by Steve Goacher.
A boat that is easy to sail, where everything works and nothing breaks is essential to achieving consistency. It’s when the wind begins to pick up that shortfalls in deck hardware and layout become painfully obvious.
- Can you adjust any halyard, sheet or other control lines when necessary, whatever the wind strength?
- Can all the adjustments be made without anyone having to either leave the weather rail when going to windward, or to go forward when running?
- When racing in heavy airs, do you worry more about the gear failing than you do about the tactics?
- When sail and control line settings prove to be fast, can you repeat them on the next round? Are there reference marks on the halyards and other lines?
The following simple ideas have all proved helpful:
- Use ball bearing blocks of the correct size along with ropes of the smallest acceptable diameter for the job.
- Link the forestay to the pulpit with shock cord to stop spinnaker sheets dropping over the mooring cleats.
- Clear coach roof of all redundant cleats and other fittings.
- Fit a mainsheet swivel jammer on a bracket off the main traveller. Incorporate a foot rest for the helmsman into the structure.
- Lead backstay (8:1) and main traveller to helm’s normal position.
- Link genoa tack strap to forestay with shackle to stop tack pulling back from forestay. Tape it up to stop it falling down into bow well (faster for sail changes).
- A 16:1 cascade of wire or Spectra for the kicker, with a double ended control line coming aft and out to either side. Convenient for the helmsman or crew to operate upwind, and the middleman to dump downwind.
- Twinning line anchorages should be midway between the stanchions at mast end of coachroof. This, plus ideally the use of Spectra spinnaker sheets, will allow you to do away with pole downhaul.
- Spinnaker halyard should cleat high on the starboard side of mast.
- Genoa and main halyards (of either wire or Spectra) can be led aft to metal cams aft of forward winches.
- Outhaul should be on boom with cleat mounted between mast and kicker take off. A pulley mounted a hands width behind the cleat allows the pull to be taken from any angle.
It’s worth using a companionway mounted bag for spinnaker stowage. This has lots of advantages over the pulpit turtle.
- Less disturbance to genoa airflow
- Less likelihood of broach due to foredeck man up at the bow.
- Faster drops as there is a more even distribution of jobs. The poor foredeck man is not expected to do it all.
The fastest traveller arrangement
This is a an arrangement that is not only economical, but also works the best. It requires no adjustment from tack to tack, irrespective of whether the cars are above or below the centreline.
There are two small cars on the track, joined up to the mainsheet blocks by the fixed rope bridle. Each car can be adjusted individually from their respective sides in the same way as a conventional traveller. It’s so simple and effective in practice. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll be convinced.
- Are all sharp edges taped up?
- Is all excess equipment off the boat. (Imagine walking the distance of the race course with it strapped to your back). The only sure fire way of controlling clutter on board is to take every last thing off the boat at least twice a season, and only put back on what is absolutely necessary.
- Have all you ropes been cut back to exactly what you need and no more to reduce tangles?
- Have you checked the crew haven’t smuggled excess weight on board, e.g. foul weather gear or lunch etc?