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BubbleheadMd 07-09-2012 11:31 AM

Trimming "Zero"- Poplar Island Race
 
On Saturday July 7th, I sailed a 7 mile race on the Chesapeake, near Thomas Pt. Light.

Zzgta was one of the participants, tearing things up in his Merit 25. :)

The start was in very, very light air so the race committee selected the "short" optional course. The temps were also 100F on the water. My crew pounded 2.5 gallons of water and an unknown quantity of Gatorade in 3.5 hours. Whew.

The start was right near the light house. The water was a lumpy, confused mess due to the shallow waters and the constant wakes of passing traffic. It's a popular area to fish and cruise. People love to photograph the lighthouse. Getting the boat moving in 3kts of breeze, through a chop was pretty difficult.

After a mile or so, I observed a windline to stbd and drove towards it to get into ANY kind of breeze. We employed all the common light-air techniques, which have been reinforced by Auspicious Dave, who has recently raced with me.

From there, the breeze slowly built into something useable, but a bit shifty. My GPS track looks like Helen Keller was driving. The water grew much smoother as we put some distance from the lighthouse.

We banged around the marks as quickly as we could, and grabbed a quick sandwich before we rounded the final downwind mark. The spinnaker set went smoothly enough, but my pit man was shy of the max hoist by about 2 feet, and I didn't discover this until nearly the end of the race. :rolleyes: He's new, and I should have double-checked him.

Actually, I had 3 crew who are fairly new to sailing, and for the most part, they did pretty well. We managed to maintain over 5 kts on the downwind leg, in 10-12 kts of breeze.

As we grew closer to the lighthouse, and the finish line, the confused chop was really bad, and shook the hell out of the spinnaker, making trim very difficult. My new guy just didn't have the visual cues he was looking for, but he hung with it as best he could. We crossed the line and had a clean douse.

Dead last. :rolleyes: Ah well. We're still working on our light-air skills. Congratulatory beers were had, and the stereo was put on. :D

I'll put my GPS track up for kibitzing, later this evening if I get a chance.

smackdaddy 07-09-2012 12:09 PM

Re: Trimming "Zero"- Poplar Island Race
 
Nice write-up bubble! Man I hate light air!!!!

puddinlegs 07-09-2012 12:40 PM

Re: Trimming "Zero"- Poplar Island Race
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd (Post 894447)
The spinnaker set went smoothly enough, but my pit man was shy of the max hoist by about 2 feet, and I didn't discover this until nearly the end of the race. :rolleyes: He's new, and I should have double-checked him.

Poor pit guy/gal. It's not their issue. Why isn't someone jumping the halyard at the mast? It's their job to both jump and call it made. The pit should only be tailing whatever's going up and adjusting tension to jib and main halyards. In really light air, having your kite a foot short of a full hoist isn't a bad thing at all.

BubbleheadMd 07-09-2012 01:03 PM

Re: Trimming "Zero"- Poplar Island Race
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by puddinlegs (Post 894488)
Poor pit guy/gal. It's not their issue. Why isn't someone jumping the halyard at the mast? It's their job to both jump and call it made. The pit should only be tailing whatever's going up and adjusting tension to jib and main halyards. In really light air, having your kite a foot short of a full hoist isn't a bad thing at all.

Soooo, if it's super light a la almost no wind at all, you can hoist a very light spin sometimes and be able to sail just about as high and effectively as a light #1.. Of course, a drifter is the weapon of choice if you have one.

My mast and pit are the same position.

I don't have the usual "keyboard" of line clutches arrayed around the companionway, with secondary winches. All halyards, pole lift, clutches and cleats are at the mast.

I realize that this isn't conventional, but I'm modeling it after a successful J35 that I sailed on. I've already got too many people in the cockpit, and this gets at least one person out from underfoot.

The mast/pit man did jump the halyard, he just failed to raise it fully. He has mast winches and Spinlock clutches at his disposal to get the job done.

SVAuspicious 07-09-2012 02:03 PM

Re: Trimming "Zero"- Poplar Island Race
 
Easing the spinnaker halyard and foreguy can help on some boats in very light air, moving the projected area forward and clearing more from behind the main. 2' is a LOT though.

I think your foredeck person can be the second set of eyes to make sure the spinnaker halyard is two-blocked. Check and check again. Everyone supports everyone. Even rail meat should be looking around for what isn't right and asking questions. That's where your next generation of grinders and trimmers come from.

Your crew members that I met have really good potential. Y'all can do this.

Get that steering tightened up and invest time in your crew. You'll move up in the fleet.

puddinlegs 07-09-2012 07:11 PM

Re: Trimming "Zero"- Poplar Island Race
 
Bubble, apologies. I was assuming since you said 'pit' you had a pit. Inexperienced crew, always have them check each other's work. Your mast/pit and bow should be a team... what happens up there stays up there if they're working well together.

Honestly, don't cull your crew just yet. In the fall you'll be glad you've got 8. For beer cans, dial down things just a bit and focus on good clean sailing (driving/trim) and boat handling. Sure, for more 'important' races, you just say I'm taking ____, and I've got three slots open. First come, first served. This assumes that you've got two or three regulars who you really need on the boat of course. Sounds like you do need a new sail though, or at least a better one.

Keeping bodies out of the cockpit in light air, if you can reach it, you do the jib sheet release. Have your lightest most competent trimmer finish the tack. Main trimmer should cross as far forward in the cockpit as possible, everyone else is out and where they need to be to roll tack the boat. Extend your tiller and sit to leeward and as far forward as you can yourself. If your crew doesn't know what a roll tack is, then sail by some competitive lasers, etc... that are out. It'll be crystal clear what the goal and timing are.

Movement on deck is at an absolute minimum, and silence is golden. Sure, talking very softly to each other on the leeward rail is fine, but if I can hear it enough to make out the conversation, it's too loud. Set up for spin hoists, douses, etc... happens deliberately and slowly, timed with being on the correct tack. Do as much as possible on the rail (pre-feeding the guy and the like) If you can't get the pole up without moving the boat around, just hoist the kite using a human guy, then get the pole on.

Nothing needs to happen quickly. Usually inexperienced crew makes the mistake of doing things much too fast in light air. Think more 'slo-mo ballet', and remind them to slow down, particularly during gybes. Only roll tacking is done quick'ish. Have someone count it down so everyone move across the boat at once... quickly, smoothly. Loosen, up, go bow down. The jib trimmer is absolutely driving the boat. Sail a bit fat. If you get a lift, the trimmer eases a bit to match the lift and let the boat accelerate, then head up and let the trimmer slowly work it in. They'll tell you when to stop. Conversely, in a header, the trimmer sheets in a wee while you head down, then he/she eases a bit. They should be telling you if there's any pressure on the sail, and to 'head up' or 'down' as necessary. Same with the spin. If you're trying to make it all work by your driving, it's nearly impossible to sail effectively in the light stuff.

I'm sure you know all this stuff. Somedays we nail it and make the boat go like hell in light air. Other days we're just a bit off. Interestingly enough, there are still very few surprises on the winner's list, light air or heavy. Often as not, it's the same sailors.

SVAuspicious 07-09-2012 07:54 PM

Re: Trimming "Zero"- Poplar Island Race
 
Puddinlegs has good advice. Rich's boat has the mainsheet behind the wheel so that means weight aft is a reality. You can't drive and trim main at the same time.

Check the SIs - some clubs don't like roll tacking. Get the tack itself right first before you add things like roll tacking.

puddinlegs 07-10-2012 01:33 AM

Re: Trimming "Zero"- Poplar Island Race
 
If he has a wheel, what would it take to convert it back to a tiller? If I remember correctly, the P30 was a tiller boat originally, no? It'd be well worth the 75$ for the piece of wood for sure, and have the huge benefit of actually being able to 'feel' the boat.

I feel your pain on the beer cans though Bubble. We went from 2nd in our series and only needed to finish mid pack to have 2nd or 3rd overall. 2 no shows, regular crew out on Vic Maui,weddings out east, etc... Pooch screwed, pups will be for sale shortly. :) Ironically, we had 3 bow people on the boat and no regular trimmers. All the bad stuff happened in front of the mast. Oh well. That's why it's best not to get too caught up in weekday racing results. In the end, sailboat racing after work is a luxury and kind of a crap shoot.

sww914 07-10-2012 03:49 AM

Re: Trimming "Zero"- Poplar Island Race
 
So you sailed, it was warm, you had beers at the end. It sounds like a success to me!

SVAuspicious 07-10-2012 06:43 AM

Re: Trimming "Zero"- Poplar Island Race
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by puddinlegs (Post 894734)
If he has a wheel, what would it take to convert it back to a tiller?

I misspoke - it is a tiller. I thought tiller and typed wheel. *sigh* It's a dumbo on my part.


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