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PERSPECTIVE goes Rock-n-Roll!

Well the 2020 season will be anything but normal for the boys in blue, but we will be out on the water!

Our much loved PERSPECTIVE herself will stay grounded for the season at the BSBC compound as the marina and club have been closed for the season.  We will sure miss racing amongst the green fleet, continuing to improve as a full crew.  And we’ll also miss the big events that we savoured last year:  the Susan Hood and the LO300.

Instead, we will be doing battle on “Rock-n-Roll” a race ready Kirby 25 that I’ve chartered for the season.  Rock-n-Roll has won many races in the one-design Kirby 25 fleet racing that was popular in Ontario up until about six years ago when crews would trailer their boats around the province to compete head to head in large fleets.  In fact, this particular boat won the top prize in 2014.  Why?  The hull has been fared down to 1000 grit sandpaper, every gram of excess weight has been removed, and the lines have been thoughtfully routed for easy adjustments from racing positions on board.  Kirby 25s have a PHRF about 175.

The boat was launched this weekend at RHYC (where it will stay for a few weeks), and Kiwi and I went for a sea trial with the owner yesterday to get familiar with the boat.  It is very well balanced, points high and moves quickly.  We hit 7.1 knots upwind in 12 knots of breeze (above its hull speed of 6.1 knots), outperforming a Laser 28 (PHRF ~123…a much faster boat on paper).  We even practiced double-handing with the kite and were able to launch, jibe and douse smoothly after a couple of clumsy first tries.  This is going to be a fun boat!

After a bit of time on the bay, Rock-n-Roll will shift to Bronte which will be her home for the season.  Bronte will organize races beginning as double-handed races until the Province shifts to Stage 2.  Until then, Tuesdays will be short courses and Sunday afternoons will be distance races.  I fully expect we’ll be getting fully crewed races by the end of June.

So not only will we be racing a new boat, we’ll be in new waters against new competitors.  We’ll learn how to race in waves and current (which are mostly absent in the bay), make new friends and take on new rivals.  It’ll be a lot of fun.

Oh, and Rock-n-Roll has no instruments.  So we’ll be using our nose and our gut to feel the wind and make tactical decisions.  I think that will make us all better sailors.

Are you ready?

Here are some pictures:

210 second challenge revisited

For the 2018 season, I did some race analysis, that showed we were — on average — 210 seconds slower around the course than Top Gun.  I called it the 210 second challenge.  We set about learning about wind shifts and sail trim during the winter, and it sure did pay off:

For 2019, I repeated the analysis: 185 seconds slower.

That’s an improvement of 25 seconds each and every race, relative to our fleet leader.

So let’s go find another 25 seconds this season!

2019 PHRF Analysis

After every season, the PHRF-LO organization summarizes the performance of each boat, and compares it statistically to its handicap.  I summarized the 2018 analysis in this post last year.  This year, I’m still waiting to receive details, but I did get the summary results from the past few seasons.

The trends over the past three years show really strong improvement in our performance and our consistency:

Year Rating Performance Net ST/Dev Comment
2017 73 83 +10 +19 Off the pace and inconsistent
2018 73 76 +3 +10 Near our potential, not as consistent as we’d like
2019 73 72 -1 +5 Even better than our rating, very consistent

How to read the table:

  • Performance is a calculated effective rating for the boat.  In other words, we sailed PERSPECTIVE as if it were rated 83 in 2017 (10 seconds/mile slower than her potential)
  • Net is the difference between calculated effective rating for the boat and its speed potential (ie: its rating).  In 2018 we were only 3 seconds/mile slower than our potential)
  • ST/DEV is a measure of consistency.  Big numbers like +19 in 2017 mean we were inconsistent.  (When we started out we had a year with ST/DEV +38).

So, in a nutshell, we now sail PERSPECTIVE consistently at her speed potential.  One way to think about that:  if we were in a one-design regatta against a dozen other J100s, we’d finish consistently in the middle of the pack in each race, but our consistency would earn us a spot just off the podium for the event as a whole.

It’s a huge accomplishment in just a few years, and I’m convinced we can keep improving.  For reference, in 2018, Top Gun’s Net was -18, and they were pretty consistent.

How?  Stay tuned for the 2020 winter series!

Scenes from a Solo Sail

On Wednesday, I got up well before dawn so that I could be through the 5am lift bridge in time for the beginning of Nautical Twilight (about an hour before sunrise).  I sailed (and sometimes motored) as far as I could before turning around and returning through the 10pm lift bridge just after the end of Nautical Twilight.

It was a magical day, with spectular predawn light and an unforgettable sunrise.  Here are some highlight photos.

Nautical Twilight

Just before Dawn


Sailing by Toronto

How Far did I get?



2019 GHYRA results and highlights

This has been another great GHYRA campaign for PERSPECTIVE.  Here are the highlights:

  • Line honours twice (first boat across the line): Thursday & Friday
  • Podium finish in every race
    • First place finish: Tuesday
    • Three Second place finishes: Wednesday, Thursday & Friday
    • Four Third place finishes: Sunday & Monday  (Yes, we even got thirds on Canada Day, eh!)
  • Ten regular crew members sailed at least one leg each
  • Three guest crew whom I’m sure we’ll see again: Tom, Trevor & Mark E
  • Glamping with Lazy Sheet
  • Tons of laughs
  • Ghosting in light breeze and flat seas where we were able to make (and keep) our own wind.
  • Some comments from other racers last night at the awards:  “Next year, I’m just following you guys”  (Battlewagon, Nauti-Buoy)

Indeed, we took the road less traveled for three of the last four races and each time it paid off in spades.

Final result: Third overall in our fleet.  Encore! Encore!

Lift bridge to Port Credit in 2.5 hours….TWICE

The run from the Burlington lift bridge to PCYC is 19 nautical miles.  With a typical breeze, one could count on a pleasant three to five hour journey, depending on wind direction.  But light wind can make this leg feel like Homer’s Odyssey — during the Susan Hood, a very similar leg (CCIW spider to PCYC) took us 8 hours!

But twice now, sailing with Rick Culver, we’ve done the trip in 2.5 hours.

The first time, the Monday after the Susan Hood, three of us (Lazy Sheet, Rick and me) were sailing upwind with the #3 on a close reach.  That meant an average speed of 7.6 knots upwind, and a peak speed of 8.1 knots — planing upwind!

Yesterday, the wind was just aft of the beam, and Rick and I only set the headsail (our old #1), leaving the mainsail neatly packed away.  Once again our average speed was 7.6 knots (downwind this time), with a peak speed of 9.1 knots.  Wit a bit of wave on the water, we could get PERSPECTIVE riding the gusts and waves for long stretches.  It’s amazing how smooth and creamy the helm feels when the boat pops up onto a plane.

Here’s an aside about hull speed and planing.  A displacement boat (monohull that sits in the water), has a maximum speed that is defined by its length.  This is the boat’s hull speed.  Bigger boats have higher hull speeds.  For a 10m boat (PERSPECTIVE) our hull speed is 7.6 knots.  For a Viper 830 (8.3m), the hull speed is 7.0 knots.  But light boats, like the Viper are able to lift up out of the water and begin to plane like a surfboard.  Once a boat is planing, there is no longer a speed limit, and the boat can go much faster than its hull speed.  PERSPECTIVE is quite a bit heavier, than a Viper so she needs more force to rise out of the water, but she can.  Every time we’ve sailed faster than 7.6 knots, we’ve been planing.  And when we do, because the physics of surfing along the surface of the water are so much different that the physics of pushing water out of the way, the experience on the helm is also very different.  When the boat rises up, the forces on the tiller become very light, the sound of the wake changes to a shhhhhh sound, and the smile on the helmsman face gets wider and wider.

So coming back to our two quick trips to PCYC this year, I notice that our average speed 7.6 knots is exactly our hull speed, which means to me that we were planing half the time!

Rick will be joining us on the Lake Ontario 300 this summer.  If he brings planing conditions with him for that race, we’ll have to give him a nickname, like “surfer dude”.

Trim to the verge of stall: North U Sail Trim Course

“Trim to the verge of stall” was our instructors answer for nearly every question.  And the reason always seemed to be because that would keep the keel working for us underwater.

Connecting those dots was sometimes clear and sometimes well over our heads, but we each took away some gems from our day at Lakeshore Yacht Club in Etobicoke.  Representing PERSPECTIVE were Kiwi, Four Hands, Twisted (do we still call Bert that?  I favour MacGyver :-)) and myself.  Total attendence was around 40 racing enthusiasts and our instructor was expert, engaging and mixed up his slides with animations, videos, whiteboard sketches and some fun stories.

But most importantly, he reminded us it is HARD to get it all right, and even the pros don’t get it right all the time.  His funny stories about situations on board showed us that even the best of the best find themselves perplexed by situations that are very familiar to us.  But like the racing tactics we studied this winter, if we start to get things right more often than before (and more often than our competition), we will come out ahead!

So, what did I learn today?

Trim to the verge of stall

We do this with the spinnaker all the time (easing until it just starts to curl).  We should do this with the jib and the main.  For the mainsail, the tell-tales sneak behind the main about 30% of the time (more at the top).  For the jib, we should install leech tell-tales too, so that we can do the same for the foresail.  In this mode, we are getting the maximum lift/drag ratio from our sailplan.

Steer to see the inside genoa tell-tale lifting

Yep, just like we learned this winter, but Geoff suggested we add more tell-tales to the sail, one behind the other to get a sense of how close we are to the edge of stall.

How to set the outhaul

In 2017 we sailed with the main backwinded a lot by the genoa.  During 2018, we got this mostly under control by flattening the main through the outhaul, backstay and mainsheet.  But that leaves the question: have we done enough? have we over-done it?

Geoff explained that when the mainsail has too much depth, it becomes impossible to trim the main to avoid simultaneously luffing at the luff and stalling at the leech. (yup, we had that for sure in 2017).  The best spot for the outhaul is when you can stall the mainsail right at the point where the luff of the mainsail begins to quiver.

How to depower the sailplan

There’s a well-defined sequence to this.

  1. First we flatten the sails
    • Tighten the Outhaul
    • Harden the Backstay. And tightening the backstay has multiple effects (opens the leech, moves the mainsail draft aft, tightens the forestay, moves the genoa draft aft), so we need to compensate by
      • Harden the Mainsheet
      • Ease the Traveller
      • Tighten the Cunningham
      • Tighten the Jib halyard
      • Ease the Jib cars
  2. Second, we sail higher, feathering more often (ie: inner tell-tales straight up)
  3. Only when that is not enough, we decrease the angle of attack, by easing traveler and mainsheet

It’s amazing how all the sail controls are connected.  Obviously, in a gust, we need to respond quickly with the traveler or sheet, but our ultimate goal should be to rebalance the boat with the above steps 1, 2, 3 so that gusts aren’t as disruptive and we keep the keel working to push up upwind.

How to depower even more

In bigger wind, we need to go even further, because steps 1, 2, 3 will eventually lead us to a situation where the genoa is backwinding the mainsail, the gusts are turning the mainsail inside out, and we can’t point high any more.  (Yes, this is very familiar on PERSPECTIVE.)  The solution is:

4. crack the jib in high winds.  Yes, we will feather more, and the genoa will be luffing, but in this situation, the trailing edge of the mainsail will be drawing, and the power delivered to the boat will be better balanced around the keel.

And wait, there’s more…

But I think this was already enough!  Let’s go sailing and try it out 🙂


Winter Series session 8: Starting, part B

Last week we focused on three objectives for starting (clear air, well-timed near the favoured end, and freedom to tack) and the standard approach for starting.  This week we looked at variants of the standard aproach and other starting ideas, but quickly reverted back to think through what it would really take on board to execute the standard approach well.  Simple answer: practice!  But we can help ourselves by trying to be systematic.  There’s really a lot for us to be taking in and using for decision making, so we came up with a scheme like this.

Who does what

There are basically three phases.

  • Before our start sequence we should be focused on gathering data and setting up for the race.  We should sail well below the line (under spinnaker if conditions permit) and then put in long close-hauled tacks back to the starting area so we can gather data.  During this phase there should be minimal traffic to monitor
  • After the five minute gun we are maneuvering among our fleet trying to get the best position for the start
  • Approaching the line we are managing time and distance

Here’s an idea about how to achieve all of that.  We’ll have to try it out to see if it works.

Who Before the 5 minute gun After the five minute gun Approaching the line
Bowman Enter line into compass Monitor overlap Monitor overlap/Call the line
Mastman Enter line and course/marks into iPad Traffic Traffic
Pit Record headings & TWD Record headings & TWD Call out time & distance
Foresail Watch other starts Maneuvers Sail Trim/Manage boat speed
Mainsail Record headings Maneuvers Sail Trim/Manage boat speed
Helm Traffic Drive/consult with tactician Drive/make decisions and call for
Tactician Plan the race Find the favoured end.  Plan the start Position of other boats/Call Burn-down

Managing Speed

Sometimes we need to slow down.  The easiest way is to spill one of the sails!