Saturday, December 1, 2007

Control is Overrated

Well when I finally awoke from my stupor this morning and checked the weather, the forecast was for 22-29 from the West with gusts over 30, but when I looked at the buoy, it said 10 with gusts to 15 at about 10AM, so I figured I'd chance it as the Sunday forecast was light and variable. So off I went. In the end, this is what the wind graph at Seal Beach/River's End showed:

Not bad mothing. Lots of smoking around upwind but serious control issues offwind. Some of these are due to my funky rudder twist repair, but some are just sheer stupidity and inexperience.

Lots of Lasers and Club 420s out, and I mean LOTS. US Sailing has a center at Long Beach, and I'd estimate something on the order of 30-40 youth sailors on the water racing in these conditions. Water temp from a nearby buoy was just a touch under 60 degrees; air temp when I started was 57F. Pretty hard to complain about this place from a weather standpoint.

Rains on Friday washed many, many plastic bags into the water. These sound distinctly like solid objects hitting the foil when you hit them at speed, and if they are big you basically crash. I thought one of them must have been a large fish, but no. I did hit other submerged things but apparently they were softer than my foils as I couldn't see any damage.

Smoked by the 420s upwind only to thoroughly embarrass myself heating it up on a reach, going too high, and stacking it - on camera. I'm sure there will be some YouTube clips but I didn't talk to them except to ask what my score for the stack was; they rated it a 7.5. Too bad I couldn't keep the wheels on for a minute or so as the RIB was wound-up and following me and the breeze was fantastic.

Replayed various types of offwind altitude debacles for most of the remainder of the afternoon; I have had a much easier time in the past maintaining stable flight offwind so clearly something is amiss with the wand setup. It doesn't help to have a sticky twistgrip either but I think I am not getting the proper wand response. I play the weight shifting game and adjust the rudder flap slightly as well as using the rig very dynamically to push the nose down when needed, but I need more help from the flap. May have to switch to straight wand but I think lubricating the cable and eliminating play will be the first order of business. The boat has been well used and some maintenance is to be expected.

Flying gybes require stable altitude control, which I didn't have today, so not much progress there, except a few which were pretty close to sticking but poor steering meant I dropped off foils before the end. Heading up aggressively is pretty important I'm finding, which is obvious from all the videos but it's always different doing it yourself.

Met Ed Hencken on the beach purely by chance as his son Hans was out Lasering. Apparently Hans, who has his own Bladerider that he shares with his two siblings, let the sailing program rope him into signing up for a team or something(!). I'm sure it's good practice, but I'm sure Hans was itching to be on his Moth today rather than the Laser, especially with me zooming by in various states of combobulation.

Clearly some momentum is developing in the San Diego fleet. Charlie McKee is trying to convince James Spithill to ship his Moth to SD to sail with Charlie, so that's another potential addition to the fleet. Ed knew of at least two more new boats coming to the area beyond Zack and the BR distributor in Newport, who each already have boats apparently. Looks like I'll be driving south to their regattas if the wind is good; otherwise launching from the beach at Long Beach is actually a pretty sweet setup even though the amenities are very basic, i.e. sand, water, wind, and a bathroom that is so basic the cinder block stall walls are only waist high. No footsie sting operations going on in these babies, I tell ya.

Anyway it will really be interesting to see what happens to the pecking order in the fleet with all these good sailors getting involved. Boathandling is such a large part of the game that bona fides may not count for much until people get enough sea miles under their foils to foil around the course. I expect I'm taking a bit longer than most to get the hang of offwind sailing, but truth be told I haven't worked on it very much until now, so I probably just have to pay my dues and figure out what the boat is trying to tell me once I get my flapper flapping. Can't wait to get together with some other Mothies and compare notes again as I haven't really sailed with any other Moths since BR days in the other Newport, an entire country and a summer away from sunny CA.

Foil development project is coming along; just about the time I get my current boat working properly again I'm sure it will be time to switch to the new one. It's a hard life, but much better than the alternative as the saying goes...


Phil Stevenson said...

At our St George club we are all changing the wand system based on Bladerider lesons.

The bend in the wand is gone. The pushrod is adjusted so that when the wand is down vertical the flap comes fully up. When back 15-20degrees the flap is about neutral, and when you are down floating the wand is dragging hard in the water and the flap is down 10-15 degrees.

This last setting is high lift and high drag, so if you do not think you can take off you need to disconnect and unload the wand and flap. We races most of the way last Saturday with the wand disconnected. Seth thrashed all the moths with the IC.

Once you have it right there are no more take offs, lauches and break outs.

Hope this helps.

PhiL s

Karl said...

Thanks Phil - that's pretty much what I'm running, with some fancy bearings and cable attachments that make the latest F-Zero wand pivot look a bit amateurish frankly. Now if I could only build the rest of a boat as well as John...