Writers wanted

14 03 2011

Hi guys,

So, I’m on the look out for new writers for the blog. Currently we average over 10k visits per month without even trying, so it’s about time that I put some more effort into it.

If you’d like to write articles for V49R, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. Anything from kit reviews, racing reports, news updates from your sailing team, tips and advice, or anything else relevant to a sailing audience will be welcome.

Thanks,

Ryan





Blast from the past: 29er XX crash and burn sailing

21 10 2010

I thought I’d repost an old report that I wrote a few years ago. Why? Just because, ok?
—-
Now apart from the rubbish name, and horrendous multicoloured “XX” graphic on the sail, I have to say I was extremely impressed with the boat. I was sailing at a Hayling Island event 2 years ago. We pitched up on Saturday, with a borrowed 49er (thanks to Steve Hopper for that), to be greeted by 25 – 30 knots in Hayling bay. The event was obviously, very quickly postponed, leaving us with nothing to do. Dave Hall was at the event, showing off the new 29er rig, so we thought we’d badger him for a go. We borrowed a 29er, stuck Dave Hall’s XX rig on it, and 30 minutes later we hit the water.

Now this isn’t a Yachts and Yachting style report. We didn’t exactly have decent sailing conditions to get a good handle on how the boat sails. As we headed upwind, both flat wiring (all 150 kg’s of us) and tracked all the way to the back, we quickly discovered that, even with the jib fully eased, we had no way of holding the main. The breeze was so high that we could barely get upwind without getting blown flat. After knocking the jib right off and nearly completely dropping the main, we began to figure out how to make the thing go. After 5 minutes of getting battered up-wind, we decided to make a smart decision.

Me: “I’m bored, lets get this kite up”.

Ed: “Do it”

Ed pulled the stick, I dumped the main and we spun the boat into a 30 knot bear away, pulled the kite up and then hit the straps as we took off. The 29er flew through the Hayling chop. We weighed so much that all it took was a flick of the shoulders to drive her down the next wave or to flatten her out in the gusts. As each gust rolled in, I popped the kite with Edd tweaking the stick to steer us through. 200 metres later we called the gybe, pulled the stick and stepped across the boat. The 29er XX is so thin compared to the 49er that you can throw her into gybes and cross the boat in half the time.

As we hit the straps, Ed called a big gust rolling in. We both hit the knots and flattened out as the breeze kicked up. In front of us, two International 14′s pitchpoled in unison, leaving the crew flying through the air. Huge grins on our faces, Edd heated the boat up to sail over the top of the upturned skiffs. Everything from here on in goes into slow motion. With the boat sailing a hotter angle, we are sailing about as fast as the 29er xx can ever go. As we launch ourselves past the guys in the water, my heart stops. We are sailing someone elses £6000 29er, with a brand new XX rig attached, and we’ve just sailed about two metres away, at 20 plus knots with spray everywhere, past a guy standing in thigh deep water. Oh crap…

The skiff slams into the sandbank, and we take off. The centreboard is driven back into the fibre glass 29er hull, finishing at a 45 degree angle. The Carbon fibre spinnaker pole slams into the sand and breaks in two. I land in the water in front of the kite and surface just in time to see Edd descending from the sky, landing on my chest.

As the spray settles, and we walk back to the very broken looking boat, Ed sums the situation up with one word.

Ed: “Balls”

29er XX





10 tips for helping your helm: 29er and 49er

18 10 2010

Sailing 49ers and 29ers at the best of times isn’t easy. Once it becomes more of a second nature after a few years in the boat, it becomes difficult to remeber the struggle we all went through in the first few months of starting out. As a crew, I’ve often taken it for granted where my role starts and finishes and where the helm takes over. It can be easy to get set in your ways and always focus on improving the big things (boat speed, tactics, etc) and ignore a lot of little things that can make every one’s life easier. Therefore, I thought I’d start a series of posts that look at ways of making your partner’s life easier (and therfore the boat faster). Today, I’ll look at it from the crew point of view.

What is it that crews can do to make their helm’s job that little bit easier?

Pre-start

1: Food: Eating properly is essential between races to keep the team focussed and alert. However, helming a 49er in big breezes whilst trying to peel a banana, open a drink or unwrap a powerbar can be tough. Therefore, do your mate a favour and unwrap it for him. Sometimes a few little things can make all the difference.

2: Timing: Simple really. Even if the helm does his own time keeping, having a watch counting down will enable you to call out the time to the start when your driver gets into a flap.

3: Balance: When trhowing the boat around on the start line, it can be surprisingly easy as a crew to just let the helm get on with it and to keep your head down. However, this is rarely helpful. Keep your head up, call out boats moving into your blind spot (depending on how your helm stands this can vary. For us, it’s on the stern leeward quarter as justin faces forward) and help to keep the boat flat. For example, when we throw it into reverse (backing the main and stuffing the bow into the breeze) the boat will always heel heavily to windward. sure, the helm would normally have to keep this flat, but it makes so much sense for the crew to throw their weight around to flatten it off.

4: Standing up: I see far too many crews sitting down and taking it easy pre start whilst the helm fights to keep the boat flat. Whilst you need to get your weight as far forward as possible when you’re parked, you should never stay static when you are manouvering. Therefore, always stay on your feet, ready to react when the boat needs to be flatter. However, be sure to get back to your crouching by the mast position when you park up again.

During the race:

5: Communication: Be sure to give as much feedback as the helm needs. It’s easy to go quiet and to lose focus on those long upwind legs in light winds, but this is never going to be fast. Whilst your helm is driving the boat and focussing on the telltales, be sure to keep your head up to spot the breeze and to track the rest of the fleet.

6: Safety gybes: In the breeze, gybing a 49er or 29er is tough for the helm so be sure to make it easy for them. Always try to be obvious with your movements, don’t rush and try not to change your routine. You need to keep as many things the same as possible, as suddenly changing the speed you cross the boat or your routine is a total nightmare for the helm who is already trying to work out how he’s going to keep his hair dry. When it’s really windy, the number one reason for capsizing is from the power coming on too quickly after the boom comes across. If the spinnaker blows forward of the luff you know you have issues, so a safety gybe (pinning the old spinnaker sheet in until the boom has crossed) is a great way to give your helm some time to find his feet on the new side and to prevent the power from piling on too early.

7: High hoists: When it’s breezy, try to help the helm out by keeping one foot on the wing (especially if he;s only a little lad). Doing this helps to keep the boat flat and allows him to maintain enough control to steer around the waves

8: Being a spare pair of hands: I know it sounds simple, but you see a lot of helms struggling to untangle ropes, hook on, uncleat the jib if it’s locked in, or do anything else that’s tricky with one hand. Always keep an eye on him, as his number one role is steering in a straight line so fiddling with ropes in counter-intuative. If he looks like he has an issue, help him out.

9: Bear aways: During a windy bear away the helm has a lot on. Therefore, you need to make his life as easy as possible. By taking the mainsheet, you effectively have the hardest job during the turn; to manage the power to stop the bow driving in. When it’s properly sketchy, you’ll end up easing armfuls of mainsheet to completet the turn. However, far too many crews then just ditch the fully eased main onto their helm and run in to sort the kite out. This is a huge error, as your mate is now standing all by himself (billy no mates) trying to sort his life out. With only one hand (which is very often holding onto the handle), how is he supposed to pull 2 meters of mainsheet into the boat? To make his life easier, be sure to drag the mainshett back in again by about an armful before handing it across. It really does make a world of difference.

And the final tip -

10: Don’t be a jerk: Yes, crews get victimised all the time.  Yes, I’ve been shouted at for helms dropping their tillers, hitting marks or forgetting their starting watches (never by JV by the way..). Yet, the final and almost most important tip is to not be “that guy”. Everyone has sailed with “that guy”, the one who always points the finger, decides who was at fault or just generally takes it far too serious. Being a crew, I think it’s essential to never try to get back at the helm for a mistake.  Helms are under a hell of a lot of pressure, and ultimately will take the blame for a bad series, so they are naturally defensive.  If something goes wrong, always be the guy who puts forward positive ideas for gaining those places back, don’t get stressed when thigns go wrong, always look forward to the next opportunity rather than back at missed ones.  On the water is not the place to argue out your differences, so be positive and talked about it later.  this is one of the biggest improvements any crew can make to their game.

And finally:

On a side note, I once had a helm shouting at me up the beat for “being too helpful”. As the Guns ‘n Roses song goes, “some men, you just can’t reach…”





So, what the hell’s going on?

14 10 2010


Right, I’ve been absent without leave for sometime now, so I thought I’d write an update on what’s going on with the blog, sailing, and everything else.

I’ve just spent the last 2 months recovering from shoulder surgery. I learnt a long time ago that Rugby and Sailing are a pretty bad mix, but I have kept going back to the game for years after all manner of injuries: Torn hip flexor, dislocated left shoulder (thanks to a prop from Swindon RFC), broken back (thanks to another prop, this time from Didcot RFC) and the odd smattering of bruises, cuts, burns (yes, burns) and everything else in between. The longest gap from sailing, up until now, was after I smashed a vertabrae when a 16 stone prop fell on my shoulders. Whilst 3 months of rest was prescribed, I still managed to get back on the water within 2 (partly due to the fact that I’d bought a new boat on the weekend that I was injured. A brand spanking new dinghy sitting in the boat park, still in its wrapping, is a great motivator for a quick recovery).

Anyway, I recently had to go into surgery to reattach a bicep tendon into my shoulder, meaning that I’ll be out of all high impact sports for 6 months. Fine, no problem, I can avoid Rugby for another year without missing it much. The problem is, this includes sailing too..

So, we’re out of sailing until February at the earliest. However, this lack of boat time is driving me mad, so I’ll be writing a lot more on the blog to keep myself sane. So yeah, um, sorry about that.

Whilst I’m out Justin is currently looking for a crew for the 800 over the winter. If you’re keen on a few training sessions and the odd event, leave a comment.





Pictures from RS800 open at Datchet

13 04 2010


So it wasn’t the windiest event in the world, but it was the shiftiest. Anyway, here are a few pictures from the recent RS800 open meeting at Datchet:

Thanks to Barry Peters for taking the shots. More can be found here.





Sometimes, it’s just better to swear

12 04 2010


Just prior to the second race of the RS800 Datchet open meeting, we were sitting above the line waiting for the RS200s to finally get their act together.  Essentially, they were busy trying to work out how to start a race with at least a few boats behind the line at the gun, and furiously debating which 40 boats should have the privilege of starting with a minute still on the clock.  With us sitting around slowly getting sunburn, they finally decided how to do it (“if we are ALL over, then the race officer will just give up and let us carry on”) and managed to cross the startline cleanly (to a given factor of “clean”) to get on with their race.

It was during their start sequence that I heard what was possibly the worst worded comment from one of the 200 sailors. After a particularly bad trigger followed by the entire fleet rolling over the top of them, a 200 helm loudly proclaimed to his crew, in an accent that would get him into Eton:

“That was NOT conducive to our success!”

Sometimes, no matter how posh you are, no matter how much hell your wife/crew is going to give you, no matter how religious or “well brought up” you are, it really can be better to just swear. This IS sailing after all..

Anyway, I’ll leave you with this thought. When the clock gets down to one minute, you still need to be behind the line, no matter how innocent you look.

Anyone who points out that we were OCS on Saturday can just shut up…





RS part exchange

12 04 2010

Hey guys,

I just thought I’d write a quick post to share some info about something RS are doing with the RS800.  They are offering a part exchange for a spanking new 800 to anyone with a raceable boat.  Give them a call to find out a little more, but it seems to be a good time to upgrade so it could be worth a shot.  Sure, it’ll cost you some cash for the exchange, but compared to buying a new suit of sails and a new mast it would make sense.

Secondly, be on the look out for some second hand boats hitting the market over the next few weeks.  If you’re interested in getting involved in the class the now’s the time to make your move.








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