swedishswimmingteam

49er learning curve

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Herewith the rambling diary of an ageing parent of 3 with a full time job and too many pets trying to pick up where he left off in 2003... 

Used to sail a lot. 10 mins from the Solent, school timetable, supportive parents who sailed etc.  Then I went to university, moved to the North of the UK miles from sea, got talked into sailing bigger boats had some success there, and the dinghies disappeared... Anyway, about 18 months ago my step-brother and I realised we missed the challenge and fun that came with skiffs. We were big kids in the late 90s, watching the 18s on eurosport. Ella Bache and Nokia were on most of my school books and we were about 100kgs too light for the laser 5000 that we were trying to run on a shoe string. So over some beers at Christmas we picked up where we left off. We got an old rig 49er in really good nick with the goal of being able to blast around on the sea and possibly do some racing. We've had a ball learning 49er, and there are a bunch of videos which I'll share here, along with future updates.

Day 1. Baptism of fire. Raging hangover. March 5th. Day after a close friend's funeral. We met at 7 in morning to get rigged up and beat some nasty weather that was on its way. We didn't beat the weather. We were caught out by a 35kt squall (recorded by passing yacht) which totalled the 'old rig' mast, which it turns out was heavily corroded. We were happy that we were able to 'self rescue', main down, back in against wind and tide under jib.  Both left thinking 'we've made a big expensive mistake...' Coast guard parked up on the beach drinking coffee took a stroll down and suggested we fitted a radio... Full wardrobe malfunction with 15y/o buoyancy aid

 

 

Days 2-7: There's a bunch of video somewhere. Lots of light air stuff. But that sense of 'we've fucked up' is slowly eroded by 'what a THING' as we got more confident and found our feet again after such a long break. Simon Hiscocks sorted us out with a second hand 'new rig' which transformed the boat. However, everything felt a bit lighter, a little bit easier. Not complaining at all - good  news for us, but I wonder if this is how the 49er was designed to be at the beginning? Lots of swimming, all to windward. 

Day 8. Getting there. About 5-10kt Easterly off Stokes bBay. Bit light but getting more confident in the corners. Still sitting down too much. Seriously thinking about taking up yoga or some other bendy stuff. Got some twin-wiring in with the kite up. Raced a hovercraft (lost), an A-Class (won - lucky gust), waved at a police boat justifying its existence/racking up a fuel bill. And no capsizing. 

 

 

Day 9. 10-15knots from the west of Stokes Bay, hot sun, flying around laughing our heads off. The main sheet snapped, which took some fixing with the boat capsized. Someone on the beach called a lifeboat, which made it out to us in time for race "that thing's quick boys, all ok?" ... bit embarrassing, but all good. Still slow through the corners, and tired after an hour. Packed up with a burger from the cafe at Stokes Bay. 

 

 

Day 14. Bit of a mixed day emotionally - I had to move the boat up to Yorkshire to see if we could get some more use out of it. With work and family commitments the Yorkshire/south coast thing wasn't working and with my brother working shifts, the boat had been laid up most of the season. Anyway a chap called Rob was keen to have a go at the back end so off we went. Had a ball in a dead shifty, gusty Southerly at Yorkshire Dales SC. It's looking like we'll be getting more use out of the boat now, and the learning curve continues! I have been sailing every week but in a Vortex. This has helped with flexibility, movement and the basics of driving from the trapeze, but tbh it's nothing on the 49er. Anyway, this is second time out in the 49er near other boats and 2 things spring to mind. 1) It's hilariously fast 2) It's such a well thought out, well designed boat. I'm tall(ish) at 6'2" and it's a boat that fits. 

 

Got some boat work to do with the control lines not working as they should. It's looking a bit spendy. Also thinking that we'll need a new main in the near future... Did someone say the europeans are coming to the UK next year? gulp.

Huge thanks JulianB for keeping this 36 year old inspired to stay a little bit fit, entertained and sane. I really hope the class can establish a presence 'below' the olympic circuit - there is so much bang for buck here.

 

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My Pleasure, and it's great to hear your story. let me know if I can help.

            Jb

 

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If you consider 36 years old ageing what do you consider  all us over 65 year olds are?

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In the day 1 video... The split mainsheet doesn't seem right, the port tail seems tangled

 

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23 minutes ago, Rushman said:

In the day 1 video... The split mainsheet doesn't seem right, the port tail seems tangled

 

I'd do away with the split mainsheet. More hassle than it's worth. It's redundant as soon as the sheet is off the centreline (which it often is) and even in lighter winds they constantly get twisted and off-center. It's better in light winds, but with adjustable strops you can get 95% as good. 

@swedishswimmingteam I think your elastic across the back and through the block on the bridle needs to be a lot tighter. It will make a huge difference keeping the extensions in the boat. That and it not getting tangled with the split strops!

But, great videos show some fantastic progression! It's great to see stories like this.

I sailed a 49er back in 2005-2007 and there was a pretty decent UK circuit with good attendances outside the national rankers. Unfortunately the new hull and rig killed that off. At the end of the day, it's a very difficult boat for weekend warrior to sail and you're always going to get a spanking by the pros, but that was always countered by a regular supply of decent priced second hand kit from the top guys... and that the boat was just great to sail. Unfortunately the new kit was beyond many financially and is loads quicker. I think it was the right thing for the class, but a definite side effect was killing the UK amateur fleet. Some years on with cheaper new stuff that may change. 

I'e got a mate who never managed to sell his after the devaluation in 2008, he's just started rigging it up at the club this summer. It will be awesome to blast about in, a real pleasure to sail! 

 

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Good work all. For something for similar tastes and reasonable supply of decent used kit and a friendly class with plenty sailing locally for amateurs consider i14. Used boats are phenomenal value for money. Rs800 will also be easy to get hold of kit new and old and a good amateur fleet just a less ahem stimulating / punishing sailing experience most of the time. 

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6 hours ago, Daniel Holman said:

consider i14. Used boats are phenomenal value for money. 

I'm sure you can get some outdated designs which are suitably cheap and fun to blast about on. Cruise about mid-fleet and get a feel for the class at the bigger events. 

But, if we're being honest, in terms of a racing boat value, the 14 isn't in the same league as 800s or 49ers. 

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I’d say you have to be pretty classy at sailing for a four to six grand boat to be holding you back.

Pretty robust too unless they have been tinkered with by non tinkerers! 

Personally I think a £4-6k i14 would be a far better class racing proposition than a similar value 49er which would have old rig, and I would venture be softer. 

Either way great to see these guys going at it in a boat that excites them. 

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Thanks all, sorry no ageism intended but even at 36 I’m slower and have less time (and hair) than at 21. Good shout on the elastic - it is on my list to sort next weekend. I’d love a 14 and all that comes with the development but the tinkering terrifies me with so little space and time at the moment. Thanks for all your kind words and encouragement! 

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Well, 2 aborted trips over consecutive weekends because of marginal conditions and repairs. Getting frustrating! But plus side is all the little niggles have been ironed out. Including putting a load of tension in the mainsheet bridle take up - tons better cheers @Mozzy Sails. Was up working on the boat in the dark at 0630 on Sat am to try and sort a chewed up wing slider, but it was def a 2 man job so left it until Sunday, when it became a three man job, but all sorted now. Got the boat rigged up yesterday to check rethreaded halyards weren't twisted. -2C with the windchill and safety cover understandably keen to come in off the water so we  put the boat to bed and retreated for a cuppa. Looking like we've a got a full day on the water on the 10th Nov... fingers crossed for a decent Westerly. 

 

 

 

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First race. Day 15! https://youtu.be/NUmvjdmW84k

Took a while to get used to being on the boat again, took a few transoms on the first beat... but well up with the Mustos by the top mark. Need to be a bit more responsive on the main sheet, I blame the hangover. Off to catch up on this morning's 18 racing now. Great day :)

 

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First open! 

3 back to back races at our home club which was hosting its first skiff open. 15 boats, 11 of which were Mustos. 0-10kts and shifty. Learned a huge amount, including the importance of using shorter trap lines in light air to avoid shredding feet and shins on the non-slip... albeit too late. No capsizes, good punchy starts and confident corners with YDSC stalwart Ian driving. Dead chuffed, but hoping for some more wind next time. The handicap of 697 killed us in the results, but won't forget planing upwind as we crossed the whole fleet into the top mark in race 3. Great photos linked here from Paul Hargreaves and Tim Olin.

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In an Easterly we’re able to get over a mile long reach on a single gybe, and when the sun’s shining on a weds evening it’s even better. Great little cruise around the pond. 

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Another great sail last night in decent F3-4.  Shifting from 'surviving the corners' to being more choreographed and into the more 'marginal gains' space. No video as was rushing to get out. 1x comedy capsize after driver exited stage left in a hurry, but at least I can now claim I've singlehanded a 49er. We tried the green kite which we've not used before, and it's better than the red one, which has had a few repairs and in comparison the luff seems to be a bit stretched making it less stable. We hit 17kts on the sat nav too, which I think is up there in fastest yet territory. It's hard to tell with the flat water vs sea. Control line upgrades now a priority, glad to have found a useful thread on this here and the UK 49er Facebook group is a great sounding board. We have also have been tolerating a main halyard that seems to be an inch to short making it an absolute pain to rig so going to sort this. Kite sheet take up would be good too. We've got the rig and de-rig times right down now which is good. Back soon... but with 40kts forecast for the weekend it may be boat work updates...  cheers.

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Quick update... so close to 20kts, with 18 on this run past the sheep. Nearly dropped to the knots, but not quite enough time/space to get settled and push for that extra couple of clicks on the speedo. Boat's working a lot better after an afternoon of work. The stronger wind highlighted some weaknesses (my arms, my brain, comms) which we now know to work through. Couple of really quick and coordinated wire to wire tacks, and 12+ kts upwind in a stable breeze is almost as fun as the blast back down. @Mozzy Sails - your video on gybing has been invaluable, and this was our first sail with out the split tails on the main - tons more straight forward, cheers!

 

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Glad to hear that!

A friend has resurrected his 49er after a 10 year hiatus. I had a go crewing for him and they're a beast of a boat! Even more so than i remember. But incredibly rewarding too. Great to see your progress.

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I really love seeing this stuff, may have to go for a blast sooner than latter.

     jB

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Well I said to myself this would be ‘warts and all’. We spent an hour or so focusing on tacking in a much safer breeze than we had on Sunday... here goes... we’re getting quicker by the end but still a long way to go. The coach on the end of the boom is invaluable. Bigger steps, aim for the grippy bits, bigger ease on the main to help get the speed on and need to work out what to do with my hands going wire to wire. Nice to be in the ‘attention to detail’ space though! 

 

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Will be following this thread!  I'm getting into the 49er wagon too.  Very hard!  I guess I can learn a few things here and there, following your steps!  

 

Cheers

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Decided to put the last few weeks more intensive 'training' to the test in 2 sun pm windward/leeward club races in decent 15kt + breeze. It was an eye opener. Boat handling is way improved, but very short courses, and 29 other boats on the water really put us on the back foot. Just not enough space to get settled, and too much traffic. There were some highlights though. We're both fitter/stronger, first beat of each race was brilliant - leading into top mark by a long way (as we should as the fastest boat on the course), bear aways in 15kts are dialled and great fun. Hoists/drops all ok. Can tack very quickly and confidently now. Starts good, if a little stressfull pre-start with the slower boats.

We'll be working on comms (we're still very/too focussed on our own 'in the boat' stuff), and will be more selective about which races we pick moving forward. We had some forced errors which made for a couple of swims, and one flat out gybe in a gust that we didn't stand a chance of making it through. The 49er wind shadow is also very antisocial.

Came off the water a bit disheartened, but on reflection we're further ahead of where we were. No video, but here's what my heart rate looked like for 2 races... A good work out! 

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Still at it, just had a few weeks off because of family hols at the end of August and then a run of badly timed bad weather. Went for a cruise around the lake on Saturday. Excellent fun and a good confidence builder with no swimming. Something like 15 knots in 8 knots of wind downwind. Saturday is training/beginner day at the club during the summer and it was fantastic to see so many smiling faces enjoying the new fleet of Picos this late in the season. We got caught amongst them at one point, the speed differential is fun as are the shouts of 'oi, why's your boat got wings?' hoped they enjoyed the flyby. Upwind is feeling pretty dialled now, and we're spending time focussing on the gybes, rather than just swinging it across and hoping. Terry got a couple of the later/faster runs on camera. My arms were spent by this point! Back to the gym and good habits this week, and then some boat work to get mainsheet the right length, kite sheet take ups sorted and replace the jib jammer which went ping on Sat. As for on the water goals, it's still the corners. Need to stop kneeling on the wing, planning ahead with the steps across the boat and thinking about what my hands are doing. There are some great videos on youtube which I'll be studying... Inland sailing in the hills has prepped us well for variable winds.

We're going to skip the nationals this year (not quite there and too much at stake with the weather this late in the season) and focus on stringing together the winter series races at YDSC. 

 

 

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If you want some tips, Jib is too tight, probably need to let it out 100mm, and main is way too loose, should be only 200-300mm ease of hard on, great to see you have eased the vany and the downhaul.  The main needs to mimic the twist in the spinnaker.  You need to think of the 3 sails going down wind like a aero-plane wing, so LE slot, main body of the wing and the TE flap, they all need to be in the right place to maximise lift and minimise drag.   Your also pretty static on the main, needs to be going in and out 200-300mm, so in the lull as the nose comes up, you firm the mainsheet, in the gust as you bearaway, main-sheet goes out, only 200-300mm of movement.   But if you do it will settle the whole boat down and make your crews job a whole lot easier.   Got to think what the apparent wind is doing and the effect on CoL (power).   And your trapezing pretty high, but hell your having fun, making me want to get a toy and go play, summer is closing in fast!   But I need a crew.

   jB

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Great tips - thanks! I'm at the front, so anything to make the crew's life easier get my full and unwaivering support. I'll send a memo round. Re the jib - we snapped the jammer by this point so I think it was tied in that position to get us back down the hill a couple of times. Just ordered the new one online... OUCH! Hope it lasts.

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Just been sent this from a Saturday practice 2 weeks ago. How we didn't end up swimming I'll never know. 

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Good club race last week. Ahead of the Mustos by a leg until a silly capsize at the bottom mark on the last lap brought us back together again (tack line caught under pole). Speedy recovery and back at it, finished near the front, but back to 9th on handicap. Flying through the other fleets with the kite up was fun now we're communicating better. Started the second race, but the wind died so we headed in. I think we'd have been ok for the nationals after all, but sitting it out this year and aiming for some opens next season after a winter of racing at 'home'. There's a ton of footage from the past couple of outings I'll work through at some point, but going to catch up on the 18s on youtube first... Here's a grab from top of lap 1.

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Think about lowering the puck hight, once in breeze your bail should be close to the deck. This will give you a lot more stability especially downwind! When it gets light you can raise the puck up to get your butt off the deck in light air chair squatting. 

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Great to see your progress and cool to see amateurs having a go at a very difficult class. 

@swedishswimmingteam I would agree that you're both possibly a bit high on the trap most of the time, if you don't mind me giving advice. Take it with a pinch of salt, the guys pictured below are pretty fit and well practised so it might not be completely attainable, but some suggestion to work toward. 

Trapping high is often instinctively favoured as it gives you more clearance from dunking if the rudder and main-sheet movements aren't completely in tune with gusts and lulls.  This is especially true in waves or shifty lakes! It's also easier on the legs as they stay straight as you raise yourself up to move weight in. Plus it's easier on the arms to pull yourself up from a higher positions with higher handle than as you go in to manoeuvres! And the closer you are to the handle, the more awkward it is to un-cleat the adjuster, so people tend to raise the handle and cleat up too... leading to very high handle positions. 

However, it's not great technique. If you get too high, especially as you move back in the boat then it becomes quite unsteady with the feeling of not only swinging forward and back but also being thrown in to the boat too. This tends to lead to even more unsteady tiller movements and legs spread wide apart. 

The better 49er teams tend to have much lower handles and leave the rings set lower, a big trend over the past 10 years. Obviously trapping flat is faster, but also squatting your weight in and out using a low ring is a far quicker way to respond to gusts and lulls than fiddling with trapeze adjusters. Fiddling with adjusters when a gust or lull hits also limits your ability to play sheet or steer which should be the priority. This however is a much harder work out on the legs.

A secondary impact of low handles, which may be just to resist the temptation to high trapeze, is that they also can reach for their handle with the arm, without having to sit up in the harness. This has the effect of keeping maximum righting moment right up to the time you tack or gybe.

 Some okay-ish 49er sailors using lower traps and bent legs in light winds:

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Look at how low their handles are, probably only 50cm above the deck on the leeward side and much lower than the boom:

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Even flat wiring downwind the handles are low and in arms length without having to sit up to reach:
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Great stuff - thanks guys. High handles were from light wind outing (easier to move around and in and out of the boat), and we didn't lower them (oversight), but I wonder if this oversight was in part because subconsciously it feels easier to have the high handles... we'll drop them back and see how that goes!

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And we got another open in the bag over Christmas. 100 boats made it to the Christmas race at YDSC. Light airs kept the drama down, and us in our comfort zone. Marginal twin wiring most of the time with decent gusts to keep us moving. Luckily course was shortened just before 3rd long lap which meant the dying breeze didn't hurt us too much. 4th over the finish line, 1st of the 2 49ers and 67th on handicap. We're not too unhappy with that given where we are; the strength of the fleet; that this wasn't skiff weather; and the our handicap is going to be very challenging for us to race to. No bumps, no swims, no breakages, and great fun swapping places with the other fast boats. We all had a headache on the long 2 sail reach along the reservoir. Finally picked up a new (to us) main, and it's a much better shape. Just need to shorten the cunningham a bit.

http://yachtsandyachting.com/news/187274/Yorkshire-Dales-Brass-Monkey

There was tracking for the race so going to study that and see if there's anything to pick up, but feel it's still time in the boat that will give us the biggest gains.

20 kts forecast for the weekend, looking forward to stretching our legs.

 

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JB I seem to recall your dad writing about the Olympic selection series when, In response to people expressing concerns about the 49er being too hard to sail in heavy breeze,

young JB hopped onto the boat and did a few turns up and down single handed including kite, naysayers went quiet apparently.

I guess you do possibly need a crew nowadays, keep the defibrillator handy!

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in 1996, I was 39, I'm now 62, but Sir JJ keeps on threatening me to a one up race in either 49ers or 29erC's in China but the guys up there can't get their heads around a 2 man boat being sailed by one person.

The Garda sail was a no guts no glory thing.

Yes, we found out over night that the "competition" was going to throw the "too hard to sail" bit at us.

So we had a 3 pronged plan.

#1 Libby would take her husband (Jonathan McKee) sailing over lunch.

#2 was another girl/boy combination would go for a sail

& #3 if conditions where right, I would do the 1 handed thing.

#1 & #2 worked perfectly and probably would have shamed any self respecting POM, (remember the McKee's where American and it was the 5t-er throwing the shit) into silence

But conditions, appeared right so I did #3.  Not the first time we had done it, we even had a 1 up 18teen race in Geneva each year, normally ended up in tears, but it happened.

Cut along story short, took off, and a 49er with one up in 6-7 knts is "regal", it just glides across the surface.    Then there was the "ohh-f--k" moment as I poked my head out around the point and the Ora was coming in early.   Only one thing for it, get the spinnaker up and tear back to shore before I was in 20+ knts and that's not possible one up.

Did a gybe, got it pretty damn right came tearing into the shore, got it off, rounded up in-front of King Constantine, King Harold and Paul Henderson (Pres of IYRU (now WS)) and Raimondo Tortellini crash tackled me back onto the boat and straight back out for some sensational rides in 20-22knts, just priceless.

No more talk of too hard but I was scolded for being reckless.

All's well that ends well but probably pretty stupid!

And yes, as I have just been skiing in Switzerland with my whole family, something I have promised my wife for 35 years, and after a bit of medical work 18 years ago, I would need on board oxygen to do it (& skiing) again.   Let you know if it happens in China.   I will certainly give it a go!

             jB

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On 1/2/2020 at 7:56 PM, swedishswimmingteam said:

And we got another open in the bag over Christmas. 100 boats made it to the Christmas race at YDSC. Light airs kept the drama down, and us in our comfort zone. Marginal twin wiring most of the time with decent gusts to keep us moving. Luckily course was shortened just before 3rd long lap which meant the dying breeze didn't hurt us too much. 4th over the finish line, 1st of the 2 49ers and 67th on handicap. We're not too unhappy with that given where we are; the strength of the fleet; that this wasn't skiff weather; and the our handicap is going to be very challenging for us to race to. No bumps, no swims, no breakages, and great fun swapping places with the other fast boats. We all had a headache on the long 2 sail reach along the reservoir. Finally picked up a new (to us) main, and it's a much better shape. Just need to shorten the cunningham a bit.

http://yachtsandyachting.com/news/187274/Yorkshire-Dales-Brass-Monkey

There was tracking for the race so going to study that and see if there's anything to pick up, but feel it's still time in the boat that will give us the biggest gains.

20 kts forecast for the weekend, looking forward to stretching our legs.

This large mixed fleet racing on a small lake looks so cool. Amazing that there are 100+ boats on the line in the middle of the winter.

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That brings back memories, when I lived in Old Blighty the best sailing was in winter. We'd get 15 Fireballs on the line at Draycote Water and a lot of other classes too. In summer lots went off to open meetings around the place.

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