21 May 2008
I took my Raptor out today in 16 mph winds gusting to 24 mph. Downwind I had full sail and it was easy to control. Once I got out in the bay I could feel the wind strengthening and reefed the sail accordingly. The cleats for the traveler have to be angled more so they do not uncleat. It does not seem to point as high as before but I am still learning all the controls. The funny thing is when I paddled in to shore I was completely dry. I know now I have complete control of the boat on both tacks and was very comfortable with no signs of capsize. The track on the boom is essential to get proper sail shape when reefed and really helped going upwind in gusty situations.
I need 5 - 10 mph winds that are steady to see what it can really do. At least I know I can get back across an 11 mile lake even if it starts to stir up. A 22' mast might be a little long while a 20' one would be just about right. We will see how the sail responds in lighter air. So far no problem and this sail is much more forgiving in controllability. The boat seems to be driven flat. I thought the bow was being forced down but after looking at the pictures the main hull is perfectly level and it is slicing through the waves. So far so good on an experiment.
29 May 2008
I had the perfect day today. Right after work I launched the boat and did some testing. The winds were steady at 5 - 6 mph. With 5 mph winds I was going upwind at 5.5 to 6.2 mph. On a reach I was doing 7 mph. The sail is everything I wanted and more. The top stayed hooked up throughout the test sail. The traveler works great with the angled cleats I installed yesterday. By pulling the traveler windward so the boom is parallel with the boat I have a solid 130 degrees between tacks with the sail pulling strongly and no back winding. At no time did I need the foil down nor did I have to sheet out in the slight puffs - an occasional lean to the sidecar was sufficient. In fact by leaning I could fly the ama for brief periods.
This sail is so different from my other one. With the old one it seemed like I either had power or I didn't. I was constantly sheeting in and out so as not to be overpowered on the starboard tack. On this one it is much smoother and I have more time to react. My wife was taking the pictures and could not believe how fast I was going with so little wind. My rudder lock also works great. I used it a few times and it held the course well. What is nice is that I can still move the petals enough to make a slight course change and it will maintain it. While Chris was taking the photos I was sailing without the daggerboard in. Anything up to 90 degrees works fine and is great in the shallow water I was in.
I have to thank John for his advise on the design of the sail and mast height. I also want to thank Eric Wilson and Jim Gluek for designing the sail.
30 May 2008
I made a slight mistake. When I was testing the tacking angle using the small daggerboard, while sailing close hauled upwind with the sail pulling well and just at the point of pinching, I noticed the following: on the starboard tack I was at 60 degrees; on the port tack I was at 130 degrees; so the total tacking angle was 70 degrees or 35 degrees on each tack. The wind was steady at 5 mph and I did it five times to be sure. Straight downwind I was doing between 2 to 3 knots and as soon as I went on a reach my speed jumped to 5.5 to 6.1 knots. Sorry for the confusion.
* Tip: When I get in irons I push the rudder petal one way or the other. The boat backs up and turns away from the wind. Once I have the right angle I sheet it and away I go.