Number 204 / November 2008

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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Sunday morning dawned dry and although initially cloudy, it quickly brightened up. We all very obediently packed up and were on the water (almost) by the time appointed (10:30) and made our way out into the lake in light winds. These soon picked up to a respectable breeze and we sailed back to Cockshott

Point running under full sail. Surprisingly they seemed quite welcoming back at the cafe and interested in how we fared the previous afternoon. We then set out for the final leg.

The trip had been a tremendous experience, rather more unpleasant and arduous for some, particularly for Frank and Ed who remained remarkably cheerful, despite virtually sinking and getting themselves and most of their kit very wet. We were very grateful for our dry suits, but had discovered that they create something of a logistical problem. How do you get into your tent when it is raining without the water on the outside of the suit transferring to the inside of the tent?

A big vote of thanks is due to Steve, who admitted that he would have been happier if all the boats had had outriggers and had been concerned that things could have got really serious if both of the boats without had got into difficulties simultaneously. His decision to proceed is a credit to him and I think boosted all our confidence in the capabilities of our boats and gave us valuable experience of sailing under extreme conditions.

One final thought. It is well known that if your buttered bread falls to the floor and lands butter side up, you clearly buttered it on the wrong side. So if you go for a two day cruise and sail downwind the entire time, I wonder, did you start from the wrong place? Pictures by DaveM, FrankD & JeffB. To see more, look at Frank's blog and DaveM's web-page.


Ullswater Cancelled: Were We Wimps? (KeithM)

This was the first meet that we have ever cancelled completely. Should we have gone ahead with it in spite of the forecast? There is no doubt that the weather in Cumbria on Saturday 25th October was truly atrocious. Here are some of the headlines about the Mountain Marathon event held that weekend.

"Hundreds of Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) competitors were forced to take refuge in barns and other shelters after a month's rain fell in one day. The OMM was abandoned at about 1200 BST on Saturday after being hit by some of the worst weather in its 41- year history. A major rescue effort, involving police, mountain rescue teams and the RAF, was mounted and all 2,500 participants of the two-day race were found safe."

It was hyped up by the media but even so... I don't think we were over cautious.


More Raptor Improvements (DaveM)

One disadvantage with having a bigger sail than most other OCSG members (mine is 5.8m2/62 sq ft) is that you can sail inefficiently and still arrive at the destination before others, masking the problem. It was obvious to me that I was not pointing into the wind on my Raptor as well as other craft but I felt no real pressure to do anything about it, as I felt I could keep up with the majority, even if this entailed me making many more tacks than them. Eventually, however, I decided to look at why it seemed that I couldn't match the windward performance of others.

I discussed the matter with DaveS and he felt the main problem was with the Raptor's rigging. The standard rigging uses an outhaul line from the sail clew to a block on the end of the boom to control the shape of the sail and the only way of tensioning the sail leech (to reduce "spillage" of air from the top of the sail) was to tension this outhaul line. The problem with this is that it also resulted in the foot of the sail being pulled flat, which resulted in a poor aerofoil profile and loss of drive in the main part of the sail. Only the upper part of the sail retained its shape and drive, but this part of the sail also gives the most tipping effect, increasing the tendency to capsize. Of course, I could simply trim my sail with a good shape in the foot and not tension the leech at all, but then I would lose some of the available sail performance.

So I needed to find a way of achieving a good shape in the entire sail area. Dave did not think there was any intrinsic reason why the Raptor couldn't point into the wind as well as any other boat. He believed it was simply that the performance dropped off so markedly when sailing close-hauled that I felt I was pinching too much and would bear away. His approach was to improve the overall sail performance so that I could maintain a reasonable speed when sailing upwind and would not be tempted to bear away, resulting in overall improvement in my Velocity Made Good (VMG) i.e. speed of reaching a set destination.

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