Sunday, September 14, 2014

Race: 2014 Beneteau Cup

The Beneteau Cup was a fun event. Our final result was 5/8 and we're properly mixing it with the fleet, losing some battles but finally winning others. Fourth wasn't too far off and that would have us top side of the table. Looking at the distance to lead boat Kea there's a lot of work over next couple of years if we want to challenge but hey, that's why we're racing - if it were easy what would the point be!

Day 1
On our first race we were pretty solid up the first couple of beats and run. It was gratifying to see our downwind now as a competitive tool rather than a scare.... until the final leg when we got the biggest knot in a spinnaker to date. Five minutes spent sorting this out on deck without a head-sail up of any description saw us lose three boats, dropping from fourth with boats ahead in reach to seventh without. Lesson learnt - if its bad enough to drop a spinnaker too the deck and you have a spare packed throw the spare up and deal with the mess later.
On the second race we were again mid race and in a building watched the other boats have spinnaker issues, headsail issues etc. Then sat on our laurels and saw boats we'd passed round the top mark ahead of us. Lesson remembered. Play the shifts. Always play the shifts.
Now we're mixing it on the downwind legs we're learning new things there. We pushed above Adventure and Sorceror to get an inside overlap but went too far to windward and couldn't hold speed to the mark. On day 2 we took this lesson and during the first race drove up over Adeline and ate their wind.
Another lesson, at a bottom mark we rounded just behind Sorcerer with Fandango right behind us. Sorcerer was slow and we tried to drive under them only to become pinned. Bad idea.... eventually we tacked to clear our air but by then Fandango was long gone and ahead.
Final lesson, the current was strong and the safest course to the mark was a port tack. We didn't hit the mark but dropped the pole two times out of six roundings to emergency tack to clear. Other's weren't as lucky.
Beyond basic sail management and tactics I also wonder if we needed more twist on starboard as we were pounding into waves. Experimentation to be done....

Day 2
Day two were two WL races outside harbor island. This was an interesting variation but I certainly had some trepidation about local knowledge and suspect this might have been well founded.....

First race we went right when everyone on the fleet went left. We did this from a pretty good position and had to stall out a bit to make the tack. Ended up in third around the mark. Had a slow hoist again and were a couple of places from last at the bottom mark. Made a place back on the next upwind leg and caught up with the bulk of the fleet at the leeward mark but with everyone and their dog having an inside overlap on us. Went in low, picked up speed to the mark with a leeward drop and managed to squeeze up back into fourth. Were comfortably in fourth when we had a horrible shift on our tack for the line, having to throw another in to make the end we hadn't been intending on hitting but doing so seconds ahead of the approaching pack. FUN!!!

Second race we were slow.

I still don't understand this... but I guess the left was paying off better than the right. Looking at the data Kraken was sailing better than we've ever sailed. Tight (for us) tacks, high on polar speeds, speed over ground agreeing but somehow running last place until the final few hundred meters where we clawed a place back. We had one major mistake with a spinnaker drop but it only cost five to ten boat lengths and shouldn't have placed us in last place.

I'm missing something about wind or current in the bay.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Race: Oceanside to Mission Bay and Back

This was our first coastal race since the windless 2014 border Run. On the way down we checked out the high frequency radar overlay and saw the chance to jump on a decent current eddy swirling through La Jolla and wrapping around to Mission Bay.

There were nine boats in the fleet, several of them slower cruisers and three other of our normal Oceanside "A class" competitors. We hoped to do well as Kraken has typicially proven fast in a straight line, our maneuvers letting us down as we learn.

In this case we set off on a reach and it seemed the other fast boats were doing better than us so we followed plan A and dropped deep into the bay under spinnaker. Early on we bit some kelp but a little work with the flosser saw a decent lump come off and boat speeds seemed to come back up to reasonable. As we came back out from our deep course and rejoined the fleet it became apparent that we hadn't gained much, in fact we were significantly behind the fast boats, in fact.... we were being passed by the slower boats... dang.

Gopro on boat pole an under boat. Big strand of kelp. We tried to floss some more, nothing came off (as you can see in the video below the kelp was halfway up the keel). We tried to pull the kelp down by attaching a weight (part of the anchor) to a line and pulling it down but water resistance on the line kept it up at the top of the kelp. The slow boats were still passing us. Eventually we dropped the spinnaker and backed down.


Once clean we managed to pass the slow boats but in a dropping breeze and now back on the same track as the other fast boats we didn't make much ground on them. No idea if the course we took worked!

On the route back everyone took a pretty conservative line out of Mission Bay to avoid the nearshore kelp beds. This also took us high into that same eddy and gave a better current profile, though in practice the current had changed, the eddy gone and it was on the nose the whole way back.

Prima quickly stretched away and Shaman quickly overtook us. Disappointing. We shifted the jib lead outboard and started to maintain position against Prima and Shaman. Once we got Spinnakers up Shamen stretched away, Pole Dancer went high and Prima maintained their lead. We overtook everyone else and rolled in fourth.


1) Move jib lead outboard faster! I made a little line and shackle designed for this that should make it easier.
2) Check for kelp with gopro if in ANY doubt.

Gear: 3DI sails

Kraken's main race sails are 3DI. The main was one of the earlier 3DIs that came with the boat and the #1 Genoa a more recent sail I purchased in late 2013.

The shape maintained by the sails is impressive. Here's a video on the construction method:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Race: Hospice regatta

This was a two day event in Oceanside with five other boats in our class. Day one was three WL races and day two a random leg race.

I went in with some expectation to be mid fleet but the first day we were missing a person in pit and a new person on board and the other boats ahead of us were all on form. Our results were 5/6, 5/6, 3/6.

The next day we went in with an extra person so had pit properly covered. Our sailing was a lot better but it was difficult to tell how we were were doing as one of the slowest boats in our class. When we got the results we were once again 5/6. Damn... especially when the silver lining though is we were 49 seconds off first place on corrected time after an hour and a half on the water.

Looking at the track we lost this race on two decisions. Firstly at the leeward mark where we wiggled deep to drop the chute and lost position to a boat in a different class, taking a slow wide rounding. Secondly I didn't commit properly to the wind going left, and sailed up the right of the course not the left. The wind then shifted left. We should have been on the left of the course.

Our starts were solid, winning two and being close on the others. Our tacks great and boat-speed felt pretty good. We're in the fight now.

Technique: This week we practiced a "stretch and blow". This involves setting your upwind sails, sheeting them in, pulling the spinnaker across the leeward side of the boat and blowing the halyard. Advantage is that you can smoothly transition to the upwind leg from a reach.

I was bow for our practice and while it wasn't quite windy enough (the wind is meant to cushion the sail above the water) and the spinnaker did get soaking it also came into the boat super easily.

That would get us halfway up the board on the RLC, then playing the shift correctly probably would have placed us near the top..... next time! Err, next time there will be something else.

Edit: Video of dolphins during the practice sail!

Gear: Wind Transducer Woes (Update)

Couple of days later I was back at the boat during the morning calm and saddened to see other boats wind paddlewheels all start spinning before Kraken's, though it did eventually spin.

So I took another trip up the mast, this time with a soapy water sprayer. Lot's of soapy water spraying and hosing off later and the instruments were reading 20 - 40% more wind.

And now it starts spinning at roughly the same time as the other boats...

As I practice climbing the mast now things are getting faster and the time for this operation was about 30 minutes of time climbing or working at the top. However coming down takes as long as going up, and it seems like gravity should lend a hand, so I'm going to start practicing self belaying, from a nice low level to begin with!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Software: NRace polar data issue (resolved)

This might trip others up so I thought I'd post it....

I haven't had much luck getting the farr design polar data into the Nexus race software.

Eventually I realised that the farr data for some of the downwind legs has different angles in the same column and this prevents the Nexus software from being able to deal with it.

I tried the minimal massage to keep some of the data (manual interpolating to fill in a bit, and deleting one of the columns) and it can now quantify TBS correctly. Still haven't had much luck driving the steer pilot though, that's next on my list of things to try and conquer.

Software: NMEAConnection v0.9

While away I got a chance to work on NMEAConnection. New features include:
- Finds tack and gybe points
- Generates data on these points - angle tacked, leeway, loss in boat lengths
- Has a spreadsheet
- Can draw histograms of data over sections of track
- Has a snazzy map courtesy or
- Has a dialog box to connect to the boat
- Has a text log to help operate it outside the debugger
- Remembers core settings

On the horizon is the ability to enter meta data and a transition away from the original clunky window to something a bit sleeker. I've discovered its pretty easy to integrate C++ and managed C# so I can use winforms for the windows and integrate off the shelf applications like, a big step forwards.