Friday, June 3, 2016

Quantum Sails J105 On the Water Clinic Notes

Saturday we had a great turnout for the clinic with 5 boats out on the water.  Conditions were perfect with 12 knots of breeze early on, steadily building as the day went on.  We began the day with a long upwind to work on boatspeed and to shake out some kinks in our basic boat handling.  We returned back downwind working on our gybes.  We returned to short windward leeward course to work on boat handling.  The course was only long enough for a set, a quick gybe and a douse/rounding.  After that, the teams called it a day with increasing winds and tired crew.  We returned to Columbia for beer and a long debrief.  Here is what we covered:
Upwind set up:
·         As the breeze built, we worked on properly depowering the boat for the conditions.  This was primarily accomplished with the backstay, jib cars, main/jib halyard tension, and easing of the sheets/traveler.
·         Proper heel angle was the most important factor in boat speed.  The boats that were able to maintain a proper angle of 15-20 degrees in the puffs and lulls were not only going faster but holding their lane.
·         Proper depowering allowed the skipper to keep the bow down and not feather the boat too much.  This made the boat go faster through the water and made the keel more efficient.  The net effect was less leeway than a boat that was feathered up into the waves or over heeled and greater speed through the water.  A win win!
·         With the backstay adjustment all the way in the back of the boat, it was important to get the setting right before the puff hit.  Have the main trimmer hold the wheel while the driver pumps up the backstay.
·         When adding backstay, make sure to tighten the main halyard/Cunningham.  The bending of the mast causes the mainsail to lose luff tension.
·         Use the vang to bend the bottom part of the mast.  Pulling on vang beyond snug forces the boom into the mast and bends the bottom third of the rig to depower the main.  This also keeps the leech tension on if you ease the mainsheet.  Just remember to ease the vang at the weather mark!
·         Once I have depowered the main through backstay, vang sheeting, and halyard/Cunningham, use the traveler or sheet to keep the boat on its feet.  If you are easing the sheet in the puffs, make sure you have vang on.
·         If I am easing the main for depowering, it’s a sign that my cars should come back from my base position.  Boats were 2 holes back from base on Saturday.
Boat handling:
·         Your driver has a huge effect on a successful set.  Come down deep around the mark to a near dead down course to help with the set, but right before the spinnaker fills, come up to a broad reach to help the sail fill.
·         When gybing in big breeze, make sure the boat is going full speed going into the gybe.  This minimizes the apparent wind the boat feels and helps keep the boat from broaching.  Catching a wave or coming a bit hot going into the gybe will help.
·         On the backside of the gybe, reverse helm as the boom comes over so you are near dead downwind when the boom slams across.  This will reduce how hard it comes, and cause that energy to push forwards instead of to the side causing a broach.
·         On the douse, plan to have 2-3 boat lengths of space to dive deep to get the spinnaker down.  Your bow team will thank you and your take downs will be much cleaner.
·         Taking down a bit earlier is better than a bit late. It is much faster to go downwind with a jib up than upwind with a kite up.
·         When it is breezy, the jib can come out early, it has less effect on the spinnaker than in light air.
·         Plan your entry into your leeward mark to be ½-1 boat length from the mark on your entry.  This will allow for a wide and tight rounding.  If you have to gybe around the mark, aim for 1-1 ½ boat lengths.
·         Have someone looking backwards at all times.  We had big shifts and puffs on the course, and missing one could mean being passed, or wiping out!
·         Constant communication between the trimmer and driver ensures the boat is sailing at the right angle for pressure in the kite.
 In big breeze, ease the tack line out 1-2 feet and heel the boat slightly to weather.  This allows you to sail deeper without losing the spinnaker behind the main.

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