sail cloth, sail fibers, sail making

 

I am presenting a lecture seminar on the subject topic this Thursday, tomorrow, 16 Feb 2017 at Newport Yacht Club, Long Wharf in Newport. All are welcome.

This is the presentation overview and the things I will be discussing.

Fiber, fabric, film and fabrication

  • What does a sail have to do?
  • What is required to do this?
  • Background on fibers and their properties
  • Weaving 101
  • Mylar properties
  • Laminates
  • Laminated method
  • “String sails”
  • What’s next?
  • What does the weekend sailor make of this?

And thanks to Hood Sailmakers and Dimension Polyant for the cloth samples.

Hood Sailmakers is paving the way by sponsoring the drinks to the tune of the first $150 of drinks served.

This is the email flier that Roy Guay, my host for the evening and the Chairman of the Bermuda 1-2 distributed to the club’s membership.

On 16 February at 1830 the Newport Yacht Club is trying to start a Winter Lecture Series. Our own Joe Cooper will be giving a talk on Sailcloth and Sails: “Separating marketing from facts to get to Value: A discussion of Sailcloth and things to look for and why for various types of sailing. What does “Premium Dacron” really mean? Why every sail maker has “The world’s best sails” What’s the difference? Woven, Laminates, fibers, molded, not molded, a glossary and guide to sail-maker speak.”

If you are in the neighborhood drop on by. All are welcome.

Roy Guay
Offshore Chairman

Cooper in action at a seminar in California last year.

Cooper in action at a seminar in California last year.

Hope to see you there.

Cheers

Coop

 

Hall Spars Carbon mast for a Gunboat 90

One of the great aspects of my life is I get to wander around boat yards and so see lots of really interesting and innovative things to do with boats. Very kid in a candy store stuff. A couple of days ago I was at the Hinckley/Hunt marina complex in Portsmouth RI when I came across two Hall technicians prepping a Carbon mast to be returned to its boat, a 90 foot Gunboat catamaran.

Hall Spars has long been a leader in the construction of Carbon fiber masts. Brothers Ben and Eric Hall have been building spars for pushing 40 years and carbon masts, booms, kite poles and other carbon bits for probably 25 plus years. This brief post shows some pictures of parts of the mast and some commentary from me. Enjoy.

This first image, below, is of the bottom of the mast. The rig is a partial wing mast (NOT a wing sail), which means that it is perhaps 700 mm long (fore and aft-Compare with the ladder or my coffee cup on the ladder) and is much more wing shaped, albeit thicker, as wings go, than a conventional spar.

gunboat-mast-step-1

There are a number of reasons for using a wing shaped mast on a fast boat, not the least of which is to reduce drag as the airflow begins to pass over the sail. The drag from conventional shaped, (roughly oval in cross section) adds up when you do the math to sum the cross sectional frontal area exposed to the wind. An additional benefit of wing masts is there is a lot less standing rigging required to hold the mast up-This has long been a benefit of multihulls because of the wide staying base.

A wide staying base reduces the loads on the mast, and also the amount of rigging needed to keep it up. With the elimination of multiple sets of spreaders, and intricate standing rigging, the mast can be this wing shape.

Today, composite standing rigging is certainly lighter and stronger than any metal rigging, but composite standing rigging is thicker in cross section, so having less of it is a big plus. The image below is of the ‘bobstay’ securing the top of the deck spreaders to the hull on No way out, the latest IMOCA 60 from VPLP/Verdier. The acute angle demands stronger, so thicker material, but  you get the idea.

img_0682

The bobstay, is secured to the hull in some invisible fashion, below. Notice that all of this is so the boat can have its own partial wing mast, or vice versa…

img_0681

Finally the drag goes up exponentially with the speed, so a cat or tri (Like Spindrift, shown in the featured image) is incorporated into the sail area and sail shape for considerations of sail shape.

The facility of wide shroud base has transitioned into the IMOCA 60 boats, (seen below is ‘No way out’) such as those in the Vendee Globe presently underway.

This latest generation IMOCA 60 has the now common deck spreaders and wing shection mast. The spreaders are to get a wide shroud base, to minize the compression on the spar so it can be a but lighter. Many many Excel spreadsheet Cells were sacrificed in figuring out the cost benefit of this arrangemebt.

This latest generation IMOCA 60 has the now common deck spreaders and wing section mast. The spreaders are to get a wide shroud base, to minimize the compression on the spar so it can be a bit lighter. Many, many Excel spreadsheet Cells were sacrificed in figuring out the cost benefit of this arrangement.

The variations in the size of wing masts are as varied as the boats themselves, as this picture below, of Spindrift, shows. (Spindrift Racing was kind enough to let me have some of the Prout Sailing Team visit Spindrift a couple of years ago.) On the forward side of the mast, at the base, you can see the rotating quadrant with tackle attached. See too, the knife in the yellow sheath, just next to Julia’s left calf…..

img_5602

Back to the Gunboat mast.

Because it is a wing mast, it is deck stepped so it can be rotated. (Or perhaps it is the other way around. It is stepped on deck so it CAN BE a wing mast). To achieve this rotational ability, there are two unique details. The bronze colored circle in the middle is the fitting, slightly concave, which lands on top of its mate on the mast step, on the boat. It is basically a bearing surface for the mast to sit on, so it can rotate.

gunboat-mast-step-2

The half circle looking part is on the forward side of the mast. It is, and so acts like, a quadrant, in a wheel steering system providing a lever arm to move the spar. There are control lines mounted to it and when actuated, these lines can turn the mast thru, what looks like 90 degrees, but is probably only 45 degrees, either side of fore and aft, in practice. You can see these more clearly in the Spindrift images, above.

This closer detail shows a remarkable piece of carbon detailing and finish work. Smooth, shiny and undoubtedly strong. It is as much a work of artisan craftsmanship as an engineering part for a 90-foot high-speed sailboat.

gunboat-mast-rotation-quadrent-detail

Built into the base of the mast is a detail to accept the halyard turning blocks. This design is necessary because the (aft side of the) mast moves thru, perhaps 12-18 inches when being rotated, so incorporating the blocks mounted onto the mast eliminates the traditional idea of mounting them to the deck with big pad eyes thru bolted.

gunboat-mast-base-blocks

This traditional method would not be very successful in any event because the halyard’s lead out of the mast would be moving all over the place as the mast rotates. In keeping with the proliferation of using cordage in lieu of metal for securing things to the boat, these Harken blocks are looped onto the mast with large diameter spectra. The Harken Velcro straps stop the loop from separating when there is no load on the block. The little piece of light line is probably to keep the Velcro attached to the boat when working on the block

At the loads the sails on these boats generate the engineers must consider the transfer of this load thru the (main) sail’s leech to the mast track.  In this picture, a section of track is the pewter colored piece on the aft side, the bottom, of the of the mast in the image. The loads on this boat, when sailing full speed, close to the wind, with a fully hoisted main are considerable. Bear in mind that a 90 foot cat, particularly a light fast one, generates the kinds of sail loads roughly equal to a 140-150 foot monohull

gunboat-masthead-track-reinforcing

And just as much load is generated when reefed. This next image shows the beefy metal (I did not ask what) at the reefs too. The luff track/batten car slider system is suitably large Ronstan ball bearing equipment. This construction detailing on the spar of course requires considerable communications between the Sailmakers and the mast builders as to where the head of the sail will land when the sail is reefed.

gunboat-mast-track-reinforcement-for-reefs

Another detail to do with the huge loads on this (these) boat (s) is that they do not use ‘conventional’ jib halyards & furlers but rather the foresails are on ‘free luff’ furlers. These furlers have become pretty commonplace on high test boats from Class 40’s to Ultimate trimarans, like Spindrift, above.The dead weight of the sail and furler combination is lighter than a conventional aluminum section (or Carbon sections on bigger boats) and can offer the option, quite often exercised of removing the sail and stay completely. The benefit to this of course is to, again, reduce drag and weight aloft and, incidentally, improve stability. The concept and equipment for this kind of free luff furler comes from the reaching Genoas used on furlers for the solo offshore race boats for perhaps the past 20 plus years that has now trickled down to all manner of boats. In order for the loads to be accommodated, the sails/stays are secured by halyard locks. The idea of halyard locks has been around for a while–many smaller boats, Finns, Etchells, and so on have halyard locks, for the mainsail at least, and have had for years.

gunboat-halyard-lock-2

The contemporary high-load halyard lock is a bit more sophisticated though. The rigging of this halyard lock and free luff sail arrangement involves a ‘stay’of a lightweight composite fiber manufactured for the purpose, being captured inside a luff tape on the jib and secured to the head and tack of the sail.This idea is basically like the luff-wire in the jib of a 420-dinghy jib for instance. The rolled up sail is hoisted on a ‘halyard’ that is really just a length of line, robust enough, to hoist the sail and, when hoisted, the top of the stay is introduced into this metal lock and is thus held in place with no load on the ‘halyard’. The lock is held to the suitably reinforced part of the mast with Spectra loops, seen below.

gunboat-halyard-lock-1

This reduces weight in the mast because the sheave area does not have to be so strong as to resist the halyard tension, rotating over the sheave at about a 160 degree turn and the (hoisting) sheave itself can be much smaller, just big enough to sustain the loads of pulling the sail up. This absence of halyard load reduces the compression on the spar,(cf halyard loads in previous sentence) another element contributing to the weight (savings) in the mast. No (conventional) halyard means fewer blocks at the base of the mast, or winches and clutches on the mast and so on. The lock is probably one of the few metal parts on this mast. The lock hardware thus has a padded jacket around it to protect the (beautiful) carbon work the mast represents.

gunboat-halyard-lock-3

The above view is up through the tunnel which the part to be locked, the top of the stay, fits.

The stay is tensioned by some combination of tackle, winch or hydraulics as seen on, again, the IMOCA 60, No Way Out.

Stay tensioning system on IMOCA 60 No way out

As noted, wing masts have a lot less standing rigging that a conventional mast, but they are not without some rigging. The picture below shows the additional layers of carbon laminated in  and around where the spreaders pass thru the mast. The technique the Hall folks use is a layup over a mandrel, so the outside of the mast shows all the effort put into the work by the technicians actually laying the fibers onto the  spar. Truly, art meets science. The shiny-ness of the mast is probably due to a clear coat paint job.

 

gunboat-mast-spreaders-reinforcing

The engineering of these masts is pretty complex and must take into account all manner of multi-directional loads, both static AND dynamic and peak loads, as when sailing into the back-side of a wave at 30-35 knots and slowing down rapidly to 20 knots or less. The composite lay up for the boat’s gooseneck must withstand this loading and have a suitable safety factor to boot. This probably accounts for the size of the gooseneck. My thumb is at 21 inches.

gunboat-mast-gooseneck

A proper seagoing mast ought to have a tunnel inside the spar to run the cabling for all the electronic and electric stuff. An innovative variation on the typical round tube held to the inside of the mast is this sheath fabricated from some light sailcloth. All the cabling is captive inside this sheath. It is held in place and tensioned by, at the bottom, the piece of  lightweight Spectra, the blue colored one. The reddish piece of Spectra is probably mouse line for installing and removing cabling.

gunboat-mast-cable-run-inside-spar

Certainly not all of us have the means to own and operate a gunboat 90, but as noted above, hanging around in boat yards is, for many water rats, a fine thing to do.

Feature image Spindrift Racing, 30 meter Trimaran.

Picture courtesy Spindrift racing

 

 

Offshore sailing-Ideas from single-handed sailing

Regular readers will know of my interest in the Mini Transat, OSTAR, Vendee Globe, Figaro and similar solo and double-handed races. Apart from the actual racing itself, these boats represent a melting pot of ideas and were lots of smart people invent ways to sail fast when alone or with only two people. The majority of cruising sailors sail with a crew of only two people aboard anyhow. Short-handed boats prepared for racing have been at the forefront of most of the ‘advances’ that cruising sailors take for granted today.  So when I see boats from this short-handed cohort of yacht racing, I am always curious to see what the thought process is and if there any new ideas I can pinch.

I was at Sail Newport last Sunday and I noticed the Mini Transat boat that, a couple of weeks ago was in the water, had been pulled out. I was interested in this boat because it had a canting keel, but there was no obvious dagger board or other device to resist leeway, at least as viewed from the dock with the boat in the water.

Not only canting side to side, but moving fore and aft close to a meter the fin on this Mini Transat class boat requires some pretty careful attention to detail.

Not only canting side to side, but moving fore and aft close to a meter the fin on this Mini Transat class boat requires some pretty careful attention to detail. That she had a canting keel is evident by the lines exiting the cabin bulkhead under the cowling-see below-(and passing thru jambers) These lines are part of  a three or four to one tackle inside the boat and  then lead outside to a winch so as to lever the keel side to side.

The large clutch on the deck secures the line controlling the canting keel.

The large clutch on the deck secures the line controlling the canting keel. The lines are set up to lead to a winch. The boat was set up with a canting keel but where the dagger boards?

 

This mini, designed by Simon Rogers for Australian Tom Braidwood and built in Sydney, Aust. 2006 has both a canting keel and the keel moves fore and aft too.

This mini, designed by Simon Rogers for Australian Tom Braidwood and built in Sydney, Aust. in 2006 has both a canting keel , articulating from side to side and the keel moves fore and aft too.

574 looks, at first glance, like a ‘normal’ (And not like mine) mini: beamy, twin rudders, skinny fin with a big bulb, huge rig, and articulating bowsprit

Apart from the ‘canting keel but no dagger boards’ question, a second interesting detail was the mast. It is longer in section (fore and aft)  than ‘normal’ mini masts and has only one set of spreaders. Hummm me-thinks.

MAST and Rigging

Tis boat has a maast with only one set of spreaders. IT can do this because the mast is longer in the fore and aft plane and probably thicker walls too. The underlying scheme here is to minimize windage, drag, from the rigging. The configuration of 574 is likely to have less exposed stays and certainly spreaders, than a 'normal rig'.

This boat has a mast with only one set of spreaders. It can do this because the mast is longer in the fore and aft plane and with probably thicker walls too. The underlying scheme here is to minimize windage, drag, from the rigging. The configuration of 574 is likely to have less exposed stays and certainly spreaders, than a ‘normal rig’.

Almost all of these speedy little boats, the custom ones, anyhow, have composite rigging today. Securing the shrouds to the boat is a wonderful throw back to the ‘old days when stays were lashed to the deck with lanyards and pad eyes.

The stays are secured to the deck/chainplates with Spectra line, with multiple passes around the chainplate and the stay. The black tube is what amounts to a reaching strut. This is inserted into a hole built for the purpose in the side of the hull. The end result is to holt the bow sprit after guy out away from the boat at a wider angle.

The stays are secured to the deck/chainplates with Spectra line, with multiple passes around the chainplate and the stay. The black tube is what amounts to a reaching strut. This is inserted into a hole built for the purpose in the side of the hull. The end result is to hold the bow sprit after guy out away from the boat at a wider angle.

 

This image shows the hole in the side of the boat to accept the strut.

This image shows the hole in the side of the boat to accept the strut.

Underwater: The keel and canard

It turns out that this boat has a lot going on down below. The keel swings, or cants in the parlance, port to starboard. It also can move fore and aft 800mm according to the designers website.

Here you can see the root of the fin disappearing into its own mechanism to handle the canting. The longer orange rectangle is the pathway for the fin to slide fore and aft.

Here you can see the root of the fin disappearing into its own mechanism to handle the canting. The longer orange rectangle is the pathway for the fin to slide fore and aft.

The fin on a canting keel boat enters into the hull through a suitable sized slot. There is an axel with bearings on it that passes through the fin fore to aft and is secured to the boat. Around the hole is a V shaped box, the top of which is above the LWL. This box has some kind of pretty waterproof cover on it too. The top of the keel pokes up thru this and has a block and tackle on the top. The l ine from this tackle is led outside thru a ferrule in the cabin wall as shown a few pictures above.

The fin on a canting keel boat enters into the hull through a suitable sized slot. There is an axel with bearings on it that passes through the fin along the fore & aft axis  and is secured to the boat. Around the hole is a V shaped box, the top of which is above the LWL. This box has some kind of pretty waterproof cover on it too. The top of the keel pokes up thru this and has a block and tackle on the top. The line from this tackle is led outside thru a ferrule in the cabin wall as shown a few pictures above. I am not certain that the area around the keel entrance to the hull is race ready, but it seems to me there are a lot holes and slots that would create drag when sailing, especially, fast. ON the other hand this boat did correct to third in class in the Pacific Cup in

The object when designing a racing boat of course is to have a boat that can, and will, win races. All manner of calculus goes into the design engineering and building of such a boat. One of the curious aspects of this boat is the engineering and building detailing required to make the keel more fore and aft. This requires a lot of additional designing, engineering and boat building time and skill. All of this of course consumes (extra) money. In simple terms, what is the risk reward, or if you, like the cost benefit ratio.

x

The white ‘thing’ sticking down to the left is the canard, set forward of the keel. This is deployed to resist leeway, acting like a ‘normal’ keel on normal boats. That it can be canted too is a benefit because when the boat is heeling, the canard can be vertical and so be working most efficiently.

This boat is a close sister-ship to the one Jonathon McKee (a prominent and successful US sailor from the Pacific North-West) sailed in the Mini Transat in 2003. Sadly he was dismasted while leading the second leg of the race. I don’t know what style of mast McKee had, but the one on 574 is configured in a way that many of the new IMOCA 60’s are, which is interesting since this boat is 10 years old now. The idea is that the mast and standing rigging has a certain amount of drag.

Another view of the canting Canard

And finally back to the mast

If you do the math on the surface area of the standing rigging on your boat—Sum the total length of standing rigging, multiplied by the various thicknesses, it is a lot of square units. Ignore for now the radar, radar reflector, satellite dome, spare halyards, the bulk of the furled headsail or staysail etc. Now, for the average 45 foot cruising boat, this kind of drag is repressed into oblivion by Bimini’s, dinghy davits and so on and traveling at 5 to 7 or 9 knots, BUT on a boat traveling at 15-20 knots, like a Mini or an IMOCA 60 traveling, as the boats currently leading the Vendee Globe are, at over 20 knots most of the time, for the foiling boats, drag becomes something to think about. Minimizing drag becomes especially important for boat traveling fast because the drag goes up exponentially with boat speed. Hence the wing masts and lots of effort art educing drag on fast Multihulls of IMOCA 60’s

This latest generation IMOCA 60 has the now common deck spreaders and wing shection mast. The spreaders are to get a wide shroud base, to minize the compression on the spar so it can be a but lighter. Many many Excel spreadsheet Cells were sacrificed in figuring out the cost benefit of this arrangemebt.

This latest generation IMOCA 60 has the, now common, deck spreaders and wing section mast. The spreaders are there to get a wide shroud base, to minimize the compression on the spar so it can be a bit lighter. Many, many Excel spreadsheet Cells were sacrificed in figuring out the cost benefit of this arrangement.

The benefits of reducing drag are even more visible on big trimarans. This picture is courtesy of Spindrift Racing.

Spindrift stb tack

 

 

 

Broken mast! What next?

Breaking a mast is by no means outside the realm of possibility on a sailing boat. Even if you have done everything right yourself there are always outside factors, never more so when racing. And frankly it even happens to the US Navy.

During the New York Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta, 10-12 June 2016, the race committee sent the IRC classes offshore from Brenton Point. Among the boats racing were two boats from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. These so called Navy 44’s, now about twenty years old were purpose built training boats used by the Academy for, certainly sailing, but team building, offshore sailing experience, resources management and leadership training. All skills these young sailors will be called upon to use for the next twenty years at least. A wise man, a pilot, once said to me any one can fly a plane in a straight line, it is knowing what to do when something goes wrong is the trick.

And so it is with sailing. What do you do when something goes wrong? When it DOES go wrong is not the time to find out. For a successful recovery from any incident there needs to be a plan in place for all hands to follow. Nowhere is this a more needed component of sailing than with the Naval academy midshipman due to the generally low level of sailing background and experience the Academy students have compared to the passages they make and the responsibilities they take on.

I was racing on the same course as the Navy boats and when the Race Committee abandoned racing for the day, after the wind piped up over 30 knots true, we all made our way in. On our boat we heard some traffic on the VHF about a boat with a broken rig but were occupied with keeping our own house in order and so did not really think about the dismasted boat for a few minutes.

As we motor-sailed towards Castle Hill it became clear the dismasted boat was one of the Academy 44’s. The first thing that struck me was that the mast was on board. This is generally a rare situation, masts go overboard most often to leeward and so are usually cut away and lost to the sea. Hummm, I wondered, what happened here? What was different about this dismasting that allowed the Midshipman to get the spar on board……?

This post is the result of an interview with the Commanding Officer of the 44, Midshipman James Reynolds, (entering his senior year at the Academy) a couple of days after the incident.

The wreckage of the broken mast lashed down on top of Defiance.

The wreckage of the broken mast lashed down on top of Defiance. Carina’s bow went up across the side deck & smashed the hand rail.

I was particularly interested in the dynamics of the crew for several reasons. One is the Navy sailing squad is commonly populated by students with not much, if any, sailing background. In this case Midshipman Reynolds had the most sailing background growing up sailing Opti’s, 420’ and, living in New Jersey, scows on Barnegat Bay. Of the 9 Midshipman aboard, including two women, one of whom was the executive officer on the boat, about half had some time on the boats and at sea. So by and large an inexperienced crew, arguably less experienced in absolute terms than perhaps any crew in the regatta.

Then there was the fact that the mast was on deck, an unusual aspect to a dismasting. On the other hand we are talking about some of the brightest and capable young men and women in the country who are being trained and groomed for major leadership roles in the United States Navy and so broadly speaking on behalf of the US in general.

The Mid's did well to secure the spar. That was just about the third order of business after a head count and inspection below to make sure the hull was not holed.

The Mid’s did well to secure the spar. That was just about the third order of business after a head count and inspection below to make sure the hull was not holed. You can see the dent in the toe rail as well as some of the scratches. Probably due to the angle of heel AND the classically raked bow, Carina did not penetrate the hull.

Midshipman Baldwin outlined the process where by non-sailing freshman are introduced to sailing starting with a few hours of classroom instruction. They then move to hands-on sailing in the Academy’s fleet of Navy (Colgate)26’s. From this sailing the ‘big boat’ teams are selected based on criteria including aptitude and initiative.

A review of the Academy’s sailing website demonstrates the details in which the Midshipman are instructed and the goals including-The following paragraph is a Cut and paste from the site:

Offshore sailing serves as an ideal platform for team building, small unit leadership, and seamanship skill development. All planning and decision making involved with day sailing and long distance transits and racing is made by midshipmen team members. Skills developed include navigation, strategic planning, resource management, vessel maintenance, weather tactics, and racing strategy.

A broken mast is one of The Eight Events* for which crews on sailing boats in the ocean (even only a few miles offshore of Brenton Point) must be familiar.

The broken end of the spar. The mast head was extended about 20 feet aft of the boat.

The broken end of the spar. The mast head was extended about 20 feet aft of the boat.

So, on with the story:

On the way out to the start the breeze was in the 18 to 20 knots true from the north-west. Baldwin told me that there was a pretty standard team meeting that covered the action for the day, what to expect, especially with the breeze at hand and the forecast for stronger winds later in the day and the admonition to be aware of the loads, do not stand in the bight of a  line, double check what you are doing and to be steady and careful.

The incident occurred on the second upwind leg of the first race. Defiance, the Navy boat was sailing up wind on starboard tack in about 20-22 knots of true knots wind with a full main and number three set.

The impact tore the standing rigging right out of this carbon fiber laminated chainplate.

The impact tore the standing rigging right out of this carbon fiber laminated chainplate.

Mid. Reynolds, acting as tactician and so not steering, saw Carina, the venerable McCurdy and Rhodes 48 footer sailing upwind towards them on port tack and determined a crossing situation was in the offing. He made the ‘starboard’ call and Carina responded by easing sail’s and steering to pass astern of the Navy boat. Baldwin is not one hundred percent certain exactly what caused the next event, but thinks that Carina was knocked hard by an errant wave (there was a nasty chop left over from Saturday) that hit Carina hard and pushed her up to where she collided with Defiance.

Defiance being on Starboard tack was rail down to Carina and so the latter, with her classically raked stem, slid up the deck of Defiance, damaging the toe rail, smashing the hand rail pushing a winch of its mounts, hitting and breaking the boom close to the gooseneck and ripping the lee side chain plates out of the boat. The force of the collision pushed the Navy boat up into the wind, with the result that the mast fell more or less directly aft, landing on the aft rail. This answered the ‘how did they get the mast aboard’ question, since it never actually went overboard.

It broke in two places, right at the partners and about 12 feet up the mast. The crew was of course hiking out on the weather rail and scrambled to avoid being hit. The after most crew member actually jumped over board so as to avoid the spar crashing down around him. He had the presence of mind to hang on to the lifelines as he did so and so ended up hanging onto the boat and he was promptly gathered back aboard.

The bow of Carina penetrated all the way to the boom, which was smashed to.

The bow of Carina penetrated all the way to the boom, which was smashed to.

I asked what happened in the first few second after the mast fell. First action was a head count. Reynolds ended up in the cockpit, on the floor and could account for half the crew in his vicinity. The XO was further forward and reported all hands aboard and un-hurt, although in a few minutes one of the crew was taken below with what transpired to be concussion. Next step was to dispatch a hand down below to make sure the boat was not taking on water. Parallel to these activities, all in the first few second, the ships Safety Officer, Jon Wright took command of the boat. Not surprisingly, working for the Navy Offshore program Wright has vast experience across all manner of boats. What happened within the next thirty seconds?

The stainless steep protector around the Dorade was not spared either.

The stainless steel guard rail around the Dorade box was not spared either.

The crew emerged from under the sails. The bowman and foredeck hands started to work on getting the sails secured. The top 20 feet or so of mast was lying across the stern rail and dipping in and out of the sea, aggravating the situation with the mast flailing around on deck. They were able to get the headsail secured but had to cut the mainsail at the first reef, luff to leech after which they could remove the mainsail from the mast. Next task was to work on securing the mast. The boat was now sideways to the sea and was rolling heavily and so aggravating the situation with the mast in and out of the sea.

I asked if the actions were all on initiative or on instruction from Wright, (known almost universally as JW)? A combination of both was the answer. The crew had had sufficient instruction and, while not actually handling broken masts, training in what to do. The lee rigging, now disconnected from the boat was fortunately lying in the water, minimizing further potential damage to crew and boat from flailing wires.

One of the crew radioed the Race Committee advising them of the incident. The RC responded by sending the Windward mark boat to assist.

One of the crew remarked on having been hit, feeling lightheaded and unwell. She was dispatched below under the care of the XO, the other young lady in the crew. Once ashore she was diagnosed with concussion.

Within five-ten minutes the spar was secured along the centerline of the boat. The remains of the boom had been freed but discarded. The wheel had been damaged when the rig hit it and was out of commission so the emergency tiller was rigged.

The wheel was bent as the spar landed and so the Mid's rigged the emergency tiller.

The wheel was bent as the spar landed and so the Mid’s rigged the emergency tiller.

In a brief conversation with Rives Potts the owner skipper of Carina, I asked him if he had the opportunity to make any observations of the navy crew’s response. Potts told me that Carina immediately lowered sails and stood by. Once they ensured their people were OK and the boat sound, Potts had the opportunity to follow the action on Defiant. He remarked on the calm and professional way the young Navy sailors conducted themselves. ‘There was no yelling or shouting, they looked very cool and collected, and went about securing the boat although they scuttled the boom. It seemed like they had the mast secured very quickly. All in all a very impressive piece of work by young sailors’ he told me.

In a separate conversation with Jon Wright, again a pretty quick one-he and Potts are, as I write, preparing to go to Bermuda and the forecast is for hard winds-He concurred with Potts in the calmness with which these young sailors conducted them selves. He confirmed Reynolds remarks that the first order of business was to make sure every one was on board and not injured. Closely followed by an inspection down below for hull security. He agreed with Potts with the view that the actions and demeanor of the crew were very calm and professional. The crew worked together, with different members proposing solutions to the micro problem in their particular area.

The take away from this discussion and incident?

Planning, preparation and a game plan.

At one of your off season crew gatherings, walk the troops through the eight events, noted below, and work up an Actions Plan for each one. The Navy sailors were fortunate to have this accident in broad daylight, 4 miles offshore and moderate sea. These circumstances may not be in place if your rig comes down.

*Coopers Eight events:

In the Junior Safety at Sea seminars produced by the Storm Trysail Foundation, I cite the following events as situations for which there needs to be established plans and protocols.

Dismasting, holing, man overboard, medical emergency, abandon ship, fire, rudder or steering failure. (They sound the same but are a bit different in the required response.)

 

During the Storm Trysail Foundations junior SAS every year, local high school sailors are introduced to the issues surrounding operating a big boat in a safe and seamanlike manner. Her, the hugely experienced former Commodore of the Cruising Club of America and multi-time Bermuda Race participant discusses some of the  safety equipment used on big boats.

During the Storm Trysail Foundations junior SAS every year, local high school sailors are introduced to the issues surrounding operating a big boat in a safe and seamanlike manner. Here, Sheila McCurdy, the hugely experienced former Commodore of the Cruising Club of America and multi-time Bermuda Race participant discusses some of the safety equipment used on big boats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newport to Bermuda Race-What sails?

Sails for offshore and the Newport to Bermuda Race:

The Newport to Bermuda Race, sailed in even numbered years and it’s counterparts that are sailed in odd numbered years, The Marion to Bermuda Race and The Bermuda 1-2 are something of a right of passage for many US sailors, especially those in the north east. While not particularly long in terms of famous ocean races, the weather across the track can make for some pretty hard going, more so for the unprepared. The Bermuda race is roughly the same distance as the Sydney to Hobart race and the Fastnet race but as has been seen in both these races distance is not the only factor to contend with when preparing to race (sail) ‘only’ 650 or so miles.

The Newport to Bermuda Race committee is rightly proud of their safety record (only one loss of life in the race’s history) and so the organizers hunt and peck from a variety of sources and mandate a few of their own safety regulations in some cases.

The default regulations for offshore sailing, including things like required equipment, the boat’s structure and training are the Offshore Special Regulations, known as offshore regs.

Front cover of the World Sailing Offshore Special Regs, aka the 'Offshore Regs.'

Front cover of the World Sailing Offshore Special Regs, aka the ‘Offshore Regs.’

This booklet-sized document contains these regulations promulgated by International Sailing Federation, ISAF, now called World Sailing. It covers all manner of particulars to do with getting to the finish in the same boat you started with and all the same crew you started with. It is EXTREMELY hard won information and a very informative read for anyone thinking of going maybe anywhere in a sailing boat.

It is however somewhat Euro-centric in that everything is cross-referenced to an ISO number. For the layman it is a bureaucratic black hole. To make things a bit easier for US sailors US Sailing started a few years ago to develop their own prescriptions for requirement for races in the US. The result is a document a normal person can read and defines the gear required for the boat for three categories of racing, not six, called by USSailing: the Safety Equipment Regulations (SER’s) and the three categories are Ocean, Coastal & Nearshore.

Finally the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee list their own requirements based on their very extensive research, surveys after each race and the vast experience in some very un-hospitable areas of the worlds oceans of the members of the CCA.

In the view of some the safety requirements for much of the Offshore Regs. are becoming more and more complex. I have over the past few years been told by at least two people I can think of that they are stopping doing offshore races due to the rigmarole and cost of the safety kit.

Regardless, the requirements for sails have generally remained pretty stable for several years. There are really only two principal changes to sails lately: Storm Jibs and Storm trysails manufactured after 1 Jan. 2014 are required to be ALL high visibility, usually orange, in color. So, the sail requirements for the Newport to Bermuda race are as follows.

There are three required sails and an assumed fourth one, the mainsail.

REQUIRED SAILS

The three required sails are: a Storm Jib, a Storm Trysail and what is called a Heavy Weather Jib. These are very specifically defined in the safety equipment section of Bermudarace.com. The mainsail has only one requirement and that is:

3.33.1 Reefing: A yacht shall have mainsail reefs capable of reducing the area of the sail by an amount appropriate for the weather conditions possible on the racecourse.

This phraseology is intended to push back to the owners and the master, the responsibilities for going to sea. This is in fact embedded in the Racing Rules of Sailing and RRS Rule 4 is here:

DECISION TO RACE

The responsibility for a boat’s decision to participate in a race or to continue racing is hers alone.

From a practical and seamanship perspective, contemplating sailing across this course on a boat with only one reef, would be a risk, way riskier than the reward of a few pounds less weight in the mainsail.

The Heavy Weather Jib (HWJ) is from a sailmaker’s perspective and design and engineering wise, are ‘merely” small, flat and heavily constructed jibs. But they must meet the rules for HWJs though which are-for the Newport to Bermuda Race:

3.33.3 Heavy Weather Jib:

A yacht shall carry a heavy weather jib (or heavy weather sail in a yacht with no forestay) of area not greater than 13.5% height of the fore-triangle squared.

In practice it turns out that on many, if not most boats an forestay sail, like the one seen on this Bristol 41-1 suffice as the Heavy Weather Jib but you should do the calculations or have your sailmaker do them, ideally with you.

Forestaysails commonly qualify as Heavy Weather Jib

Forestaysails commonly qualify as Heavy Weather Jib

A line item in the HWJ definition from World Sailing Offshore Regs is:

‘A heavy-weather jib (or heavy-weather sail in a boat with no forestay) with: area of 13.5% height of the foretriangle (IG) squared and a readily available means, independent of a luff groove, to attach to the stay.’

In practice this means grommets installed at suitable intervals in the luff of the sail immediately aft of the luff rope that enters into the headfoil on the boat.Thru these grommets may be passed lengths of line suitable for lashing the sail to the headstay in the event of damage to the foil.

The “alternative methods” of securing the sail to the stay has been edited out in the Bermuda race’s own rules. This now abandoned rule stems from the days of aluminum head foils being damaged by spinnaker poles bashing into them, rendering it impossible to get a sail up the foil. Today’s headfoils are made from plastic and spinnakers much less likely to be set on poles but at sea if something can fail, and this is everything, there must be a Plan B.

In the case of the HWJ, having your sailmaker install grommets up the luff so the sail can be secured to the foil (by short lengths of line premade for the purpose and stored in the emergency took kit, right?) is a very good idea. You can also leave the lines in the sail permanently because IF the foil fails AND you need to set this HWJ, having the lines already installed will be a lot easier than having a couple of crew sitting in the bow lacing the lines they the grommets for 30 minutes or so. And as a practical matter their presence will have zero impact on the performance of the sail for those thinking abut windage

Here is another Cooper TIP too. Backup grommets are something to think about for all headsails. Apart from the fact the head foil will not get un-busted when the breeze abates and having a way to set headsails is generally a good idea in an ocean race there is another utility made available by such grommets in the luff.

During the headsail changing process sails so equipped can have a length of light line woven back and forth, Dutchman like, through these grommets. The bottom end is made off with a figure eight knot so the line does not pass thru the grommets. All of this does a couple of things. It helps keep the luff of the sail forward in the flaking process. It offers a way to tie off the bulk of the forward end of the sail. This gives the crew at that end of the procedure a bit more freedom to wrestle the sail back into its turtle. If push comes to shove, a sail can be tied off to the boat at the forward end and it is perfectly possible for one man or woman to get a headsail into a turtle by themselves. Just ask anyone who did the sewer on a 12-meter, back in the day. Finally when changing back to this sail as the wind diminishes, the upper end of this line can be temporarily tied off until the sail is really ready to get hoisted. This makes it a bit harder for the (forward end of the) sail to go over the side.

STORM SAILS:

Sail offshore long enough (and or sail with no reefs in the mainsail) and you WILL meet conditions that will require all your seamanship skills, those of your crew AND small sails. The Newport to Bermuda Race requirements for the storm sails are:

3.33.2 Storm Trysail:

A yacht shall carry a storm trysail, with the yacht’s sail number displayed on both sides, that can be set independently of the main boom, has an area less than 17.5% of “E” x “P”, and which is capable of being attached to the mast. Storm sails manufactured after 1/1/2014 must be constructed from a highly visible material. Commonly this is an orange, yellow or pink material.

Trysail sheeted to boom

Trysail sheeted to boom

 

Rugg J 105 Storm Try tied around the boomA trysail sheeted to the boom: The traditional sheeting method for trysails is to lead the sheets to the quarter blocks in the stern. This causes chafe, where the sheet passes over the life lines, results in a poor shape when the sail is eased, leaves a lot of sail flapping around in tacks or gybes or needs more people to perform these manouvers. A very viable alternative is to set the trysail off the boom as seen above. In this case a reef lines is used. HOw ever the sail is set one must be on constant guard for chafe.

3.33.4 Storm Jib:

A yacht shall carry a storm jib not exceeding 5% of the yacht’s “I” dimension squared, and equipped with an alternative means of attachment to the headstay in the event of a failure of the head foil. Storm sails manufactured after 1/1/2014 must be constructed from a highly visible material.

Storm sails built after 2014 are required to be a high visibility color.

Storm sails built after 2014 are required to be a high visibility color.

The decision to set a trysail or not (and how to lower and stow it, don’t forget) is largely driven by the size and type of boat and by extension the skills of the owners and crew. The age, physical dexterity, strength, skill, sailing ability, seamanship and experience are all factors in sail handling in these conditions. And the last two are not always the same as sailing skill. One magazine article cannot address the many variables in methods for using and lowering a trysail let alone the variables on the course.

I would strongly recommend practicing as often as you can with all the crew and especially in crappy, windy weather doing all the evolutions and especially reefing and headsail changes.

Frankly the forgoing requirements for racing boats present very sound information for anyone bound offshore. AND yes, I get that people don’t want to carry Storm Sails around but they have uses outside of conditions over 50 knots.

Next up, what sails do I NEED for the Bermuda races