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Thought for the day - Brought down to earth with a bang 12/12/22

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

I always thought entry into the Marblehead class with an oldish boat, sails and rig would be tricky and so it proved in the my first GAMES event at Abbey Mead lake beside Thorpe Park.


We sailed in near calm conditions and I discovered three immediate problems with the swing rig. Firstly it would not swing freely. At the bottom of the mast the is a roller bearing which can slide up and down just under a centimetre. I though it would be a good idea to wrap some cord around the mast to lock the bearing at the base of the mast. This proved to be an error as I think it added friction to the bearing and limited the ability of the rig to swing and for the first few races I was sailing downwind with the sails stuck as though on a beat. Secondly, the jib thought it would be fun to maintain a central position in the light breeze and lastly the main remained inverted after a tack if there was little or no wind. When the wind was up, 2 knots or so the boat took off and I could race competitively. As soon as the wind died the boat stopped. I liked it to being in a boxing match with one hand tied behind your back

Results were poor and I retired from the first two races as I could not run downwind with the boom out.

My thanks to Roger and Peter Stollery for organising, setting up and packing up and Hugh McAdoo for acting as race officer. It was a great day with relatively warm sunshine.


At home I got my thinking cap on and took a close look at the mast bearings on and under the deck. I removed the additional cord at the bottom bearing and cleaned the bearings adding some PTFE spray which has no residue and will not attract dirt or dust. The mast is now rotating freely.


The jib requires a bit more work. Like an IOM I believe a straight boom should sort the problem and will allow me to lower and adjust the jib height a little as well as moving the end point of the jib boom closer to the sheet fairlead which gives more precise sheeting.


Here is a picture of the current jib configuration..




I have a couple of bits of IOM spars to play with. I will use a straight piece of 11mm tube as a yard from the gooseneck and use 10mm lightweight jib boom. Without a Gizmo the rigging is so simple and I will continue with the grommet for sheeting until I eventually fit a Gizmo and replace the booms with carbon. The jib clew will be tied down and a bowsie run to the end of the boom to adjust the foot.


What I cannot cure is the mainsail inverting when I tack the boat in calm conditions. The cloth is too stiff and there is too much luff curve. I could apply massive prebend but this will tighten the jib luff and reduce the ability for the jib boom to swing freely. The only cure is a lightweight rig. I will save that one for later


Another annoying issue is the mainsheet post is glued in. There is a tube that runs from the deck to the floor which fits a Sailsetc mainsheet post nicely. When I drilled it out, there was an inch of a sailsetc mainsheet post and then an inch and a half of another post. Anyway its all out now and I can fit a new post and be able to adjust the height of the post which is key for the B and C rigs as the booms are higher.


The last job was to reprogram the winch so that I got the full range of adjustment so the sail would go all the way out.


As an aside, the boat came with a 2018 set of BG sails for the swing rig so I will try these out as well.


There are a couple of events in January/february where I can get a better understanding of how the boat goes.


Lastly I weighed the various components of the boat to see how I stood against the current thinking.


  • Swing rig 356 (OK I think as there is no data. Could use lighter cloth)

  • Hull 924 (Recommended 900 -1000gms. New Pro boats 800-900gms)

  • Fin/bulb 3.618kg (3.2-3.4kg is recommended so I may have the opportuntiy to lose 200gms but I will wait until I have race data before making any adjustments here.

  • Total 4.898kg (recomendation is 4.5 to 4.8 so I am within this range if I lighten the fin


Thats it for now. Lots sorted and fingers crossed I have solved all the mechanical issues with the hull and rig setup. I guess that is life with a new second hand boat as you work it up for competitive sailing. Waiting for the bits from Sailsetc to complete the changes and then it is off to Chipstead in January. My schedule for 2023 is up on the results page.

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