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Ideas for Getting a Head Start on Spring Boat Preparation

Ons, 02/24/2016 - 19:18

In the midst of winter, sailing and boat work are likely the furthest things from the minds of many northern boat owners. Even though the time to start pulling off winter covers may seem like forever away, launch day will come faster than you think. Here are some things you can start doing now to get your boat back on the water as soon as spring is here.

Make a Plan
The best way to start any spring preparation is to make a list of projects (big and small) you would like to complete along with a rough timeline. Map out the tools and equipment you'll need and a schedule for boat work days to avoid the last minute rush as the start of the sailing season nears. A word to the wise…if you’ve never done a certain type of project yourself before, be sure to check with local riggers and boatyard experts for their pro tips before proceeding. It's also fun to include sailing trips and regattas with key dates on your list so you can start sorting out travel and crew schedules while you anticipate the season ahead.

Involve Your Crew and Family
One way to make the spring preparation process more manageable and fun is to involve your crew and family. It's a great way to bring your team together, giving them a sense of belonging and creating more loyalty. Working with your crew and/or family members helps everyone get excited about the upcoming season. 

Clean and Restock
It’s best to start the season with a clean cabin. If not completed in the fall, it's a good idea to remove any unnecessary items from the cabin, give it good scrub and look for damage. Your crew and passengers will not only appreciate this when they are below deck, but keeping things clean and repairing minor damage early will prolong the life of your cabin.

Next, restock and organize your boat. Take an inventory of the things you like to have on hand. From extra sail ties, to tape, and from towels to sunscreen, now is the time to make sure you have the staples you need for the season.

Safety Check
The start of a new season is the perfect time to make sure safety gear is fully stocked and in working condition. Check expiration dates for items like flares, fire extinguishers, inflatable lifejackets and rafts as these need to be serviced or replaced over time. Take time for a quality control check of regularly used safety items and repair or dispose of any outdated gear appropriately. Replenish first-aid kits–it's amazing how fast the bandages get used!  You can get a lot of great information about safety and regulations here at the US Coast Guard’s Boating Safety site.

Bottom Work
With your boat out of the water, it's the perfect time to make sure the bottom is in good condition. Each year, the bottom should be lightly sanded to smooth away any imperfections from previous paint jobs and any aquatic species that may still be attached to the hull.
It’s best to apply multiple coats of antifouling paint to the bottom, especially in high-wear areas such as the bow or the leading edge of the keel and rudder. This ensures adequate coverage to the entire hull and adequate antifouling protection through the end of the season. This is especially important if you plan to have someone dive and/or wet sand the hull regularly.

Sail Work
If you haven’t done so already, spread out your sails and inspect every inch looking for rips, tears, pin holes and frayed stitching. If you don't have the space or are short on time, bring them by one of our lofts and our service technicians will be happy to give them a thorough inspection and alert you to any issues.

As spring nears, sail lofts become very busy. You can avoid delays and the last minute rush by dropping off any sails that need repairs or modifications in the next few weeks. Likewise with new sail purchases. Starting the process now with your local rep will ensure you'll be ready with a complete inventory on launch day.

Hardware & Rigging
Make sure all deck hardware is working properly to avoid any issues while out sailing for the first time. Also inspect all standing and running rigging for damage. All halyards should be checked for any new wear or chafe areas, and should be replaced if the damage is too great. You don’t need brand new line, but you should make sure that it has low stretch and is not at risk of breaking. Also, all standing rigging and their connections to the mast should be checked for any corrosion, broken or separated cable strands, and cracks. By doing this now, you can avoid having a major catastrophe that can lead to a possible ruined season.

As you tackle your to-do list, be sure to engage with the marine professionals in your community who can help ease the load or provide you with advice and tips to ensure the best results. Let us know what we can do to lend a hand and we hope you enjoy a season of trouble-free sailing! 
____

Sam Keys
Quantum Sails Chicago
Service Manager
312-225-0801
skeys@quantumsails.com
 

 

The Fantastic Four: Four Factors Affecting Your Speed

Man, 02/22/2016 - 20:05

Speed is a favorite topic among sailors, but when it comes down to actually figuring out why a team is fast (or slow), the discussion often becomes blurry. Quantum's Melges 24 Class Guru Chris Rast discusses the four main factors with the greatest effect on your speed and what you need to know about them, regardless of the type of boat you race!  

What we consider “speed” is actually our relative speed to the other boats around us. When trying to determine your speed, it helps to go through a short list of main factors to determine what’s slowing you down.

I like to divide the big “speed pie” into four main slices. I call them the Fantastic Four. Let’s take a look at them separately so you can ask the right questions.

1. Equipment

For the last Melges 24 Worlds, I researched what had been going well in the class and found a boat that met all my priorities. Stiff and clean hull (no dents), small keel bulb (the Melges 24 is sailed very upright, so the keel doesn’t really help with the righting moment), and a stiff rig. I chose Quantum sails as they keep their shape really well and are fast over a wide range of conditions.

Equipment is a pretty straightforward part of our speed pie. You not only need the right equipment, but it also needs to be maintained and properly prepared. Your hull and foils need to be clean and in perfect shape, especially the foils. They need to be immaculate (just because you don’t see them while sailing, doesn’t make them any less important).

The choice of sails and rig combination needs to be optimized for the given sailing conditions as well. This is often a tough choice, as in most classes you can’t measure in different sets of sails and rigs. If you are just getting into a class, it’s worth doing your homework and getting your hands on the equipment that has been doing well.

Questions to ask about equipment include:

  • Do we have the right sails for the conditions? (No need to ask if you have Quantum sails.)
  • Does our mast have the right stiffness?
  • Is our hull in good shape and can it hold tension?
  • Are our foils clean (seaweed or a plastic bag will slow you down quickly!)?
2. Settings

In Key West this year, we had been struggling a bit with our upwind speed on board the Melges 24 Zingara, so I re-measured our mast rake and decided to go more upright with the rig by shortening the head-stay a few turns. The next day, the boat felt a lot more competitive and it also made it easier for our skipper to cross the boat! It’s impressive what five turns can do to the feel of the boat.

Anything that isn’t changed on a continuous basis while sailing is a setting. This includes your basic rig settings, such as mast rake, shroud tensions, and mast step position, as well as rudder angle, keel position, vang tension, Cunningham, traveler position, jib car position, jib Cunningham, and similar.

If you’re working with a sparring partner, it’s best to have the same person set up and measure the various settings in order to compare apples to apples. Different ways of measuring and different instruments will give you unreliable data, which will not allow for accurate comparisons.

Questions to ask regarding settings include:

  • How do our main traveler positions compare?
  • Where are our jib cars?
  • How much vang do we have?
  • How much rake do we have?
3. Weight

While I was sailing on Bacio at the 2013 Audi Melges 20 winter series in Miami, we had a hard time with hitting our upwind speed targets. It was blowing 15 knots and Biscayne Bay was throwing some nasty chop at us. After going through our fantastic four, we figured out that in order to increase our upwind speed by two-tenths of a knot, all we needed to do was move our weight back by a full foot. How easy is that!

Sometimes the only noticeable difference between two boats is the way the teams move their weight around. In lighter boats that react to weight shifting accordingly, this can be a crucial speed factor, especially downwind. Upwind, we are mainly looking at differences in weight position (fore/aft) and hiking form. It goes without saying that, in the breeze, it’s a must to be max weight and hiking hard.

Questions to ask regarding weight include:

  • Is our weight in the right spot?
  • Are we hiking adequately?
  • Are we moving our weight fore/aft and in/out adequately?
  • Are we max weight?
4. Technique

During the J/70 Worlds in Newport, I was sailing with “Dr. John” on Blink 20/20. We were sailing north of the bridge in about 12 knots getting ready for the first race. Even though the water was flat, the bow was very nervous and seemed to get pushed around by every single little bit of chop. Dr. John is, like most helmsmen, a natural under-hand helmsman, holding the tiller extension more like a microphone up in the air. By switching to an over-hand grip and pushing the tiller extension on to the deck, the boat movements quieted down and we found that extra gear.

Technique includes everything dynamic, such as steering and trimming. For example, upwind for the helmsman in the Melges 24, the dilemma is often having to choose which primary control to work with. The traveller, mainsheet, and backstay all influence the amount of power in the boat, but they work in different ways.

Steering technique is a huge speed factor, especially if there is a difficult sea state. In simplified terms, steering can be broken down into amplitude (how far the tiller is moved) and frequency (how quickly the tiller is moved). The timing of the tiller movement in relation to the puff (or lull) and the arriving wave is key too. Having someone on your team calling the puffs (and lulls!) and waves will help you get it right more often and more quickly.

Downwind trimming is another key speed ingredient. Different conditions ask for different trimming techniques. Compare your trimming technique by watching the amount of curl on the luff of the other kites

Questions to ask regarding technique include:

  • How much steering is needed?
  • What should the primary upwind control be?
  • To which extent are they playing the jib (or genoa)?
  • How much curl are they carrying in their kite?
  • Are we pumping efficiently?

These four factors are the main influence on our speed through the water, but sometimes we can do everything right and still seem slow. This happens occasionally when we’re on the wrong side of a shift, or we have a sub-par lane and can’t get the bow down in order to get up to speed.

As a helmsman, I am acutely aware of any kind of shift or change of pressure when we are tuning with another boat. After every run, I provide feedback to my tactician on what happened during those two minutes in order to put the performance in a better perspective.

So the next time you are not feeling up to speed, work through the Fantastic Four:

  • Equipment
  • Settings
  • Weight
  • Technique

And if that doesn’t help, just blame it on the shift!

​___

Chris Rast
Melges 24 Class Guru
crast@quantumsails.com
US Cell: 616 312 3860​
Swiss Cell: +41 78 641 3606

Lessons Along the Way

Man, 02/15/2016 - 17:49

A week long regatta with incredible competition and trying conditions, there’s no denying Quantum Key West Race Week is a tough event for any team. Gary Leduc, of Quantum Sails Bristol, sailed the 2016 Quantum Key West Race Week with Doug Curtiss and crew aboard Curtiss’ J/111, Wicked 2.0. Leduc talks about the team’s season and what they’re learning along the way.

J/111s Race at the 2016 Quantum Key West Race Week. Photo by Sara Proctor.

I have to start off by saying thanks to Doug Curtiss, skipper and owner of Wicked 2.0, for his great attitude and generosity. Team Wicked 2.0 would simply not exist without Doug.

The 2016 Quantum Key West Race Week was the fourth Key West I have sailed with Doug, and the third on the J/111. Doug’s first time behind the helm was at the 2015 Charleston Race Week and this year’s Quantum Key West Race Week was his fourth regatta. It’s easy to say he is in his rookie season and the conditions at Key West are not rookie friendly!

The close steep chop we saw on the Division One circle was difficult to steer through, even for the more experienced helmsman. That being said, Doug never gave up and learned something each day of the event. At the end of the week Doug was still smiling and we had all learned a lot – that’s what really counts!

LESSONS LEARNED:

Double Check Every Detail on Rig Setup

Make sure to check every detail on the rig setup and then go back and check it again. We found that we were way off the pace on Monday, with the mast over bending and the headstay sagging way too much. The boat had zero speed, no point, an overly flat main, and the jib was too full – this combo made for a very ugly day on the water!

In our case, the Monday slows were caused mostly by the backstay batten gauge having slid down the hydraulic cylinder. The batten is supposed to be a quick reference for the main trimmer. Our mainsail trimmer was tensioning the backstay to a given number, but that number was producing much more mast bend then it should have.

Once we discovered the batten had moved, we reset it so 0 equaled 0 and on Wednesday we at least had our speed back.

Practice with a Partner

Monday’s issues could easily have been rectified with a couple of days of practice alongside a friendly competitor. Find a team to practice with and spend some time tuning with them out on the water. Commit to getting out to the race area early and spend some time speed testing to get dialed in for each day.

We were unlucky in not being able to go out Sunday to practice due to high winds that rolled through Key West. They left us, as well as several other teams, going into the first day of racing without any practice time. When we got out to our sailing area on Monday, we were out of sync with the other J/111s and weren’t able to match up to tune with any of them before the first start – an easy problem to avoid if you already planned on practicing together before you left the dock.

Trust the Tuning Guide

Trust the tuning Guide. There is a very good reason each sailmaker supplies a tuning guide. Trust it! Use it! And tweak it slightly for your boat, crew and driver. Never throw the tuning guide over the side and go rouge – it simply doesn’t work.

Ask for Help

When things are not going well, ask for help! There are plenty of people around these events that are willing to help and answer questions.

Key West is a great venue with top talent. If your team and boat are not ready you may be disappointed in your results. Keep plugging away and put the best team together and have a good time no matter what the score board says. The results will get better.

_____

Gary Leduc

Quantum Sails Bristol

401-254-0970

gleduc@quantumsails.com

Recap: 2015/2016 J/70 Winter Series – a Season Favorite

Man, 02/15/2016 - 17:03

The Davis Island Yacht Club wrapped up three weekends of racing this month when they hosted the final event of the 2015/2016 Quantum J/70 Winter Series. Filling each regatta with the maximum number of racers, the Quantum Winter Series has become a premiere event for the J/70 fleet.

Quantum’s Global One Design Director – and J/70 racer – Allan Terhune, Jr. said the combination of sailing, socialization, and education made for a fantastic series. “The real key was the amazing weather,” he said. “The first event was shorts and t-shirt weather. The second event we had good breezes both days. We got in a lot of sailing.”

The Winter Series enjoyed good weather during all three events, but Terhune said each weekend provided unique racing conditions. In December, everyone was evenly matched on the water. “The fleet was really compact. We had perfect wind strength, and everyone was close together,” said Terhune.

“All the boats had the opportunity to do well and the opportunity to not do well. It’s not like the top five boats blew everyone away. That was the fun of it for everyone. They realized how challenging it was.”

When the racers returned in January, the conditions were breezier, which made for a more aggressive fleet. “From a technical side, the importance of managing lanes was the difference maker. It was all about making sure you chose spots to cross and tack wisely,” said Terhune. “It was much more of a fleet-management event. The guys who got to the front quickly were able to manage the fleet better.”

The winds really picked up this month at the February 6-7 event. After 8-10 knots on Saturday, the racers faced 20-25 knots on Sunday. Quantum’s Marty Kullman won the final event of the series thanks to teamwork and versatile sails.

“I’ve sailed with my team for quite a while,” said Kullman. “It’s always good when you have the ability to sail with the same people. The crew work was really good. It felt comfortable. We had great starts and great boat speed. That makes it a heck of a lot easier.”

Kullman said another advantage was his Quantum sails. “We haven’t had many J/70 events with 20-25 knots,” he said. “It’s hard to have a set of sails that go from 5-25 knots, but Quantum’s sails covered the range well. We were fast in 5 knots and fast in 25 knots.”

Terhune said Quantum sails performed well, but what really stood out was the service on site. “If you looked around, there were more boats with Quantum sails than ever before,” he said. “Our sails were on equal footing out there, but what really stood out was the service. The list is long of the Quantum representatives who were there to support our sailors and give them what they needed. Quantum reps want to see people do well on the race course, but it’s also about making sure everyone has fun. It’s the whole package.”

In addition to the weather, Terhune and Kullman agreed that one of the best aspects of the series was the host, the Davis Island Yacht Club. “They do the best job,” said Kullman. “They provide a great experience on and off the water.”

“We’re looking forward to this series again next year,” said Terhune. “We have mid-winters coming up in St. Petersburg and North Americans not far behind in Houston. We’re putting a lot of effort into helping our sailors have a fun year. This is going to be another big year in the J/70 fleet, and Quantum’s proud to be part of what’s happening.”

Pro-Tips: Starts and Getting Up to Speed

Fre, 02/12/2016 - 21:30

Kerry Klingler, Quantum Sails’ J/Boat Coordinator, raced the 2016 Quantum Key West Race Week with Iris Vogel and team aboard Vogel’s J/88, Deviation. Klingler discusses the team’s highs and lows of the regatta and shares his pro-tips on starts and getting up to speed.

For the 2016 Key West Race Week, I had the privilege of sailing with Iris Vogel on her J/88, Deviation. During this regatta, there were things we did very well and other areas that we could have improved upon. Understanding both the positives and negatives will help us going forward and sharing them with you will hopefully give you some ideas on how to improve at your next regatta.  

What we did well:

We started each day strong and got out to the race course early. Most of the time we were the first boat out there.  We sailed full beats, had a good understanding of the wind shifts, and worked on boat setup and speed. This helped us make confident tactical decisions on the race course.

Practice also helps with boat handling. We had clean sets and take downs, worked out the dance in the middle of the boat and were able to get the crew work together.  

Starts:

During our starts our initial placement was good, but our execution was poor. We did not practice starting enough. Practicing stop and go’s, getting the boat up to speed, and timed runs all could have improved our starts. I went back to a seminar I did a long time ago and looked at my cliff notes.  Here are my notes from the seminar:

On the line Checks

  1. Head to wind check. Sight across the boat, which end is higher or favored?
  2. Where is the next mark? 
  3. How strong is the fleet? Size/speed of competitors.
  4. What is the best course for the fastest first beat? 
  5. Check laylines for the starting box – windward & leeward ends.
  6. Time the line – know how long it takes to run to each end.

The Practice Start

A practice start helps assure success. A dress rehearsal of our planned approach lets us:

  1. Confirm lines of sight and bearings on the line
  2. Check laylines
  3. Confirm wind direction and close hauled headings
  4. Approximate timing for the final approach
  5. Check sail trim for acceleration off the line
  6. Confirm crew organization and communications

Setting up

1. Time & distance – you need to know time it takes to get up to full speed, and distance needed
2. Set a timed run, away from the line. Turn, return back to the line
3. Boat on boat:  

     Defending the leeward corner, preventing an overlap

  • Pushing a leader down the line, don’t get an overlap
  • Kill distance & keep speed – snak
  • Keeping speed, maneuvering capabilit
  • Know when to stop, avoiding an OC
  • Safe Starts: Away from traffic, maintain good speed

4. Crew Help:

  • Bowman: Call distance to line
  • Velocitek:  Distance to line
  • Line sights: One person set to call line, and boat line up.  Keep bow even with the competition 

Although these are only cliff notes, the general ideas are clear.  We did do most of these things, but the main thing we could have done was practice runs to the starting line. Most of the time we were too slow to get the boat up to speed and suffered poor starts. In general, we were slower than our competition in getting the boat up to speed. A Velocitek would have been a great help with speed and distance to the line. 

Getting the Boat Up to Speed

There is a key dynamic between the skipper and the mainsail trimmer. The mainsail trimmer has to be on the ball. They are key to getting the boat up to speed, and when to trim to get the boat to point. If the boat is going slow and you over trim the main for height you can suffer and never get the performance you are looking for. In short, you need boat speed first and pointing ability second. 

The other key is that the mainsail trimmer steers the boat as much if not more than the skipper. If the mainsail trimmer is slow on adjustments, then performance suffers. The mainsail trimmer needs to have a good handle on boat speed and angle. They have to know when to sheet harder to get the boat to point and when to ease and get the boat up to top speed. Also, the mainsail trimmer has to use all the tools in order to get the most out of the boat. Adjusting backstay, using the traveler, setting the vang and Cunningham are all important ingredients to proper main trim and performance.

Finally, the main trimmer needs to be proactive as opposed to reactive. By being proactive, they need to coach the skipper and the boat. They need to adjust quickly to changes and be able to get the best possible performance out of your sail plan and boat. 

 

After each regatta, look back at the overall team performance and note what the team did well and any areas that need improvement. Keep practicing and your team will see the results.

Deviation finished 2nd in the J/88 class at the 2016 Quantum Key West Race Week.

______

 

Kerry Klingler

Quantum Sails
J Boat Coordinator
kklingler@quantumsails.com

Keep the Shrimp in the Sea…Heavy Air Spinnaker Sets on the C&C 30 One Design

Fre, 02/12/2016 - 17:30

They may seem untouchable, but sometimes even the pros learn valuable lessons the hard way. Scott Nixon, Quantum’s Director of Offshore One Design, sailed the 2016 Quantum Key West Race Week with team Bobsled aboard Bob Moran’s C&C 30. Nixon talks about a costly mistake the team made and what they could have done differently, so you can avoid making the same mistake.

BobSled at the 2016 Key West Race Week. Photo by Sara Proctor.

The last race of Quantum Key West Race Week caught more than a few teams by surprise. Most of the racing throughout the week was held in moderate winds in the 12-16 knot range with flat seas. Friday a front passed through the Keys and delivered a solid 18 knots of wind at the start that quickly built to almost 30 knots. The strong southerly delivered large rollers and plenty of chop with the ebb tide flowing out of the Key West shipping channel.

Our solid group on the C&C 30, Bobsled, needed a good race to remain in contention. Our first spinnaker set was perfect as we bore away and surfed on a wave right before the hoist was called. The spinnaker went up with no issues and we survived the windy run.

On the last set of the day we were not so lucky and stuck the bow in a large wave on the bear away around the offset mark. This stuck the bow under the water, and with the tack of the spinnaker already set to the end of the prod, we were doomed. The water filled the spinnaker tack and then filled the entire spinnaker pulling it overboard before we could get it fully hoisted. Shrimp o’ plenty as the entire spin was under the boat. We had to do a full back down in 25 knots to recover the shrimp filled sail.

A tough way to end the week, but great lessons were learned in this new class.

Here is what we learned:

  1. The Quantum C&C 30 class spinnakers come with a Spin Pak Velcro System – use them all the time. You will be able to sneak the tack out to the prod and hoist a few seconds early without the sail twisting. The Spin Pak allows us to band the head and the tack of the spins with Velcro to keep the ends from opening too early on the first set. This is the modern method of ‘wooling’ your spinnakers (using yarn) and it works great. We do this to the spins before each race. One design racing in the C&C 30 class is so close that our second spinnaker set usually does not get banded with the Velcro system, since we can’t afford the bowman off the rail upwind during the race. This is why our first spinnaker set was so good and relatively easy compared to our disastrous second set on the last race.
  1. It’s OK to pre-feed the tack to the end of the prod in light to medium winds with flat water as you sail to the offset mark for the hoist. But, in heavy winds and large seas where there is a possibility of water on the deck, you must only pre-feed the tack to just past the bow pulpit. As the boat bears away around the offset mark and the hoist is called from the tactician, pull the tack line to get the remaining spinnaker tack out to the end of the prod simultaneously with the halyard hoist. This will reduce the chance of having the sail fill with water and collect shrimp. It may take a few seconds longer, but is much safer.

A very valuable lesson and one we won’t soon forget during the next class regatta.

___

Scott Nixon
Quantum Sails Annapolis
Director of Offshore One Design
410-268-1161
snixon@quantumsails.com

 

 

 

How to Anchor a Boat

Tor, 02/04/2016 - 14:17

For many cruisers, escaping to quiet coves that can only be reached by boat is a real treat. Lunch on the hook or a week away—it’s up to you. But once you get there, you’ll need to know how to anchor your boat safely and securely. Use these expert tips so you can relax and enjoy the experience.

There are only four steps to anchoring well, but first here’s a quick overview of the necessary equipment and terms.

The right anchor for the job
It isn’t the weight of the anchor that secures your boat to the bottom; it’s the way it digs in. Different types of anchors work best with different bottom types (mud, sand, weeds, rock), though most are designed to handle a range of conditions. Check the manufacturer specs for the proper size to buy, and then measure your boat’s stowage space; owning a size larger than necessary might mean a better night’s sleep.

Line or chain?
“Rode” is what connects the anchor to your boat. Many boats use three-strand nylon line with a short piece of chain between line and anchor. Larger boats use all chain, which is more secure. It’s also hard to handle without a windlass, heavier to store, and harder to keep clean. And unless you want that chain jerking the boat around, you’ll want to add a short snub line as a shock absorber once the anchor is set.

How much scope?
“Scope” is the ratio of rode length to water depth, and as a general rule more is better for holding power; picture pulling on a rode that’s parallel to the bottom (digging the anchor into the mud) vs. pulling straight up, and you’ll realize how important scope is. The usual restriction on scope is the available swinging room in an anchorage; the more rode you pay out, the bigger the circle of water you’ll “own” when the wind shifts. 4:1 is considered a minimum for chain, but how much you really need (or can get away with) will depend on many factors.

Pick your location
Because you want to be able to let out enough scope to get that good night’s sleep, try not to anchor too close to other boats. It’s also considered rude to anchor directly upwind of anyone (though in crowded harbors, this may be unavoidable). And make sure the spot you choose has enough water depth for your boat, even at low tide. Don’t rush into anchoring; take your time and sniff out the best spot, especially if the harbor is new to you.

HOW TO ANCHOR

Before you toss your hook over the side, make sure the rode’s bitter end is firmly attached to the boat. And if you can’t easily hear what’s said on the bow from the cockpit and vice versa, figure out some basic hand signals that will indicate where the anchor is and what state it’s in (to port/starboard, on the bottom, halfway up/down, safely back on board).

1. Stop and drop
Once you’ve chosen your location, head into the wind and bring the boat to a complete stop. (Use the engine, or back your mainsail.) The goal is to drop the anchor when the boat has stopped moving forward, to keep the boat downwind of it.

Depending on whether the anchor is stored on deck or on a bow roller, you will either have to toss the anchor over the side or ease it down into the water. Either way, make sure the rode will pay out cleanly, and try not to bang up topsides.

How deep the water is will determine how much rode needs to be paid out before the anchor reaches the bottom. If you’re handling the rode by hand (rather than using a windlass), you can usually feel the anchor’s weight diminish once it touches bottom. (In clear water like the Caribbean, you’ll be able to see it.)

2. Pay out scope and back down
Once the anchor is on the bottom, back the boat down and pay out just enough rode to keep from putting any strain on the anchor. If you pay out scope but don’t back down, the rode might drop on top of the anchor and create a snag. If you back down without paying out scope, the anchor will just drag along the bottom without digging in.

Wait to take any strain on the rode until the angle is as horizontal as space and available rode allow. A traditional Danforth-type will set very happily with 7:1 scope (though this may not be realistic in many of today’s anchorages). Other anchor types will do fine with less scope, but none will object to more than necessary—especially when first settling in.

3. Snub and secureTo set the anchor, snub the anchor rode (on a bow cleat for
line, or by engaging the windlass stop for chain). The rode should go taut as the anchor digs into the bottom. Cleat off the line, or (for chain) set up a snub line to run from the cleat out through the bow chock. In either case, keep watching the anchor and rode; it’s not quite time for cocktails yet.

4. Dig it in
The next step is to dig the anchor into the bottom, so it’s really secure even if the wind shifts or tide and current pull the boat in a different direction. The goal is to create more of a strain than you are likely to get during the rest of your stay—so if the anchor is going to drag, it will do so while you’re paying attention.

Use your engine (or a backed mainsail) to back down against the anchor line. If the tension on the anchor line increases, the anchor is holding. If the anchor is dragging, you’ll probably feel the anchor bouncing across the bottom and the boat will continue to move aft. If it doesn’t catch quickly, haul it up and try again.

How hard you’ll want to dig it in depends on weather, how long you will be anchored (for lunch or for a week), how good the holding ground is, and how well-matched the anchor type is to the bottom.

Once you’re secure, make sure to stay aboard for at least a half hour to watch for changes. And it’s a good idea to set up a visual range (or use your GPS anchor alarm) to alert you if the boat moves more than the scope allows.

Haul it up
Hauling anchor isn’t as much fun as dropping it, partly because it means your quiet escape may be coming to an end. Use the engine/sails to crawl forward, collecting the slack in the rode as you go; that will be a lot easier than hauling the entire weight of the boat up to the anchor, hand over hand. And your windlass will last longer if you use the engine to move the boat forward, taking in the chain as it comes slack.

Hopefully the anchor will pop out easily, once the rode is straight up and down and you’re pulling it up away from the bottom. If not, you may have to continue moving slowly forward until it pops free. Make sure to collect every bit of slack in the rode so it doesn’t get under the boat.

You will probably either feel or see the anchor pop free; once it does, stop/slow the boat until you can get the anchor to the surface (or ideally, back on board). The goal is to prevent the anchor and rode from angling back under the hull, which might damage the keel, rudder, or prop.

Clean it off
If the anchor and rode come up coated in mud, you’ll know you found good holding ground. Mud is much easier to remove when still wet, so don’t procrastinate; fire up the washdown if you have one, or use the old mop-and-dip approach.

Knowing how to anchor your boat securely will earn you friends in an anchorage. It also makes one of cruising’s greatest pleasures possible: a good night’s sleep in a secluded cove. Good luck, and good cruising!

Quantum Cruising Code 0: For All the Angles In Between

Tor, 01/28/2016 - 16:07

With no restrictions on design, the Quantum cruising Code 0 is created to be a very forgiving sail, perfect for light air on close angles upwind, at very broad angles in heavier breeze, and all the angles in between.

The Quantum Code 0 for cruising monohaul sailboats is a full sail, shaped like an asymmetrical spinnaker, and furls easily on a top-down furling system. While the midgirth of the racing Code 0 is restricted to at least 75% of the foot length, the cruising version of the sail has no restrictions, giving the sailmaker a lot of leeway in design.

“You can make the midgirth anywhere from 55% to 75% of the foot length, allowing you to make them very deep and very flat,” says Quantum’s VP of Product Integration and sail designer Doug Stewart.

Many cruisers are intimidated by downwind sails, especially when sailing shorthanded or with inexperienced guests. The Code 0 is perfect for cruising boats because it is easily deployed on its furler and has a UV strip to protect it during a whole weekend or several days of use so that it doesn’t have to be taken down. “We find people will use this headsail more than any other on their boat,” says Stewart.

How and when to use the Code 0

The sail can be used at relatively tight angles in light air, and at very broad angles in heavier air. “It will take you through more wind angles than any other sail on the boat. Your kite is for downwind, your genoa is for upwind; the Code 0 is for all the angles in between,” Stewart says.

Rob Greven of the Netherlands-based Spirit Yachting first added a Code 0 to his sail inventory in 2009. “I was looking for a sail within my budget, easy in handling, good performance and reliable, and covering most of the wind angles.”

Now he says, he uses the sail on his Beneteau Oceanis 46 Spirit with clients and with his crew, on everything from short day trips to long-distance singlehanded racing—even the Rolex Fastnet race.

“We don’t carry a big genoa, so we use the Code 0 in light winds upwind—depending on the wind, up to around 40 degrees AWA. In the wind range of seven to eight knots, it’s possible to make seven to eight knots of boat speed. Even with our cruiser, it offers excellent performance.”

Greven says the versatility of the sail even extends to downwind running in stronger breeze between 18 to 24 knots at an angle of 160 to 170 degrees. “I’m able to sail light on the helm and with good control.”

He also carries a Quantum Vision Code 3 for downwind sailing with a full crew, but says the Code 0 is easier to use when sailing short- or singlehanded. “Since the sail is a little smaller and flatter than the V3, it’s a perfect sail for shorthanded sailing, even in stronger winds. It is better on the helm and easier to furl away,” says Greven.

Taking care of the sail

While the cruising Code 0 is designed with a protective UV cover, that cover is still very light. It will easily survive several days of use, but if you won’t be on the boat for a week or more, take the sail down, put it in its bag, and store it down below. Also, as with any sail furled on a torsional rope, if a storm blows through, there’s nothing to stop the sail from opening up. So if inclement weather is approaching, get the sail off the deck.

The sail sells itself

Greven would be the first to recommend the Code 0 to other cruisers, but says the sail sells itself.

“Last autumn, I sailed a singlehanded regatta, several days from one place to another. I almost only used the Code 0 in light winds and got a lot of positive response from other sailors.”

 

So while choosing a new sail for your inventory depends largely on what kind of sailing you want to optimize for, be sure to check out the Code 0. The versatility of the sail, combined with ease of use may very well prove to be the next best sail on your list.

The Quantum Sails Racing Code 0: Take Your Program to the Next Level

Ons, 01/27/2016 - 22:06

The Code 0 is really a crossover sail, filling the gap between today’s small racing jibs and your true downwind sail inventory, and is sure to take your program to the next level. Read on to discover what type of racing Code 0 is right for you.

Photo by Team Black Jack/Andras Kollmann

Over the past 20 years, racing boats have by and large gone from using genoas to jibs, making them underpowered in light air and just cracked off the breeze. To fill this gap in the racing sail inventory, the Code 0 was born.

The Code 0 has characteristics of an upwind sail—indeed, you’ll still see Volvo Ocean Race boats sailing upwind with huge gennaker-like sails—however the racing Code 0 is classified as a downwind sail. The downwind sail classification restricts sail design, requiring a midgirth of at least 75% of the foot length and a leech that is no more than 95% of the luff length.

Ideally, every racing boat would carry two Code 0s: A flatter, lower-clewed Code 0 for sailing on a closer reach in light wind conditions, and a deeper, higher-clewed sail for broad reaching in slightly higher breeze. Both of these sails can be tacked onto the bow or onto a prod. Most boats will of course only carry one, so it’s important to discuss how you’d like to use the sail with your designer.

How and when to use the Code 0

The Code 0 is generally not ideal for buoy racing; long distance races are where this sail shines. Use the Code 0 any time you’re in light air between your jib and your first point of sail with your spinnaker. In four to eight knots sailing just off the breeze, you’re into Code 0 territory.

Your Code 0 should live on a top-down furler so that as soon as you crack off it’s ready to go. You may give up a few degrees to keep the sail full, but you’ll be much faster at that angle than with any other sail on the boat.

“It’s all about VMG to the mark. You may be willing to go 20 degrees down from where you were; put the Code 0 up and you’ll be going way faster than you were 15 degrees off with your jib,” says Quantum’s VP of Product Integration and sail designer Doug Stewart.

If your Code 0 is designed for a closer reach, it should be sheeted into the boat while sails designed for broad reaching will be sheeted outboard to the back of the boat similar to a spinnaker and require the use of a twing to keep the luff from flapping.

Mistakes to learn from

The most common mistake made with a Code 0 is trying to carry it in too heavy a breeze at too close of an angle. The Code 0 is a large, deep sail compared to a jib or genoa, and when it’s overpowered, the boat just leans over. Not only do you risk blowing up the sail, but it also makes it very difficult to take down safely, even with the furler.

That’s why it’s important to know your crossovers and to stick with them: Go out on an average day with your regular crew, and practice switching between the jib, the Code 0, and the spinnaker, and be diligent about recording the wind speed and angles.

“If you look at the top racing programs, they live by their crossovers,” says Stewart.

Between the sheet, twing, and luff tension there’s a lot to play with to get the most performance out of the Code 0 and the boat.

“When you’re going downwind, there are huge gains to be had not only in where the boat is pointing but in how the sail is trimmed,” says Stewart. “You see a lot of people actually relax when they’re going down wind; that’s maybe the biggest mistake that you can make.”

But don’t take it from us…

Doug Evans’ J/109 Time Out finished first in section and third overall in the 2015 Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac—a race dominated by light, patchy, and shifting wind conditions. He credits his success to a new Quantum Code 0 he’d acquired shortly before the race, which they used from just after the start until well into Saturday night.

“The Code 0 that TJ Craig and Kerry Klingler recommended was invaluable, and it helped us build a huge lead,” he says.

 

So if you’re looking to take your racing program to the next level, it might be time to consider adding a Code 0 to your sail quiver. Give us a call to discuss what kind of sail is right for you.

Quantum’s New Melges 24 Class Expert on Promoting the Fleet, Having Fun, and Bragging Rights

Ons, 01/27/2016 - 21:18

Chris Rast is a three-time Olympian and professional sailor based in Switzerland. Along with sailing fast boats and having as much fun as he can, Rast has a new role as Quantum’s Melges 24 Class Expert.

Photo by Mick Knive Anderson

Chris Rast was born in the U.S. to American parents, but has lived in Switzerland since he was two years old. His first Olympic campaign in 1996 was in the 470, followed by two more Olympic appearances in the 49er, one sailing for Switzerland, and one for the U.S. For the past 10 years, he’s been sailing the Melges 24, and now takes on a new role as Quantum’s Melges 24 Class Expert.

In this Q&A, we talk to Chris about his work to promote the fleet, how to have more fun in the Melges 24, and earning bragging rights.

Quantum: Melges 24 Class Expert is a pretty official-sounding title. What will this new role entail?

Chris Rast: My involvement with the Melges 24 goes about 10 years back when I started sailing with a fully professional Swiss team. I’ve always been in love with the boat. I think the boat is one of the greatest designs out there, for the performance factor and the fun factor. It’s a great team boat, and last year our team won the worlds.

We’re going to make a big push to promote the class, doing all sorts of promotional work, especially in Europe. I will be going to most of the Melges 24 events, along with my team and my wife Dani who is part of Swiss Performance Sailing, to host clinics and do other types of promotional work. Quantum is really trying to support the Melges 24 class, especially the Corinthian teams and people who are new to the class. They want to make it easy for people to get into the Melges 24 and do well.

 

Quantum: What are you most looking forward to with this new role?

CR: The class lives and dies not by the professionals or the top teams, but those teams that make up the middle of the rankings: The new teams that get into it, and the teams that like to go out and sail and to have fun, but need a little bit of help to get better. We really want to support the Corinthian teams, and the teams that need a little bit of advice to do well around the racecourse and have more fun. Because guess what—winning is more fun than losing. I really like helping teams and helping them get better. That’s what I’m really looking forward to.

 

Quantum: What are the steps you take when working with a new boat?

CR: It’s all about analyzing the dynamics of the team. Every team’s a little bit different; they have different strengths and weaknesses. We need to figure out where we can have a maximum impact—maybe for one team it’s how to set up a boat, for another team it might be technique or maneuvers, and for other teams it might be tactics and strategy. I try to figure out where the deficiencies are in a team, and come up with a plan to improve in those areas.

 

Quantum: In the Melges 24, with it being such a strict one-design class, is there a right way and a wrong way to do things?

CR: Yes, I would say so. Every crewmember adds to the mechanics of the boat. Sometimes they just have the wrong crewmembers in the wrong positions. Maybe one crewmember is stronger than the other, or another is better at multitasking and needs to be on the bow instead of the middle of the boat. It’s a lot about figuring out the mechanics of the team and letting everybody use their strengths.

 

Quantum: You’re a former Olympian in the 49er, what do you feel like that experience or your other early sailing experience gave you coming into the Melges 24?

CR: You know it really is a bit of a natural fit because the 49er is an asymmetrical boat, so that really helped me with the downwind sailing on the Melges 24. On the other hand, with upwind sailing it was more my 470 background that helped me. So that combined, it was a very easy fit to sail Melges 24s.

 

Quantum: How did you get into coaching?

CR: I started off with the junior coaching and moved into Olympic class coaching. I was the Olympic coach for the Swiss team in 2000 for the games in Sydney. We missed out on the spot in the 49er; we were second in the trials. But since there was a limited amount of coaching credentials, they chose me as their coach. I had a ton of experience sailing in Sydney and I spoke English, I knew the area, and the sailors trusted me and respected me. That’s how I got into higher level coaching. But my primary goal is still to sail and have fun and help people, and when I can I do a little bit of coaching.

 

Quantum: The Melges 24 is such a strict one-design fleet and it’s been around for 20-some years. Why should people come into the class now?

CR: Since its inception, the Melges 24 has been such a fun boat to sail in regards to its performance. It goes well upwind, and downwind it’s a hoot. The last day at Key West Race Week, we had big wind and huge waves, and we were just ripping around, ploughing through waves and planning.

If you are looking for a class where you get to sail not only against other Corinthian teams, but also against fully professional teams, people like Jimmy Spithill, Vince Brun, Morgan Larson, Terry Hutchinson—you want to get on the same starting line as Terry Hutchinson? Get yourself a Melges 24 and you can go against the world’s best. That’s a very cool thing. You can go out with your friends, do well, beat guys like Terry Hutchinson, or myself, be proud of it, and brag about it at the bar.

 

Quantum: How can a team get your help?

CR: Anybody can reach me via email to ask questions. They can go onto the Quantum website for my contact and we’re working on getting something up on the Melges website too. If you have questions just shoot me an email and I’ll answer as best as possible.

 

Quantum: What’s your next stop?

Apart from Melges 24 sailing, I also do a full Melges 20 campaign in Europe, on a boat called Section 16, owned by Richard Davis. The season starts at the Monaco Winter Series in February, which will be cold probably, but we’ll warm up at the fire in the casino in the evening.

 

Look for Chris Rast at Melges 24 events around the world, and in instructional videos that will be posted on the Quantum website. If you have a question for Chris about the Melges 24, click here.

 

Chris Rast
Quantum Melges 24 Class Expert
crast@quantumsails.com
US: +1 616 312 3860
Swiss: +41 78 641 3606

 

Re-Shaping the Luff: Bringing Sails Back to Life

Fre, 01/22/2016 - 20:58

As sails age, many things can happen that will affect sailing performance. The biggest being the draft of the sail changing. Quantum Sails Chicago’s Service Manager, Sam Keys, talks about what causes these issues and what can be done to fix them.

Typically when a sail is designed, the largest amount of draft at a given position of the sail is at about 45% of the way aft of the luff towards the leech. As the sail gets older, a couple of things can happen that move the draft of the sail closer to 50% or more, making it more and more difficult to trim and to steer the boat to. The other issue with the draft position is that it gets a lot “fuller” than originally designed, making it difficult to de-power the sail as the wind strength gets stronger. Here are some ways that we like to give your old sail a “face-lift.”

Luff Rope Shrinkage         

One of the biggest causes of the draft position changing is when the rope on the luff of a mainsail or genoa shrinks. When a luff rope is attached to a sail it has to be given a small amount of tension in order to take the load that the halyard or Cunningham has applied to it.

Over time this rope can eventually shrink, making it very difficult to apply the correct tension on the luff. This will make the sail seem fuller, moving the draft aft on the sail. What we like to do in this scenario then is to essentially “ease” a portion of the tension of the rope.  

This is done in two different ways. If the rope is free floating in the luff tape, held in place by hand stitching at the head and tack, then we can unstitch the hand stitching and ease the tension in the rope and hand sew it in its new position.

Typically, the rope is not free floating, which in that case we have to unstitch almost the entire luff tape to re-tension it. Then we apply back on the sail and re-sew it.

Luff Re-shape

Over time the material of the sails will stretch. This will cause the draft to become fuller than originally designed, even with the correct amount of luff tension. What we like to do here is re-shape the luff roach.

To some, the luff of the sail may seem like a straight line, but this actually is not the case, it has a positive arc running from the head to the tack. This, along with the broad-seaming of the sail, is one of the methods used to create shape in the sail. To help alleviate the fullness in the sail we then essentially reduce this roach using a long batten along the luff to create a new luff shape, but with a similar arc as was originally designed.

Over time and continuous use, your sails will start to show their age and lose some of their performance. Drop them off at your local Quantum loft and we can help bring them back to their original glory.

 

____

Sam Keys
Quantum Sails Chicago
Service Manager
312-225-0801
skeys@quantumsails.com

 

Will You be Ready Offshore When Rough Weather Hits?

Fre, 01/22/2016 - 19:14

You're ready to head offshore, but are you ready for rough weather? Mother nature can create some unique challenges and having the right sails and crew can make all the difference. Follow these tips for preparing your boat and your crew, and let the adventure begin!

While “cruising” and “rough weather” seem to be contradictory terms, even with modern weather forecasting, it is a reality of offshore sailing. Quantum sail designer and pro sailor David Armitage found that out first hand while delivering his Beneteau 47 Nemetona as part of the Salty Dawg Rally from Norfolk, VA, to Virgin Gorda for the start of a nine-month sailing adventure with his family.

Dave completed the passage with the help of his father and brother, both experienced sailors. Their departure date was set on a recommendation from Chris Parker of the Marine Weather Center. Indeed, there were a number of boats that would head out at the same time on Parker’s advice. While they had a decent weather window, they could still expect to see some heavy weather and rough seas during the 1,300 nm journey.

The sail inventory required for any offshore sailing experience is very different than what one needs for in-shore or even weekend coastal cruising. Outfitting your boat and preparing your crew properly is like taking out an insurance policy: Hopefully you won’t ever need it, but you will be very happy to have it if you do.

Balancing Sail Area and Trim In a Storm

More sail area doesn’t always mean more speed, certainly in rough seas and big breeze when the boat can easily be put on its side.

The autopilot does a lot of work offshore, but for the autopilot to work well, both the sail area and the trim must be balanced. With a small staysail and reefed mainsail, Dave and his crew were able to maintain up to eight knots on their course in 35 to 40 knots of breeze. “If you saw the boat during these periods, you would have been shocked at how little sail area we were carrying, and yet still making good forward progress,” he says.

Always a racer, Dave says the experience was a good lesson. “I would definitely not go offshore without good/small heavy air sails that allow you to sail the boat well.”

The Headsails

When you’re out at sea and it’s blowing 30 knots, your primary all-purpose genoa on the roller-furler isn’t going to cut it; the sail will be too big when it gets rough, and you won’t be able to furl enough sail for the conditions and still have a working headsail.

Having a heavy working jib not larger than 100% of the perpendicular distance from the luff to the clew as well as a true storm jib or staysail is crucial. The working jib can be flown on an inner forestay, if you’ve equipped your boat with one, or on the primary roller furling system. However, if you have to drop the genoa and hoist the working jib, you’ll want to be very prudent about performing that maneuver early and not waiting until the boat becomes unmanageable in the building breeze. Additionally, having a purpose-built small jib will extend the life of your genoa.

Offshore, a heavy working jib is likely to be the correct sail much of the time, and if you plan to sail offshore often, adding an inner forestay might make a lot of sense. “We had taken the time the previous year to fit an inner forestay and small jib to the boat,” says Dave. During the passage, he says, “that sail and setup definitely paid for itself.”

When it really gets rough, you need to have a true storm jib. There are multiple ways to fly a storm jib, and if you have a furling system, you’ll need a sail with piston hanks for the inner forestay. Other considerations like a tack pennant or pad eye for sheeting should also be discussed with your sail maker.

Read more about choosing cruising headsails.

The Mainsail

If using a traditional mainsail, you need to be sure that you have the right number of reefing points and at the right distance, and that you know how to use them. Flynn recommends two deep reefs. During sudden squalls, the mainsail will most likely be dropped completely. For upwind sailing in sustained high wind, you will need a storm trysail. To use the storm trysail, you would normally take the mainsail off the boom and stow it down below.

If your boat is equipped with an in-mast furling system, you probably don’t need a storm trysail. The in-mast furling allows you to roll up the main in such away that is very flat and about the same shape of a storm trysail. While there are a number of pros and cons to an in-mast system, the ability of being able to reduce mainsail area in a hurry could be huge. “In these instances [we were able to] reduce sail quickly in the rainsqualls, which allowed us to maintain control and balance,” says Dave.

Read more about choosing the right mainsail for your boat.

Know Your Course & Your Crew

Nematona was making good progress down the coast, but some of the other boats tacked to the northeast and headed out to sea to avoid the rough weather. The result was an easier ride, but they ended up sailing up to 200 extra miles in the wrong direction. The boats that took that route arrived two days behind Nematona.

If he had to do it all over again, Dave says he would have taken the same route, but he would have rather had four people on board. Their watch system in rough weather consisted of one person at the wheel, the second person resting under the dodger just aft of the companion way, and the third person was down below attempting to sleep. During the last three days, actually getting any quality rest was almost impossible in this scheme.

Dave and his crew arrived in Virgin Gorda after eight days to the minute at sea. There’s never a guarantee of a safe passage when crossing the open ocean, but with the right preparation and planning, you’ll be in a lot better shape. “We were tired, but happy to have arrived safe and sound in one piece,” says Dave. “Let the island adventure begin!”

You can follow Dave and his family’s adventure on their blog and Facebook page.

Great Sledding for the Bobsled at Quantum Key West Race Week

Fre, 01/22/2016 - 15:24

Quantum's Director of Offshore One Design, Scott Nixon, has spent the week sailing with the new C&C 30 team Bobsled at the Quantum Key West Race Week. We checked in to see how their week has been going.

Team Bobsled on Wednesday at the Quantum Key West Race Week. Photo by Sara Proctor.

With the fast approaching massive winter snowstorm heading for the Bobsled's hometown of Annapolis, MD we knew that Wednesday would be a good day to go sledding. Quantum Key West Race Week is serving up some chilly and windy conditions this week and the teams are loving it. Monday started out with a Northerly breeze in the 18-22 knot range and many teams including our new team on the C&C30 One Design Bobsled were caught a bit off guard. High winds and big waves are new to our team and while we had good speed around the track we lost a lot of points to boat handling issues, especially the dreaded spinnaker set and douse. Tuesday the RC wisely kept the teams on solid ground as the winds were steady in the high 20's all day. The Bobsledders used the day to review video, look at sail pictures and review our boat handling process. We updated our boat set up and put together an order of operations for out sets, gybes, and douses. It paid off as Wednesday's conditions were classic Key West conditions with a post frontal North Easterly in the 12-17 knot range. Bob Moran, the captain and team leader of the Bobsled had solid starts and our speed team led by Mike Coe kept us in control of our own destiny with great boat speed both upwind and down. The Bobsledders improved our boat handling 100% and were much more competitive in the boat on boat situations.

Team Bobsled enjoying a post-race beverage & debrief at the Half Shell Raw Bar in Key West.

Helmets off to a job well done, holding a solid 3rd place standing at the end of Thursday to keep the sled on track in the 11 boat fleet. Looking forward to the final day of racing in the Conch Republic before we try to get home to the snow and some sledding with our kids!

You can view all of the week's results here and get the latest information about the Quantum Key West Race Week here.

 

Hail to the Bow

Tir, 01/19/2016 - 17:05

In addition to great racing, Quantum Key West Race Week is full of great information and seminars. A team of pros from Quantum Racing and Bella Mente lead a post-racing talk focusing on one of the most important people on the boat – the Bowman. Here are a few re-cap tips courtesy of Key West Race Week's blog.

Tom Burnham, Pitman on Quantum Racing leads the Hail to the Bow talk at the 2016 Key West Race Week.

The role of the bow person is multi-dimensional; the person on the pointy-end of the boat is expected to be fast, efficient, and has to make sure sails go up and down quickly, spinnaker sets are done effortlessly, and most importantly without any mistakes…ever.

On Monday afternoon, after racing three races in some big breeze on Day 1 of Quantum Key West Race Week, Tom Burnham, Pitman-Quantum Racing joined by bowman Greg Gendell on Quantum Racing, and Doogie Couvreux, bowman on Bella Mente shared some tips and tricks to make the bow maneuvers fast and flawless.

Here are just a few tips that they shared. When seconds count, every little bit matters! 

  • Communication is Key — Cannot emphasize this point enough.
  • Pre-start – Think of time versus boat lengths.
  • Think Ahead – Look up from the bow, and anticipate the tactical and strategic decisions that are coming next. Don’t wait to be told what to do next!
  • Setup the sails in the same spot (home base) in the same way for consistency.
  • Check, Double-check and Triple-check the settings, setup, and be ready to make last-minute changes. Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

Doogie Courveux, bowman on Bella Mente provided some tested and true tips for keeping the bow running smoothly.

Doogie and a buddy designed an opening sail pre-feeder that is very unique, and “it works.” They developed 4 prototypes, tested it for a year, and it will work on anything from a Melges 32 to a Bella Mente, and all boats in-between. It is adjustable, can be hooked onto the headstay.

Stay safe, think ahead, communicate and triple-check for flawless performance on the bow!

Source: Key West Race Week.

Quantum Key West Service & Events

Man, 01/11/2016 - 17:09

 

Click here to download a pdf of the below information!

OWNERS’ RECEPTION
Monday, 5 – 7 PM [ Gallery on Greene ]

  • We invite you and a guest to join us for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at the beautiful Gallery on Greene at 606 Greene Street.

APPLYING THE FORECAST TO THE RACECOURSE
Daily weather tips at 8 AM [ Main Stage ]

  • Got the forecast, now what? Join Ed Baird for quick review of the weather details as they pertain to each race circle.

SPECTATOR BOAT
Daily at 10 AM

  • Quantum is offering VIP seats on the spectator boat America 2.0 on first come, first served basis. Departure at 10 AM daily. For availability, contact Libby Tomlinson at 231-313-8898 or ltomlinson@quantumsails.com.

COACHING & DEBRIEFS WITH QUANTUM SAILS & HARKEN
Daily at 5 PM [ Quantum Tent at Race Village ]

  • Racing pro and coach Ed Baird will be on the water daily with cameraman Keith Brash covering different race circles. Ed will present interactive debriefs each evening starting at 5:00 pm at the Quantum tent. We are excited to have Harken with us this year, awarding a daily prize to the person with the best question.
  • Following Ed on Wednesday, Quantum’s new Melges 24 class expert and World Champion Chris Rast will host a special debrief on the Melges 24s.

SUNDAY – Division 2 (5 PM)
MONDAY – Division 3
TUESDAY – Division 1
WEDNESDAY – Division 2; Melges 24 (6 PM, Chris Rast)
THURSDAY – Division 3 & Division 1

 

WINNING STRATEGIES FOR KEY WEST
Sunday, January 17 [ 5 PM ]

  • As most experienced Key West afterguards know, there are strategic challenges unique to each of Key West’s three course areas. Stop by the Race Week Shoreside venue just prior to the Skipper’s Meeting to hear from a panel of proven winners to help you enhance your strategy for the week.

Moderator: Terry Hutchinson

HAIL TO THE BOW
Monday, January 18 [ 5 PM ]

  • For the first time ever in Key West, we are dedicating a seminar for the people who make it all happen at the corners of the course, The Bow Teams. Led by world-renowned Pitman and Coach, Tom Burnham. Tom will surround himself with a panel of the top bow people in the sport to discuss the set-ups, tricks and coordination of the bow team at the marks.

LESSONS FROM THE LEADERS
Tuesday, January 19 [ 5 PM ]

  • Quantum’s Marty Kullman will select two top-standing helmsmen from each circle to join the panel and discuss winning strategies and lessons learned from the week so far.

 

Alex Clegg, 401-301-7068, AClegg@quantumsails.com, J/111, Heat Wave

Brian DeBrincat, 443 454 0418, bdebrincat@quantumsails.com, Service Loft

Dave Flynn, 410-991-4931, dflynn@quantumsails.com, C&C 30, Themis

Terry Flynn, 713-906-5497, tflynn@quantumsails.com, J/111, Bravo

Farley Fontenot, 281-381-9030, Farley@quantumsails.com, Coaching, Extreme 2

Dave Gerber, 312-213-1181, dgerber@quantumsails.com, J/70, Eagles Wings

Terry Hutchinson, 443-994-4663, thutch@quantumsails.com, MiniMaxi, Belle Mente

Kerry Klingler, 914-924-3466, kklingler@quantumsails.com, J/88, Deviation

Marty Kullman, 727-560-0164, mkullman@quantumsails.com, J/70, Reach Around

Gary Leduc, 508-965-7897, gleduc@quantumsails.com, J/111, Wicked 2.0

Jason Massaroni, 231 492 7797, jmassaroni@quantumsails.com, Service Loft

Clarke McKinney, 301-481-0672, cmckinney@quantumsails.com, J/80, Family Truckster

Scott Nixon, 410-703-2578, snixon@quantumsails.com, C&C 30, BobSled

Chris Rast, +41 78 641 3606, chrisrast@gmail.com, Melges 24, Zingara

Ed Reynolds, 616-350-1810, edreynolds@quantumsails.com

Charlie Saville, 443-510-3088, csaville@quantumsails.com, Service Loft

Andrew Scott, 410-353-1518, ascot@quantumsails.com, TP52, Quantum Racing

Allan Terhune, 732-644-1051, aterhune@quantumsails.com, J/111, Wooton

Libby Tomlinson, 231-313-8898, ltomlinson@quantumsails.com

Nick Turney, 419-346-4197, nturney@quantumsails.com, J/111, Spaceman Spiff

Gera Witte, 616-901-0301, gwitte@quantumsails.com

Lessons from the Pros: Practice

Ons, 12/23/2015 - 17:38

You've heard it time and time again: practice makes perfect. And our pros couldn't agree more. Quantum designers and pros have been very active with the new C&C30 class, reminding us of the importance of practice. Below Quantum's Dave Flynn talks about his tips for practicing and how to get the most out of it.

C&C 30s at their best. Photo by Onne van der Wal.

This past season, Quantum Sails sponsored a C&C 30 clinic before the fall one design regatta in Annapolis. With nine boats, it was one of the biggest gatherings for this new class, and the regatta was a trial-by-fire event for everyone. With all boats experiencing the same learning curve, the clinic provided a great opportunity to learn and share. It also reminded me of some important lessons that are taken for granted at higher racing levels, but from which all racers could benefit:  You have to practice.

I know this sounds absurdly simplistic, but sailing is a sport, and, like all other sports, it takes practice. We can’t expect to tack, jibe, and douse spinnakers effectively without working on it first. Yet most of us expect to show up on the weekend and have everything work.

At a minimum, get to the starting area an hour or more early so you can go for a full beat –spinnaker set, a series of jibes, and a racing take-down. If you really want to improve, schedule a non-racing weekend to sail with your team. If you’re going to a major event (at whatever level is “major” for you), show up a couple of days early to get your boat fully sorted out and your crew up to speed. 

PRACTICE LIKE YOU RACE

Go all in.  

Make sure the whole crew is there and in the proper gear. Have the boat fully rigged and ready to go. Then leave the dock at a defined time – don’t lollygag.

Get the boat set for upwind, and sail in a straight line for a while to get everyone settled in. Next work on tacks, going through a half dozen or so until the ballet is smooth. Find a weather and leeward mark (it’s important to have real marks so the crew can picture what’s coming and prepare accordingly – setting or dousing a spinnaker at an imaginary mark doesn’t work).

Start doing laps. Give yourself enough room so that you can do 4-5 jibes per run. Too long and the upwind legs will become a slog. Often, you can start with a longer windward-leeward to get organized then shorten it to increase the intensity. If things go badly with a maneuver, stop and get reorganized. It is not a bad idea to take a break after a couple of laps to review what’s working and what needs fixing.  

A high-intensity, focused practice that has a defined beginning and end is better than a long drawn out session with no clear limits or defined goals. 

PRACTICE WITH A PARTNER 

The only way to effectively work on boat speed is with a training partner. You always seem fast when sailing by yourself. A partner will help you see your actual results and can be one of your most valuable assets at a regatta. Use a radio or signals to communicate so you can plan your tacks, agree on which marks to use, etc.

To work on upwind speed, a proper lineup is key. You need to be no more than 2-3 boat lengths apart with the bows even (further apart and there will be too many variables). If one boat is clearly gaining and getting into too much separation, slow down and re-group. After sailing for a while, switch sides (leeward boat should become the windward boat).  

Don’t forget to practice sailing laps once you are comfortable with upwind setup. Doing laps with a partner will help your mechanics by introducing a higher level of intensity.  

Your partner can be one of your most valuable assets at a regatta. Plan to go out for each day’s racing at the same time. Sail together for a half hour or so upwind in the course area to work on speed, then set spinnakers and work on a downwind leg. If you have time, you can add a second beat and each boat can take a side. That will give tacticians a good clue as to which side is favored.

When you get back to the dock at the end of the day, compare notes on rig settings, trim, and tactical decisions. Both teams will be better at the end of the regatta, and the camaraderie is a plus. 

PRACTICE DRILLS

For One Boat

One of the most difficult maneuvers to get right is the leeward mark turn from downwind to upwind. It is a big turn, nearly 180 degrees, and demands smooth coordination between mechanics (taking the spinnaker down) and the speed team (driver and trimmers). The hard part is the rate of turn and matching trim to turn. The goal is the classic “in wide out close” turn that starts wide and ends up with the boat arriving at a full, upwind angle as the bow passes the mark. You can practice this technique by yourself.

First, take the spinnaker out of the equation. Approach the downwind mark on broad reach (true wind angle 140-150 for realism) with only the mainsail and jib. Practice making a smooth in wide out close turn with coordinated trim – don’t get ahead on the trim (trimmers love to cheat and pull sails in early). As you pass the mark, take a look back and see how close you got to full upwind trim and angle.  

Sail upwind for a minute or so, tack, bear away, and repeat. Five to seven repetitions will give drivers and trimmers a good sense of how wide, when to start the turn, and how fast to trim. 

For Two or More Boats

The key to a good start is being on time with speed, but the real measure of success is if you can hold the lane for 2-3 minutes on starboard without being forced to tack by the boats on either side.

Holding a lane is tricky. A good way to practice is to have boats line up approximately two boat lengths apart on a beam reach. At an agreed upon signal, turn up to close hauled. Again, practice a smooth turn with coordinated trim up to close hauled then settle in for three minutes, working on holding height and fore and aft positions on boats above and below. This simulates a good, even start, and allows you to focus on speed and height without having to battle for position.

PRACTICE STARTS

Starting is the hardest part of the game, and perhaps the most important. It’s also the most difficult to practice, which is why sailors who have come up through collegiate programs have a big advantage – they’ve literally practiced hundreds of starts. That’s why the highlight of the C&C 30 clinic was an extended series of rolling practice starts.  

Timing varies depending on wind conditions, but five-minute intervals usually work well. Start upwind for a minute or two then bear off back to the starting areas to do it again. In one hour you can get twelve starts in.  

There is no substitute for practice starts. All it takes is a group of boats, a committee boat, and a mark. It’s not as difficult to organize as you might think, and your team will come away with dramatically improved techniques and confidence.

How to Go from Zero to Hero in One of the Toughest Fleets in the World

Man, 12/21/2015 - 22:27

Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika won both the RC44 2015 World Championships and the season tour, a feat that has never been accomplished by any other boat. One season ago, Team Nika was struggling mid-fleet. Now Prosikhin is the 2015 Russian Sailor of the Year by Yacht Russia magazine and the Russian Yachting Federation. Here’s how he did it.                          

Team Nika takes the 2015 class title! Virgin Gorda Cup – photo by Martinez Studio.

Vladimir Prosikhin’s Team Nika became the first RC44 boat in the history of the fleet to win both the season title and the World Championships in the same year when he sealed the deal this past October at the Virgin Gorda Cup. Prosikhin is relatively new to premiere one-design racing having only joined the fleet five years ago and struggled mid-fleet despite strengthening his crew and learning the challenges of competing in such a competitive grand prix fleet. Now, as the World Champion, he says the secret to this season’s success is in his new Quantum sails and their speed experts.

The Fleet

The RC44 was designed in Slovenia by five-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts and naval architect Andrej Justin. The fleet is unique in that all the boats travel together from race to race, on a 40-foot flat rack organized by the class association. This simplifies logistics for a series that moves from Sweden to Malta to the BVIs as well as keeps the costs down for the owners.

The idea was to make a complete boat package so that it was easy for people to join the fleet. When Prosikhin made the decision to join in 2005, he bought one of the original 2007-built boats. “I gave them a call and they sold me a boat with a full crew. It took two weeks after making the decision to buy the boat that I went to the first regatta.”

Competition in the RC44 fleet is fierce. “At least six or seven boats can win every regatta,” says Prosikhin. “When you have a boat that’s strong and doesn’t break, speed is crucial. It’s a huge advantage. This is what we do have at the moment.”

The Fine Tuning

Despite teams having almost exclusively North Sails inventories, Quantum-powered teams have had great success in the RC44 class fleet racing, including high ranking Aqua and Valentin Zavadnikov’s Synergy, which has also won the match racing season title multiple times. Their performance gave the class confidence to use Quantum Sails for the class heavy weather and match racing spinnaker which was designed by Quantum's Brett Jones.

Prosikhin was unhappy with Team Nika’s performance and overall standings. Wanting a change, he made the decision to move from North Sails to Quantum, picking up Quantum sail designer Brett Jones as head coach. Jones coached Team Aqua for several years winning a number of season and world titles. Now with a full Quantum setup and a sail designer as coach, Team Nika is in a class by itself.

The RC44 may be a one-design class, but Prosikhin says the fine-tuning of the sails is where you find the speed, and that is in large part thanks to Jones, a sentiment that is echoed by the Team Nika crew. Reinforcing Quantum’s goal to not only have the best sails, but also the best support behind them.

“The experience of working with the designer is the number priority, and the number one thing that counted toward our success,” says mainsail trimmer Tomaz Copi.

Team Nika at the Virgin Gorda Cup. Photo by Martinez Studio

Pit crew member Sean Clarkson says at this point, the Team Nika could write the book on how to sail the RC44 with Quantum sails based on how much development was done, and that’s where they found their speed. “The baseline of sails for the 44 class were pretty good. It was more about getting the sails to fit our style of sailing, our mast, the luff curves and the set up we have, and just slowly developing the sails.”

Dean Barker was originally signed on to serve as tactician this season, but scheduling conflicts resulted in Team Nika sailing with three different tacticians over the five regattas, which is unheard of at this level of sailing. Ed Baird sailed the final regatta in Virgin Gorda. Not to diminish the contribution of the tactician or the challenge of constantly changing the guy in the position, but Prosikhin says when you have boat speed, tactics are easy.

Baird agrees. “The sails are great quality, but it’s not just that. There’s a network of support around and behind the product that helps to not only set the boat up correctly and get the sails looking good on the rig, but also working with the team on coordinating the sail trim and boat handling to make us the strongest on the water as possible,” says Baird.

“We were definitely the fastest boat there by a lot, especially at the World Championships, no one could touch us,” Clarkson adds.

A Tiebreaker

The season standings were decided in the last seconds of the final race in Virgin Gorda. Heading into the final race, Prosikhin’s close friend and rival Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec Sailing Team needed only to finish ahead of Team Nika with one boat finishing between them. Instead, they ended up tied on the leaderboard, and Team Nika winning in the tiebreaker to win the season.

“In a fleet of very strong one design boats, 0.5% difference in speed in most cases is everything,” says Prosikhin.

Prosikhin was recently named 2015 Russian Sailor of the Year by Yacht Russia magazine and the Russian Yachting Federation and he’s also been nominated for Sailor of the Year in Monaco, too.

The 2016 season looks bright for Team Nika. Baird has signed on and Jones will be back as head coach, along with most if not all of the crew. “Now we’re the target; everyone wants to beat us,” Prosikhin laughs. It’s not a bad position to be in.

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