Archive for the ‘Sailing’ Category
The wind around Albert Park Lake was blowing 10-15 knots from the South-South West. With the tents and grandstands being built at the southern end of the lake for the Grand Prix the wind was light and very fluky down the narrows and rowing basin.
The race went well with the winds allow me to take advantage of the shifts coming down the lake, and getting into an easy lead of the rest of the fleet. With two smaller triangles still to be sailed the rope holding the outhaul on the boat broke. This was easily fixable, with a simple not being retied to fix the problem, however it took longer than expected:
- Tipped the boat over, but in the process hit the boom and pulled it out from the mast.
- First time retying the outhaul, I had tied mainsheet into the outhaul.
- Then retied the outhaul again, then getting on with the race
Unlike training for a penalty turn situations, it is a bit harder to train for breaking things on the boat. But it does remind me that I should have stayed calm in the situation and not rushed to repair the boat. The boom and tying the mainsheet into the outhaul easily cost me 30~60 seconds. At the end of the day I lost the race by about that margin.
The boat breaking was a good reminder that I probably should replace the ropes on the boat. The race went well otherwise and I had maintained a good lead. The biggest thing I saw against other competitors was that as the wind strength increased, people were less likely to tack on knocks and shifts as they sail up the course. This is especially noticeable near the top mark that was closer to the grandstands and tents being put up around the lake.
Boat handling – keeping the boat flat upwind.
Taking advantage of shifts/knocks.
Boat breaking – need to replace ropes on the boat.
Nice steady spring breeze rolled in to Albert Park Lake just before the race. With a Starboard course the question of how to tackle the island/entrance to the narrows is a tricky one. It seems that there was better wind towards the island rather than out near the entrance to the narrows.
At present the weed is growing near the powerhouse retarding basin, which gives you even more reason to stay out in the middle of the narrows than hugging the wall.
Still trying to get the hang of setting the sail on the impulse, especially downwind. I suspect I have to be more aggressive with the boat to compensate for the weight difference.
Yesterday was an extremely windy day, with the wind was consistently over 25 knots, with the weather station at Royal Melbourne recording gusts at 47 knots (87 kmh) during our race. An idea of how windy this is, there was spray being blown off the surface of Albert Park Lake, and the boat got tipped over from just the wind getting under the hull of the boat. This is with me hiking out fully on the side of the boat.
So myself and 7 other foolish fellows took off and tried to sail in these conditions. The number one thing was to keep the boat moving and try to avoid being knocked over too many times. Nobody on the course managed to keep it upright all the time, but each capsize took a bit more out of you, and dulled your reaction times that little bit, making it more likely that you were going to capsize.
I noticed that as I got tired I was more likely to tip over, and every capsize takes a fair bit out of you. The final nail in the coffin was having my mainsheet coming undone at the bottom mark. Jumping in the water to retie this and then get back on the course was just to much. This was also the point that the 47 knot gusts started coming through.
From there it was just a battle to get back to shore. I wasn’t going to repeat the mistake of a few weeks ago and doing some high speed reaching at the end only to break my boat (Impulse that time). Through the strongest gusts it was sometimes prudent to just hold on, avoid capsizing without moving upwind.
I would definitely say that the day showed up my dropped level of fitness. So the next couple of weeks/months will be trying to bring that back up to scratch. As for boat handling, I was relatively happy with that, there isn’t to much you can do when the boat is being blown off the water. Of course more heavy weather sailing will always touch up the skills of handling the boat in these conditions.
While I have put a number of photos of rebuilding and repairing Dad’s boat, I haven’t put any photos up of the finished boat. Unfortunately it would probably have been better to take these photos before breaking the mast and punching a hole in the deck.
I took a liberty with name of the boat. Dad originally had called it ‘Prince Toad’, with a view of naming his next boat ‘King Toad’ or some such. I simplified on just ‘The Toad’.
The toad logo was from Dad’s business. I vectorised the logo and the guys from Graphic Effects made the logo. They did the work on the back of the boat as well.
The cockpit was painted due to the amount of damage that had been sustained over the years, plus the new foam floor, didn’t lend itself well to varnish.
The signage and logo on the sail were done by Dad.
A very wild day with the wind. We started with a north easterly breeze. For the first 45 minutes we were sailing in extremely light, flukey winds everything less than 5 knots. After that a number of storm clouds rolled in, shifting the breeze to the west and bringing an average 10 knot breeze with a gusty breeze right as the change came through.
The start of the race saw me falling back through the fleet on the first beat. Again bad tacking and spending to much time concentrating on the boat instead of what was going on around me lost many places and saw me falling into the second half of the fleet as the regular gusts caused the fleet to split in two. The wind was very unpredictable, and people got lucky on some of the edges of the course.
The downwind leg saw a number of us bunched together, trading places as the light breeze blew. By this stage the gap between ourselves and the leading group was quite considerable. By the time we were just leaving the narrows the lead boats were already nearing the rounding mark in front of the rowing clubs. Dark clouds were rolling in and the committee boat had warned that 30 knot breezes were predicted with the start of the front.
As the wind rolled in I was leading the back of boats that had been split from the lead pack. As the front rolled in the breeze was switching from an easterly to a westerly breeze, but was extremely unsettled. The frequent shifts were an advantage to anyone paying close attention to their wind indicator. I picked the shift going around, and picked when to tack onto port, giving me a 10+ boat length gap. As the front hit it was a matter of trying to get as much out of the boat as possible, but the difference between gusts and lulls was extreme.
The back group was lucky that the front runners were disadvantaged that they had to tack to the mark in front of the rowing sheds. Being further back we could stay closer to the shore and reach all the way to the mark. The front group was made up of a number of lighter sailors who were now struggling in the heavier breeze.
The breeze steadied after the front, and was now pretty much a soldiers course around the marks. The one place that a tactical advantage could be made was behind the island.
In the picture I have shown to strategies for getting around the wind shadow at the back of the island. The blue ‘straight through’ line is the most direct line but you are in the danger of getting caught out by the lack of wind directly behind the island. The green line skirts the main window shadow at the island and allows you to take a little bit more speed as you approach the island. The disadvantage of the green course is that you have to sail higher to the mark and risk having to tack as well. The blue line also has the advantage of getting an extra ‘power squirt’ from the wind that has been compressed by the island (black lines). There is a small distinct band of wind just as you come out from behind the island. To take advantage of this you must be ready to hike quickly and keep the boat flat, but it can pay off if you get it right.
So what is the right way, green or blue?? Of course ‘it depends’ is the answer. The stronger the wind, the deeper the wind shadow, and the more depth there is to the ‘black band’ of wind as you leave the shadow of the island. As a basic rule, in the stronger winds it pays off to go close to the wall near the road, and in lighter breeze it is possible to cut the corner and go closer to the island. During the race I made and loss ground going behind the island, personally I prefer to keep moving and go a little bit lower than most.
Boat setup on the Impulse is going well. Probably the only thing left to do is replace the hiking straps. Will look at ordering Zhik straps in the next couple of weeks.
Area that needs the greatest work is my tacking. It is interfering with my upwind boat tactics. The focus on the technical aspects of the impulse is distracting me from my usual race tactics. In the next couple of week I hope to get more settled in the boat.
First day out in the Impulse. It was blowing quite strongly and it was going to be a good test of the boat.
The start was fairly good, starting a few slots down from the committee boat end with a little speed and was with the front of the fleet for the first couple of tacks. James mistook the course for being a port course and took me off the wrong side of the island, but this didn’t cost a lot time.
Poor tacking was the main problem. The impulse tacks very differently to the laser and I need a lot of practice tacking. Getting out in a race in 15 knots probably isn’t the best place to practice. The boat would stall coming out of the tacks, losing valuable time.
The rest of the course was fairly uneventful with a few lighter sailors getting away on the downwind leg. Unfortunately at the mark in front of the rowing the vang broke, and that was the end of the race. At least I know what one of the weak links on the boat is.
Here is the GPS log from the race:
Weather: 5~10 knots, a couple of stronger gusts, Southerly Breeze
Course Notes: Port Course, 2 big laps, 4 smaller laps.
Start: Starting at course boat end, pin favoured, didn’t loose out to much except for the first 2 boats off the pin. End of the day the course boat is still favoured on Albert Park.
First Beat: Worked the side of the island, and kept to the south east of the fountain. Seemed to be successful most of the race.
Course Notes: Didn’t venture to fair into the narrows followed the ‘Haintz’ route of staying towards the eastern wall. This was strengthened by the erection of a number of marquees along the western wall next to Carousel.
Had to tack near the entrance of the narrows, but didn’t loose much ground. Caught up to Chris who went into the leg with a 4~5 boat length lead, got caught up Rod who had a good run past the tree. Next leg (run out of the narrows) got caught up by a number of boats, 5 of us rounded the bottom mark together.
Upwind was where you could make a decent break from the fleet. Worked hard at keeping the boat level in the stronger breeze and nailing each tack. At the top mark only Ken was close to me. After the pursuit through the narrows Ken and I had pulled out a significant lead which meant we had little worry from the rest of the fleet.
With the wind easing off it became harder and harder to keep up with Ken. Ken made good ground, especially taking lifts off of the point restaurant. The island was still favoured and Ken didn’t make the mistake of going into what I consider a ‘no go zone’.
Of course on Albert Park Lake the first rule is that you don’t make rules. But in general if you use the fountain as a guide (the little white dot in the picture above) you should always try to go between the island and fountain in a southerly breeze.
I hope to have usable GPS log of the race up in the next couple of days.
Weather: Strong Easterly Breeze, ranging from 5~20 knots. Inconsistent breeze.
Course Notes: Starboard course with the bottom rounding mark in front of the club. Top mark on opposite side of the island. The windward shadow of the island extended nearly the entire lake between the island and the road on the upwind leg. Unless you were a couple of boats lengths away from the wall you would be in less breeze and a knocking position. The legs were the wind was lighter the windward shadow had less of an impact, but as the wind built he shadow grew.
Also on the windward leg, have to remember that just because the water is ripping on the windward shore doesn’t mean there isn’t wind right next to the shore.
Downwind leg was a matter of picking up the best gusts as they travelled along the course. The strongest wind sometimes being found closer in to shore.