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Single Handing A Twin Wire Skiff


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We know its been done before.
Perhaps most famously by JulianB when, rumour has it, he cinched the selection of the 49er for the Olympics by dealing with the suggestion it was basically unsailable and could only be handled by Aussie Supermen (or something like that) by sailing one single handed past the selection rigging area on the last day. And I gather that skill came from the games 18ft skiff skippers played where they tested who could sail one of those single handed for the longest time without capsizing.
 
But our Corona Virus lockdown in Australia permits us to exercise with one other person as long as we keep 1.5 meters apart. That’s not a great way to sail a skiff.
 
So it was time to try single handing; using the exercise partner for back up in a small RIB and changing over as the mood took us.
 
Some will know I run a volunteer (free) training program where I teach people to crew, and then to skipper, twin wire skiffs. For those interested in building clubs, this program has radically changed both the gender and age demographics of the club.
 
In this case the skiffs are Formula Fifteens, an Australian class comparable in sail area to a 49FX, but without wings. Optimum crew weight is normally around 140 kg.
 
Many of the trainees have never sailed before setting foot on the skiff, and after a brief shore drill, and moments after leaving the beach are put out on the wire and handed the main. For some reason, its very popular with the local women surfers; who completely predominate in the group and crew on most of the fleet of boats in the races.
 
In this case, my training/exercise buddy was Clare. She has an interesting history, having been part of the UK Junior Sailing National Team where she crewed for future Olympic multiple Gold Medal winner, Sarah Ayton in their 420. But like many on the “pathways” favoured by National Sailing Organisations, she burnt out and abandoned sailing for 20 years. Now she’s back with a competitive vengeance, having joined the group a year ago, immediately buying her own boat, initially relegating herself to her familiar crew role, but now very much embracing skipperhood.
 
Having thrown herself back into sailing 110%, she also took part in the 75th Sydney Hobart Race; getting herself a crew spot, training up and putting herself through the offshore survival course that’s virtually mandatory if you want to participate after the 1998 disaster. Like many of our woman sailors, Clare seems unstopable in her dedication to sailing; always looking to find new experiences and improve her skills. So in the current COVID-19 crisis, that includes single handing a twin wire skiff.
 
And while Musto and RS700 sailors might do something similar, here there's no cleats for the main or spinnaker and the systems aren't set up for it. Plus a lot more sail area. And at something a little more than 50kg, Clare's well less than half the optimum weight for the class
 
Below are videos of Clare and myself having our first tentative go's. This particular boat is Mr Bond set up with its old alloy training rig with an orphan spinnaker slightly smaller than the standard. Like the rest of the class now, it has a carbon, square topped main racing rig. 
 
The requests are already in from some of the other women to have their turn.
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Certainly possible, the only limitation would be righting from a capsize. Will the sailor be heavy enough? Do it with a chase boat and then that wouldn't matter.

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6 hours ago, Dart96 said:

Certainly possible, the only limitation would be righting from a capsize. Will the sailor be heavy enough? Do it with a chase boat and then that wouldn't matter.

That's why we had the chase boat.

Mind you, Clare can be seen in the video righting the boat from a full capsize with the spinnaker still up.

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Links in your first post did not work so couldn't see her righting solo. Can you post again? This always seems to be the limiting factor for high performance skiffs. If they stay upright fine and I've seen videos of people trying to right 49ers and having a really hard time. TBH the thought of being alone in the middle of Torbay in a F4 easterly and swell with a capsized 49er or similar is not attractive. Chase boats are a luxury.

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16 hours ago, Dart96 said:

Links in your first post did not work so couldn't see her righting solo. Can you post again? This always seems to be the limiting factor for high performance skiffs. If they stay upright fine and I've seen videos of people trying to right 49ers and having a really hard time. TBH the thought of being alone in the middle of Torbay in a F4 easterly and swell with a capsized 49er or similar is not attractive. Chase boats are a luxury.

It seems to be a selective problem as I think others can see them.

Try a link for the Facebook page itself, from which you can then find the posted videos and others  https://www.facebook.com/SVs-Mr-Bond-The-Ballina-Skiff-Sail-Training-Group-110226546310465/?view_public_for=110226546310465

And if that fails for you a Google search using the words  "  Mr Bond Ballina Skiff Sail Training Group " will bring up the site for easy access. [Mr Bond is the name of the training boat]

And, as before, you don't need to be logged on to Facebook to view the page.

I should add, I don't want to dismiss the problem. Especially with the old alloy mast, the boat will invert somewhat quickly, which makes getting on the board quickly very important, which in turn makes getting the spinnaker in or even the jib released difficult. That's why a chase boat was always part of the deal. One person can generally right the boat, but a second to tidy up the cockpit first is invaluable. Clare has since correct me that she's 60kg. But I do have lighter women who sometimes don't have the weight to get it up without a second crew joining them - especially in stronger breezes.

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As predicted, some of our other rather determined young women have lined up for their own turn of single handing the twin wire skiff.

Laura is only 50 kg - 110 lbs (remembering optimum weight for the crew is 140kg).

And like Clare she's highly competitive and pushes herself. Essentially only starting to sail when she joined my training group 4 years ago, she crewed for me for two years. After joining me in the crew of my cruiser/racer at Hamilton Island Race Week, she made some connections in the yachting world which, after doing the offshore survival course, got her crew positions in the 2018 Groupama Race and the 2018 Sydney Hobart. And she skippered my lending boat in the last Fifteen Nationals - the first female skipper - with another (very light) woman trainee - so the first all female crew too. 

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94656507_514712552528527_1630624753863622656_o.jpg

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