Monday, October 17, 2016

36.7 Sailors - Use the Cheek Blocks

A couple of regattas back I gotten bitten by the change bug. We changed our foredeck to drop the pole to the deck (typical in SD) rather than into the boom bag to see if it went faster. We stopped using the cheekblocks to lead the sheets because twists in the line would snag there. We had some crew changes - just down to who was available.

And going into the regatta thinking could be a top three finish we came out second to last of seven boats.

The main issues were:

  • Cheek blocks, without them you get overrides, more on one side than the other, and more so as the wind rises. Out practice had been with a slightly smaller sail in lighter winds. There could also be a technique issue here but the sailors on board were good sailors so I'm inclined to think the problem is worth avoiding - use the cheekblocks!
  • Dropping pole to deck. We've got pretty good with the pole in the bag but during the Yachting Cup (2nd place overall) we'd concluded that the bag was slowing our douses a little bit. Going to pole on deck worked well in a practice but when tried in anger, while pushing douses as late as possible (errr too late!) things went wrong.
So, don't change too much, especially when things were working okay.

We changed things back for the CYC fall regatta and placed 3rd, one hole in the wind off second and a hole in the wind plus a little pointing off first - think our genoa is getting a bit old.

We definitely made a few other mistakes and at times in the lighter winds other boats had that "we've got more air" look about them downwind.

The future of sailboats

It's increasingly concerning to me that sailboats represent such a waste of resources. This is actually self harming to the industry as well, we end up with large numbers of basically unwanted sailboats of ancient designs clogging up our marinas, and looking extremely dated to the newer generations who are increasingly aware of both material impacts on our environment and what modern designs are out there.

So the two main sailor types the "lets get out into our environment"s and the "lets do something exciting"s are both put off.

No wonder sailing has an identity crisis.

There is some hope out there though - this last weekend I was talking to some fellow Krakheads about my misgivings on the sport and right after SA ran an article on some people who care.

Personally I'd be very interested in a recyclable SeaScape 27 or similar. A go fast go clean machine.

So, there's a market of one if anyone wants to build it!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Stand on boat at the Leeward Mark

Generally I find the rules straightforward on paper but in the heat of the moment the nuances of situation awareness (ha, nuanced for my level!) are often lost.

A prime example of this is how an overlap was established at the start, which often doesn't really matter until the starting gun goes by which time I've often lost track and therefore lost ability to push an advantage because I have to play safe.

In our last regatta though I gave up a good rounding at the leeward mark. Coming in on starboard with a bunch of slow port tack boats overlapped we took the lead and protected our position. It was one of those interesting roundings where somehow no boat gets touched and it all works out fairly sanely even though we've got ten boats stacked three deep around the mark (with Kraken on the inside).

What I failed to do was round properly. As the STAND ON boat we had rights to round wide and fast, but instead came in tight and turned hard killing boat speed.

It worked out, and in this situation we made the gains needed and went on to win the race (the cross to get starboard prior to the mark was probably the winning move).

Of course, I have some doubts about those port tack boats not thinking they would try and poke in front of us if we gave them a gap despite the overlap on entry to the zone. They were slow though so maybe they wouldn't have tried. There's some balance though here and the point is to know that you have the right to a tactical rounding rather than a seaman like rounding.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cover of Sailing World!

From the NOODs - Picture by Paul Todd of Outside Images, who consistently takes great shots of Kraken!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Handling overhead breaking waves, or not (from Dec, 2015)

Sadly I don't have any solutions here just questions, and the answer may be not much could be done, or it might be I did everything wrong.

There was no clear path out of Oceanside harbor yesterday. With three people on board we did some basic practice within the harbor while watching the breakers across the mouth and eventually decided to give it a go. Getting out wasn't going to be too much of a problem, the timing is easier between sets as you are closing with the waves pretty fast, the question was what was it going to be coming back in.

Coming back in I saw a wave several hundred yards out but decided it looked small enough to still commit, and also perhaps interesting. Given another pass at this situation I'd wait as in the end it was luck rather than skill that got us through unscathed.

A few things were learnt though!

We lined up for the harbor mouth, missing the main shoal area that was breaking a long way out and coming in close the the breakwater. I'd noticed that waves were either breaking on the shoal or the breakwater never on both and tried to hit the shoulder in between the two. This wave though came up right behind us and I didn't want to get any closer to the breakwater than we were.

I gunned the motor, didn't check water speed but likely 7.5 knots average. The waves were overtaking us pretty fast. When the wave of main concern started standing up it was obviously bigger than I'd thought and stood up right behind Kraken - perhaps six feet over the transom as it peaked to a vertical face right behind the boat. The nose dug down and we accelerated hard with the nose starting to dig in in front. Pitch poling is obviously a concerning problem and for a few seconds before the hull started really working I got really worried then the nose started coming up, with water pouring back across the boat on boat sides. At the same time water was pouring into the back of the boat and running through the cockpit hard while I struggled on the wheel to keep the boat straight.

Ivan was washed across the boat onto the lifelines with his lifejacket popping open and Edda was hanging on hard.

The wave settled down and started coming under the boat and at some point the rudder gave up. By this time things were actually relatively sane and we spun up in the white water before gunning the engine and getting the eff out of there.

Who knows how fast we got going. It felt like a surfboard or a kayak on a wave for a while there, only without the ability to dig a rail in and cross the wave.

I tried to hold the boat straight to the wave, but with people floating across the boat may have been distracted. The final round up to the right was the opposite direction to the initial turn I'd been fighting - its very possible I over-steered. Its also possible that the rudder just had no grip at this point.


  1. Don't try that experiment again, play it safe
  2. Put the boards in the hatch. It was stupid not to think about this.
  3. We had life vests on, but should have been clipped on too.
  4. Everyone should have had much better grip on the boat before committing to the most dangerous part.
  5. Phew.

Best Regatta Result Yet - 2016 Yachting Cup @ SDYC

This year's Yachting Cup at SDYC saw Kraken crewed with a consistent crew of repeat offenders on both days.

Since getting our backsides handed to us at the NOODs we'd made some hardware changes, a new mainsail replaced the oldest main in the fleet, the roller furling was replaced, our mainsheet system got some blockers to prevent the snags that have been plaguing us, the backstay travel was increased. 

These changes were aimed at fixing some atrocious pointing ability during the NOODs, which had translated to us constantly digging out of the fleet. The new headstay allowed greater mast rake, as well as reducing weight, being more flexible and more aerodynamic. The main has shape all through it.

 Our pointing was indeed improved. In the fleet of 8 actively racing 36.7's we walked in and won the first race, after a less than stellar start. Then came a 4th and two seconds, the last very close to a win. We ended day one clear in second.

 Day two was a bit tougher. We got pinned in a couple of races by boats insisting on sailing in bad air, or banging corners with us on the outside. We had three super close finishes on the boats ahead ending 4, 4, 3 (by 2ft, 4ft, half a boat).

 Overall second place - our best result yet.

 We're still going to have to work on our mark roundings, getting pinned was the result of being loose at either the windward of leeward mark (my hand goes up there). Our starts need to be more aggressive (I could write this EVERY regatta it seems). Big improvements though!

Crew work was pretty much great both this regatta and during the NOODs, we've come a long way in the last year and it's nice for the hard work to finally pay off.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


A fun day on the water had us racing in 8 - 16 knots. The Rick Johnson trophy is an awesome trophy and one day it would be nice to get Kraken's name on it but this year it was not to be. The main factor, perhaps bizarrely, was our ability to tack in stronger breeze.

Tacking right? Easy! We do it all the time?

Apparently not, and as arms got weary and the wind climbed and the sail got heavier it took us longer and longer to get the sail trimmed and boat speed back up.

Now I've had a chance to sit back and think about it it seems there are a bunch of things that we could have done.

  • We could have changed people around on the boat to get fresher arms in place
  • I could have either luffed or turned slower once through the wind to help the trimmers. While this would slow the boat down with the strong breeze we'd have been back up to speed much quicker than we were waiting for the headsail to come in.
  • We should have risked the jib for race #3. Could have left the genoa strapped down on the deck for a quick swap back. The boat was overpowered upwind during the race and tacking the smaller headsail is a breeze.
As it was we lost several boat lengths on every tack. We failed to make a mark on one layline with a horrible tack back with the pole out to clear it and we were out of contention for that trophy early on in each race.

Downwind conversely the boat felt good, we were getting up in the high 8s and holding pace with the other boats.

While thinking about it I found this article on releasing the Genoa (Sailing World).