Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thistle Nationals Day 1 Report

Full results here: Cumulative Results

Thistle Nationals Day 1
Races 1 & 2
Report by Brad Russell

The Thistle Class National Championship is underway after 2 great races in Fort Walton Beach, FL. After postponing ashore for a couple hours waiting for the sea breeze to begin, 50 Thistles headed out for a great afternoon of sailing.

The sea breeze came in as the locals said it would, but it quickly went further right than normal, making it difficult to predict what was likely to happen next.  The question was whether the breeze would continue to move right as sea breezes typically do, or if it would stop where it was and settle in. After an unsuccessful attempt to time the oscillations our boat decided we didn't have a clue.

The fleet was anxious and the first attempt to get a race off saw a massive number of boats OCS and the race was blown off. The next start with the threat of a Z flag penalty got the fleet to behave and the race went off clean.

The breeze did in fact move further right, up to 30 degrees further than we were led to expect. The shifts and puffs were unpredictable until you could see them. The scores showed it, as only 3 boats had 2 very good races. It proved especially variable as the boats worked further up the course, nearer to the heated land that made staying smart more difficult.

While some say you should always go right, both sides paid at times and the two sides worked in very different ways. Our boat felt like we could see the left advantaged breeze coming and it would last longer but the angle didn't stay as good for as long. The right, to us, was much more difficult to see what was happening until the boats showed around you showed the change.

Downwind, pressure seemed to pay. With a bigger fleet, the middle was rarely able to work. Boats that did best tended to stay towards the edges.

The top 3 boats were clearly the class of the field. Mike Ingham leads with a 1, 2 followed by John Baker with a 3, 1 and Paul Abdullah is in third with a 2, 3.

On our boat we felt a little off pace tuning up before the racing. The first race proved we weren't as fast as we hoped, and a shim change between races made a big difference. Our biggest issue and area for improvement is managing risk and consolidating as soon as possible in the variable conditions. The verbal highlight of the day was first time Thistler Liz Walters on my boat worrying about where the spinnaker halyard disappeared to when we were sailing downwind (it was holding up the spinnaker).

The social scene is great and we just had a fantastic shrimp boil put on by the EXTREMELY helpful members of FWYC. We can't wait for tomorrow and another day with our Thistling friends!

Additional Tuning Info

After looking at several boats yesterday on shore and having to make a change of my own in the water, I wanted to add a little info about what we are trying to accomplish, what to look for, and what to change.

Most of the items we tune in the boat are working mostly towards one goal: to match the bend it your mast while sailing to the curve designed into the luff of your main. All of our changes on shore are aimed at achieving that goal, so keep in mind the numbers are a means to an end, not a firm, unchangeable requirement.

We judge our mast bend by the overbend wrinkles in the main. Judging them should be when you are fully trimmed upwind and not overpowered. Look for the the wrinkles coming off the mast and extending towards the clew of the sail. The target is for the wrinkle just above the window in the main to end between 3/4 and the back of the window.

If the overbend wrinkles do not go far enough back the mast needs more bend. This is accomplished by shimming the back of the mast and/or tightening the forestay. If the wrinkles go too far back you need less bend and removing a shim from the back of the mast or loosening the forestay will help.

On my boat yesterday we felt a little off pace while tuning up before the race and it held as status quo in the first race. My overbend wrinkles weren't going as far back as I would like. I have an unusual case of needing to shim the front of my mast to prevent too much bend. I took that out between races and got more overbend wrinkles. As a result we were faster in the second race.

After working with several boats yesterday during the delay in shore, feedback was positive on all the boats and a few plan to move a little bit further in that same direction. If you would like help with your boat find me (Brad) in the parking lot and I'll be happy to help you.

In this photo we are at the less-bendy end of the acceptable range for overbend wrinkles.

No comments:

Post a Comment