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[by Steve Milby "Captiva Wind, C-25 T/FK #2554]

Racing to Win

Why Should You Race?

In our modern world, there are lots of faster and easier ways to get from one place to another than by sailing. People who are attracted to sailing are the type of people who love challenges. Sailing challenges us both physically and mentally, but mostly mentally. Sailors dont want a machine to do everything for them. They are self-reliant folks, who want to use their own ingenuity to figure out how to do things for themselves. You cant get anywhere by sail power unless you understand the basics of sail trim, and how the sails interact with the keel and rudder. The more you know about those subjects, the better sailor you will be.

If you really want to learn how to sail, there is no better way to increase your sailing skills than by racing. Racing provides you a strong incentive to make your boat perform to the peak of its design capability. Moreover, by comparing your progress with that of the other boats, you have a means of testing the extent of your success. When the boat next to you is sailing closer to the wind than you, you start looking for adjustments that you can make to your own sails to improve your pointing ability. When you are racing, your pointing ability might be a mere matter of pride of achievement, but when you are trying to claw off a lee shore in blustery winds, it might be a matter of survival for your boat and crew.

Racing also complements the social aspects of sailing. It creates a reason for people to crew for each other, which in turn gives us a chance to get to know the new people on the dock, or people who were previously just passing acquaintances. When racers return to the docks after a race, they like to discuss the interesting and exciting action that occurred during the race, so they can better understand what they did right and what they did wrong, and experience those exciting moments one more time.

In many sailing clubs, only 15-20% of the members participate in the racing program. One of the reasons most frequently heard is, I sail to relax, and racing is too intense. Many of our favorite pastimes are competitive in their nature and require intense concentration. We usually think of golf as a relaxing sport, but great beads of perspiration break out on our brows when we are about to hit a $5.00 ball to a green that is surrounded by a water hazard. Likewise, the intensity of tennis, chess, skiing, scuba diving and other sports does not deter us from resorting to those sports as a means of relaxation. Why do we find work-related intensity exhausting, and sports-related intensity invigorating? It is relaxing to turn our thoughts away from serious activities that are of vital importance to others, and upon which our security and livelihood depend. By focusing our attention on completely frivolous activities that are important only as a matter of our personal pride, we can prevent those work-related activities from intruding on our thoughts. When the weekend is over, and we have to turn our attention back to more serious matters, we are re-invigorated, and better able to cope with occupational stresses.

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[by Jeff Pierce]  I sail with a great group of people in Fleet 2 out of Los Angeles. We have 24 fleet races a year with the best 10 counting towards the Fleet 2 Championships. We usually get 8 or 9 boats per race. We also race in the P.H.R.F. spinnaker and non-spinnaker class every Thursday night from May to September.

Here are some of the Fleet 2 speed tips. Try these at your own risk!

  • Spreader tip to genoa (outside track) - Light air 7"-12", Moderate 4"-6", Heavy 0"-3" Keep the sails full and powerful. If you flatten them, you'll point better, but the fleet will beat you to the weather mark.

  • Best overall whisker pole length - 14' 6" if you can't adjust it easily.

  • Telltails - Outside - Always streaming. Inside - Light air, always streaming. Moderate air, kicking up occasionally. Heavy air, kicking up most of the time. Cat25's are not easily driven hulls so keep pressure in the sails.

  • Upwind - Don't drag the stern thru the water. Keep the crew on the rail (or cabin if they won't cooperate) at the mid point. Skipper should be far forward in the cockpit.

  • Downwind - The crew and skipper should be far forward, some in front of the mast to help lift the stern out of the water. Position crew left or right so there is no pressure on the helm. The boat should steer straight when you let go of the tiller. Only sail dead downwind in very heavy air.

  • Overpowered - Move genoa car back 1 or 2 notches. Pull hard on the outhaul and backstay to blade out the sails. Drop the traveler down. Pull the draft forward in both sails. If still overpowered, release the main just enough so it flags a little, this will bring you back upright and is very fast.

  • Shrouds - Uppers - 1 inch deflection with 50 lbs. push at shoulder height. Lower fronts - snug, then adjust so that in heavy air, sighting up the mast from the base, the mast is straight. Rear lowers - As loose as you dare. Some of the guys rears can deflect 2 feet. You want them loose so the mast can rake way forward downwind, allowing the forestay to arch out, which makes the genoa full and powerful.

  • Backstay Adjuster - Get rid of the factory bridle and put on a purchase system that will have more travel so you can rake the mast forward downwind. There is a picture of the system we use in the 'Tech Tips' section of this web site.

  • Running Rigging; Add a one-line outhaul and flattening reef to the aft end of the boom. Harken has a great system which consists of a short track secured with groove stops. Add a car with a block attached to the car. Attach the outhaul to the car. Attach a line from the flattening reef cringle at the clew through the block (on the car) to a block at the boom end and lead it back to a block just aft of the gooseneck, then down to a turning block at the mast base and then back to the cockpit. The action is...The first few inches of trim stretches the foot until the car stops, the additional tension on the line pulls down the flattening reef enabling the lower two thirds of the main to be flattened. This one line-two function rig helps my 25 swing keel outpoint my competition. Harken had an ad in US Sailing magazine a couple years ago which detailed this rig tip. This tip submitted by Jack Metzel #1445 issuespc@ix.netcom.com

  • 170 Genoa; I lake raced #4300, "Esperanza" in mostly light air and found the PHRF penalty paid for the 170% genoa to be worth it. With the beam narrowing quickly aft of the cabin, the 170 sheeted much closer to the centerline than the 155 - and the boat pointed very, very well. I would always reef the main and stick with the 170- even up to 12 knots of air. This tip submitted by Zelayason