J70 wrap-up June 6th racing MRA
Written by Jud Smith
We got a little bit of everything on Saturday from planing conditions early, to very light air to finish out the day of racing. The wind started NNE at 15 and ended the day as far right as SSE on the light air final run of the last race.
We had a Tufts University team out racing 245. Dan Nickerson, drove with Duncan Swain, Sam Madden and Liz Fletcher. They just placed ninth in College nationals last week and were very competitive in every race this weekend in the J70.
The fleet tuned up prior to racing in a fresh 15-20 knot northerly with plenty of waves action. On AFRICA, we headed out at 2 settings above base (27 - 16) and went up another setting right away (29 - 20). Our first upwind practice we even tried another setting higher for that upwind “work” with gusts 18 + knots and nasty short waves.
The nice thing when sailing with enough rig tension in that fresh condition is that the boat is easy to sail and we are not overpowered nor do we have to rely on the backstay and vang as much to depower. We notice too many boats with mains flogging “breaking-up”, and heeled over. We call that “fighting the backstay mode” in an effort to depower. What happens with too much backstay is the mast bends too much in the middle and the main turns inside out. However, the biggest problem with not enough rig tension in breeze is the headstay is too saggy. When the rig is over bent with backstay and vang makes the headstay sags even more. As a result the the jib gets too full and causes the main to “break up” (flog with backwind from the headsail). It’s kind of an out of control mode which doesn’t allow the helmsman to put the bow down and go fast forward.
In that thrashy 15 + knot condition we like to ramp the speed up to over 6 knots upwind. We do not use any inhaler with the jib and ease the jib outside the spreader mark if the main breaks up in the big puffs. The main traveler is close to centerline or just a 2-3 inches above, the vang is good and firm but not too tight, backstay is tight but not turning the main inside out. The other thing we like to do in the waves is to move our crew weight together to concentrate our weight closer to the winch and away from the shrouds to minimize pitching in the waves.
We sailed race one at 3 settings above base which seemed about right for the first beat. Left side paid with left shift and pressure at the top of the beat. We were just able to cross SPRING out of the left near the top mark The wind speed had dropped enough that the first run was all displacement mode. On the second beat JUMPER and SHRED passed SPRING as the wind shifted right on the second beat and filled in enough so that much of the run to the finish was marginal planing mode. SHRED rolled JUMPER on the run tp the finish.
For race two the wind dropped even more as it shifted right. Even though we had backed the rig off to 2 above base we were still caught a bit tight with the wind speed dropped off. What we did to power up is inhaul the jib all the way to the cabin house, ease jib halyard a little, ease backstay completely off, ease vang so it is slack, ease outhaul on the main quite a bit, ease off Cunningham totally , and raise traveler as needed for helm load. AFRICA barley crossed REGATTA FLUFF before the top mark and the fleet rounded close together. On the second beat we moved the jib cars a hole forward and that powered up the jib a lot. SPRING and VITAMIN J passed REGATTA FLUFF.
For final race we dropped rig down two settings to base (21.5 -11) and tested that set-up prior to the warning. SHRED hooked a good lefty on the first beat but had to crack sheets since they were above port tack layline. On the final beat the wind dropped significantly below 4 knots as it was fading right. The boats that went right gained a lot as the wind dropped and shifted right quickly. On AFRICA we moved the jib cars way forward to hole 10 and stopped in hauling to keep the leeward telltales from stalling in that condition with crew sitting to leeward. The boats that got right on the second beat gained. TUFTS TEAM passed SHRED for 2nd and 3rd . LEADFOOT and REGATTA FLUFF moved up to 4th and 5th.
On AFRICA we use a PT-2 gauge with metal bushings to replace the stock delrin bushing that are bolted on the gauge. My feeling is the loads are high enough on the J70 to warrant swapping the delrin for stainless bushings for more consistent and accurate readings. The delrin bushings develop dents (flat spots) and wear out. You can adjust several times to a fresh position on the delrin . It is import to make sure the backstay is detached when checking for base rig setting. If base setting starts out wrong you're goofed up all day long in all conditions. At the end of the day it's a good idea to confirm how you ended and then how many settings or turns it takes to get back to base. It is so easy to get the turns wrong, lose count or lose track of where the rig is set. It is also important to make sure the third hand shroud are not worn out and the shroud spinning when changing the rig. We are on our 3rd set of shroud keepers. The newest versions are much heavier duty and don't wear out as easily. If the shroud is able to free spin while making an adjustment then the rig will get all goofed up in a hurry. It can be hard to determine if they are worn if covered with tape.
Since the starting line was short for nine J70s it was challenging to find a clean lane in all the races. The other factor was there was about 3/4 of a knot of current keeping us off the line. It is important to get good velocitek pings at each end at a very slow speed so the GPS positioning is more accurate. We then try to go back and check the accuracy of our pings and redo them if needed.