Liberty is being free from the things we don't like in order to be slaves of the things we do like.--Ernest Benn

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Psyché's Song Finishes her 1st Race for 2010!

Psyché's Song had trouble getting a finish in 2010. A dodgy engine, a shoaled harbor, and too much wind to get her out of her slip conspired to keep her from scoring. The one race she did finish was thrown out because of a dodgy race committee. But today, she finished in grand style.

2010 Is Under Way!

Finished our first race (in real wet water) this year. We've had our troubles thus far in 2010. A dodgy engine (clogged intake), a dodgy harbor (shoaled), Dodgy weather (couldn't back out of our slip) and a dodgy race committee (failed to check on all marks ore selecting course) all conspired to keep her from scoring.

Today was perfect. 11.4 nautical miles! 24 boats finished! We corrected out to 6th place. The boat in the photo followed us all the way on the last two legs but corrected over us. Not a problem for me! And her skipper appreciated getting this shot in his email!

Friday, March 26, 2010

2009-2010 Clipper Race: Leg 7

Qingdao to San Francisco
This leg is over for me. I finished a lamentable 2,069th out of some 85,000 Many Players' Virtual Regatta

However, my virtual yacht, Vigilance, did much better than the real California entry, California California was caught in a 70-knot blast and was demasted. 

That never happened to me, of course!

It was my goal to finish under 1,000. That's always been my goal since the VORG. I attribute my failure to (a) mental rust, (b) bad start, and (c) underestimating the competition. These are all replicated too often in real yacht racing, of course.

I think I should leave it right there....

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bucket Boat #1: The E-33

The best review of the E-33 I've read is Practical Sailor's in November 2008:

The trophy daysailer market is rife with branding, image, and various forms of snob appeal. The e33, however, makes its pitch on practical grounds. Reports from the field highlight the performance/comfort/control combination that makes the e33 a fun raceboat. You don't need a big crew, you can exercise your tactical talents to the max, and you give away nothing in boatspeed. Our time sailing the e33 convinced us that it is not only a legitimate “performance sailboat,” but that attaining that performance is sinfully easy. The e33 daysailer's bonus points include a cockpit that takes up more than half the deck space and can hold five or six adults comfortably; cockpit-led control lines; carbon-fiber spars; and a hydraulic headstay control. Below, Spartan accommodations include berths for four, an enclosed head, and a built-in cooler. With the look of a classic and the innovative design of a modern daysailer, the e33 is e Sailing Yachts' intelligent, inspired, comprehensive attempt to capture the fun of performance sailing.

With 50 lofts in 30 countries, you might think that Robbie Doyle, founder and president of Doyle Sailmakers, would have more than enough to keep him busy. Nonetheless, he's leapt into boatbuilding. Partnered with designer Jeremy Wurmfeld, Doyle created the e33. One of the many attractive, expensive daysailers to hit the market recently, this 33-footer has minimal accommodations, a 16-foot cockpit, and a host of solutions and innovations.

The Etchells-inspired e33 Doyle remembers how the e33 came late '60s and early '70s. about:
Dirk Kneulman (Etchells builder and former world champion), Jeremy, and I were fantasizing about a boat that would be as much fun to sail as the Etchells without the bumps and bruises, a performance boat that could be sailed to the max with no hiking, a boat that gives you 'no excuse not to sail.'
A college All-American (Harvard 1971), Doyle apprenticed with Ted Hood early in his career, spent significant time pursuing The America's Cup, then founded Doyle Sailmakers in 1982. "Much of my course work was in naval architecture at MIT," he explained. That background, he asserts, not only taught him the basics of boat design, but influenced his approach to sails. Utilizing the principles of elliptical loading demonstrated in the famous Australian wing keel in 1983, Doyle became the first to apply the principle of Elliptical Aerodynamic Loading to sail shapes. The e33 thus grew out of Doyle's racing experience, his feel for what sailors want, his understanding of technology, and his capacity for innovation (Stack Pack, Quicksilver reefing, etc.).

Wurmfeld was trained in conventional architecture. After a short time on the job, however, he bolted his desk to become a charter skipper in the Caribbean. After that, he came ashore to enroll in naval architecture at Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology. That degree led to a six-year stint at Sparkman & Stephens before he went out on his own in 2004. Wurmfeld also has raced Etchells on Long Island Sound for years .....

The Design The Etchells, a 30-foot, three-man keel racer introduced as a candidate for the Olympics in the mid 1960s, made a stellar starting point for the new design. Originally known as the e22 (for its waterline), the Etchells failed to be chosen for the Games despite dominating the selection trials. There are now more than 50 fleets around the world with more than 1,300 boats actively racing. Rock stars such as Dennis Conner, Jud Smith, and Dave Curtis as well as Kneulman and Doyle attest to the quality of Etchells competition. Called "eternally contemporary" and praised for tacking in 70-degrees and slipping effortlessly through the water, the boat has spawned more than its share of fanatics.

With a ballast/displacement ratio of 63 percent, Etchells are very stiff, Wurmfeld says. The e33's ballast/displacement number is 43 percent, so it, too, stands up well in a breeze. The boat's narrow beam (8 feet, 6 inches) minimizes the effect of weight on the rail; the "no hiking" part of its personality is for real. "We gave the e33 a proper bulb at the end of a 5-foot, 9-inch keel where its weight pays off," Wurmfeld says. Like many of the others vying for the "perfect daysailer" mantle, Doyle's boat is better for being bigger. Top speed (projected at better than 10 knots) is unlocked by a generous, 27-foot waterline length. Large overhangs forward and aft help assure that it's dry underway.

The biggest benefit of its bigness, though, is its huge cockpit. Deep enough to be supremely secure, it seems to go on forever. From transom to companionway, it offers uncompromised lounging, sailing, and elbow room.

The slender hull has V-sections forward of the keel for weatherliness and wave handling. Relatively slack bilges and an easy run of U-shaped sections aft strike a balance between minimizing parasitic drag and providing lift at high speed. Wurmfeld says the foils also reflect the tension between racing efficiency (deep/high-lift) and daysailing practicality (moderate draft/tracking). One-design competition is always a possibility, but Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF) is the boat's most-likely arena. It rates 90 with a cruising chute in New England and 103 without. Reports from the field highlight the performance/comfort/control combination that makes the e33 fun to race. You don't need a big crew, you can exercise your tactical talents to the max, and you give away nothing in boatspeed.

Wurmfeld says.
Starting a new company, we had to beware being all things to all people. But the look of the boat was critical. The relationships of masses, shapes, and angles needs to be pleasing to the eye. The counter and transom were my treatment, and Robbie had the last word on the bow angle.
Like an Etchells, the e33 can be dry-sailed and trailered. At 5,800 pounds, it's targeted for the 3-ton lifts at many yacht clubs. "You need a 300-horsepower tow vehicle," Doyle says. "Strong points for a lifting bridle are built into the boat."

The Rig We asked Doyle if there was a connection between the elliptical aerodynamic loading that he pioneered in the 1980s and the high-roach sailplan of the e33. "When I was building sails for Courageous back in 1977, we tried a high-roach main as an experiment. It became the only main we used that whole summer to win the Cup."

The textbooks point out that induced drag is minimized by an elliptical (high roach) planform. That makes the ellipse or "Spitfire wing" shape the most efficient outline for a lifting surface, be it wing, keel, or sail. Certainly, sailboards and multihulls have gone heavily in the "fat-head" direction. With the advent of carbon-fiber spars (which Doyle labels "hard not to tune"), masts can now be made stiff enough to stand without a backstay. That, plus refinements in fulllength batten technology let monohulls like the e33 benefit from elliptical mainsails and the efficiencies they bring. Doyle says,
We resisted putting battens in our jib, but a (roller-reefable) triangle didn't give enough punch in light air," Vertical battens (which make for a bettersetting, more-versatile sail) let us add roach for more power.
The e33's recessed furler with control line led to the helm affords a jib that is elegant and ergonomic as well as efficient. Says Doyle,
Because our sail area is more efficient, we need less of it. You can handle our jib without a winch. And our center of pressure is lower. That promotes stability. The J-100, for instance, has a mast that's 7 feet taller than ours.
Crack off the main, and a lot of the boat's sail area goes away. The sheet and traveler let you open (or close) the leech optimally via the top batten. Sails are cut full with easy-to-manage systems like the cunningham to flatten them in a breeze. If you are racing, the Sailtec hydraulic headstay assembly forms a singlepoint rig adjustment that you can massage puff-by-puff. If you are daysailing, you can set it and forget it.

Not only does the deck take up half the boat, it is unbroken. More comfortable and less silly than the ubiquitous pushpit seats that adorn many of today's auxiliaries, the afterdeck affords room to read, snooze, or veg in security and comfort. If sunbathing were politically correct, you could do it there, too, all without interfering with the steering or working of the boat.

Just forward of the rudder post is a full-width traveler bar. Sited aft where toe-stubbing is no concern, its control lines are nonetheless convenient to the helm. A gracefully laminated gooseneck tiller sweeps from under the traveler forward to the helmsman.

In the center of the cockpit is a raised pod/footrest that houses mainsheet blocks and can accept a table. If you choose to have the available centerline winch, it goes there beneath the head of the tiller. The sturdy molding houses control lines (halyard, jib furler, spinnaker tackline, and self-tacking jibsheet, if you choose that option) and is low enough to be unobtrusive yet substantial enough for foot bracing. Another nice solution.

It doesn't surprise us that a boat built by a sailmaker should emphasize sailhandling. The gross and fine-tune systems for the main are not afterthoughts. The big blocks have a home in the pod, and the little ones have been incorporated into the main (carbon-fiber) boom. Two-part control for the jib might have been cumbersome, but fairing the blocks for the fine-tuner into a cabintop channel makes the assembly look clean and work well.

Below, you'll find "the bare necessities." Bunks for a cozy family of four, an enclosed head, and cooler complete the list. No galley, no running water, no weight, no worries.

Doyle and his wife, Janet, took the boat on the Eastern Yacht Club cruise. In four nights and five days aboard, she enjoyed "a dry and comfortable cabin with spacious bunks ... zero time over a hot stove ... and having 18 aboard for cocktails in the cockpit." Simplified, camping-out cruising has its charms. The e33 can easily provide them.

The boat has an auxiliary (a 14-horsepower Yanmar diesel with folding prop on a sail drive), but we doubt it will see much use. Open, narrow, light, and maneuverable, the e33 simplifies boathandling (under both sail and power) around docks, moorings, and marinas - an aspect of "performance" that is easily overlooked.

A 2:1 halyard and ball-bearing Ronstan cars for the battens took the strain out of raising the main. With the sail fully hoisted, the cunningham became our prime means of draft control.

The jib's conventional double-sheeting works so well that we wonder why anyone would choose the optional self-tacker. The standard 105-percent jib looks to us more hassle-free and foolproof than the self-tending alternative

Falling off and running before a moderate sou'wester out of Marblehead, Mass., we noted how the jib settled into wing-and-wing untended and how comforting it was to have a clear field of vision over the bow. We sat at the rail, the seat, switched sides: there didn't seem to be a bad spot to steer from. There was nothing "corky" about the way it cut the water. There was little wobble as we surged along. Deep, narrow boats have a feel of their own.

Outside the harbor, we lost some of the breeze and picked up a bit of chop as we rounded onto the wind. This is where we expected her to be at her worst: light wind and waves. Did she have the raw sail power to punch through the slop? With no trial horse in sight and drawing only on seat-of-the-pants approximation, we loosened the headstay and bagged the main a bit. Our acceleration improved as did our speedo numbers. While the e33 lacks the same "power reserve" you might expect from a boat with a taller rig and an overlapping headsail, its ultraefficient rig and easily driven hull make it more competitive than you might think. An optional Code-O turbocharges the boat in light air.

On the way back to the mooring, the local "harbor hurricane" in the entrance channel bumped the breeze up into the teens. As advertised, an ease of the main and pump on the headstay had us driving through the puffs at better than 8 knots, no hiking necessary. Flat water showed her close-windedness off to advantage; tacking in less than 80 degrees was impressive.

Wending through the crowded mooring field, the e33 was balanced enough to let us bear away without spilling the main, responsive enough to carve tight turns. Several times, we approached from dead downwind and luffed around a moored boat or ball. The narrow hull carries the e33's weight for boatlengths at a time, the jib feathers harmlessly amidships. More than once, we drove to leeward around an obstacle despite a building puff and minimal helm, positive result! Some critics called her "too much boat" for the average sailor. Others said that only top-notch pros like Doyle could get the most out of her. However, our time on the water convinced us that she is not only a legitimate "performance boat," but that attaining that performance is sinfully easy.

On the printed page, the profile/sailplan of the e33 emphasizes the contrast between its modern-looking rig and its heritage hull. On the water, that mismatch is minimized to the point that we didn't find it to be a problem. Though it doesn't approach the "million dollar" pricetag of some of today's new daysailers, the e33 (with a base price of better than $150,000) is not cheap. But when it comes to quality items like the carbon mast and boom, you get what you pay for.

Indeed, the "trophy daysailer" market is rife with branding, image, and various forms of snob appeal. The e33, on the other hand, makes its pitch on practical grounds. As the marketing literature emphasizes, it is an intelligent, inspired, comprehensive attempt to capture the fun of performance sailing. Thanks to the talents and experience of Doyle and company, it succeeds admirably in doing just that.

Aesthetics aside? Can you put aesthetics aside more easily than price? There are certain points made by Trophy Wife with which I certainly agree. Obviously the sail plan appears to be diminutively out of proportion with its LOA. I read somewhere the mast is 7 feet shorter than a J-100. Can that be possible? They seem to get the same PHRF out of it as with a J-100 or a J-105. How can that be? Is it much lighter in displacement?

I do like the roach and even the square top. Makes it look like a 'player' on the start line.

But look at that lovely long, self-bailing cockpit and low freeboard! The hull looks deceptively fragile, like it might bend and fold up midships. But with those modest overhangs, fore and aft, you know it still has to be fairly dry in a sea. Its slender hull would make it a dream, backing into my slip.

If it had the J-100's Gary Hoyt-style jib spar, its functionality for short-handedness would be immeasurably improved and it would be a solo racer's unparalleled ideal.

PHRF New England - N.E. Championships - Race Results - Results 2010 - Series Summary

What would one name his E-33?

  • Lust?
  • E-Lust?
  • E-llustrious?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Clipper Race - Leg 5

Qingdao to California

Ten months, 35,000 miles of ocean racing and around 400 people facing the challenge of a lifetime. When the starting gun goes off for the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race on 13 September 2009 the fleet of ten sleek, stripped down 68-foot yachts will embark on a full circumnavigation of the globe.

This fifth leg is the longest individual race of Clipper 09-10 and the crews will be at sea for approximately 35 days. Five weeks living and working in the same 68-foot space as 17 other people as they race across the Pacific Ocean, the biggest expanse of water on the planet.

The day the Clipper 07-08 fleet left Qingdao it snowed. It will be a chilly start to Leg 5 and, in addition to the possibility of snow and ice, fog and fishing boats are a certainty. As the boats race towards the south of Japan they will remain quite tightly bunched but, as you enter the Pacific, tactics once again come into play as skippers and crews are faced with the old dilemma; shortest, warmest route risking light airs, or stay north where it will be colder but the winds stronger.

The real race track:

Racing against 77,000+ virtual racers simulating the real race is my fantasy boat, Vigilance. I am now in 1,533rd place.

The highest I have sailed was 936th. My personal goal in this leg is to finish in three digits - under 1,000.

I had to resort to auto helm this morning in order to spend the day running a real race for my real yacht club.

The hemorrhage of 600 places has been catastrophic.

Vigilance's track is shown in violet. The other track is Spirit of California. The positions of a very small fraction of the other 77,000 boats are also displayed.