Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rocket Report #10

Well #10 (Ex Shark) has successfully moved to the Pacific NW. Hood River to be exact. This will be the NW heavy air testing grounds. Indeed, this is one powered boat in a breeze.

First of all. The boat is amazing. The deck layout works fantastic. The build and rig, keel arrangement and everything are spot on. Now we need to learn to sail it.

We've been out now maybe 6 times. 3 races, although we were 8-10 min late on our first race and missed the start completely this last wed. Yeah bad form but I don't know, we are messing around a lot trying to figure it all out.

Race #1 : Light air 5-10. Late to start by 8 min. Boat was so powered in the light, we catch up to and passed most of the fleet and even corrected to 3rd (108 rating) after such a late start. Flew the sym chute which was ideal for the lighter breeze. Our rating though started at 132, was rerated to 108 on the spot for the race results, since dropped to 90. Fun night, the boat is a true rocket in the light. Definitely sails to its rating here.

Race #2 : 5-28 kts. Yeah, this is classic late night gorge. One minute it's hold on for dear life, next it's where's the wind. Then it's game on again. And lots of big gusts and shifts. Upwind, we totally don't have the heavy air trim. Cruising great in the lighter, getting flattened in the gusts. can't depower enough. We have 10 turns on the screw. Not sure yet how to find the heavy air groove. Downwind with the sym in gusty shifty breeze...challenging. Fall off a puff in a gybe, slow down, get slammed with another and bye rudder. Also, cruising with pressure and cavitated the rudder when the boat was feeling no helm and quiet. That was a surprise but apparently common with Melges 24s, so lesson learned. So two wipe outs downwind. Dropped halyard both times and quick recovery.

Race #3 : Weird stormy weather which is never good here. Big dark thunderheads, squally stuff blowing through and some rain. This usually doesn't mean big wind for us, more like bad rotten unpredictable wind. Go out early to practice and get hammered in 20-25. We are not being fast, we can't depower. Thinking that our max bend is not flat enough on the rig. Go upwind and try to throw in our new #1 reef to try it out. Mess around with it for too long since there is no specific reef system and have to move cunno and outhaul and safety manually. Already too committed to basically this makes us late for the start. We are successful though and it looks pretty damn good. The boat feels good too and our upwind is fast in the breeze. Breeze drops...arg! Screw it, lets pick up the fleet and sail the course. Paced a J35 pretty well upwind. Asym set downwind, start pulling. Nice drop back upwind again, set into maybe 18kts. 11s and 12s peak kts boatspeed downwind with the asym and reefed main, Oh that feels good. Finished mid fleet again after being many minutes late for start.

Lessons maybe learned so far.

#1 Sym kite is sketch in a gusty or strong breeze. Asym better choice for higher wind. Sym great for light.

#2 Rudder is tricky bastard. Learning a few things already though to deal. Like flattening boat heel before big turn. Fear the quiet neutral helm downwind. Asym is better for rudder in a breeze.

#3 We don't have a heavy air upwind groove yet. We need it badly. Will be retuning the mast this weekend in pursuit. I know it's there, we just don't have it yet.

#4 The boat is fast. The potential is so there. Rather to squander potential than to have none at all.

Best thing is that everybody is having fun including my wife who is a beginner sailor. It's a great boat for sure. Can't wait to figure her out.

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