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What goes wrong when racing?
Jeremy Arnold 1237

What goes wrong when racing?

An article by Malcolm Hall

Apart from the helm sailing you to the back of the fleet, then lots of things really, some happen often enough that you can predict them, these tend to be people related and you can avoid them if you try hard enough. Some happen regularly and this tends to be gear related, so you go out and fix them. Some happen so infrequently that you just consider it to be a freak event and deal with it when it happens.
When you stop and think though, these freak things, actually they happen quite a bit. So I decided to tackle three of these on my boat to see if they stop.
 
Spinny downhaul snagging on a fitting.
 
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I don’t know how it happens but every now and then on the drop the rope is really dragging, a glance and you can see the rope has snagged and you are pulling at a triangle without a block. Pause from the drop, reach down, flick it out all is ok, except your right up on the mark and going wide.
 
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Taking a careful look and a bit of a play, you can see that it’s the excess thread catching the rope, I cut this off and filed the ends and now every test I tried, the rope will not stay on the nut. Success I think!
 
Jib Sheet snagging on cleat
 
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Every once in a while the jib sheet will inexplicably wrap itself around the bracket and cleat for the chute cover rope, how it does it, we will never know, but it entails a bit of tugging before we realise then a dash inboard by the crew to untangle it then we will eventually set the jib. Meanwhile we have been underpowered, off balance and losing speed for about 10 seconds.
 
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There is no way to know what causes this, in fact it’s really hard to get it to tangle even when doing it deliberately, so the solution is to lose the bracket and go for just a cleat on the bulkhead, nothing now to tangle on. Yes it’s a bit slower when closing the hatch, now as we sail on a reservoir, we never shut the hatch anyway. So it’s got to be a win hasn’t it? The mainsheet block tangles around the main sheet swivel cam.
 
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It happens on a jibe, I guess it is because I am not managing the slack in the main sheet well enough, when it happens it’s a real pain and it takes the crew to undo it for me as you need two hands. This is the most infrequent freak event on the boat, and a bit tricky to solve.
 
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This is the solution; I think the extra block being on a soft rope can drop straight down when the boom comes over in the jibe and I hope that by adding this hose and stiffening the rope the block will fall like a pendulum, so falling away from the swivel cam and preventing a tangle. Will it work, not sure, it hasn’t happened since I did it but I think the odds of success are the lowest of the three so far.
 
Well there you go, just a ‘though’ on the ‘unthinking’ freak events that otherwise you just tend to live with. Maybe it will help you to recognise where your next competitive gains will come from and get you those extra few moments to concentrate on what really matters. Propping the bar and regaling each other with how smooth you felt your racing was today.
 
Malcolm Hall
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