Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A long hiatus from posting...

Well it seems that keeping up with the blog was not a strength in 2007. Overall, it was a great year for team Otra Vez with the Beneteau First 36.7 North Americans as the highlight of the season. Here are a few photos from Lake Erie at the North Americans.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

2007 Icicle #1

There was a surprisingly strong turnout for the race today. We counted at least 25 boats competing and it wouldn't surprise me if there were 30 in total. If you like a hazy gray look to your day then you would have been smiling as the fog lifted around 11 and a 6-10 knots out of the northeast settled it. It is rare on a triangle course that two legs are hard on the wind but that was how the cookie crumbled. Overall, it was a great day on the water with Peter, Mike, Aaron, Doug, and I.

How did we do you ask? Well we didn't win, but only one boat passed us and we finished in the upper third of the spinnaker fleet. It was also the first time we kept the majority of J-105's and J-109's behind us. We may have done better had we started with the 155% not the 140% but I want to rotate the use a little bit to protect the #1 which is a bit fragile.

We used the R2 Asymmetric spinnaker and in hindsight we may have wanted to sail a little hotter angle than we did.

The top batten continued to hang-up on the backstay. I will cut 1/2 inch of the batten and see what happens...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

HYC "Hangover" Regatta

Monday was a beautiful day if not a bit on the chilly side. Mid morning north winds of 10-15 gave way to 5-10 by early afternoon and we completed a 6 leg W/L course of roughly 1m per leg. As this was a fun race the main purpose was to get around the course in one piece and also try out some of the mods that were made to the boat during the holiday break.

The "Hangover" crew of Lori, Dan, Chelsea, Ashleigh, Tim, Bob, Doug and I had a good time and kept the mood light. My champagne plan was derailed as the italian asti I brought along needed a corkscrew (which I didn't have onboard).

As we only had 30 minutes before the start and a new crew that had never worked together before we practiced a few tacks and spinnaker-less gybes and then the prep signal as sounded and the fun began.

The Good:

1. We had a good start. We hit the line on the front row with good speed, only the committee boat to windward and the J-105 Aftershock about 1/2 a boatlength to leeward. They soon tacked out and headed to the right side of the course. Unfortunately, it was soon obvious that the line was heavily biased to the pin end and we were crossed by the J-120 and J-80 that started at the pin soon after the start.

2. Upwind speed and point. While the tacks were not a crisp as the could be (although acting as a one man grind and tail machine, I thought Bob was going to collapse from exertion) the upwind boat speed and height was the best we've had since the boat was new one year ago. I think we have come close to the right rig tune and mainsail trim and the kevlar backstay makes a huge difference when the main was tacking across in the light air. In addition, we had someone hiking in front of the shrouds as recommended by the class website (tip from B. Farr) and we used the D4 genoa for the first time since it came back from the sailmaker. All in all, the upwind speed and point made the day for me. As the boathandling becomes crisper I think we will be highly competitive upwind.

3. Light-air R1 spinnaker. I thought the sail looked great and was fast.

4. Tim Long on the foredeck. For someone participating in his third race and never having done mast or bow before I thought he did a great job.

The Bad and the Ugly.

There was no bad and ugly. The race highlighted once again the value of consistency and practice in the crew work. This only comes with time and effort so we will see incremental improvement throughout the year as the crew settles in.

I think the boat is ready for a great year. If we can sail a little better each time out we will find ourselves closer to the front of the fleet pretty soon.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Upgrades for 2007 Season

Well we have been working diligently (and slowly by Myrna's reckoning) to make Otra Vez a little easier to handle for the 2007 racing season. The major upgrades revolved around the backstay. First, we needed to move the backstay controls from behind the helmsman to in front of the steering pedestal where the mainsail trimmer can play the backstay. This involved adding two thru-bolted padeyes as well as 2 x 57mm Harken carbo blocks at the stern and 2 x 57mm Harken carbo blocks with integral cam cleat at the forward base of the steering pedestal. Second, we replaced the wire backstay with a Navtec Kevlar Biconic cable that complies with the OD class rules. The new backstay weighs 3.5 lbs and has a smooth polyurethane cover that dramatically reduces the friction on the mainsail (Let's hope the main hanging on the backstay is a thing of the past!.

Of course I chose a 40 degf day to effect the change. There is nothing so stimulating as swinging 56 ft. in the air, your hands freezing while trying to extract a recalcitrant cotter pin from the upper backstay toggle. Thirty minutes of pain and suffering later it surrendered and the new backstay was attached. As they say, its a game of inches, and the new cable was a few inches longer than the original wire stay, which means, more work (of course). Shortening the backstay tackle was relatively straightforward. I have been carrying around some spect-set II (spectra cored rope) for a long time, it finally came in handy as a new, shorter, cascade in the backstay tackle.

NE Ropes Salsa Line, a single braid dyneema/polyester composite line was used for both the 48:1 backstay fine tune and the 10:1 mainsail outhaul. Most people seem to mount a cascade for the outhaul in the boom. I chosen a simpler route, using a cascade between the boom and mast step. The outhaul line was changed to a 10mm technora/spectra composite (T-900) that should have virtually no stretch. The outhaul runs through a harken cam cleat on the cabin top in easy reach of the pit person.

We have used a "cheap & dirty" velcro system to attach the RaceMaster Compass to the instrument pod. Where is the cradle that comes with the compass you ask? Attached to the mast bracket on Traveller (long since sold). The trick to a proper solution was finding a way to center the RaceMaster cradle while not interfering with the Raymarine instruments and their covers. At the end of the day a few stainless (non-magnetic) spacers were used to put 3/8 gap between the cradle and the face of the pod, which allows sufficient room for the instrument covers to be installed behind the compass.

Keeping the boat dry is a key to longevity and reliability. While the A/C does a good job in the summer, for the cooler months a dehumidifier is a better solution. Luckily our post-katrina dehumidifier (I bought it to dry out the wood in the rooms damaged by the falling tree in our Mandeville house) was still going strong. It is amazing the difference to the interior when you run that monster 24/7.

Another major hassle was hoisting the main w/o a pre-feeder on the mast. Fifty dollars to spinlock and problem solved!!!

Changes were also made to the spinnaker handling setup, including the addition of 2 x 75mm Harken carbo-rachet blocks in the spinnaker sheet set-up. According to the class website it has been possible to trim the spinnaker in up to 15 knots w/o a winch. Pictures and a better desription of the setup will be the subject of a later post.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

2006 Harvest Moon Regatta

Otra Vez competed in the 2006 Harvest Moon Regatta, which is hosted by the Lakewood Yacht Club. The course is 150nm, starting at the Flagship Hotel Pier on Galveston Island and finishing in the Port Aransas ship channel.

Light winds at the start and finish made for a real test of patience. We we very well placed for the first 120 miles, but made a serious tactical blunder not to head inshore as the wind clocked around and lightened. As a result we were caught offshore with a very poor running angle (i.e. VERY SLOW) to the finish.

Nevertheless, the boat performed well and fun was had by all.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Moving to Houston, Last Race on the Lake

Well, Otra Vez is moving to Houston. Literally, as I am typing she is moving down the ICW between New Orleans and Galveston Bay. Her new home (at least temporarily) will be in the Kemah Boardwalk Marina, slip H21.

We completed our last two races on Saturday. I have learned 99% of what little I know about racing from the members of the Pontchartrain Yacht Club and have to give Dave Bolyard from West Wind sails some special thanks. It was fitting that the last race was the best, with Otra Vez, winning handily over some well crewed sport boats (Melges 24, Antrim 27) and some fast local boats like the Evelyn 32 and Wavelength 24.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Leukemia Cup 2006

We participated in the 2006 Leukemia Cup, which consisted of a 20nm pursuit race on March 25th on the Northshore, and then 2 days of W/L on April 1st and 2nd off the Southern Yacht Club on the Southshore. We had a tough time on the pursuit race. We had 20 knots upwind and with only 4 adult crew not enough weight on the rail to keep the boat flat. Too much heel equals leeway and SLOW. Learned some more about how to keep the boat moving (or not in this case). We had the #2(140%) up and the traveler down. Bad combination. Should have used the #3 and flattened the main by bottoming out the backstay.

For the w/l we finished in a tie for 4th. We had 4 new crew on board and our normal bowman was not available so it made for some interesting roundings. All in all, we had a great time and raised money for an excellent cause. After 4 weekends of racing we are getting dialed in when the winds are light but we need to practice extensively above 15 true both for boathandling and boatspeed.

We also discovered that in the battle between a carbon fiber spinnaker pole and someones forehead, the pole wins. Nothing serious, but a little blood was spilled.