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 Post subject: Racing with the Sharks
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 7:51 am 
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Just figured I'd drop a link here to a video I made of my latest racing experience on my H18, for those who might be interested.

https://youtu.be/5CDRX39PmjE


This was at the CMOR (Canandaigua Multihull Open Regatta) in Canandaigua, NY on the finger lakes, and it was really a blast. Had we not capsized (twice), we would've been in 2nd place at the end of the first day. The second day was lighter and much more shifty, so we were mid pack all day.

The boats we were racing are known as Shark Catamarans designed in 1963 (allegedly the first mass produced catamarans in the US), and they were a lot of fun to sail against because 1) they are very close to a Hobie 18 in performance, and 2) they have a very active fleet. Sadly for us, I'd say they have a much more active fleet than the Hobie 18's do.

I was actually impressed at how comparable the boats were, given their differences in dimensions and in age of design. Portsmouth Yardstick rates the H18 as the faster boat, but SCHRS rates the Shark as the faster boat. It seemed to me that the Sharks point higher, but we seemed pretty evenly matched upwind and the H18 seemed noticeably faster downwind (probably due to the weight savings). We were flying a hull most of the time where they only flew occasionally, and we were double trapped where most of them didn't even have one person trapped.

Shark / H18
20’-0” / 18’-0” LOA
10’-0” / 8’-0” Beam
28’-6” / 28’-6” Mast
244 / 240 sq ft total Sail Area
164 / 172 sq ft main
80 / 68 sq ft jib
450 lb/ 400 lbs
73.0 / 71.4 D-PN
1.080*/ 1.091 SCHRS

*To calculate the Sharks SCHRS rating, I used the data from their by laws, and assumed a waterline length of 17 ft and a dagger length of 3 ft. I did not include mast area in mainsail area (10 sq ft)... Does anyone know if the 172 sq ft for the H18 is including or excluding mast area?
https://web.archive.org/web/20120307130 ... Bylaws.htm
http://sailboatdata.com/viewrecord.asp?class_id=4218

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:20 am 
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Well done and entertaining video!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:33 pm 
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Location: Dunedin, FL
Did the crew half falling off pull the rudders? Looked like that’s what caused the capsize?

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2018 2:23 pm 
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mmiller wrote:
Well done and entertaining video!

Thanks Matt!

TAMUmpower wrote:
Did the crew half falling off pull the rudders? Looked like that’s what caused the capsize?

No, I think we got hit by a wind gust from abeam and the windward hull lifted up on me quick. Even though I was at a pretty deep angle relative to the course, I must've been closer to a beam reach than a broad reach. I unfortunately had only the jib sheet in hand, not the main, so I blew the jib which did nothing for me. I was surprised that the hull lifted up on us downwind like that.

My crew was a little out of position, but during the first downwind leg I had him forward on the leeward hull to help lift the sterns/windward hull and lengthen the waterline. On the second downwind leg, the wind was much stronger, but I didn't realize it at first. I had him go leeward, but when we kept digging in that bow he moved all the way aft. I didn't think to tell him to move to windward until I saw the video and said "what were you doing on that side!?"

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:00 am 
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Location: France
strange looking boat. I never aw a Shark Catamaran before. Are they popular in the US?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 1:21 pm 
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Not really. They were mostly built in the 1960's, and I believe there were just a few dozen of them built... most built by one guy out of his garage. But the fleet has remained active over the years, and they have a dedicated group that maintains and sails them regularly. They have about a dozen of them that race on the finger lakes in Western NY, and they hold a number of competitive races a year and even a national championship. Aside from the dozen in the finger lakes, there's a handful of boats scattered up and down the east coast of the US. The boats are built with a wooden "trampoline" and hinges on the centerline, so the boats fold in half to fit on an 8' wide trailer. They're actually very sharp looking boats, and surprisingly fast for their age!


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 4:15 am 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Hi Mike, Great video and editing. Well done. I have never seen a Shark Cat before so it was very interesting to see them.
A few tips: when you are going upwind: you can sheet in a LOT more on the mainsail. This will provide more acceleration which will force you to sail a few degrees higher but the boat can sustain that. Also, both you and your crew should be trapezing a lot closer to the water, even in those wave conditions. The crew can also stand further aft, allowing the boat to drive more over the waves rather than though the waves. Also, try a LOT more mast rake. So much so that the mainsheet sheet system will be much closer block-to-block. By doing ALL of these things you will find the boat is not as tippy, is more controlled, and more pleasant to sail. When doing all of this, you can also pull more mainsail downhaul cunningham on to ensure all of the wrinkles are out of the main.

When going downwind: you can run the traveller much further out, almost to the inner gunwale of the hull. Then pull the mainsheet in a little firmer, this will allow you more control to dump the mainsheet in the gusts. I think you already know this, but you can run much lower angle downwind. You were broad reaching, not going downwind, so your VMG would be not as good.

Downwind tactics: you should have gybed just before the Shark Cat, not crossed him and then gybed. By gybing after the Shark Cat you are then in his wind shadow and he has the opportunity to pass you and come down on to your line which automatically forces you behind him. By gybing just before you cross him, forces the Shark Cat to then have to follow you and they sit in your dirty air.

The crew on the downwind can stay on the low side, but in that much breeze they need to sit all the way back near the mainsheet system. Not standing and pulling on the leeward side of the boom.

In a big puff like when you capsized, you MUST pull away. Never point up, not even a tiny bit otherwise you will capsize. Pull away and dump mainsheet. You can keep the jib slightly on to help pull the bow away. Upwind = point up to depower. Downwind = point down to depower. Reaching: dump lots of mainsheet and jib sheet. Don't point up or point down.

Here is a video link of me sailing with my daughter (her first time on the Hobie 18 and first time on trapeze for about 8 years). You can see how much mainsheet we are pulling. How low we are trapezing, but how high we point compared to the other boats that start above us, but end up below us.

https://www.hobie18.fun/gallery-videos

I hope you enjoy it.

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Hobie 18 classic
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Boat name: 18@heart
www.hobie18.fun
https://www.facebook.com/Hobie18catamaran/


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 8:08 am 
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Location: Nepean S.C. Ottawa, Canada
Excellent analysis John.
What is your opinion re cleating the mainsheet? I never do....'cos whenever I have, we capsize!
Also, shouldn't the crew handle the jib?

more video's please....

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:40 am 
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Location: Jersey Shore
John Forbes wrote:
The crew can also stand further aft, allowing the boat to drive more over the waves rather than though the waves.


I agree with this one. The crew should definitely be standing back farther upwind. We virtually never have the crew trapped out in front of the front crossbar (maybe in light, single trap conditions). In the conditions shown in the video, I would have my crew straddling the shroud or possibly even with the front foot at the shroud. Crew weight aft upwind not only helps the boat go over waves (rather than through them, as John pointed out), but it also gets more of the bow out of the water an more rudder in the water. This makes the boat easier to steer, so you can make small angle adjustements to account for changes in the wind, rather than having to make large sheet adjustments.

Regarding using the cleat, I don't know how you could pull in and maintain enough mainsheet tension in a blow without using the cleat. If you capsize everytime you cleat the mainsheet, then you need to either 1) get a better set of cleats, 2) adjust your cleat angle to make it easier to un-cleat, or 3) practice cleating and un-cleating from the wire.

sm


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:58 am 
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Writer's hyperbole.....
we don't capsize EVERY time I cleat, it just seems that every capsize happened while we were cleated, and I could not release quickly enough.

The mainsheet is Robbline 10 mm, and have converted to a 7:1 main block stack, (from an Inter-20) and the jaws are excellent.
Our upwind legs are typically 1/2 mile or so, which doesn't take long, so hand holding the main is never really an issue.

So maybe I need to practice this more when out on the wings. If the tornados would stay away, we'd have more sailing time.

I like the advice re crew position. T Y

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:22 am 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
I use an 8:1 mainsheet system. Quad block on the top. Triple with extra block on the bottom. I use 8mm rope on both the mainsheet and jib sheet lines.

If you visit my boats own Facebook page I have posted heaps of photos. The ALBUMS page can direct you to the various photos. I have published photos of just about everything on my boat so everyone can see my tips and tricks.

There should be some videos there too.

I have a long saddle on my mainsheet cleat so it doesn’t cleat upwind but can cleat downwind if I need it to. And so the system can rotate towards me from tack to tack.

Crew lower.
Sheet harder.
Downhaul more.
Crew aft.
More mast rake. Then more again. (My photos show how to measure mast rake).
Point higher.
Go faster with more comfort.

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Hobie 18 classic
Sail # 490
Boat name: 18@heart
www.hobie18.fun
https://www.facebook.com/Hobie18catamaran/


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 6:41 pm 
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John Forbes wrote:
Hi Mike, Great video and editing. Well done. I have never seen a Shark Cat before so it was very interesting to see them.
A few tips...

Wow, Thanks John! I very much appreciate the feedback! Given that I rarely race with other H18's, my technique is mostly based on what I've read and just plain sailing the boat, so it's great to have some feedback on what I could do differently.
John Forbes wrote:
when you are going upwind: you can sheet in a LOT more on the mainsail. This will provide more acceleration which will force you to sail a few degrees higher but the boat can sustain that. Also, both you and your crew should be trapezing a lot closer to the water, even in those wave conditions. The crew can also stand further aft, allowing the boat to drive more over the waves rather than though the waves. Also, try a LOT more mast rake. So much so that the mainsheet sheet system will be much closer block-to-block. By doing ALL of these things you will find the boat is not as tippy, is more controlled, and more pleasant to sail. When doing all of this, you can also pull more mainsail downhaul cunningham on to ensure all of the wrinkles are out of the main.

I could tell that my mainsail wanted to come in, that the windward telltales were lifting a lot and the luff of the main was fluttering, but I couldn't get the sail in any tighter. It was frustrating me, but I just decided to sail the best course I could with my sails trimmed as tight as I could get them. I don't play with mast rake very much, but I had actually raked it back further than usual. I suppose I must typically sail with a fairly forward mast rake, but I set it at the 106" recommended by the H18 Performance Manual. Good to know that I should be raking it much more in heavier wind. With regards to our weight, it seemed as though we had better speed when he moved a little further forward, I figured we were just dragging our sterns too much between the gusts.
John Forbes wrote:
When going downwind: you can run the traveller much further out, almost to the inner gunwale of the hull. Then pull the mainsheet in a little firmer, this will allow you more control to dump the mainsheet in the gusts. I think you already know this, but you can run much lower angle downwind. You were broad reaching, not going downwind, so your VMG would be not as good.

Whenever I've sailed downwind with my traveller further out, my boat speed always seems to suffer, even if my mainsheet was in tighter. I thought my course was pretty good, at about 90 degrees to the apparent wind, which I thought should've been pretty close to my best VMG downwind. My understanding of ideal downwind course for a broad reach was with the traveller in line with the hiking strap, about 6" inboard from the gunwale. I'll have to play around with traveller position and mainsheet position next time I'm out, and see if I can point any lower. Downwind especially, it seems like there's always a lot of room for improvement!

Again, I appreciate all the feedback from someone who races H18's regularly, I'll just have to play around with it some more! Still trying to get my local fleet more into racing, they have a number of H18's. Would be fun to have a fleet to race against!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 7:26 am 
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After taking another look at the video, I have to agree with John's assessment - definitely not enough sheet tension upwind, and certainly looks like some more rake could be used.

If you're having trouble sheeting in all the way upwind, the first thing you should do is pull on more downhaul. Adding downhaul tension will make it easier to pull in the mainsheet (and adding mainsheet tension will make it easier to pull on more downhaul - the two work together). The added downhaul tension will also settle the boat down. If you still can't bring in the sheet all the way, then it's time to drop the traveler a few inches.

Sailing upwind with the main sheeted out and the jib sheeted hard will push the bow down and affect your ability to point. Combine that with a crew standing too far forward and upwind performance will suffer.

Our general process for upwind "gear shifting" is mainsheet and downhaul gradually get tighter as wind speed increases. Continue to pull on downhaul until the downhaul blocks are within about an inch of the gooseneck. Then start dropping the traveler. The jib sheet can also be eased slightly (maybe an inch or two max) to ensure the slot is not closed off.

Downwind is always a balance between running high and going for speed or going deep a little slower but with better angle. A lot of this comes from feel and having time on the water. I generally find that in lighter wind (say 15mph or less), you're better off going deeper and sacrificing some speed. When the wind comes up, you can really take advantage of the boost in apparent wind speed, and pulling the traveler in a few inches and sheeting tighter pays off.

sm


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:28 am 
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Yep, SRM from Jersey Shore is correct on nearly everything. The key to upwind speed is more mainsheet, then more downhaul, then more mainsheet, then more downhaul, then more mainsheet........

I run 8:1 mainsheet and 8:1 downhaul. Photos of both systems are on my boats Facebook page. In the breeze strength in your video you can pull both as much as possible. Keep pulling until you rip the halyard hook off the top of the mast, then rivet it on stronger so you can pull some more.

I differ to SRM in that I never let the traveller car out upwind. If you get to that point, then you should pull more downhaul. I also never let the jib out when sailing upwind in strong breeze. Because of the design of the boat I t is impossible on a standard H18 to close the slot too much between the jib and the main. If you look on my photos you will see my (controversial) jib sheeting system where I actually bring the jib blocks inboard. I don’t wish to open Pandora’s box with this comment, but I do prefer it inboard for many reasons including: its easier for the crew to uncleat, you don’t smash your knees or bum on the blocks and track and car, it stops the jib track corroding the tramp track and you also need less jib sheet.

With mast rake, I’m not familiar with the H18 Manual and 106”. In Australia we measure the trapeze wire to the bridle pin at the tang and then swing the trapeze wire aft until it touches the gunwale aft of the rear beam. In the old days the trap wire would touch the rear beam or maybe even half way back to the transom. These days we are so far back with rake that we are now measuring about 2” down the transom (as opposed to measuring off the back of the boat). Again, an album in my boats Facebook page has photos of this measuring technique. We run this maximum rake in all conditions, light wind and gale force.

Enjoy

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Hobie 18 classic
Sail # 490
Boat name: 18@heart
www.hobie18.fun
https://www.facebook.com/Hobie18catamaran/


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:01 am 
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John Forbes wrote:
I differ to SRM in that I never let the traveller car out upwind. If you get to that point, then you should pull more downhaul. I also never let the jib out when sailing upwind in strong breeze.


As I said in my earlier post, the traveler is only dropped by a few inches and only after the downhaul has been pulled in all the way (i.e., within an inch of the gooseneck). If you’re still overpowered at that point, the only options are reduce sheet or drop the traveler, so we drop the traveler.

Regarding easing the jib, again, this is only done in very windy conditions where the downhaul has been cranked in all the way, the traveler has been dropped a few inches, and now the slot is being closed off. You can see this happening when the lower part of the mainsail starts to luff/invert. If we notice this happening, we may reduce jib sheet tension very slightly (like I said, only an inch or two max). The next step in depowering would be to furl the jib. This is more or less the progression we take follow to depower the boat upwind as the wind strength increases.

sm


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