Raptor UK canoe sailing

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3 June 2010
After I broke my daggerboard I ordered two replacements from Solway Dory and also had one made locally as a hedge. The locally made board is fiberglass over wood. Even with shipping, the costs were roughly the same (two from Solway Dory = one locally produced). The board I bought locally works well and I have been using it. The boards from Solway Dory were a little too tight to fit towards the back, which is probably a good thing. I've sanded the boards so that they are a tight fit and this should give me the ability to adjust their height. The guy who made the board locally noticed that the hull material extended into the daggerboard trunk on the port side and caused the board to sit at an angle (I think John meant it to be that way to make the board adjustable). He

ground the excess material off to make his board fit evenly. The result is that the board drops into place and is generally not adjustable. When I have it raised I notice that the rudder forces increase, so I think that, even with it fully down, it is the minimum length, unless I am going straight downwind.

The lengths from the stops to the bottom of the boards are:

Original stock


Locally made GRP


Solway Dory


Solway Dory


The boards from Solway Dory have no stops. They have instead two holes drilled near the top for a line to be inserted. The line acts as both a handle and a stop, which works way better than the original setup. I have now managed to take my Raptor out enough to evaluate the different lengths of daggerboards. The 33" GRP and 36" Solway Dory boards work well and I take both with me when I sail. The 42" Solway board is definitely too long and creates too much drag. It slows the boat and, more importantly, the boat does not accelerate as well. When hit by

a gust while using the long board, the tendency is to heel over. With the short boards the boat accelerates when hit by a gust.

The boat is faster and easier to control with the shorter boards. When looking at my GPS tracks I don't see any difference in how much leeway she is making. The winds here are inconsistent so it's hard to get a definitive measurement. I based the lengths of the shorter boards on the boards used by EddieVB and on what DaveH told me (that I would not need the board all the way down when I took my test sail). I think the shorter boards were a good decision.

I have had very good success with the added line to tension the leech. It has improved my sailing in all conditions whether with full sail or reefed, in light winds or strong. It has issues as far as adjustment under a load and getting it over the junction between the carbon fiber and aluminum sections of the boom, but I think I can live with them. I managed to get a spot speed of 11.8 knots straight downwind with the foil up and with full sail out. When I am on a port tack with full sail the ama digs in and slows me down. I found that when this happens I can reduce sail area and go a little faster. In September I achieved a momentary speed of 13.4 knots. This was on a port tack in

the southern part of Kaneohe Bay with about a 50% reef on the sail. I think this is about as fast as I'm ever going to get my Raptor to go. On a starboard tack the foil creates too much drag. As for pushing for the record, I will try to make runs on the leeward side of a sand island. Ahu O Laka looks promising (see map on left). At low tide this will give me smooth water and unobstructed wind, which is the strategy used to break speed records in southern France. There's a ~200 meter section where I can sail at 90 to the wind, only a few meters from the island.

I noticed that with the foil down there seems to be a down force when the foil handle is attached to the rear iako with shock cord, or loosely held in my hand. I believe that drag from the water flow pushes the foil backwards, creating a down force and additional drag, when the handle is held in these ways. It seems to find its natural point of balance. I found that by always keeping active control of the foil and applying slight down pressure on the handle I can keep the foil closer to horizontal, creating less drag, and can eke out an extra knot of speed. With my short trampoline I can see my foil and can tell if it is level. I also discovered that keeping the foil control handle tucked under my thigh as suggested in the owner's manual actually pulls the ama down, creating drag. I now only do this if I have to perform a short task that requires two hands. To keep the foil neutral and reduce drag, I found that I need to hold the handle just above the seam on the hull.

I used to leave the foil up when tacking to the left and experienced the same problems DaveM has mentioned. Once I had passed through the wind and had it coming from my starboard side I risked capsizing. If I deployed the foil too early it would turn me back to the right and put me in irons. To avoid these problems when tacking, I developed a technique of slowing and deploying the foil prior to the tack. I now slow and deploy the foil 25-50 yards prior to where I plan to initiate the tack. This gives me time to clean up the cockpit and to accelerate. So, when I am about to switch from a port tack to a starboard tack (left turn) and have my foil up, I drop the foil prior to making the turn, de-power the sail, deploy the brakes (feet!) if needed, and drop the foil while still on the port tack. I found that turning at a moderate rate helps me retain speed and, with the foil handle level and near the seam to reduce drag, I avoid getting caught in irons. I have rarely been caught in irons since I

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