Friday, August 16, 2013

Pulling String: chapter 3 of The Chronicles of Acushla in Abersoch

The thing about the Albacore is that it has lots of bits of string to pull so if you're getting bored there is always something to fiddle with and if you're going slow - there is always something to fiddle with to try and make it go quick.

String string and more string

But the really the whole point of the string is that you can set the rig up for the prevailing wind (and sea) conditions and the point of sailing. And then you really should leave it alone, baring small changes in wind strength that might require adjustment to the kicking tension, until you change your point of sailing, like going around the windward mark from a beat onto a reach. Then you have to very quickly adjust the rig and get on with the job of sailing the boat. Too much fiddling and you don't concentrate on the sailing and all the fiddling in the world won't make up for the loss in boat speed as well as the tactical and strategic errors you will make.
So when you get to the mark there needs to be some kind of procedure to get done what needs to be done in some kind of priority so that the important changes get done first and with some kind of teamwork so that the work is shared by the crew and the helm appropriately.

I spent sometime working on a list of things that need to be done at each type of mark rounding and then Jo and I looked at each one together and worked out a procedure.
The next day we tried to it put into practice, with some success and discovered that we needed to adapt it, leaving out some bits for different reaches (eg shroud leavers on close reaches in high winds) as well ensuring that Jo wasn't trying to do 3 things at once with me encouraging her to speed up! Her reply was quite polite really

No doubt more work needs to be done on this and with experience I shall develop the skill to make it second nature.

It is something that each helm and crew need to work on together and it might also require changes to the boats fittings and systems to maximise the teamwork so that it is second nature and smoothly accomplished.

It needs to be second nature with preset settings so that it simplifies the process because there is more than enough going on with the tactics of the mark rounding and working out the strategy of the next leg of the course as well as just getting the maximum speed out the boat.
I can see why the top guys have developed what they call a 'one string' system which changes the rig set up (mast ram, shroud tension, Jib halyard tension, kicker) with one string  which must be a hellishly complex system but it does reduce the complexity of mark roundings.

Andy Green: Albacore Nationals SCYC 2013 &emdash;
In this image of us rounding the windward mark on day 4 Jo is getting ready to pole the jib out as we round the mark as we worked out that this has to be the first task of the crew on rounding the mark. This gets the boat boat moving quickly away from the mark and hopefully into clear air and then other setup changes can be made.
This technique really paid dividends on the last day as we were able to get the boat on the plane immediately on rounding the windward mark.

We did have our problems though. After one gybe I suddenly realised that we had not loaded up the leeward shroud before the gybe and trying to get that lever down with all that wind whilst trying to control the boat on a screaming reach was not easy and we lost several places on that leg. It just emphasises the importance of a well rehearsed and carefully worked out procedure.

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