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September 2008

Wind was non-existent on Sunday so the planned races had to be cancelled, which was a pity as I was keen to try out my new rigging in a competitive setting. Most members headed home after lunch but I decided to remain at Bala until Monday, which gave me a chance for another good sail, as the winds picked up to F4 later on Sunday afternoon. The leech tensioning line uncleating problem became much more pronounced in the stronger winds, which nevertheless allowed me to reach speeds of 8 knots. Using my tactical compass readings, I thought that I was finally attaining tacking angles of 90-degrees or less but my GPS track shows that they were actually between 99 and 106 degrees due to leeway i.e. although I turned my bow through 90-degrees on each tack, my Raptor was being blown sideways, making my actual change in course greater. This was still an improvement though over the tacking angles I had achieved in the previous meet (Tummel).

On returning home, I bought and installed a small grey Ronstan C Cleat (RF5000) and compatible Rope Guide (RF5004) to replace the cleat fitted by Solway Dory. Hydrovisions use Ronstan cleats, so the new one matches the original four. Hopefully the rope guide should prevent the leech tensioning line from pulling free in future.

For my Cunningham, Solway Dory had tied the bottom of a micro fiddle block to a line threaded through the existing two holes in the top of the mast furling reel. These holes are too far apart though, making the attachment line too long and allowing too much stretch in it. I wanted to minimise the stretch, as there's not much clearance between the furling reel and foot of the sail, so drilled a smaller hole in the top of the furling reel close to one of the existing ones. Threading small diameter line through these two holes and through the bottom of the fiddle block allowed me to tie it close to the top of the furling reel. The Cunningham line is tied to the top of the fiddle block, passed through the cringle in the tack of the sail, down around the fiddle block sheave and then locked in position in the fiddle block's V-Jam cleat.

The position of the fiddle block is unpredictable due to the roller furling mast step - sometimes it will be at the front of the mast and difficult to reach. For the same reason, the Cunningham is obviously only usable when the sail is completely unfurled. I need to play with the Cunningham settings but the principle is that tightening the Cunningham creates "wrinkles" in the luff of the sail and moves the draft forward. This is desirable in stronger winds and also makes the sail more forgiving. Reducing the Cunningham tension moves the draft aft, improving windward performance but making it easier to stall the sail. In general, the draft should be in the middle of the sail but should be moved aft in lighter conditions (by slackening the Cunningham) and moved forward in stronger winds (by tightening the Cunningham).

My Molly boat cart struggled on the gravelly beach at the Bala campsite, with the hard wheels sinking in. Pneumatic tyres would be better on this type of soft ground, but they would then be too big to fit inside my cart bag. Also, the cart body is "V"-shaped while the Raptor's hull is curved, so the main hull doesn't fit perfectly onto the cart. Overall though, I think the Molly cart provides a good size/utility compromise. I had to improve the attachment of the non-slip mats though, as the Loctite 595 Clear Sealant came partly unstuck during the weekend. I drilled through the Molly body in various places so that the matting can be held in place with plastic cable-ties, which won't scratch my Raptor's hulls.

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