoke vs the same rig with a spanking brand new motor in it! No other difference!

Also, going to a 155 vs the 135, at lest here in PHRF-NW, you will have 6 secs taken off you time, ie you would go to a 195 from the 201 do to a larger sail. May or may not be worth it! Roller furling also does not always allow good pointing either. but not somethng that can not be over come.

I would like to point out, rig tune WILL make a major difference. If you shrouds are too lose, or not enough tension on the forestay, this sag will not allow you to point as well ether. Been there done that one with my 85 Jeanneau. Also, make sure the mast is straight up and down, not tilted to one side etc. ANY of these things will not allow the boat to do as well as it should.

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Last edited by blt2ski; 08-17-2008 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 08-18-2008
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Best Bets

Thanks for all the advice, I will put the information to good use! It is beginning to sound like the best thing I can do is tune the rig first, and then consider retiring my 10 year old sails. I think will stay with the 135, it is fine for all my cruising, and I will keep my 6 seconds!
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Old 08-19-2008
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If others are outpointing you by 15 degrees, which is a lot, it is almost certainly because of poor sail trim, and most likely your genoa is not nearly flat enough when sailing to windward.

A 10 year old dacron sail is not terribly old, and, a Catalina 28 is primarily a coastal and bay cruiser. Unless it has been sailed really hard, which is unlikely, its sails are not likely to be as bad as you suggest. It would be a shame to spend a lot of money on a new sail, only to find that you still can't point closer than 15 degrees to the rest of the fleet. Learn how to get the most out of the sails that you have before you spend a lot of money on new sails.

Learn from the good racers. Watch the way they trim their sails for different strengths of wind and different points of sail. When they're sailing closehauled, look at how close their sails are trimmed to the ends of the spreaders. Also, look at whether the foot of their genoas are inside or outside their lifelines. If they are trimming their genoas so flat that the foot of the sail is inside their lifelines, then that's probably the way your sail should be trimmed in the same winds. If you try to trim the genoa and it comes up hard against the lifeline stanchions, then you might have to ask a crew member to lift the skirt of the sail up over the lifelines.

Ask a good racer to sail with you some day, not in a race, but just for a couple of hours. Ask him to show you how to trim your sails for maximum closehauled racing. Look at the spreader and the lifelines, and take note of the sail trim in relation to those devices, so that you can reproduce that sail trim when your racing friend isn't with you.
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