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  #1  
Old 04-07-2009
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Swing Keel

Can anyone tell me if I have to keep my swing keel down during a race in order to keep all things legal under informal club racing that is more or less modeled after PHRF handicapping rules? Can I pull it up during the down wind legs to reduce my overall drag and still be legal?
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Old 04-07-2009
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Dwayne,

Generally speaking, you are supposed to sail the boat in the manner dictated by the class rules for that boat even when racing PHRF with your club. The handicaps are generally set with that in mind. Otherwise, not only would you have an unfair advantage against other boats in the fleet, you would also have an unfair advantage against other boats like yours sailing in the PHRF fleet.

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Old 04-08-2009
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This is a decent question.
I have a Tartan 27' with a centerboard and during informal Weds. night racing we routinely adjust the centerboard to the course we are on. In more formal racing settings I am sure that there are more stringent rules about this.
If you raise your board on a downwind leg of a race who is going to tell the RC that you did so?
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Old 04-08-2009
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Raising the centerboard is a normal sailing tactic. I would think that PHRF ratings would take that into consideration. Has anyone ever heard of that not being allowed?
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Old 04-08-2009
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There's a difference between a swing keel and a centerboard. In fact, unless you are sailing dead downwind, you will get lift from a swing keel where you won't with a centerboard. Even though we who sail swing keel boats do raise the keel while underway (I do frequently to avoid weeds where I sail), the boat with a swing keel is designed to sail with the keel down all the time, just like a fixed keel.

Since boats with centerboards are generally designed to sail with the board up on a downwind leg, the handicapping system would allow for that. Maybe some of the one-design fleets with swing keels assume or plan for the keel to be raised downwind, but not so with the Catalina 22.
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Old 04-08-2009
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How do I find out?

OK, I understand that it's OK to raise my swing keel if my rating is based on doing that. How do I find out the basis of my rating without joining one of the PHRF fleets? Anyone have access to the details of the ratings?
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Old 04-08-2009
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It would help if you said what boat you're talking about, since someone may have one and/or already know the answer to it.
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Old 04-09-2009
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Raising a swing keel might not significantly reduce drag, depending on how the keel is designed. The biggest benefit to be gained, in terms of drag, is when the amount of wetted surface is reduced significantly when the keel is retracted. If the keel simply rotates up against the hull, the amount of wetted surface might be the same, or nearly so, whether the keel is up or down. If the keel retracts into a centerboard trunk, the amount of wetted surface might be significantly reduced when retracted.

It's probably not a coincidence that the rules generally require the former to be sailed with the keel down, and that the latter is allowed to raise the keel. If there's no significant benefit to be gained by retracting the keel, then the question is mainly one of safety. It's safer to sail a boat with the keel down, when the swing keel weighs 500 lb or more. If the cable breaks while the keel is retracted, the falling keel can tear a hole in the hull of a small boat.
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