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 Upwind performance expectations
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Initially Posted - 07/08/2022 :  10:55:56  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've had my C250 WK (standard rig) for a couple years now, and I've grown a bit frustrated with its perceived lack of upwind performance. Figuring this is due to "user error," I thought I'd query the collective experience on this forum to see what I can do to improve the boat's speed and/or adjust my expectations.

Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay in a variety of conditions, close-hauled (45 degrees off the wind) with a 135 Genoa and unreefed main, I can get 2-2.5 knots of boat speed. To go any faster requires me to motor sail. It doesn't seem to matter if I have 8-10 knots of wind or 12-15, the only thing that I can do to increase boat speed is fall off the wind and approach a reach (which will get me to around 4-4.5 knots boat speed). I've tried every iteration of sail trim I can think of, to no avail when it comes to surpassing the elusive 3 knot mark.

I've read elsewhere that this boat can require additional ballast at the bow, so I've added about 200 lbs under the V-berth. I expect this is especially true on my boat, which has an inboard diesel and wheel steering (thus lots of weight in the stern). The ballast has improved the boat's balance, but it hasn't done anything for the speed.

Curious if others have had these issues, or if this is normal? Perhaps this is a rig tuning issue? (I've tuned the rig according to the instructions in the C250 manual). I'd really love it if I could consistently get 4 knots close-hauled and no motor - is that realistic?

-David Matters
2004 C250 WK #740, "Aquanimity"
Herring Bay, MD


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Response Posted - 07/08/2022 :  11:09:34  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Is your mast stepped back slightly with about 4 inches off to stern when rigged?
I found that to improve performance.
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Steve Milby
Past Commodore

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Response Posted - 07/08/2022 :  13:17:12  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
What are you using to measure your speed? Knotmeter? GPS? Are you sure it's calibrated in kts and not mph?

Is your prop 2 or 3 blade? Is it folding?

Where and when did you check your speed? For example, if you checked it with a GPS in the Chesapeake Bays deep water commercial channel against a strong tidal flow, your speed over ground will be much lower than your speed through the water. The same discrepancy would happen if you checked your speed against the tide at the mouth of a river or other place with a strong tidal flow. If you're checking your speed with a GPS, try checking it when the tide is slack and in shallower water.

How long has it been since the bottom was cleaned? What is the condition of your antifouling paint? Have you got in the water and reached under the boat to feel for algae or other marine growth?

Could there be weeds or a piece of line snagged on your keel or rudder, creating drag? Did you run over anything floating in the water? Could you have fishing tackle hooked to your keel?

What is the angle of heel when closehauled? If it's heeling too much, is your jib on a furler, and have you tried furling it a bit to reduce heeling?

Do you feel excessive weather helm when closehauled? Do you have to hold the wheel far from its centered position when closehauled? Excess drag kills boat speed, and excess weather helm causes drag.

Over-trimming the sails can flatten them so much that it deprives them of their power. If you think you might be trimming them too tight, try easing them both a bit, to power them up.

IMO your boat should be making nearly twice that speed to windward in normal conditions for the bay in 10-12 kt winds. The cause could be anything I've suggested and probably some things I haven't thought of, but the most likely condition that might cause that much of a loss of speed would be a very foul bottom.

I doubt that it's a rig tuning issue. Even a severe rig tuning problem wouldn't reduce the boat speed by half. If you tuned the rig according to the owners manual, it should be OK.

I hope you solve the mystery!

Steve Milby J/24 "Captiva Wind"
previously C&C 35, Cal 25, C25 TR/FK, C22
Past Commodore

Edited by - Steve Milby on 07/08/2022 13:22:28
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Master Marine Consultant

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Response Posted - 07/09/2022 :  11:21:26  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hopefully another inboard-powered C-250 owner will respond, but there aren't many here that I know of... I agree you should be getting double that speed beating, reaching, and motor-sailing, but I don't know how the saildrive affects the C-250, which is modestly rigged. What's the condition of the bottom? It definitely should do better when the motor is running--especially with sails up and some breeze.

What about your downwind speed in a breeze above 10 kts? If that seems similarly sluggish, then I'd say Steve is probably right that something (possibly a forest of mussels) is impeding you. If she takes off downwind, then something is wrong with your trim upwind.

If your sheet cars are too far forward on their tracks, the genoa can "cup" so the leech is pulled back toward the centerline, making it a "bag" that heels the boat without adding much (if any) speed, particularly when sheeted in tight. I sailed with a guy who had that problem, we moved the cars back to flatten his big genny (at least the lower 2/3s of it, and the boat stood up and took off. Easing the genoa could be a help, but not if the cars are positioned too far forward. The same principle holds for the outhaul tension on a loose-footed main.

It's gotta be something'! Good luck, and report back.

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic/Stonington CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage, USCG "sixpack" (expired),
Now on Eastern 27 $+!nkp*+ Sarge

Edited by - Stinkpotter on 07/09/2022 11:28:52
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Master Marine Consultant

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Response Posted - 07/11/2022 :  19:58:16  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm going by memory here (since I sold my C250 in 2016), but I agree that your upwind speed is about half what it should be.

Unlike the C25, the C250 gets plenty of power with a 110 genoa in my opinion. There are a few C250s out there with 135s (whose owners may disagree with me), but do keep your genoa size/condition in mind as a possible root cause, especially if it is worn and baggy. My C110 came with a worn out 110, and replacing it with a new, crisp 110 that could be flattened for the conditions definitely improved my upwind performance (and allowed me to point higher). My current C34MkII came with a very heavy 150 genoa that was in good shape, but I still thought it was terrible - too much sail for stiff winds, horrible shape when partially furled, and also horrible shape in light winds because it was too heavy to fill properly. I replaced it with a brand new 135 and am much happier. However, a C34 is a very different boat from a C250, and I do think that in most cases a 135 has more downsides than upsides on a C250 (much like a 150 on a C24). For headsails, bigger is not always better. My opinion, others may feel differently.

If you do decide to go with a new genoa, Chuck O'Malley at Chesapeake Sailmakers in Annapolis did a really nice job with mine.

Rick S., Swarthmore, PA
PO of Take Five, 1998 Catalina 250WK #348 (relocated to Baltimore's Inner Harbor)
New owner of 2001 Catalina 34MkII #1535 Breakin' Away (at Rock Hall Landing Marina)

Edited by - TakeFive on 07/11/2022 20:00:52
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1st Mate

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Response Posted - 08/25/2022 :  23:22:40  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello Davmat! I own hull # 739 which is the same configuration as yours (wing keel, yanmar diesel with saildrive and wheel steering). I'm currently running after market sails with a 110% jib as the PO didnt like the 135 genoa that came with the boat. Luckily he gave me the original Catalina sails which were in great shape and I think I prefer the Catalina sails. I digress; point is that I havent found much of a difference whether I use the Catalina sails with the 135 or the custom sails with the 110. In 10 - 12 kts of wind I have no problem achieving 4-4.5 kts, so the other forum members who responded are absolutely correct. The only modification that I've made was to put a Flex-o-fold folding 2 blade prop to replace the fixed 2 blade prop and replace the large rubber gasket that covers the hole for the saildrive - which was missing; so I was essentially dragging an upside down shoe box through the water.

2004 C250 WK hull# 739
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