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The first race of the season is most often a disappointment. Things that worked last year doesn’t work the first time out. We are unorganized and slow. However, the Seilmakeren 2008 is the worst start ever.
We choose to go out into the ocean. We lost more or less 4 hours by this move. So we decided to go inside north and Back to Bergen. Both tracks where the wrong decision. Going North there was no wind at all. In periods we went backwards. In periods we moved by the current, we where swirled around, we sailed into wind-less areas while we could se boats passing us outside.
In short a rather frustrating race. But it started well:
We had a wonderful sail to Bergen in incredible spring weather. Sun for a week is not common at the West Coast of Norway in May. But alas, no wind.
As a painted ship upon a painted ocean we sat from Wednesday until Saturday morning. Then we just gave in.
We started well and choose to go with the new asymmetric spinnaker. A good choice the first few miles. Further up the road we should have changed to a symmetrical, but then it was to late. When we finally changed we got back the lost but shot into a windless spot and stayed there while the others passed us at good speed.
The same story happened over and over again.
It was all in all a wonderful trip, but a rotten race.
It’s time to start spring planning. The rubber bumper Keelpro is soon to arrive from Sweden, the spinnaker is finished at Westaway Sails and all details have been varnished 5 or 6 times in the basement.
Furthermore, I am going to participate in both the Seilmakeren race and the Simrad Onestar. The first is a double handed race from Bergen to Stavanger and back. The Simrad Onstar is a single hande race in the triangle Hankø, Risør and Vä derø erna on the Swedish west coast.
Both races are pretty pretentious for an old man in an old boat. But, what the heck? What can I lose?
In a good day, all I can win is a race. On a bad day, all I lose is a race.
If the weather turns rough, we might do a great race. Quite a few of my competitors, both at Seilmakeren and the Simrad Onestar are rather flimsy yachts. As soon as the wind start blowing a few of them will be very hard to master alone or short handed. Most of the yachts are made for having the crew hiking out, while ”Salt” is sturdy and doesn’t make a big deal of having ballast on the outer edge or not.
So, it might turn out well. Besides, racing is most for the competition and the fun, not for the winning. Right?
Salt is up dry. It’s cold outside and I have fire in the fireplace to keep comfortable and warm. However, It’s obvious time for planning of a new season. It’s time to look at general improvements and speed enhancing in particular. We will not no.2 forever!
This years first race will be the Seilmakeren (named for Seilmaker Iversen in Bergen) – a shorthanded race from Bergen to Stavanger and back. More than 110 yachts are already registered. We where number 93 to register in November – six months before the start! There is a shorthand craze blowing over Norway. I can think of a few arguments why sailors wants to go short-handed. First of all it is annoying to keep calling to get crew while you sail almost as well without the extra hands, but first of all it is regarded as much thougher which makes participation in short hand races stand out among fellow sailors.
Seilmakeren will start early May – which is way too early and might be very cold indeed. In May the North Sea is still cold. At night it is very hard to keep going and stop shivering. And there is no way we will not have to sail hard upwind for half the race. However, we are ready for the other half. A new 110 Sq.meter asymmetric spinnaker is ordered from Westaway Sailmakers in Devon, England. I am going to mount it on a 80 centimeter long pole at deck level to get as much power at shy reaching as possible. However, the main point is to ease the downwind sailing by making jibing and setting of the spinnaker much easier and safer. By the way – we are ready for the upwind part too. Hopefully we can use the Cape Horn going upwind and keep warm by the diesel burner. I mean -if you have to, you do whatever it takes.
Another speed enhancing job is to scrub and wet-sand the under-body. Somehow parts of the paint is not as smooth as it is supposed to be. I am also considering sharpening the aft-edge of the rudder to make it slip the water more easily. I might as well sharpen the front of the keel and epoxy the former through-hole for the sounder too. I have no more use for it and it’s probably just braking by making inharmonious curls in the passing water. I know – it’s a little hysterical. But the boat is up and dry, and as stated – I’m not going to stay no.2 forever. Whatever it takes.
I am considering taking part in the 1000-mile race from Netherlands to Bergen and further to the Shetlands and back. I admit it is easy to dream on while sitting warm and comfortable by the fireplace. But it sure would be cool, and this time it is possible to take part from Newcastle to Bergen, Shetland and back. It is much closer from Stavanger to Newcastle in England, then to go all the way down to the Netherlands. Besides – we did well last year.
All varnished wood that is possible to take of the Salt is home. I have stripped down most of it and I will have it ready for spring. I am also looking at the other sails beside the spinnakers. Is it possible to redo them and make the old Genoa 2 into an overlapping self tacking genoa? And what about the mainsail – could I add much more roach with battens able to cross the backstay? It should be possible…
And I have to get the AIS working. I won a wonderful AIS receiver and responder at the Shetland Race last year. With the mast down I will be able to add a new VHF-antenna for the AIS. Besides it has its own GPS-antenna. The Tacktic T-150 wireless wind instrument – which worked for 14 days and then closed down – is still not back from repairs. It is unbelievable – but I hope it shows up by spring. How can they do business like this? In sum – lots of stuff added that is not enhancing the speed, just adding up space, weight and new stuff to repair…
Whale with rubber bumper
At last I am considering a rubber bumper for the old whale. A smart Swede has come up with a keel protection device that takes the worst part of grounding away. You can read more about the Keel Pro here. I truly hate grounding. Anything that can help me from ruining a nice day by hitting a submerged rock will be considered.
The rest is just waiting for the ski-season to begin, watching the sun making the days longer and spring closing. Besides sanding varnish in the basement.
Finally wind that suited Salt. Finally our fellow sailors could admire the fine double rear end of Salt. And finally we had time to admire all the other spinnakers from the most advantageous angle.
Last Wednesday we finished fourth in no wind at all.
This time we maxed out in 12 knots going full blast with Genoa 1 and no trouble at all. We made no big blunders, sailed conservative and kept in the wind. By all standards we did well. Looking at all results from all classes, it looks like we would have been number 2 overall. Which is impressive for a 30 year old Kaskelot with old dacron sailes.
I have to admit it – this has been a good spring-season. And summer has started fine…
Salt became number two in our handicap-group regarding the weekly Wednesday round the can races. Second is not bad when you take into account that we did not attend 3 races. If anyone had taken Salt out one of the missing Wednesdays, we would have won the series.
The two-handed race to Shetland – the Visit Shetland Bergen Races – did not go as planned, but worked out fine. On my way to Bergen, the other two-hands (Odd) called in sick. Salt is a lucky ship. New hands turned up in Bergen. Geir-Olav abandoned a Wasa 36 and changed to the Kaskelot. However, Geir-Olav needed to be back in Bergen Sunday to tend to his new career as a non-student. Which meant we had to leave Shetland early.
Anyway, we did well and came in fourth. I am rather proud of that. All the contestants in front of us are far more experienced in short hand ocean racing and just beat us by minutes. The two of us raced the boat well. Just a little bit more will to win, and we would have done even better. I had a low-energy period – listening to the radio and enjoying the sun at the Oseberg platform, instead of trimming and changing sails – and Geir-Olav did not know the capabilities of Salt going hard on a spinnaker-reach.
Practice make good
I don’t know the Cape Horn well enough to use it during racing yet. That is – it’s fast to get it work incredibly well on a hard upwind leg. But it takes to long to set it for a reach or downwind conditions. More correct – to get it to work is fast, but to get it to work properly and fairly accurate one has to trim the boat as neutral as possible – and that takes some time.
However, Cape Horn took the helm at Bressay – just outside Lerwick, Shetland – and kept us going due East with minimal adjustments for 200 miles to Marsteinen, the lighthouse at the inlet to Hardanger and Bergen. Very impressive boat handling and very relaxing – going fast at 6-7 knots in a nice breeze, waves, but non really heavy, with Genoa 2 a few points off hard on the wind.
AIS for free
Finishing fourth is fine – and next year we will do better! Besides – today I received a gift from the race sponsors. I won an AIS-transponder to the tune of 12.000 kroner (2000 Dlrs). Isn’t that something! Just out of the blue I received equipment I never ever would have gotten money to buy as there is always something speed enhancing equipment more necessary than an AIS-transponder.
One long miserable night
Last weekend we took part in the Ryfylke Rundt race. A long miserable night, with heavy rain and rarely any wind. 2007 was the first time for short-hand-racing in this old and traditional race. It’s hard work as we change directions in and out among the islands and the fjords. I am sure I had the spinnaker up at least 7 times and repacked the wet monster as many times. All sorts of sail combinations were tried out until my fingers and hands were all sore and my back broken by all the hoisting. Well – it paid off, we won our class.
It certainly took us some time, but this Wednesday we found the trim that gets her running!
Beating Marco Polo (Norwegian Nessy 94) in mint condition for the much lighter Nessy by two minutes, is just so nice! And we are definetely topping our class. It tells us that we are able to sail Salt as hard and fast as anyone.
62 boats where out hunting the buoyes this wonderful sunny afternoon with 12 knots worth of wind. This time we hugged the start boat until we where sure that we had the 5-minute signal as clear possible. A fine start at the windward mark gave us the top position going hard on our starboard-tack. We hugged the coast as hard as we deard to get as much lift as possible. Followed by short larboard-tacks and long starboard tacks. Spinnaker came up as it should – no foals this time – nice powerreaching negative banana on layline – nice spinnaker downhaul – once more no fauls – hard tacking on top of Marco Polo to make shure she came in behind us.
Sounds easy. However, the main thing is that we did no big fuckups. The crew with the least fuckups win – that’s how it is.
Another sunny and windy Wednesday race brought us in as number two and topping our class. The weatherforcast was a full gail from the North-West, but what we got was a light gail wearing between North and West and suberp conditions for airing our new second hand Genoa 2 in carbonfiber.
It looks good and gives Salt som extra power. We have not yet found the best way to trim it. As you can see from the photos it twists out to much at the top. We might have to try moving the geno-runner uncommingly long forward to close the upper part. Such a trim should make it rounder in the front and might force oss a few points off the wind. We just have to find out.
But what we know fore sure is that a number two Genao – which sets between the number one and three, as the windforce gap was to large between the old number one and three – is a good idea. We can probably use it from 10 knots of wind and uppward to the double. The carbon fibre is much lighter and more stabel than our old dacron and dacron/mylar genoas. When trimmed it won’t budge an inch from the upper shroads -no matter how much it blows. The feeling is quite new to us.
What a nice afternoon it became – even though we once more had starting problems. It is so hard to see – and even harder to hear – the signals from the starting boat. We have to find a better way to start, even if it forces us to keep close to the starting boat to be sure we can hear the five minutes signal. The minute we lost to the winner, Marco Polo, a Norwegian Nessy 94, was lost at the start. We came close – and even passed them – during the spinnaker reach, but lost it during a fumble at the jibing mark and by beeing much to nice and defensive at the spinnaker-mark. What a shame!
Well, Next time!
It’s not that bad – but it’s not much to brag about either. 5th out of 12, but in conditions we should have excelled in. Heavy winds and rain.
So I won’t brag.
We are obviously out of practice. We could not get Salt to race properly, and somehow large amounts of water got into her so that everything is soaking wet…. A sorry race indeed.
For two days we where number one, but then someone felt forgotten, was found and judged to be the first boat in our class. No one asked me for my opinion. So today we are not first but second.
Sic transit gloria mundi.
I saw a Banner 28 in front of us at the finish. However, I timed him to be less than the needed 4 minutes in front of us. So I thought we where first and so confirmed the records.
Well – anyone good enough to carve out a good start in the rather confusing situation with the strange start procedure used Wednesday 2. May – deserves to win. 80-90% percent of the participants are reported to start early, beeing confused, had to restart etc. So we where in good company when Salt had to restart.
Even if we did not win – we where looking good out there. Check the photos from Elins cell-phone.
Next time – girls!
Salt is scrubbed, polished, given a new Teflon VC17 underbody painting, all brightworks done, new thoroughull after the crane taking her onshore ripped off the sounder, brand new TIKI-Navigator running on the computer, mainsail repaired, number 2 Genoa in line at the sailmaker for maintenance – in short she’s given three weeks of all I have regarding TLC – time, love, care and cash.
And how does she pay back for such pampering? By winning the first race of the season, of course! What else?
And we won our class by two minutes. Serious flying colours, if anyone care to ask me.
On top of this the last few days of April and the first two days of May have been wonderful. Everything is so bright green, you could envy the cows who can eat it all day. The sun has been shining for a week – the weather has in fact been so nice it has been a pleasure to do her brightwork. And Wednesday was no exception – perfect sunny afternoon with a little breeze. Not much – but enough to keep us moving.
A lazy breeze was all we could handle anyway – three girls and myselves. A few knots more wind and we would have chickened out of spinnakerreaching. However, we did have a bad start by beeing pressed over the wrong side of the start-buoy and forced to round the start-boat and reestart. We lost quite a few minutes, but I guess most racers had a bad start May 2.
Avfull start or not – when it works out in the end, all is well. If it was pure luck, a coincidence or ample sailing we will know soon enough; Sunday is a new race – a much longer and more competitive one.