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Thought for the Day - How long does it take to Pimp up a Marblehead

As I watch another race day pass by with no sailing because of ice, I starting thinking about the journey to pimp up a Marblehead.

When I first bought my Starkers Cubed, it had two previous owners who sailed the boat but a few times. Everything looked good until I started to look closer. The boat was overweight, all the cords looked tired after lying around for 7 or so years, the sails looked great but the swing rig looked like it could do with an upgrade. So armed with my notes from BG on pimping a Marblehead See here I set to work.

The first job was to get the hull lighter. Out came the remote control switch which weighed 20 gms, removed other excess cable and then used a dremel to increased the size of the open deck area leaving any reinforcement in place. The tiller for the rudder was made of solid brass so this was replaced with a lighter plastic on. There is a cartridge with the rudder servo and winch on it with I could modify but will leave that for now. I did replace the endless sheeting cord. Overall I was able to remove nearly 80gms of weight but this still puts the boat 60gm (7%) overweight ready to sail without fin and rig. The fin and bulb weights were within tolerance.

Once the hull was sorted it was onto the rig. I changed all the sail numbers using cellulose thinners and every piece for cord and luff tie needed replacing. Leechlines were replaced with wire and few fittings were showing signs of wear so replaced. The jib boom on the swing rig was replaced so the jib boom could be lowered and raised. The same had to be done on all the other jib booms so I could get them as low as possible. The support strut for the forestay needed to be raised so it was perpendicular to the mast. I had an unused set of BG sails for 2018 so put those on the swing rig. It is amazing how much time it takes to get these set up correctly as the jib boom geometry for BG Sails is different to Housemartin's. Both are good but different.

One note on sheet fitting on the jib and main boom. I use a stainless sheet forestay attachment 104 from Sailsetc, but this wears the sheet quite quickly. I noticed on a boat purchased last year there was a sheet fitting with a Sailsetc glass filled plastic boom band with eye which can take a sheet hook. I will fit these to all the booms and see how the wear goes.

After the above, each rig needed to be set up for medium range winds and cord with bowsies for the upper and lower jib luff tension, backstay, sheeting etc are marked to establish a starting position. Once I establish the boat balance, I can permanently mark and measure distance from the bow to the jib entry point to finalise the rake. By looking up the luff of the sail, I could see if any luff ties were too loose or tight and adjust accordingly. I always set up with 2mm of slack and then adjust for any variation in luff curve. Of course newer boats and sails have sleeved luffs.

The fine tuning is then applied. Setting up the winch RC setting for the swing rig and B and C rigs. The swing rig is stepped an inch or so further aft, so if you set the sheeting up for the swing rig, then when running with the B and C rigs the sheet will be to far in on the run. To get round this I set up 2 throttle curves on the Spectrum transmitter. The sheet stick is called the throttle stick in the manual. I put corrosion X on all the electrical connections, servo and receiver.

Finally I will draw 3 horizontal lines on each sail which helps enormously setting the rig up. They have no use when racing.

The time and effort (5 days) put into the boat pimping is well worth it. I had total reliability sailing over a day in 15 to 35 knots of breeze and the boat looks so much better and now I can put the boat to bed dry after each race knowing there is no more work to do other than fine tuning each time I go out.

Next Marblehead outing other than club racing at Frensham will be at the GAMES event at 3 Rivers.

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