Monday, January 26, 2009

Let them eat cake

One step closer to the Gui-tine (or was that the Starship Enterprise)?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Magic Wand?

So, like, I know he won the first race, but what is going on with the wand here? If that's max flap up, everything's different. If not, something seems very wrong?

Photo Credit: Teri Dodds (permission requested - I'll take it down if she objects)
More Photos HERE

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Ain't Askin' for a Miracle Lord - Just a Little Bit of Luck Would Do

- Steve Earle

I haven't been writing much in the way of technical stuff, mostly because I'm pretty sure nobody thinks what I'm doing can work, and they might be right. I'd rather let the boat do the talking, but sort of like building your own Frankenstein, it takes a while to teach the Monster proper syntax and grammar. Mostly, it says things like "Sheeeeeiiit! YiiiiiiiiiiAiAiAikes! What are you DOOOOOOHOHOHOHing...cut that OWWWWWWWT FAAAAAAACK." Then it takes off maniacally in some random direction, happy as a pig in mud, asking "How would you like your prime rib cooked, sir?"

The jury is still out - way out. The longer they stay out, the better, in my view. But I see them lurking by the courthouse windows, peering in from time to time.

Anyway it looks different now, but I haven't taken any photos for awhile. The basic setup remains the same. Yes, my daggerboard trunk opening is still square. Whatever. I have also done away with the rudder completely, just to make things interesting.

OK I'm kidding about that last bit.

WhY, YoU mAy AsK?

Why not, I say. I am not cutting up YOUR Prowler, so chill out. More to the point, I wanted to get rid of the flap and all its associated flap crap. Theoretically flaps are pretty good, but practically they have their limitations. So I thought I'd play with some other limitations for awhile and see if I could compensate for the theoretical disadvantages by realizing some practical benefits.

I have been flying this way since August or so, weekends mostly. This weekend there was no wind, which was perfect, because I was sick and it was 80 degrees, and there were a million junior sailors at my club, racing a junior championship in everything but 29ers. All in all, a good weekend to be under the weather:

Digging the Perverted Moth blog, though the author appears to have multiple personality disorder, which doesn't really exist, so it's probably OK. The flatpack Moth idea is long overdue in any event, and the writing is a perfect balance of technical stuff and self deprecation. Galeotti is setting new standards for economy - truly impressive. It is like watching a fuel cell that runs on words. How does it keep going? Air bearings maybe.

Looking forward to some serious armchair mothing this week while I recuperate.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dinner on G-food Street

Gui's latest effort, the Guillotine. Its namesake cutaway stern has become quite popular, no doubt due to Gui's masterful marketing strategy:

Note the inverted aft deck, and Escheresque vang cutaway:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Second Coming

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

- W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming

Right before I moved to California and parked the canoe in the front yard, I felt I had a sort of understanding with that boat - I took forever to build it, had sailed it only a handful of times, yet I was developing a lot of confidence in her. The same was true of the Prowler - I had it pretty well set up for most conditions before I undid everything. Getting back there with something entirely different is a slow process.

Since going flapless, sailing has been a bit like roulette: some days and in some conditions it has been brilliant, but others I spend swimming, without really understanding why. There have been enough glimpses of potential that I have never seriously doubted the thing can be tamed and managed; like a slot machine, she pays out just enough to keep me coming back for more. But excitement wears quickly, and eventually we all want to trade the drama of a high strung filly for something a bit more predictable now, don't we?

I hadn't sailed for a few weeks before today, making lots of little changes to the boat and anxious to try them out. The wind was pathetic until about noon, at which point the sensors rang up 10mph out of the west - pretty much ideal testing conditions. Alamitos Bay was hosting something called the Rose Bowl Regatta, with the top college sailing teams in the nation competing against each other in team racing (I think). Boston College took the trophy home this year, with MIT second and Georgetown third. Those college and high school sailors all know exactly what the boat is, think it is ultra cool, but tend to regard it as completely unattainable and impossibly rarefied. To my mind, these kids are precisely the people who are best suited to the boat, and I tell them as much. I don't know if we have $8000 USD foilers yet, but if we ever get them, I think there will be a pretty big market.

As things transpired, the wind was late, and I felt pressed to get out before the Spanish Armada of 420s finished racing and jammed the launch ramp like oh-so-many Sabots. A quick rig, stash the car, change and launch. I left the boat on the dock to stow the dolly, and just as I was coming back, a gust picked the rig up and dumped the hull into the water, upright. I grabbed the mainsheet, hopped on the deck, and was off in serious style.

The changes made a really big difference in the performance of the boat. There is still room for improvement, but had there been a racecourse set today, I definitely could have gotten round it. Upwind and reaches I could probably have hung in there speedwise; gybes remain challenging. Tacks are a bit slower than before but getting faster - there is a bit more work to do in moderate conditions than with the flap, though the boat lifts off sooner, so it is probably a wash. I have a solution for gybe issues in the works - one never knows but I think I understand the problem and how to fix it.

Interesting to note Scott B sailing a longer rudder. What goes around comes around in borrowed ideas; back and forth between the major manufacturers (though I'm certain they would take issue with the statement). Awhile back I posted about the rudder strut issue on the Australian forum and came away with the sense that nobody really knew why rudder struts on almost all foiler Moths are shorter than the main foil. Crazy - we all sail these things and nobody knows why they look like they do - sort of like Polynesian dugout canoes - "That's just the way we've always done it". It will be interesting to see whether the improved control is worth the drag penalty; seems like this has been tried before...