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...


Anonymous said...

Where onto it, $13,000 nzd for an ASSASSIN Moth which is approx $7,500 usd. coming very soon

Anonymous said...

Don't confuse not sharing information with not knowing about it.

This is a VERY competitive sport these days and every advantage is kept to oneself for as long as possible.

Karl said...

Bring on the Assassin! The world is waiting!

Ha - intrigue! If others are developing similar systems, I welcome the company. Certainly there are lots of smart people out there and I expect no less.

But eventually you have to show up on the starting line, and at that point the jig is up.

Anonymous said...

Aa to jo saras chhe ne be.... ...joje sala ... ma kasam tane.

Anonymous said...


Assassin NZ classified ad.

Karl said...

Hey I am all for a cheap moth, but some sort of photo rendering or an actual photo of the boat is probably in order if you/they are actually taking orders for the thing...where's the beef?