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5hortBu5 05-31-2013 10:09 AM

Shoal Keel: Excessive Leeway
Hey folks,

I'm the happy owner of a little 1977 O'Day 22, the one with the masthead rig and a shoal keel. I've been having a lovely time sailing about on the Delaware River over the past season (cumulative, I guess).

Late last season, I started participating in my yacht club's Wednesday night club races, and when I started comparing my performance to any of the other boats in the B-Fleet, I realized just how ridiculous my amount of leeway is.

I'm guessing that the problem is a combination of my old, probably-blown-out 100% jib, and only having about a foot of legit keel depth below the hull (I draw 1'11"), but "It's the poor workman who blames his tools". So, beside the obvious and expensive advice of "Get something with a good, deep keel" Would any of you clever, experienced folks have any tips or tricks for a newbie trying to point to a windward mark, and making very little ground for the effort?

chucklesR 05-31-2013 10:25 AM

Re: Shoal Keel: Excessive Leeway
Nope, sorry Shortbus, that's about it, get a boat with a proper keel if you want to go to wind.
Maximize what little advantage you have (low wetted surface) and run like heck on the downwind leg.
Note I have some experience in that department.

jsaronson 05-31-2013 11:10 AM

Re: Shoal Keel: Excessive Leeway
What does your main look like? If it is baggy too, that combined with the shoal keel is a killer.

5hortBu5 05-31-2013 11:25 AM

Re: Shoal Keel: Excessive Leeway

Originally Posted by jsaronson (Post 1037735)
What does your main look like? If it is baggy too, that combined with the shoal keel is a killer.

The main is a crispy and new loose-footed FX sail. Only been used for a couple seasons. I'm fairly confident it's not the problem. In fact, it's probably the nicest part of the rig right now :D

SailingJackson 05-31-2013 11:42 AM

Re: Shoal Keel: Excessive Leeway
I'd guess it's both, but I also think replacing the sail will have a big impact. I think it's actually more comfortable to sail on a boat with good sails, particularly a small tender boat like the one you have.

With blown sail, every puff will be felt as the boat tips and the strain is increased laterally. With a good sail shape, where the fabric is still stiff, every puff will be felt more as an acceleration and less as a lean on the boat.

dorymate1 05-31-2013 12:20 PM

Re: Shoal Keel: Excessive Leeway
The trick is to use what you got. you will never point as high as some other boats . But if you foot off & adjust your sails properly you'll need to cover more distance you may find you can beat the others that are trying to point to high.

GeorgeB 05-31-2013 12:37 PM

Re: Shoal Keel: Excessive Leeway
Can you provide a couple of pictures of your deck layout? (it will go a long way in helping me kibitzing on this problem.) The sort answer is you will not intrinsically point better or as well as your fin keel competitors. You will need to out trim and out strategize them. You will want to “dial in” your boat to maximize the performance of what you have. Try upping the traveler higher than you would normally do to force the boat to point. Experiment with this as too much will kill boat speed. Also look at your rig tune. More mast rake will give you more weather helm and will make the boat want to stay on point. Work on sail trim. Most sailors (and a lot of club racers) don’t do a good job at this so you may gain an advantage here. Later we can work on tactics (are you racing using a handicap system?)

Most importantly, continue to race! Racing is not only fun in and by itself, but it will make you a better sailor too. You have already taken the first step of doing a true comparison of performance. Our next step is to start tweaking to improve it.

SchockT 05-31-2013 12:37 PM

Re: Shoal Keel: Excessive Leeway
I don't have any direct experience with shoal draft boats, but as others have suggested, you need to figure out how to exploit the strengths of your boat. Accept the fact that your boat will not point with the deeper draft boats, and don't even try. Instead you want to focus on sailing slightly lower and faster, and at the same time keep the boat as flat as you can. More speed will help your keel generate more lift. If you are really serious about improving your windward performance, spend some time fairing your keel so that you can make the most of what you've got. While it is true that "a poor craftsman blames his tools" the fact remains that as racing goes, you don't really have the right tool!

On the bright side, you do have a bit of an advantage down wind with the lower wetted surface area. Also, if currents are a factor in your area, you have the option of going into shallow water to get relief from adverse currents.

If you really get the racing bug, you should definitely plan to get into a boat with afin keel in future.

deniseO30 05-31-2013 02:19 PM

Re: Shoal Keel: Excessive Leeway
5hort, You may be under estimating the current in the river. There are times in opposing wind and current you will won't even have steerage! Where do you race? There is East End YC up here out of Burlington, they race weekely. Tuesdays I think

5hortBu5 05-31-2013 02:30 PM

Re: Shoal Keel: Excessive Leeway
Denise: I've definitely experienced that, but it's not quite what I'm talking about here. This is a case where I'm on the same(ish) heading as a relatively nearby boat, and I'm just skidding sideways compared to 'em.

I'm moored and "race" (ha!) at Riverton Yacht Club, a bit South of you, near the Tacony Palmyra Bridge on Wednesday nights. Most nights, we're bouncing around between buoys 10A at the bridge, and 18.

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