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Thread: Weather/Tactics Discussion (Part 5)

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    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Default Weather/Tactics Discussion (Part 5)

    PART 5: THE RUN.

    You have weathered the WINDY REACH, passed the RIDGE, sailed under the EPAC High during SLOTCARS. And now the last third of the SHTP is the RUN.

    You know that you have safely passed under the High and entered the Tradewinds when the barometer starts a gradual descent from its high of 1020-1022 mb. By Hanalei, the baro will have dropped to an average pressure of 1015 mb.

    In absence of Weather Fax and/or GRIB Files, a sure way to locate the direction of the center of the EPAC High is to stand facing into the True Wind. Assuming the True Wind is coming from 12 o'clock on a clock face, the center of the EPAC High will be to your left, at 10:30 on the clock face.

    During the RUN, the wind speed and direction is generally even across the course. With the Finish DDW, you will be trying to sail the closer or favored jibe towards Hanalei. The further south and west you sail, the further the Tradewinds will veer, generally settling in from the ENE or approx 75 m.

    This slow veer means the right hand side of the course is favored for the RUN, and generally you will be sailing on starboard tack more than port, even crossing north of the rhumbline during latter stages of the SHTP.

    5-10 degree shifts come through on an irregular and unpredictable basis. Unless you are racing on a fully crewed boat set up to jibe frequently, these small shifts are not easy to take advantage of when solo sailing.

    However, during and after squalls, the wind may shift more dramatically. If you find yourself lifted on starboard and steering DDW on a compass course of 280m or above, it is time to immediately jibe to port. Likewise, if you are steering DDW on port on a compass course of 200m or below, it is also jibe time. These are your "fences," and should be religiously minded.

    Tradewind squalls, especially during the night, become a regular feature of the RUN. Generally, a squall will veer the wind 15-20 degrees to the right from the prevailing wind. The windspeed will also increase in a squall 10-15 knots for a short time.

    Much has been written about squall management during Transpacs, especially aggressively jibing in front of a squall. But these articles are from the point of view of faster and fully crewed racers. For SHTP racers, if possible, it is best to avoid squalls, as the brief increase in wind can cause havoc with sails, wrapping spinnakers and setting twins aback. The wake of the squall then leaves a period of light and frustrating sailing until the squall moves on or dissipates, and the Trades fill again.

    If a squall can't be avoided, it is best to sail through the squall on port jibe, and exit "stage left." The reason is a squall is moving to the right of the path of the surface wind, and port jibe lets you diverge rapidly from the light air behind a squall. Exiting "stage right" behind a squall is fraught with peril, especially near dawn, when the risk of getting becalmed increases.

    In 2008, the Olson 30 POLAR BEAR had a particularly simple and successful strategy for dealing with squalls: Eric would fly his spinnaker during the day, leaving it up until the first squall hit at night. Then he would drop his chute, wing out a jib for the rest of the night, and reset at first light.

    For the RUN, a favorable surface current of up to .75 knots can be expected to boost daily runs 10-15 miles

    Sheet and halyard chafe can take its toll during the RUN. Chafe patrol should be ongoing. A spinnaker sheet sawing under the boom will soon wear through the cover. An "outgrabber" that pulls the spinny sheet outboard on the boom will generally do much to reduce chafe.

    Halyard chafe is also a constant. Even the main halyard is not safe. If the main halyard is rope, it may lead over the sharp edge of the masthead sheave as the headboard swings to right angles on a run. Chafed rope halyards and guys can be quickly shortened using a buntline hitch. A chafed sheet can be shortened and end-for-ended multiple times.

    Except for the steering gear, there is no greater strain than that put on the boom gooseneck, and on the inboard pole end mast track. Both the gooseneck and mast track take extreme side loading for which the thin wall of an aluminum mast is the weak link. Goosenecks and mast tracks fail in every race, and cannot be made too strong. A banding tool is recommended equipment.

    Dipping the boom can also break the boom at the boomvang. It is good to have the boom reinforced in this area with internal or external sleeving. And to use a weak link or renewable 'break away" attachment that blows before the boom breaks (3/16" line?)

    Twin jibs are a boon to singlehanders, especially those with heavier displacement boats. Twins allow sailing DDW. The tradeoff is most boats roll horribly. By reaching up slightly with twins, not only is the roll eliminated, but the main can often remain set, as it no longer blankets the leeward twin.

    Poles winging out twins should each be set with a topping lift and a taut foreguy. Should the windward twin go aback without a taut foreguy, the pole may wrap around the windward shrouds.

    The RUN is the most fun part of the SHTP. At some point, every racer will be surfing waves with tradewind popcorn clouds floating overhead. Over the horizon, Hanalei beckons.

    GAMEPLAN for the RUN: Sail the closest jibe towards Pt. B (23N x 158W.) Exit stage left from squalls. Don't fly a chute on a squally night unless you are hand steering and ready for eventualities. Mind chafe, and keep an eye on the gooseneck and mast track.
    Last edited by sleddog; 05-11-2010 at 09:10 PM.

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