November 24, 2015

A Little Surprise ...

by Pam
So, about two and half weeks ago, Doug traveled down to the annual season ending Wurstfest Centerboard Regatta.  Lake Canyon Yacht Club has this launching ramp that is rather hard to forget.  It has a reputation.  It’s infamous.  Just ask a J/24 sailor from District 14 or click on the picture below and go to the Texas J/24 website and see how to launch a J/24 by pushing it down a ramp.  Just the thought of it makes me think about fingernails on a chalkboard.

It’s been an off sailing year for me, so Doug headed down to Lake Canyon, alone, with my car … my favorite car ever, our tandem trailer, my dolly and his good Aussie Laser.  Headed down to LCYC to launch on that infamous ramp.  What could go wrong, right?  I always worry when it comes to Doug.  He has one of a kind experiences … often!  But, he’s also just so dang lucky.  

I get a call on Saturday afternoon and he tells me how the sailing is going, who he’s run into, who says 'hi,' and all about the weather, the competition and the lake level.  No news is good news, right?  That would be wrong. 

Sunday, I was up a ladder most of the day taping and bedding and before I knew it, the day was gone and Doug should have called already to say he’s won the regatta and is on his way home … but he hadn’t called. 

So, I ring him up and he breaks the news that he didn’t win.  He finished 4th. The combined ages of the top 3 sailors were still more than 17 years younger than Doug which he sees as a good sign for the class, as well as for him being able to keep up.  

He tells me he’s been on the road for a couple of hours and proceeded to talk about all sorts of things for almost 15 minutes and then says something along the lines of, “listen I had a little surprise that I need to tell you about … you know how that ramp is really steep?”  My heart sank and I reluctantly asked, “What happened to the trailer?” and he says, “It wasn’t the trailer.” I cringed and continued, “What happened to the car?” He continued to stall “It wasn’t the car.” Phew! “The dolly?” “It wasn’t the dolly?”  Oh no!  “Your boat?”  He says, ”Well, I was really tired and had only made it halfway up the hill and someone came to help and the boat sort of slipped off the dolly, landed on the concrete and started slowly sliding down the ramp.”  Holy crap!

As I continued to drag information out of him, I learned that this happened on Saturday and bunches of people sprang into action to catch the boat and stopped it from sliding much more than 10 feet and he had already detoured to Austin on his way home to drop off the boat for Fred Schroth to fix.  Thankfully, Fred was at the regatta.  Doug wouldn’t even look at the bottom until after racing on Sunday and Fred was able to quickly assess the damage and give him a really reasonable quote for the repair.  I’ve seen Fred’s work.  It’s good.  It’s solid and he makes it even better than the original.  Everything was going to be okay.

Two and a half weeks later, the boat is repaired, back home, and the entire bottom polished out better than new.  Thank you Fred!  Yep.  Doug has unique experiences and he gets lucky. Just don't be standing next to him outside during a lightening storm.  He's going to be fine but will definitely have a tale to tell.

I told Doug that next time he wants a bottom job on his boat that he could simply ask instead of tossing the boat on the ramp and giving it a good shove.

Whoever that fella was that was looking to match the gelcoat on his Aussie Laser, give Fred a call.  It was perfect!

November 13, 2015

The New Laser Mark II Sail

Brett is the current Master World Champion, an event he has now won 11 times. He has worked with Olympic sailors from multiple countries and is the best coach I have ever met. Brett has written some of our most popular posts, including:
Brett has been assessing the new Laser Mark II sail in Sydney. Here are his comments.

This week, one of my guys tried the new sail for the first time. We had a range of wind conditions from 5 knots to 15 knots so it was a good test. My initial impressions are:
  • There is no leech flutter at all – so that will be an improvement.
  • The tapered battens conform to the natural sail shape better – so that will be an improvement.
  • There is less lower leech hooking – so that will produce less weather helm.
  • The mid to upper leech really stands upright, even with firm downhaul. This I feel will produce the biggest (potential) difference. Bigger/stronger guys can enjoy better/more consistent sail shape for longer up the wind range before depowering.
  • The use of downhaul now doesn’t need to be excessive as this is not an effective depowering device, like on the old cut sail.
  • The depowering will now be more reliant on vang and outhaul – more like the Radial sail.
  • You can produce a flat/depowered sail and still have nice consistent sail shape. ie no mismatch of shape.
  • There is not the amount of knuckling on the luff when some downhaul is pulled on. Seems the sail is cut with less luff round down low.
  • The top tapered batten produces rounder shape up the head which will be more power for lighter winds/bumpy water.
  • There is still some diagonal wrinkles from mast join to clew but not as bad/deep.
I’d like to see a top class sailor use the sail in over 15 knots to see how the leech responds. The old sail just stretched and with excessive downhaul did twist off the leech a little. I’m not sure that will or can happen with the new sail, hence the reliance of vang over downhaul.

So, I think the sail will be an improvement in most wind and chop conditions. Because of the very firm and upright leech, I’m not sure how it will go in 5 knots and bumpy water and then in 15 knots or more. There will be some re-learning I suspect of how to get the rig to be slightly more ‘elastic’ in bumpy water, i.e. more leech movements.
Given all that you have learned, do you plan to use the new sail at the next worlds?
I am convinced the sail will be better in light to medium breezes and flatter water. I'll wait to see a top sailor use it in a breeze to see how the leech opens up. I suspect it won't and therefore you have to rely on excessive vang like the Radial, but that is just a slight variation. So that only leaves light wind and bumpy water where I think the new sail will be a disadvantage.

I will use the new sail in Mexico as I think it will hold its shape up the wind range and therefore suit bigger guys like me.

An update from Brett:

We have just concluded the NSW States Titles over the weekend with around 50 Standard Rigs. Probably 10 were using the new cut sail. It seems to have a slight downwind advantage as well. Not necessarily in raw boatspeed but the firm leeches make getting the exact vang tension more forgiving and more accurate over a broader wind range.

The new sail does produce more weather helm and over-sheeting is more of a risk in the lighter winds. But to me, these slight variations are not enough of a disadvantage/risk to not use the new cut sail.

We don’t have access to rolled sails in Australia so the choice of rolled vs. folded is made for us. It is early days but I suspect the break in period will not be as long or as critical as the original cut sail. Better and stronger cloth with better shape means the sail is fine straight out of the bag.

Update 1/15/2016:  additional impressions
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