Not long now to the 2019 season

Is Your Boat Ready To Win?


A familiar view to SWSA racers – A’ l’eau c’est l’heure

Prepare your boat to go faster with couple of weeks to go to the first of the SWSA racing series.  The weather is warming up and the water beckons. Is your boat ready to get amongst the prizes? To steal another Hood Sails motto “boat speed makes you a tactical genius.”

A check list for speed

  • A good smooth finish under water makes a big difference in very light winds. Two elements determine the boat speed you can achieve from the forward force exerted by your sails. Hull friction is one and the waves your boat makes is the other. Not much you can do about the waves as that is principally down to displacement and hull shape. The hull friction, however, becomes more significant at lower speeds so to do well in those light evening winds, put the work in now.
  • Work on your keel. If time or elbow grease is in short supply then concentrate on a good finish on your keel. It will make a difference to where you are in the fleet at the end of the first beat. Focus on the leading and trailing edge areas.
  • Lubricate and check all means of sail adjustment. Outhaul, sheet lead adjustment, halyard sheaves, cunningham and kicker. Nothing more frustrating than finding you can’t make the necessary sail shape changes when the wind strength changes or as you come off the beat onto that first reach.
  • Have you checked what rigging tensions work best on your boat? Class Associations often have good advice on line, often from the class champions. Spar manufacturers (such as Seldon) give advice on setting up the different rig types so whether you are a good solid masthead sloop or a bendy fractional with multiple spreaders the advice is there. Search for ‘Hints and Advice on rigging and tuning your Seldon mast.’ Get it right to get the best out of your sails. You can buy a rig tension gauge or, if rig adjustment is a once in a season event then use the method in that Seldon document to measure the strain in your shrouds. Did you know that 1mm of stretch over a 2 mt length of stainless rigging wire equates to 5% of it’s breaking strain, regardless of the wire diameter?
  • Set your rig tensions to suit the forecast wind strength. A significant gain can be achieved by just having light wind and heavy air settings. It can be as simple as 2 turns tighter on the uppers and one turn tighter on the lowers if the wind is forecast over 12 knots. Tighter rigging will allow you to control sail shape and depth in stronger winds whilst softer settings will give more fullness when you need all the power you can get. At this time of year use a waterproof grease on bottle screws to that they are easier to adjust. Remember, the right forestay tension is crucial to headsail shape and pointing.
  • Of course a visit to the sailmaker so that he can sell you on the idea of new carbon reinforced sails might help too!! And they look good.

Have a great season.