Author Topic: Light Air Tips  (Read 3185 times)

Offline KeithV

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Light Air Tips
« on: July 30, 2014, 11:55:41 AM »
Hi all,

This is my first summer with my new-to-me used HC. I have plenty of experience with marconi rigs but am new to sailing gaff rigs. My biggest gaff rig challenge so far has been sailing in light air (5-8 knot winds). Sloops on the water glide by while I feel like a grounded barge. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

KeithV

Offline jpfx

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Re: Light Air Tips
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2014, 12:37:59 PM »
get steerage way in any direction first before turning to your desired heading.

Offline Jon898

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Re: Light Air Tips
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2014, 12:55:32 PM »
Biggest key with a cat rig is not to pinch too close to the wind and not to trim in too much.  That will probably have more influence than the fact you have a gaff rig (particularly the high-peaked gaffs on the Com-Pac designs).  We tend to learn to haul the sails in to make a (bermudan) sloop go to windward, but most cats don't like it if the boom is closer than the leeward quarter.  Another influence will be the angle of the gaff, which can be used to change the draft of the sail with as little as a slight easing of the peak halyard having significant effect (try easing a bit to go downwind and you'll see the difference...too much and you'll scandalize the sail, which can be useful if you want to slow down in a hurry).

Remember also that the board position also will influence performance on a cat more than you will probably have been used to.

Lots of cat sailing info here: http://www.go-embedded.com/Sailingmanual.pdf

What I've found is that gaff-rigged cats will not point as high as a bermudan sloop close hauled (more windage aloft, leech with a kink in it and missing the venturi effect of the foresail/mainsail slot), but will perform similarly on a close reach and better when freer than a beam reach.

In any case, enjoy the challenge of learning a whole new set of tricks!

Offline capt_nemo

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Re: Light Air Tips
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2014, 07:07:11 PM »
KeithV,

The answer to the light air blues is HEADSAIL or Nylon Main'sl.

I made a light air drifter out of rip-stop nylon for my Sun Cat. The 38 sq ft wonder made a dramatic difference in light air performance with the "slot" effect contributing to a more efficient main'sl.

Here is the first Nylon Drifter, set "flying" (no hanks).



And, here is the 75 sq ft MASTHEAD Drifter I made out of 3.3 oz Polytarp to fly hanked on or with Furler from the 4' Bowsprit I made and installed on Sun Cat "Frisky". (I did add a quick-release Masthead Forestay and additional Masthead shrouds attached to the same chainplates as the factory shrouds.)



Or, you can try a Nylon Main'sl like this one I made for my gaff rig. (Additional Masthead shrouds can be seen on the upper right side of the photo.)



Hope this provides food for thought.

capt_nemo

« Last Edit: July 30, 2014, 07:08:50 PM by capt_nemo »

Offline KeithV

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Re: Light Air Tips
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2014, 03:50:45 PM »
Thank you all. The idea of a headsail makes sense since it is what l am used to (mains'l plus genoa). I am determined, however, to learn the nuances of a gaff rig and how to best trim the sail in all conditions. I will attempt to do so both with and without a foresail. We still have a few months left of sailing season in Ohio so stay tuned for updates.

Offline frank

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Re: Light Air Tips
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2014, 05:26:04 PM »
jon898 is correct in saying "don't pinch". When tacking in light air you will need to fall off a bit and slowly come up closer to the wind. Better to keep boat speed than to stall. The ole saying "when in doubt..let out" applies here  :-) 
Small boats: God's gift to young boys and older men

Offline capt_nemo

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Re: Light Air Tips
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2014, 06:24:49 PM »
KeithV,

Somewhere in the history of the "Catboat" you will find that the addition of a headsail was indeed common in dealing with light winds and was referred to as a "Summer Rig".

Photos of older Catboats show them sailing with long bowsprits and headsails, often with others similarly rigged. The bowsprits are necessary of course to provide a decent fore triangle area for tacking a headsail larger than a handkerchief.

Welcome to the small group of gaff rig Catboat nuts!

capt_nemo

Offline KeithV

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Re: Light Air Tips
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2014, 10:25:34 PM »
Is the factory-provided forestay stout enough to handle a bit of a headsail? Also, l haven't looked closely at the mast, but how much is involved to run a halyard for a headsail? I also have to ask if l am taking the easy/comfortable way out by adding a headsail OR if l will find it easier to sail the gaff rig in light air as l gain more experience? I appreciate all of your comments and suggestions.

Offline Jon898

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Re: Light Air Tips
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2014, 08:07:05 AM »
I'd suggest learning the nuances of the gaff-rigged cat first and then go with the headsail for really light airs if you feel you really must.  Analogy would be to learn to sail a sloop well before you try a spinnaker.  I learned to sail (half a century ago) on a West Wight Scow (not a Potter...different beast) and initially learned with no headsail on the gunter-rigged boat...essentially making it a cat as the mast is stepped well forward.  Only when I had that down did my father allow the jib to be used.

Offline capt_nemo

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Re: Light Air Tips
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2014, 04:51:11 PM »
KeithV,

YES, the factory forestay is strong enough to handle a small jib.

Just attach a small block to the forestay tang (underneath), add a length of line, and you have a halyard. Run it through a small block at the base of the mast and you can lead it back to the cockpit. You could even set a small jib "flying" (no hanks) like I did initially.

When the air is so light that the boat won't move, despite the skill gained with a gaff headed main'sl, you'll be raising a jib, preferably made of Nylon. OR, you'll put the sailboat back on the trailer and launch the powerboat!


IN LIGHT AIR - NYLON IS KING!

capt_nemo

Offline Jon898

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Re: Light Air Tips
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2014, 04:57:06 PM »
Another point is that cats can suffer from a lot of weather helm (especially if you haul your sheets too enthusiastically), so adding a foresail can help that vice by moving the CE forward (just don't over do it or you'll get lee helm appearing which will make any puffs become "interesting").  Weather helm is one of the reasons I mentioned that the board position is quite important on a cat...if you raise the board a bit it moves the CLR aft slightly, and helps with weather helm and the rudder acting as a big brake.

Offline tmorgan

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Re: Light Air Tips
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2014, 07:47:19 PM »
We sail a Suncat and it's not a light air boat.  If the weather forcast is for less than 10 mph, I have a difficult time getting myself enthused about sailing on my home lake.  When we're on the coast and the wind dies, we just motor on!  But if the wind is 10-17 mph, the Suncat comes to life and it is a wonderful, easy boat to sail.