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July 2009

I sent my sail to Ullman Sails in Plymouth after the Tayvallich meet. The cost of the repair was GBP 55.19 and the sail was returned to me in time for the Coniston Water meet. After this meet I drove to Solway Dory's workshop and discussed the hull damage caused by the rudder cables with DaveP. On inspecting the damage, he immediately advised a change to the existing setup, since he said that the original routing of the rudder cables inside the hull was far from ideal. With the rudder at full lock, the angle of pull by the cables on the rudder bracket was very acute from where they exited the stern of the main hull.

This is the reason the brass grommet became worn through, followed by wear to the hull itself. Dave said that replacing the brass grommet would only be a temporary solution and it would be better to re-route the rudder cables onto the outside of the hull, so that the cables would have a much straighter pull on the rudder bracket (NB: RobertB's Raptor had an external rudder cable capability). My existing rudder cables were showing signs of wear so, rather than try to buy custom cables, Dave suggested I visit a local bicycle shop (Wheelbase "The UK's largest cycle store") and buy bike brake cables (stainless steel, Teflon-coated inner cables and plastic outer casing). The longest inner cables sold by Wheelbase were SRAM Pitstop tandem gear cables, which were 3.1m in length. These proved to be ideal. Wheelbase also sold Shimano outer casing, which could be cut to size. Unfortunately they only had a single 3m length in stock, but I was able to buy another 3m length from Evans Cycles in Kendal, although the price was 60% higher than Wheelbase's (for the same product). I also bought four stainless steel ferrules from Wheelbase to fit over the ends of the outer casing. The total cost of the materials was GBP 38.90 plus two hours of my time locating them. Solway Dory sourced the P-clamps to attach the cables to each side of the hull.

I also asked Dave to strengthen my Raptor's backrest, since I'd noticed some damage at Tayvallich, and to move the sheet fairlead on the boom forward 12-inches, to the mid-point of the boom. This will allow me to achieve a vertical pull on the leech tensioning line at greater degrees of sail reefing than previously. He said that he would strengthen the backrest with fibreglass, since Solway Dory don't work with carbon fibre.

I drove down to The Lake District on Friday, 10 July and collected my hull and boom from Solway Dory before returning north to Ullswater to attend the OCSG meet. The SRAM cables I had bought were single-ended, and Solway Dory didn't have a means of crimping a nipple onto the other end, so Dave had just clamped both cables onto the rudder bracket and looped the excess length around the clamps.

I noticed that Dave had extended the ends of the cable casings aft of the transom. This allows them to bend towards the rudder bracket at different rudder positions (to maintain a straight pull) but also means that the rudder 'lock' is reduced because the rudder bracket can not now be pulled so close into the transom. It was a beautiful evening at Ullswater and so, after pitching my tent and assembling my Raptor, I went out for a sail at 7:10 pm, returning at 8:40 pm (long summer evenings). The rudder action felt much smoother but the revelation came once I tacked; my Raptor turned much more rapidly through the wind, in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions. I realise now why I was getting stuck in irons so frequently: the rudder was actually acting as a brake when on full lock. EddieVB made changes to his rudder but I would expect every other Raptor to have this potential braking effect. If other owners aren't experiencing the same problem as I was then they probably don't apply full rudder lock when tacking. I may need to make adjustments periodically as, if I press with my feet too hard on the rudder pedals, the rudder bracket will push against the outer casing and may cause it to slip through the P-clamps. This happened once during the Ullswater meet, with the result that the port cable casing now extends aft slightly less than the starboard casing. I can realign the two ends by loosening the P-clamps.

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