Monday, November 14, 2005

Is Rum a Cure for Depression?

Tropical Depressions that is. Tropical depression 27 is forecast to pass by Jamaica on Friday, just 2 days after we land. I have been tracking the storm and will continue to track it in the hopes that it passes by without too much force.

On the upside it presents a great opportunity to drink copious amounts of rum while waiting for the skies to clear. It also presents a great opportunity to do some killer sailing on Thursday if the winds are not too strong! Otherwise I will be spending a good deal of time on the edge of the centreboard!

I still have lots of packing to do so most likely won't get to the blog till I get back!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Virtual Spectator

Had the opportunity to load up Virtual Spectator for the Volvo Ocean Race. What a great way of including fans in the action. The telemetry data is amazing and the graphics give you a great sense of the overall race. Checked this morning and two of the boats had to turn back to port suffering damage. I was able to log on and watch as one of the boats tacked back and forth as if out of control and then go through the weather data, boat speed, VMG and other data to see what was going on.

Big kudos to the Volvo Ocean race and Virtual Spectator, and the sponsors who paid for us to be able to view the race in detail for free. Almost (not quite but almost) would make getting a PC worthwhile. I hope in the future the producers of Virtual Spectator will take into account the Macintosh community.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Virtual Non-Spectator For Mac

Woke up this morning hyped. The Volvo Ocean race started this morning, checked my e-mail for the update and...what's this? Virtual spectator for the Volvo Ocean race has finally arrived! Details were slim on the website. A desktop application that promises to deliver race results like never before. Putting you right there close to the action. As the site put it:

Observe the racing from the deck Brasil 1, view the rest of the fleet from the top of the mast of The Black Pearl, or follow the movement of the fleet from the outer reaches of earth's atmosphere as the 6-hourly updates give you the latest positions of the race participants.

Move backwards in time and view the historical moves of the competitors. Look ahead to the expected weather systems, and anticipate how each of the boats will react.

Perfect! I can follow the race, analyze the competitors tactics...learn from the pro's. But wait... the last line reads...Please Note: Virtual Spectator is only available for PC

No up virtual PC and run it from that...NOT. Sorry Mac folks, no dice. If you have a PC and check it out let me know what you think. Download it here.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ok...Now the Season is Over

Woke up this morning to the site of little white flakes gently falling from the sky. No accumulation but mentally puts an end to the sailing season for me :-(

The light at the end of the tunnel is Jamaica in 7 days :-). Temp is 84 and sunny with consistent. 10-15kt winds over the last 2 weeks. Looking forward to a lot of sailing.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The First Leg | Advanced Sail Theory

So this post may appeal to some and not to others. Apologies in advance to the latter. My knowledge hungry tendencies have gotten the best of me yet again and I have managed to dig up some articles on advanced sail theory in the hopes of better understanding the dynamics of the sail and how it applies to trim, speed and pointing. Although one or two of the articles are way to in-depth for me I thought best to present them anyways. Someone out there may benefit!

The first article, albeit a bit hard to read grammatically, gives an overview of the couples and forces on the sail and boat. The article is pointed towards an understanding of the tendencies of the boat to turn into the wind, and focuses on better boat balance through an understanding of the dynamics. The article is a part of written by Pim Geurts, and is the section titled couples and forces.

The next article, Tuning, is another from the same site and covers sail shape and twist. A good read with some good visual explanations.

The next two articles are from Arvel Gentry (Boeing Commercial Airline Company ), although a bit dated at 1981, they have in-depth information on sail theory and lift principles as well as notes on airflow separation and sail interaction. The first is A Review of Modern Sail Theory. This one is pretty packed with technical information and theory.

The second article from Arvel is titled Aerodynamics of Sail Interaction. The abstract for the paper is as follows:
"This paper deals with the basic problem of the interaction between a mainsail and the jib. Since this paper is written for the sailor rather than the aerodynamicist, all aerodynamic terms and concepts are developed and explained as they are needed. The characteristics of the flow about the jib and mainsail airfoils when they are each used alone and when they are used together are discussed and illustrated. Results from these flow field studies give a very complete and accurate description of the jib-mainsail interaction problem.".

A pretty intense read but worth it if this type of information appeals to you.

Think I have beat this topic to a pulp so next post will carry on with the first leg and get into the next phase which will be "the critical first tactical move".

Monday, November 07, 2005

The First Leg | Mainsail Controls

The main sail (in most instances) has the most possibilities of adjustment when it comes to trim. The controls include halyard tension, mainsheet, outhaul, cunnigham, boom vang and backstay tension and traveller. The J is particularly sensitive to minor adjustments to the main. A little traveller, or mainsheet, or a little boom vang makes a noticeable difference.

Positioning and depth the draft of the sail is the key power in the main sail and ultimately speed. The key to speed is lift and creating the surface area to provide lift. The controls are all designed to move and position the draft to ultimately balance between boatspeed and weatherhelm. Too much heel is slow. Generally each boat has an optimum heel angle which should be maintained.

Here are a number of resources for mainsail trim and controls. The first couple are from Sailnet. The first is a good look at the mainsail and explains each control and its general purpose for overall sail shape. It comes in 2 parts. Part 1 of "Mainsail Controls for Performance" can be found here.. It covers halyard, cunningham and outhaul adjustments. The second half of the article covers backstay and boom vang.

The second article from Sailnet, "Basic Mainsail Trim for Racers" Part 1 and Part 2 are more specific to racing and deal more with the angle of attack and twist of the sail, and explores the concept of shape and power more. The article, by Pete Colby, deals with chord length and surface area and other advanced concepts. Very good read.

Performance Racing - Mainsail Trim & Controls by Bill Gladstone deals with some of the same details as the above articles and offers some good visual cues to demonstrate the closed and open leech and twist as well as a good visual that shows how backstay tension affects the main. Also deals with balancing the boat between speed, pointing and weatherhelm.

This article by North Sails is goes over the basic controls as well. If you have read the top few it may not offer much more info

Some J specific links to mainsail trim. First from JWorld Articles, secondly from the J24 class site written by Geoff Moore. If you are a J24 sailor you probably have checked them out already. If not there are a few good tips and vantage points that might help. The Geoff Moore article has some insights into mast pre-bend and the importance of tuning. Will be reading this one again when stepping the mast next season.

Bill Holcomb has written an article (primarily for a Catalina) regarding weatherhelm, indicators and ways to adjust for it. One of the ways is adjusting the main and or controls. Worth a peak, deals with some other factors such as weight distribution etc.

I know this one is a repeat from the a previous post on trim but here it is again. North Sails mainsail trim. Has animated visuals and is broken down into sections for easy reference.

Another article by Geoff Moore written for Shore Sails. Not J24 specific and deals with more general concepts of mast bend. Has some good analogies and ways to look at sail shape. Some interesting insights into reading the mainsail control positions to determine keel and mast position and rake and whether they are in balance with the boat. Will give this one another read before stepping the mast as well.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Somewhat Live or Memorex

Live: (or at least taped, digitized and put up for streaming)
Canada, unfortunately, does not have as large a sailing community as Europe. The major networks favour the major sports (hey...Business is Business). With broadband expanding to the point of video-on-demand service, we are getting closer and closer to the concept of the sailing channel, web tv on demand. For now though here are a few resources that will help those cope with a lack of sail coverage., broadband, subscription based video, as well as a free section with good video tips. As they put it: "From major sailing regattas, throughout the US and Caribbean, to sailing destinations, to the sailors, the boats and the sport, covers it all with same day coverage for major regattas. With over 50 features and 100 shows including events, news, interviews, and destinations, is the place to see sailing.", an excellent idea. Nice interface. Very similar to But from what I can see it has up to 2004, but has not been updated since (...not sure what happened there?)

Adventures Online, more up-to-date then, has some laser events and cat event coverage.

For those who prefer to make their own reality and command the seas in the safety of their desk, there is Virtual Skipper 4, coming soon. Great graphics....Most likely will not be available for the mac and from experience (version 3) will not work with virtual PC. May have to buy a PC laptop for this one!

Friday, November 04, 2005

The First Leg | Sail Trim 2.0

I think the reason sailing appeals to me so much is my passion for understanding and mastering artforms. Although very scientific and rooted in mathematics, design and physics, sailing is an artform that requires finesse and a subtleness that is mastered like music or painting. It is the feel of the brushstroke and pressure along with the consistency of the mix of paint, or the brightness of a note or feeling the vibration of the string on the violin or guitar that creates the effect. Masters of any artform have an underlying understanding of the fundamental principles that govern their world. It is the colour theory and basic shape theory for the visual artist (the fundamental building blocks of all objects), and the principles of light, material and refraction of light, that enable them to reproduce with stunning realism on the canvas.

Where am I going with this? Understanding sail trim and mastering it requires knowledge of the underlying principles of aerodynamics, the physics of airflow, the physics of lift. I am not an engineer, or mathematician, but consistently reading articles and researching the underlying physics makes it easier for me to understand the feel of the sail and what I need to do to achieve the results I want.

Having said that I have another list of trim and sail theory. Some are a little more in depth and technical but great resources. Here we go:

A great interactive place to start is the National Geographic Volvo sail trim simulation. An interactive flash guide to trim. It allows you to adjust the rudder and trim the mainsail and immediately see the effects on speed on all points of sail. I have this posted on my permanent links so sorry to those who have accessed it there. Think it a great place to review or start.

Another place to start is overall review of the sailing basics. Vega Sailing School, (for catamarans) has a site that explores the basics of Apparent wind, Sail Trim, Changes in the Wind, Balance and has sections on sail trim simplified and a section more in-depth.

Basic fundamentals of sail theory. A good primer. Has good visuals and quite in-depth

Stanford Yacht Research: An explanation of Sail Flow Analysis. Another great in-depth resource for understanding how the wind reacts over the combined main and jib together. Good reference for understanding the slot principle and airflow dynamics.

Sail Twist from Another in-depth look at the jib and how the luff and leech effect the attack on the wind to deflect the airflow over the main. This site has a link to spreadsheets for those who crave numbers and formulas. For those who don't it is still a good read with information that can help in the understanding process.

A technical note from WB Sails which explores the Effects of the Side Bend of the Mast. Will help with smaller boats and dinghies more than the larger boats where stay tuning is more of a factor.

A few sites I have saved till last because they may be repeats for some. US Sailing sail trim article. From the Miami Valley MYC Newsletter, a quick reference guide to trim in different air velocity conditions. And finally a sail trim guide (pdf format) from Quantum Sails. A viewpoint from a sailmaker. Has some good visuals and information.

I will save the really technical articles and published info on sail theory for another post or include it in a separate sidebar.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The First Leg | Trim, Trim, Trim

As promised here is a list of urls I think worthy of a good read. The first is Performance Racing Trim, Boat Speed, Boat Handling and the Racing Pyramid. Refer to chapter 3 on sail trim. Written by Bill Gladstone and NU Seminars. The article covers basic lift principles, sail shape (with lots of visual references as a guide). The article is a good starting point for sail trim for both main and jib. Lots of useful information here. The complete book can be ordered here.

This link The Quest for the Perfect Shape, is an article I had referred to early in my blogging and I think it is in the permanent links. The site deals with the "think as one" principle. Trimming the sails as if they are one large airfoil to maximize lift.

The good sail trimmer is constantly in search of the right shape for the conditions or desired condition (speed vs pointing). This North Sails article Upwind Sail Trim Techniques explores the role of the trimmer and goes through the thought process and actions taken.

Wally Cross tackles trim from many different angles in this article. Lots of useful information here. Worth a read. May need to re-visit this article for some downwind tips as well.

Neil Pryde Sails published an owners manual for their sails. Some nice information from a sail designers perspective on trim and helm balance.

A short but insightful reference regarding proper sail trim. Some pointers for novice trimmers regarding oversheeting. Also a good reference to the frequency of trimming. Covers tell tales which I will include references for as well. Written for a Hobie but useful principles here.

USA sailing keelboat course: sail trim and shape is a primer with some good visual references and links to follow.

This site has a great visual library of sails trimmed well and poorly. Helps put trim into a visual context and helps give you a visual of good sail shape. I like to look at the overall shape. Also great visual reference to know when your sails are NOT trimmed!!

SAIL Magazine's Sailing Tips by Michael Tamulaites, Associate Editor, a great in depth look at trimming the jib. Changing the jib halyard tension to achieve better sail shape are some of the experiments we did this year on the water. Not sure how much of a difference it made, I did not have an accurate system set up at the time to record any statistics. I will review this article again before spring time and plan a sail trim day or two on the water to experiment and log the different variations.

This sail trim sim is a useful visual utility for sail trim. It shows you various tell tale positions, camber and is very interactive. Great for testing some scenarios out and getting a visual grasp of trim.

North Sails also has an interactive page, a little less in depth but deals with main twist and tension. Definitely worth a gander.

A great site for tell tales is Telling Tales. Using the tell tales can tell you when your sail is in proper trim. I use the tell tales to steer by and check proper airflow with the ones on the leech of the main and jib. A very important concept to get your head around. Airflow is the key to speed and lift.

UK Sailmakers has good technical data on sail composition and some trimming techniques. Mostly technical data related to making the sails. A good secondary reference. has a quick guide to sail trim. Short, concise (a little visually hard to read) but otherwise some good advise in quick point form.

Hope these sites are not redundant and offer some good starting points. Still searching and bookmarking.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The First Leg | Trim for One

The most important trim concept with a main and jib is to think of the two sails as one large airfoil. The overall shape of the two combined sails defines the lift and speed that the boat will have. Trimming should follow a sequence with the main trimmed first to balance the helm. The mainsheet and traveller should be the primary controls in lighter winds, and as wind builds adjust the outhaul first until the draft is 30-40% aft of the luff (the power pocket), then begin adjusting the boom vang to flatten or close the leech. Once the wind builds to the point where all available bodies are on the rail, use the backstay adjustment to open the leech.

After every adjustment, re-check the overall trim again. It is usually necessary to adjust the jib once you have properly shaped the main for overall foil shape. The slot or groove of the foil should be even all the way up. If it is uneven the airflow will not be optimal.

The jib draft (power pocket) is adjusted by moving the cars forward and back. One thing I will be doing this year is drilling holes in the jib lead track in between the factory holes to fine tune adjustments on the jib.

Have been researching sail trim sites and will have a nice list compiled shortly. Some good resources out there. Look for them in the next post.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Seadated Podcast Now Available

My search never ends for informative sailing and racing content on the web. Of all the content available on the web you would think there would be more on sailing, racing in particular. With more and more bloggers entering the scene and one-click publishing picking up speed the content is slowly being made available. Apple introducing the new video i-pod will help drive video based content as well.

The Seadated blog, one of the sites I frequent has just launched a podcast based on the popular site. In the premiere podcast the author of the site, and host of the podcast Claude Nix, gives a rundown on what kind of content he will cover where he will take the podcast over time. One Comment in particular caught my attention from his initial podcast. He remarks that when he sails on Kahuna he is "like a sponge" and is tries to learn as much from the rest of the crew that he can. Love his attitude and lack of ego. The only way to learn is to admit what you don't know and then find out how to do it. His podcast has a great tone and is very informative. Please check him out and give him your support. He is an apple user, as am I, so that, in itself is another reason for support (lol)!

His latest podcast deals with protests, the do's and don't of witnessing and filing them. Some great information here and comments along with some personal observations. I have been waiting for a podcast like this to come around, very glad the sailing community has a new resource like this.

The only way to make sailing and racing content on the web better is to propagate and support those who put it out there for everyone else.