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Tacking when its windy...Arrrgh!


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Over the weekend up here in Mackay we had some pretty strong wind, 15kt, gusts to 20kt or so, so I drag the 4.0 out and have a blast. The boat went quite well, felt like I was going to get airborne over some of the bigger swells, managed to scare myself quite a few times on one hull, very ecxiting and fun sail. However I found that all of a sudden I could not tack. In the lighter winds I had started getting pretty good at turning it around, (I have been on the water for about 10 hours every weekend since I finished fixing her up) not getting stuck in irons very much at all, but once the wind hits about 15 I just cannot get it all the way around. I even have trouble reversing onto the new tack.

Now it may be that my rudders are washing too much speed off in the turns, they really are not very good when the boat is going fast (home made). I push the tiller and they make a whoosh noise till the boat slows enough for them to turn it but I don't know if that is normal for a cat to have trouble turning when going fast. I know the solution to that is buying new rudders but my timber ones grew on trees, new ones don't.

Anyway my question is are maricats harder to tack in a stronger breeze?

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Tacking any cat is more tricky in stronger winds. There are things you can do to improve the situation:

- rudder profile. It sounds like your foils are stalling, suggesting the leading edge is too blunt and the sides too flat. The NACA010 profile is great. Scale up this image to your foils width & thickness, (eg: Photoshop, image size) make a template, and shape them to suit. An angle grinder with sanding head makes short work of it.[ATTACH=CONFIG]1225[/ATTACH]

Home-made foils can succeed if shaped from hardwood, just don't leave them in the sun or they'll warp. Better still shape from a laminate of cedar & maple, then set 2 layers of fibreglass over it with polyester resin. Better still, make a buck, crack moulds off it and cast yourself some carbon-fibre foam-filled glory. Of course, after that effort and expense you'll realise why the pros charge so much for them.

- body position is an easier thing to fix. Stay forward going in to a tack, and sheet in hard: this helps the boat round up. As you duck the boom, go back and stay near the rear beam. Steer well past close-hauled, drop the traveller, and get it moving. Once you're accelerating and got some steering back, then pull the traveller back up a bit, sheet in hard and, lastly, move yourself forwards again.

- if the boat stalls mid-tack, recognise it immediately, hold the sail out to make the boat go backwards. Reverse the steering and tack using a 3-point turn.

- tie a bit of string from the middle of the rear beam to the middle of your rudder cross-bar. The concept is to limit how far you can push the rudders over, which may help stop them stalling as you go into a tack. Once you're reversing, the string can also stop them from getting slammed against the gunwales and snapping off.


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Welcome to centreboardless cat sailing.

I've been sailing these cats for about 5 seasons now and STILL have trouble.

Google Hobie University, there's a pdf that describes the Hobie Roll Tack, read it. Also read the bits about tacking and going into irons, they are useful background.

We talked with Mick Colecliffe the other day and he simply didn't know what our problem was, I put this down to his boat being a 'foamy' (ie floats higher) and him sailing sloop rig (use the jib to pull the boat around)

I try to determine that the conditions are too strong to tack normally so when this happens I try to grab the boom as I go head to wind and effectively lever the boat around, get it to spin on its axis so that it's then pointing in the right direction.

If you push your rudders down too hard and too fast then yes (even with the manufactured 4.3 rudders) you basically put the brakes on - and get a big gurgling noise from the back. If possible turn a bit slower and move forward to allow the sterns to lift and go over the water rather than into it.

So, my choreography (when it works) is i) traveller centred ii) point up but still going fast ii) move forward iii) initiate turn iv) hand on boom v) let tension off the main as soon as you feel the boat feathering into the wind - about a metre in higher winds vi) push rudders all the way now (because you're going slower they will work as rudders not brakes) now move your weight to the back beam vii) pull the boom over hard, release the main so that you can twist the boat right into a close reaching position viii) watch the stern, as soon as the boat starts reversing then reverse the rudders ix) as soon as you feel (good word that feel!!) the boat is right CENTRE THE RUDDERS (if you try to go forward with the rudders not at zero you'll stuff the tack x) pull the main in and get forward motion. Notice that I've not said anything about moving over to the new windward side, that's because you're still on the leeward side (scary but effective). NOW move to the windward side, sheet on harder and get going again. Traveller is usually about at the foot straps for heavier weather.

To tack in lighter stuff do the same but you shouldn't need to lever the boom over. Getting this right is quite exquisite because the boat just kicks forward, flow goes over the rudders and you're off.

In waves timing is also important because they'll stop you dead (requiring the boom/twist method earlier).

If you weigh a bit the just sit at the back, new leeward side and the boat will dig in the rear leeward side and the wind will blow the front around.

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Thanks for the advice. Good to know that it's not entirely my fault. It sounds about right re. the rudder profile, too blunt and flat. I will make some new ones I think, the ones I have were a bit of a rush job to get onto the water. Can somebody get a measurement of the length and breadth of the rudder? The shape and width I can work out but the other two dimensions are hard to judge on a picture.

I have only been sailing for a few months but am absolutely loving it. Missus thinks I have gone nuts with the amount of time I am spending on the water. :D

Cheers all.

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  • 1 month later...

Well I finished the new rudders last week. 12mm ply wrapped in fibreglass. Got a decent profile using that template and gave them a test run last sat. Conditions were perfect, 15 - 18knots. Boat felt great from the get go as I heased out on a reach, more responsive and alot less wash from the rudders. Flying along and thought the sail looked a little loose, must have forgotten to tighten the downhaul, lean over to give it a tug and 4/5th's of the sail comes down the mast. Halyard still way up the top. Bugger, anyway I never got a single tack in so I don't know how much better the new rudders will turn.[ATTACH=CONFIG]1353[/ATTACH]


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Well I sort of fixed the sail, it is about a foot shorter now and went out again last week. Tacking did work much better, still missed more than I got but I am happy with the new rudders. Sail is rs though. If anyone know of a cheap sail let me know. Going out again this weekend, should be good ad there is not much left to break on the boat. Good times.:cool:

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