Raptor UK canoe sailing

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May 2009

I travelled down to North Wales on Friday, 8 May for the OCSG meet at Bala Lake. While rigging up my Raptor I noticed that one of the welds on the foil bracket had failed. This must have happened while at Rutland but I hadn't noticed it when rigging down.

This is the second foil bracket failure I have suffered, which indicates a weak point in the design and shows the stresses that the part is subjected to. The bracket which failed this time was the new one that JohnS sent me in 2007 following the first failure. Luckily I had my (repaired) original bracket with me and was able to fit it, otherwise it would have been a wasted journey. Metaplas thought it strange that both flanges hadn't bent, when they made the repair.

I had installed three half-inch brass grommets in the rear centre of the sidecar canvas, as this area collects a lot of water in rough conditions and the grommets provide drain holes. They did reduce the amount of water trapped on the sidecar, although didn't eliminate it.

I'd wrapped short sections of non-slip matting around my Molly cart side straps to try and prevent the carts from slipping around the main hull and ama: 6-inch/15 cm lengths either side for the ama and 12-inch/30 cm ones for the main hull. This seemed to help, although the ama straps don't touch the sides of the ama. I lost the short forward strap with hook for the ama Molly while at Rutland, so fabricated a looped section of strap, which goes around the forward iako where it fits into the ama. The Molly cart clips to this with a plastic side release buckle. This setup worked well over the weekend, despite the gravel beach at Bala being a challenge for the Molly's hard plastic wheels.

The Bala meet was almost as windy as Rutland. On Saturday morning, the Met Office forecast for 10 a.m. at Betws-y-coed (the nearest location) was for 16 mph wind speeds with gusts of 34 mph, increasing to 20 mph with 41 mph gusts at 1 p.m. I measured 25 mph on my wind gauge before four of us set off from the campsite. I was using my new goggle-mounted camera for the first time, so managed to film my second inversion of the year! I had been fiddling with the foil control handle shock cord while on a starboard tack at the time, instead of having the mainsheet in hand, ready to ease when the gust hit me. The sail was half-reefed so my Raptor was easy to right.

Video clip: Large/small

The SW wind carried us quickly to the northern end of the lake and we all enjoyed surfing down the faces of the waves as we overtook them. We headed to the Loch Café at Bala for coffee/lunch. The return journey into the wind took us around 65 minutes, and my maximum speed was 9.9 knots: not bad into near gale F6-7 winds. The Raptor handled these strong winds remarkably well and, provided the sail was reefed sufficiently, the experience wasn't too traumatic, although it was tiring, as complete concentration was required. With the foil deployed, the mainsheet only needed to be eased during the stronger gusts, which were usually easy to see approaching, because of the ripples they caused on the surface of the lake. Although less than at Rutland, the wind built up a moderate swell on the lake, which highlighted one problem with the foil. When the sidecar is fitted, the foil can not be raised high enough out of the water to avoid some of the waves, with the result that many will frequently hit it. Apart from causing a lot of splashing, this also slows the Raptor down considerably. I don't see any easy way around this problem as I find the sidecar too useful to do without.

My tacking angles weren't that great in the strong breeze due to increased leeway and impaired performance with the heavily reefed sail:

From port to starboard tack: 116°, 126°, 128°, 126° Average: 124°
From starboard to port tack: 120°, 130°, 126°, 133° Average: 127°

Video clip: Large/small

Tacking anti-clockwise was again a problem and I resorted to gybing on a couple of occasions as an alternative. I've posted some video of the outing (see above right), much of it a little gloomy.

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