Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finding the groove

Some sailors sail by the seat of their pants, others apparently need a notebook full of data to get them up to speed. I'm finding out that I fall in the latter category.
This year Ive been careful to track all my settings in hopes that I can find the groove easier when it comes time to race. Getting your equipment dialed in is an essential part of the game- especially when racing in a development class like the Formula windsurfer- and when your off, you're left scratching your head wondering, "is it me or is it my set up?"
And when you've found that setting that works in 15-20k, you know you can repeat it and not worry.
After a good month of racing and some serious tuning the last 2 weekends, Im beginning to get a feel for whats working and whats not. Sometimes the "ah- ha" moments come after a good session but more often than none, it comes after comparing the data on several sessions.
Of course, having good training partners is key.
Ive been lucky to line up with some fast sailors- sometimes staying ahead of them, sometimes falling behind.
Either way, at the end of the day, I have a better idea of whats going to get me around the course the fastest.

Downhaul settings: The North Sails seems to have 1 settings that works in most winds.
Too much and the cams have trouble rotating; too little and the sail feels top heavy and slow to accelerate (but still fast downwind.) In the heaviest of conditions, Ill add 1/4" of downhaul but release the tack strap to help with rotation.
The Neil Pryde sails seem to have a broader range of downhaul that works. Ive had the sail work well with a relatively tight leach in low to medium winds and still get great performance when its windy and I have the leach very loose.

Mast track position: Most everyone agrees 44" from the front fin screw in the ML10 is a good place to start. Move it 1/2" forward when using a smaller sail or when the water state is rough; move it 1/2" back when its lighter and the water is flat. Getting the right mast track position is very dependent on your fin as well. A more powerful fin will demand that you move the mast back to compensate for the extra power- but not too much that the nose of your board is flying around upwind.

Boom height:The higher you can go, the better angle you will get but the trade off is control.
Moving the booms higher adds more power to the rig and un-weights the board.
You can essentially sail a size bigger by moving your booms higher
In light to medium breeze, I try to run the booms as high as I can- especially with the 10.7 but as as soon as Im fighting for control, the boom comes down 1/2" at a time. As a result, the harness lines move forward. In 25-35k when its crazy windy, I usually have my booms low and get my angle through pinching to depower the rig

Harness Lines: The 1st 5 minutes off the beach will let you know if you have your harness lines balanced or not. I like to have a set of booms for each rig so the harness lines dont vary from moving the boom from sail to sail. If it gets windier and the boom comes down- the harness lines move forward 1"-1.5" from the center of effort. As it lightens up and the booms move up, they come back an 1"-1.5". In general, its easier to sail with longer harness lines as the breeze comes up so you can depower by siting down and bringing the rig to windward.

Batten tension: Again, its a balance of putting shape into your sails vs poor rotation.
Even with the NP Ultra Cams, you can tension too much and fight the rotation when coming out of a tack or gybe. In general, you want to add more to the bottom of the sail where you need power and have the leach of the sail above the boom fall off gradually.

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