[Public-List] Last Wednesday night race of the season

Gordon Laco via Public-List public-list at lists.alberg30.org
Thu Sep 28 05:54:00 PDT 2017

Hello Gang,


All afternoon I watched the trees tossing their branches outside my office window... yes, at last we had some wind on a Wednesday evening.


My crew gathered at the boat in good time; first thing we did was change headsails.  While doing it I thought about the recent thread about headsail furling still going on the list... 


Our slip faces west, so we were conveniently nearly head to the west wind (blowing 25knots +) so the change was easily done at the dock.  If we’d been on the water, I’d have steered the boat to keep the foredeck under the sail, so the only complication would have been heel angle.  Down came the genoa... we stuffed it down the forehatch.  Up went the high clewed jib... it only flogged a few seconds before it was safely furled up.


Out on the course we found only five boats.  Most of the usual fleet of 18 or so boats declined to venture out, and three had second thoughts before the start sequence began.  The wind was up to 30knots, so the retirements were not surprising.  SUNDANCE, our arch rival, shouted that the only headsail they had aboard was their 150% genny, and they were being laid flat under it, so back in they went.  We were left to fence with an Express 30R, normally in A Fleet, and EVERGREEN, who used to be in A fleet but this season was pushed back into B (not sure why) and two Sharks, but I won’t talk about them.


So it was basically EVERGREEN vs SURPRISE.   We hoisted our mainsail, tucking in two reefs as the main went up... then popped open the high clewed jib.  For a few moments I was considering shaking out one of the reefs... but the wind came back and we were laid over rail under water, so I didn’t think about that any more.  My son Pete calmly observed that being under water for a few seconds was giving our sheet winches the only servicing I ever seem to give them.  (very funny, Pete...)  EVERGREEN  had one reef tucked into their main and rolled half their genny in.  When I saw the later I knew they had no chance of threatening us (upwind at least) and was very relieved.  They rate much faster than our Alberg 30 and I was worried that we’d have to watch their stern all evening.  


Everyone thinks that being heavy and with a full keel, Alberg 30’s ‘love heavy weather’.  Well not really.  The trouble is that Alberg 30’s are quite tender... and the combination of tender and heavy is not good.  Yes, all narrow-ish boats will go over a bit then find the heel angle they stiffen up and and stick there... but not our boats.  The problem is the iron ballast and masthead rigs... both construction economy adjustments from what Carl Alberg intended.  If we had the expensive bendy fractional rig, and lead ballast, we’d certainly ‘love heavy weather’ when racing... but not with the totem pole mast and higher centre of gravity afforded by the iron.  So what all this means is that we cannot drive SURPRISE as hard as stiffer boats can be driven. (all this of course matters not in One-Design racing when all boats have the same issues... and when cruising, well we just don’t care and enjoy the A30’s natural sea-kindliness)  We need to reef earlier and finesse her to make her fast, particularly upwind, when it’s blowing.  Offsetting this is the fact that the Alberg 30 has retained the Folkboat-style inside forward sheeting tracks.  When sailing with the narrow high clewed jib, we sheet inside the shrouds and man o man THEN we can point, and that makes up for a lot that is lost by being tender.


We got a good start in the heavy air, and really enjoyed our ability to point with the small jib on its inside track sheeting.  Up we climbed ahead of, then above EVERGREEN.  Wonderful.  At the windward mark they were safely behind and had to take an extra tack to make the pin... we rounded and of course with our very short sail, we slowed terribly.  Looking back I saw EVERGREEN unfurl the rest of their genny and start coming up on us hand over fist on the run.   We shook both reefs out of our main lickety-split, which helped, and I sailed to starboard of the rumb line to keep the narrow jib full, which helped a lot.


Coming down to the leeward mark, I had my deck dogs haul in on the outhaul to flatten the main... as usual when sailing downwind in heavy air, the wind didn’t seem too bad and I had flattering hopes we could carry the full main a bit... at least I didn’t want to pull down reefs again until we were going upwind.  


Bang!  Oh what was that?  Ah, the outhaul’s outer tackle broke.  Strong lads, those deck dogs.  We started the second beat with a full, baggy main... not good.  We were only doing 3 knots or so on just the jib while the guys re-rove a new line... while the main was flogging we shook the lower batten out, damn,   EVERGREEN was coming closer and closer, sailing twice our speed despite the poor set of  their genny now half rolled up again.   Finally we repaired the main’s outhaul, pulled down a single reef, and got SURPRISE galloping again.  Soon our vastly superior pointing and near perfect helm balance took us away and we stretched our lead, a bit.


The second windward mark rounding was just like the first, but EVERGREEN was closer than the last time.  Round we went, out went our reef, but they were close behind and unfurled their inefficient half genny to very efficient full and were chomping on our tail.  


Then they made a mistake.  They boomed out their genoa and sailed directly for the finish... we sailed away on a very broad reach to keep our little jib full, and gybed halfway down toward the finish... we managed to keep ahead and finished about five seconds before them.  Of course EVERGREEN owes us nearly five minutes on PHRF, but it’s always fun to win on real time.


Back at the club we had our last after-race beers of the year.  What a great crew.  I thanked them for being both good at their jobs and so loyal to the boat.  I commented that I much appreciated not having to ‘narrate’ everyone’s job for them... they thanked me for telling them what I was doing and thinking so they could anticipate...  Great crew.


So, I’ve got to repair the outhaul and lower batten issue before the Misery Cruise, which is set for the weekend of 28 October...  



#426 Surprise

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