Normally I have the daggerboard in and locked for upwind work and, depending on conditions, remove it for downwind runs. This works very well as the boat sails fine in light air without the daggerboard - it just will not point as high. This modification has improved my pointing ability and speed when sailing upwind. I can still unlock the daggerboard and let it rise up between the uphaul/downhaul lines if needed when reaching.
(4) The traveler had some friction due to all the sheaves so I tried to simplify things. The solution that I came up with eliminated two sheaves (near right and center).
(5) I added a can/bottle holder to the back of the cockpit (above right).
(6) I made a little elbow (right) for the drain fitting inside the ballast bag, which allows me to drain the bag completely instead of leaving behind a gallon or so of water, making the ama 6-10 lbs lighter.
Other than that everything is locked in and working very well. The boat still looks like new and was just a pleasure to sail before storage. Overall I am very, very happy with the way I have it set up now. I am now finally at the point where the boat does everything I want it to do. The last little bugs are gone and all the systems are proven and robust enough to handle the job.
The rudder head was the weak link on my original boat. The rudder cables kinked when at full lock so I wanted something bulletproof that would work well. By extending the stern I was able to come up with this design (left). It has worked very well during the time I have sailed and trailered the boat.
To be able to use the paddle and make other adjustments on the boat required a lot of thought on the design. All the lines had to run free and everything, including installing and removing the daggerboard easily, had its own challenges. Overall I think I finally got all the systems in harmony and I should hopefully enjoy sailing it every time I take it out. Sometimes the easiest ideas are right under our noses, the tiller for example, and we just cannot see them at the time.
I do like my sail and it seems to work well for my type of sailing. It is very effective when reefed and performance is better than with the original reefed sail. Maybe I could have obtained the same or even better performance by tweaking the original sail control using the current downhaul (Cunningham), outhaul, boom track and traveler systems, but then I would not have been able to fit my Raptor in the garage the way I can now. When my current sail gets to the point of losing shape I will get another one made with exactly the same size and with the panels optimized for that configuration. The times I sailed during the summer of 2010 showed it was just the right size. The battens were in the right places for reefing and when using the full sail. The luff curve was correct for the stiffer mast. The sail shape looked very good with the full sail out and, when reefed, was flatter and worked very well in heavy air. Off the wind I think it was a little faster than my original sail as I hit 13.9 knots on a downwind reach. This was in heavy air but I really had to be on my toes to sail at that speed. The traveler makes it easy to set the sail for any condition and really helps when going deep downwind in very light air. This is when I go by other boats at 8-10 knots and they ask where my laptop is, as I look so relaxed doing it.
I love the water ballast system compared to the foil. I think that if the Raptor's foil was automatic like on a Moth sailboat using a wand, and had more down force than what was originally available, it would be a more viable system. After comparing both systems in 2010 the overall winner was the ballast system. It was clearly faster overall for the type of sailing I do. Even in a race I can just fill the tank halfway and use the roller furling sail for power control. I roll out sufficient sail for the wind speed and just adjust the mainsheet for gust control. On a downwind run I roll out more sail and refurl on a reach or on upwind legs. It works very well for me this way.
I finally have someone to sail with now as my neighbor across my channel just got a Hobie Islander this year. This seems to be the only competition to the Raptor as there is nothing else on the market at this time that is readily available here in the US. Watching him assemble and launch from his dock is fun as it takes him about half an hour to be ready to sail. I just trailer my Raptor to my launch site a couple minutes away, lift the mast onto the mast base and am ready to launch. Five minutes later I am on the lake sailing while he has to pedal a quarter mile down the channel to get to the lake. It was alright that I was unable to sail last year, as I could recharge my batteries so to speak and fix the last few things that bugged me. I can't wait for the season to start.