Gorgeous day on the water. East wind ranging from about 8 to 13. Corinthian YC RC did an excellent job running three great races. Present were Africa, Locomotion, Jumper, Spring and #245.
Speed is king. The boats that have consistently done well in this (or any) class have had a speed edge on average, throughout a range of conditions. So I decided to use the day to work almost exclusively on speed.
We have permanent knots in the car end of the jib sheets and marks equidistant from the knots in both sheets. We also have matching numbered marks on both sides of the deck that measure the distance behind the jib tracks in half inch increments. So the amount of windward sheet (inhaul) we have on at any time is represented by a number that the trimmer announces as we settle in after each tack. In general, the more inhaul you sail with, the further back your jib car needs to be. Also, the more you inhaul, the less forestay sag you can get away with.
We sailed the whole day with five holes showing between the front of the car and the forward most screw in the jib tracks. In the first race, we started with the jib clew about 2 ½” from the cabin top (“we’re at #3”). Our speed was averaging around 5.9 as we came off the line and we seemed to be about the same speed and height as Africa to windward. I decided to try #4 (gets the clew to about 2” off the cabin) and our speed went to 6.1-6.2. We tried #5 and our speed decreased. So #4 it was. We next encountered Africa on the starboard tack layline and had just enough of a lead to apply an effective lee bow, which was the race.
Race 2 was the windiest and lumpiest race of the day and our best average speed was 6.3 knots and was achieved with the windward sheet set at #6, which brings the clew to about 1” from the cabin. More windward sheet rounds out the foot of the sail and requires the leeward sheet to be eased slightly to keep the leech telltale flowing, which adds more twist. That seems to be a fast look for these boats in breeze and lump. I mostly use the mainsheet for gust response, but I find the backstay to be at least as effective as long as it has the range to depower sufficiently for the conditions.
Race 3 brought a decrease in velocity and sea state and I don’t think I wound the rig down quite enough. Africa seemed to find some additional speed, and so did the rest of the fleet. We rounded the second weather mark perhaps two lengths behind Africa. We were able to sail slightly lower and get to where when they jibed on the layline to the finish, we could jibe on their air, and as a result, managed to finish a boat length ahead.
Downwind, I find it is very important to get the forward crew to steer the boat with their weight in every wave and every change in velocity. It’s not easy to do that because crews are easily distracted by all sorts of things, but when they get into it full time, real time, I hardly ever have to use the rudder and we seem to be able to sail faster and lower than anyone who’s crew is distracted.