Thursday, February 12, 2009

More on Light Air Sail Setup

I spoke with Jay a bit about the set-up of his sails in the light conditions we saw in FL. To expand a bit on what Craig already said, Jay admitted that the set-up is a compromise when the crew is not out on the wire. The main is optimized towards the higher end of the wind range. In the light, the sail is incredibly deep and needs a lot of mast bend to twist open. I want to explore ways to add bend and reduce tension. As Craig said, the rig tension required to achieve the bend makes the headstay too tight. The tight headstay depowers the jib and results in a very narrow upwind groove.

While some pin the rig up, I like the ability to straighten the mast as the wind strengthens. It was apparent to Ned and me that this adjustability is crucial to upwind speed and height. As the velocity changes, if you do not have the appropriate amount of bend, you are going to get crushed.

The other very 'tweaky' part of this main is as you move from the mainsheet controlling leach tension to the vang controlling the leach tension. Balancing the amount of ram and vang used is crucial and seems to be more a matter of experience and technique. I was paying close attention to the leach-tale and trying to have this fly consistently (say 50% of the time in the light) as the wind ranged from 3 to 5 kts. It was my preference to be too loose and twisted esp. when the breeze was down to 3 kts.

Jay had a look at our set-up and thought it looked good. My conclusions are that upper spreaders would be a great help to speed in the light with the Glaser main. Also, that this sail can be fast in this condition it just requires a lot of attention in terms of set-up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

505 Midwinters Report

The Fleet 13 Winter Trip has come to a close. John Loe arrived back in Chicago with both boats yesterday afternoon and everything is back in the garage and out of the weather. Today’s 60 degree temps in Chicago may be a hopeful sign of an early thaw for spring sailing.

Overall, it was a very strong showing for Fleet 13 at the Midwinter Championship. JB and Ned Turney finished the regatta on a high note by taking 2nd in the seventh and final race of the series. They ended up 11th overall which was a bit lower than they had hoped, but it was good for them to break into that top pack on the last race. JB said that they were finally able to find the pace they needed to hold a good lane off the rabbit and not be dictated on the first beat. Considering there was a 29 boat fleet and the top 10 was extremely tight, this is a solid finish for team “Rough Housing”.

John Loe and I were very happy with our finish of 6th place overall. In John’s first 505 regatta, we felt like we had the speed to hang with the guys in the top 5. We sailed very conservatively, minimizing risks and trying to keep our finishes in the top ten. Only the first race of the series was sailed in “wire-running” conditions and the rest was all what you could classify as “light”. It was good that John got an opportunity to see how great the 505 is in breeze. Just have to put the bow down and “let the bitch eat”.

A discussion on sails:

Both Jay Glaser and Ethan Bixby were at the event, which was a unique experience. Being able to talk to them about sail setup was a very valuable learning experience.

Both boats were using new North V8F .75 oz spinnakers with the Chicago flag color scheme. We were both extremely pleased with these kites as they proved to be quick in the variety of conditions.

JB and Ned were using Glaser upwind sails. There is no doubt that the Glaser sails have been developed for medium to heavy air sailing. They are very full in contrast to the Norths. The tuning for these sails in light air is always somewhat of a compromise; you really need to load on the rig tension to pre-end the rig, which makes the headstay tighter than ideal. JB and I both have found that this results in a very “thin groove” in the light conditions.

John and I were using North upwind sails. I have always found the Norths to be extremely user friendly due to their relatively flat cut. In general you can sail with a looser headstay which is great for when you have a 505 rookie at the helm. This makes the boat very forgiving in the light stuff. I haven’t done much heavy air sailing with the North upwind package, but I look forward to some testing this spring.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday Weather Update

Here is the latest from JB Turney on the weekend conditions. Skippers, please prepare for a weekend on the luxurious and comfortable leeward rail!

Some Tide data I found specifically for the entrance of Tampa Bay:

As you can see here, I had the shipping channel on the wrong side of Egmont Key (North is up on the map):

General Forecast:

Marine Forecast:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Damn the groundhog, walking to work in 8 deg F has really gotten old.

Thankfully, both 7346 and 7611 will be racing in the 505 Midwinter Championship at Fort Desoto, FL this weekend. Also, one of our fleet prospects will be sailing 8351. 7346 had a strong showing at this event last year and Fleet 13 is looking forward to another strong showing. In spite of the tough economic climate (how sick are you of hearing that?), the Midwinter's fleet has grown this year by 6 boats to a total of 28 registered at the time of writing.

In the spirit of 505 sailing, I wanted to post some thoughts and recollections on the regatta venue from last year:

Threw together a little image of the sailing venue so you'll have some idea of what to expect.
While we were down there the breeze was NNE-ENE all three days so that's all I have to reference.

As you can see, we launch off of the southern side of Fort Desoto, I marked this as launch. Tampa Bay is to the east on the right side of I275, that's the big bridge from St. Pete to Sarasota. The Gulf is to the west (left) outside of Egmont Key. The sailing area is divided in half by the shipping channel which is considerably deeper than the surrounding areas so the big ships can get into Tampa. This gives the RC basically an inner and an outer course. We sailed on the inner course on days 1 and 3 and the outer on the second day. Flood current obviously goes left to right towards Tampa and the ebb goes right to left out into the Gulf.

The limit of the inner area is marked by a Govt can about where I marked the leeward marks, that's where the RC sets up for the inner course. You have to stay out of the channel as there is a lot of commercial traffic.

Inner Racing Area: Our first day on the inner course was light and partly cloudy, 3-8 kts ENE shifting NE. We saw both flood and ebb during the day. There was less current towards shore (on the left) but it was not a make or break deal. There were generally a lot of left shift as the breeze bent towards the shore. Particularly towards the end of the day as it got lighter. Day three was windy after a cold front came through overnight, 16-22kts NNE-NE also on the inner area. There was a flood tide. Much larger waves on the right side with generally stronger breeze right. Flat water left but puffier and shiftier. It was also puffy and shifty at the weather mark as it was closer to shore, this was a more NNE breeze. Top teams were neither hard left nor hard right but starboard layline seemed generally better. It was critical to gybe out right around the mark to get back in the big breeze and out of the lee of the beach.

Outer racing area: Day two was overcast and saw breeze of NE 5-13 kts. There did not seem to be much current relief on this racecourse. We were far enough from the channel that I did not notice any great difference between the sides. The breeze was more of a true oscillation in our first race out here. More important to be in phase with the pressure and angle than mailing it to a side. Race two saw weather come through and a persistent left shift with rain.