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I'm interested to know of any lessons learned about settings for the 9 rig from the August 2018 worlds that may shed some further light on the discussion below.
I agree with other comments here. I'm still learning here too on my RS7 - but feel that max kicker takes the life out of the boat. I made that mistake in a race last month against a laser and it sailed away from me. I ended up second, but couldn't catch the lead laser (that was ~10m away when I rounded the mark).
Now, I only run max kicker when I'm struggling to survive (like yesterday - F6-7 /w RS7). A flat sail dramatically reduces the speed & power. HUGE impact.
I've been prioritizing a flat boat when hiking upwind. If I can't keep the boat flat, first downhaul, then kicker, alternating. Only touch the outhaul when trying to survive. I run at ~12. I'm probably trading some pointing performance for power & speed... so not sure the exact sweet spot yet.
Another tip I picked up from somewhere - if you can hear bubbles from the stern you aren't forward enough - there shouldn't be any turbulence... which puts you max forward with low winds. A bit awkward.
How hard were you hiking? If you weren't overpowered then I think you may have been over-flattening. You say kicker as hard as you can - for me that's survival conditions - but there's a big difference between as hard as you can comfortably pull WITHOUT MAINSHEET TENSION, and as hard as you can after piling on the mainsheet tension.
Another thing that makes a BIG difference is where you sit. Are you getting as far forward as you can hike to have the bow in the water - you don't have big waves so you want to be right forward going upwind.
As others say you really need another boat but I would not expect a laser to significantly outpoint me - in fact at our club I often out point them.
In force 3 in a 7 I'd be worried about over flattening. I'd be on mid setting for kicker. Our mast is much more flexible than a laser and we have roach on our sale while theirs is almost straight triangle. That means if we yank the kicker on too much without lots of wind we will overflatten and hook the leach making the boat feel really 'dead'. I've posted my kicker setting for the 9 - haven't checked the boom measurements for the 7. Also if you have max kicker on you would expect to also have lots of downhaul - the two have to work in sympathy.
From reading your post I would say that the solution is easy, don't race against Lasers.
Seriously though, it sounds like you are trying to sail the Aero like a Laser and unless the breeze is under 6 knots, you'll never point as high as a Laser.
We are lucky enough to be sailing a very modern, extremely light boat with skiff characteristics, a far cry from old heavy boat principles. Therefore, different skill sets need to be practised and the only way to do that successfully is with other Aeros.
I'd be easing all you setting off a tiny bit and letting it breathe, speed will not only give you height but manoeuvrability to get in and around chop.
Just my opinion.
Last Wednesday evening race started in a low Bft 3, with wind increasing somewhat to top Bft 3 through the race.
Sailing the 7 rig 1st lap after a good start I was up with the full rig Laser pack, overtaking several on downwind & reaching legs of a trapezoid course.
Rounding the leeward mark onto 2nd lap I couldn't stop losing ground to the following pack: as usual if I pointed as high I slowed down & couldn’t keep pace, & to keep pace had to bear off significantly ~ 20 degrees.
There didn't seem to be any sweet spot in that 20 deg bear off range where a little change in heading produced a noticeable increase in speed; ie no groove in which to then start playing rudder and mainsheet in bear off for speed followed by head up for height.
3rd upwind lap a Laser radial tacked under me and then proceeded to just sail away tighter & faster upwind.
Noticed: her sail was nearly block 2 block and a lot flatter than mine.
My settings were:
Upper battens tension slack in webbing just taken up.
Foot depth, set on-shore no kicker applied, 7 inches; reduces as kicker applied.
Downhaul: tack strap straight tight under mast button.
Mainsheet max in, kicker as tight as I could get it, boom about horizontal.
The only thing I can think to do to further flatten the sail would be to tighten the outhaul for upwind, and releasing for reach & downwind legs.
Does anybody do this?
I did hear the clew strap is now made with sufficient slack as to allow ~ 2 inches of clew travel without moving the strap.
OK here's my Kicker settings... Aero 9 - would welcome anyone else's ...
Calibrated on shore in light weather pure kicker no mainsheet setting it to where I have it.
measuring from the bottom of the end of the boom to highest part of sidedeck...
enough wind to sail but not sitting out. 2 ft 4 in
fully hiked but not really overpowered 2 ft 2 in
Survival conditions 1 ft 10 in
reaching medium conditions (doesn't change much on conditions) 2 ft 9 in
running 3 ft (does depend on conditions - a bit tighter if boat unstable in a blow) - in survival conditions more like 2 ft 9 in
I don't fiddle with the batten tension. Too much and the sail won't gybe in light winds but I don't find much to change there. Much more to play downhaul and kicker according top conditions.
Upwind I have about a hand of depth at max point - measuring my hand that's 6-7 inches. Much more than that and you won't point because the sail is too full. Much less and you are losing power. I do ease outhaul on reaches for more depth and power and back on for runs when it's harder to get flow over the sail.
I do alter kicker and downhaul a lot if the wind is squally. Have to get it on for the gusts but also need to ease off in the lulls or the boat goes dead. having a marker or two on the kicker rope really helps consistency.
Seeing Peter B is easy. Start near him and look at his sail as he disappears into the distance... He's better at bow down mode than I am. I'm still trying to figure out how he does that when I'm already slightly overpowered. Maybe he just hikes harder.
Hi Gareth, thanks for the input.
Before sailing this last weekend took time to set-up the kicker primaries.
Ended up taking 4 inches out of the line to the block on the mast strop, and some inches out of the other. This gave: quite some spare travel on the 2'ry blocks when boom horizontal, block 2 block boom very low, and when all eased off boom still high enough for reaching, etc..
Also for 1st time noticed how to set upper batten tension for max off, good for the conditions, but how to set-up for max power upwind when Bft 3 ?
Do you know what the optimum depth for the foot is for each rig, again for Bft 3 ?
Both would be useful to know.
If the set-up is right then after that it's tactics. And if I could ever get up close to Peter B on the water, well then I might learn something.
OK, force 3-4 gusting 5. I'd preferably be in the 7 (faster upwind) but the basic technique is the same. I weigh about 72 kg say 158 kg - bit more in sailing gear of course.
It sounds as if you might be pointing too high. You do need to hike quite hard, keep well forward so the bow grips the water. Masses of kicker - if you are getting the blocks to touch shorten one of the strops (or wrap an extra turn or hitch round the shackle on the loop from the mast heel). If they are coming block to block how can you know you don't need more though in force 3 you don't need too much. 4 quite a lot, 5+ very tight.
Then you need downhaul to free the upper leach so the top of the sail can feather. That's really important - in force 5+ I'm getting to pretty much as much downhaul as I can pull (and I wrap the rope round my hand for purchase). Very important to ease it again if the wind drops or the boat goes dead. Only apply more if you are definitely overpowered.
If still overpowered flatten the foot a bit but still have some shape there.
If still overpowered lift plate a few inches (say 4-5 inches initially up to 6 if really survival conditions).
Play the sheet a lot to keep the boat flat and moving. You can just feather the edge of the wind or you'll stop moving and then the plate doesn't work.
In light weather though you need to not have too much kicker or downhaul. I have my rope marked so I can reproduce but I don't have a good measure of where that is. I keep meaning to set the boat up on land and measure boom to transom or some such as a measurement. Boom horizontal is too vague.
Being sensitive to shift is the biggest upwind factor - watch those tell-tales and keep the boat on optimum heading. If you get a lift ease sheets a fraction to accelerate then head up sheeting in. If you get a header tack (or wait briefly to see if it comes back - depends a lot on your local conditions - only tack if it is a shift rather than a lull).
You have to keep the boat moving quickly forwards so the foils work efficiently (Peter Barton is very good at sailing fast in low mode so if you get a chance watch him).
Hope this helps. I find 7 or 9 fast upwind until it gets above 15-20 mph when the 9 gets to be hard work and the 7 is faster (for me anyway). Always pull away from the lasers.
I too have had trouble with upwind boat speed; sailing 7 rig, sail 18 months old, recently checked over for stretch & wear, still OK.
Noticed in light wind at Nationals, and last Sunday at Sailing club, Grafham, in F3-4, gusting 5 with shifts on gusts; other times & conditions as well.
At Grafham in morning races I sail against D0, & a Solo. Afternoon all single handed mono-hulls start together: D0, Laser full & Radial rigs, Europe.
Morning races I can usually hold off the Solo, but we get finished after 2 laps of a 45 min race whereas the D0 get 3 laps in.
Afternoon races, again 45 min race time, I am usually up/down with the trailing Laser full rig and Radial.
The Great Lakes Handicap numbers GWSC use (Aug 2016) are:
RS Aero 9 1028
RS Aero 7 1066
D0 blue 1061
Laser Replica 1084
Laser full rig 1115
Laser Radial 1145
I do keep the boat flat, but I just don't seem able to sail the boat to its handicap.
My suspicion is the sail is not developing as much forward drive as it possibly could, though luff & leech tell tales all good. My kicker may need some adjustment, tail blocks are pulley 2 pulley with boom still horizontal, and top batten tension could possibly be increased, but by how much? Have struggled to find the optimum setting.
Sail depth on foot set to my hand length, approx 7 inches, 18 cm.
Downhaul set for tack strap horizontal no gap under mast button.
Toe strap set for straight leg hiking, though I generally sail with bum on outer deck.
Find the boat points OK but speed relative other boats, particularly upwind, seems an issue.
Though I don't think sail setting is the only issue, but I'm not sure what else to focus on. Help & guidance would be appreciated.
Roger, that was very helpful to me! Just a small clarification: the puffs on our lake can sometimes be very brief but strong microbursts. In this case, the timeframe is perhaps a bit short to play the vang? I'm assuming that, if you've already depowered as much as possible with the vang/cunningham and are still overpowered in the puffs you simply ease the mainsheet? Or do I have that wrong?
Having talked with some fellow RS Aero and D0 sailors at our club, they gave me the following advice:
1) Do not try to stuff the boat to windward, as these boats are so light they will slow in any chop, so foot out a few degrees and go for speed
2) Use lots, and lots of kicker, particularly with the 9m sail
3) Play the cunningham (and kicker) in the gusts as again being so light the Aero responds to these adjustments
4) Sit right forward
5) Lengthen the toe-straps to allow straight leg hiking, ensuring that kicker and cunningham allow the boat to be sailed as near flat as possible
All of this will probably seem obvious to some, but if it helps some others then perhaps this is objective achieved. Having put attempted to put some/ most of the above into practice, I managed a third in the handicap race on Sunday.
This is what I learned by asking, I am sure there are other points that others have learned as well, so how about hearing them?
Happy sailing! Roger Smith / 1588 - TISC England
''as usual I lost out big time on the beat upwind''
That is a pretty big topic Roger, can you be more specific?
Where and how do you think you lost out?
What do you think your weaknesses or perhaps lack of understanding of the new boat might be with regards to a beat?
We need to break this down into bite sized chunks...can you make a numbered list of questions/issues for the world wide forumers to address?
Then I am sure you will have some bites.
Also, you are on a challenging stretch of water with some pretty good sailors there, so I am sure it is possible to lose ground quickly when you get it wrong....
In last nights race I managed to maintain a good lead for the first third of a race but (as usual) I lost out big time on the beat upwind. Can anyone give me some clues as o how to improve my upwind performance? Last night I was using a 9m in around f3.5 to f4. Although I do more regularly use a 7m in higher winds. My weight is 177ibs.