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Thought for the day - Two boat tuning and boat maintenance is essential for good performance

Before we get into something could be considered a bit dull, I went two boat tuning yesterday at Frensham pond in a perfect NE wind where the wind blow down from the top of the lake. I have an Alternative with Housemartin sails and a silver PG rig. My sailing partner for the morning was Malcolm Appleton with a Kantun package. Conditions were getting near top end of the A rig in the gusts. We covered beating and running with first me keeping my setting constant and then Malcolm fixed his and I changed.

What did I learn

The wind was medium to top end of A rig.

In the first half of our session I had a slight amount of weather helm and the boat was pinching a bit so I was tweaking the helm every so often to keep the boat driving. the other boat was definitely faster in this session pointing slightly higher. The leech of my jib was looser than I would have liked even though the leach line was slack and after we discussed this I tightened the forestay by one centimeter. Not only did that solve the leech problem it balanced the boat perfectly upwind. It is amazing how such a small tweak could have a big impact.

In the second half of the session we had identical speeds and watching the boats sailing side by side they maintained the same angle of heel, the same direction and similar speed. The key difference was when the wind eased with a leftover chop, my design struggled in the chop whereas, the Kantun maintained momentum. Next time in a breeze I will move the correctors back over the fin to see if that makes a difference. They are currently just in front of the mast.

I did play with the sheeting but settled on my original setting once I had got the boat balanced. The main boom was a few mm off centre line at the mainsheet post with a lot of twist and the jib boom just pointing inside the shrouds.

We did experiment with putting more power/ depth into the sails to power through the chop. 20mm of depth seemed about right.

The one thing we both have to practice is tacking in a chop without getting into irons.

In summary.

Base settings are critical to the set up of the boat. Two boat tuning before a race begins is critical to make sure that nothing has stretched or moved.

Boat Maintenance

What you need to know

  1. Protect your fin bulb and rudder with insulation foam

  2. Carry your sails in a rig box

  3. Check lines for fraying or wear

  4. Fit a breathing tub if your hull is sealed

  5. Dry your boat after sailing inside and out

  6. Leave a deck patch off to ventilate

  7. Rinse the inside of your boat if salt water has got inside

  8. Clean the hull with mild soapy water

The details

Keeping your boat shiny and new, requires care and attention when you store, transport and race your boat. Here are some ideas that will help you protect your investment.

Protect your fin bulb and rudder with pipe insulation foam which can be bought cheaply from any hardware store. Put it on the leading and trailing edges of the fin and rudder and around the bulb. That way you avoid accidentally chipping the delicate edges.

If you have one always carry your sails in a rig box on any lengthy journey and after racing wipe your sails with a towel to remove water and marks and make sure they are dry before storing in the box for more than a day. Remember to release all tensioning devices. If you don't have a rig box consider a rig bag. I made a very light strong rig box from Correx and strip wood and velcro for £25. See HERE for details.

Check all the lines and replace any that are showing signs of wear. Also look at each radio wire connector to make sure that they are clean and coat in Vaseline or similar to keep the water out. Not sure which lines to use, check HERE.

If your boat is sealed, fit a breathing tube in one of the patches which will prevent the air from expanding and contracting, sucking in water when you go sailing. If you have sheets that pass through the deck this will not be a problem.

Always remove a deck patch or two after racing to allow hull to ventilate and avoid any condensation or water to remain.

If you sail on salt water, rinse the inside of your boat with half a cup of water to remove any salt which is a killer for your electrics. I once had an electric raiser soak in the bottom of a boat on an offshore race. When we finished the race, all the electric connectors had disappeared. Nasty stuff seawater when it comes to electronics. Try and tape your wires and connectors to the underside of the deck to keep dry.

Finally, if you sail on dirty water give the hull a wash with mild soapy water.

Links to relevant sites

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