THE CIRLCE OF LIFE -- NOT THE LION KING -- SAILING

Ken Horne’s J/105 FINAL FINAL racing upwind with her UK Titanium Class jib and dacron class main.

There is a circle of life for sailing that we’ve all unconsciously experienced in our own way. It starts when you’re a kid in a junior sailing program and life is all about Optis, Lasers, and 420s. Then, if you’re lucky, you sail in college...more 420s or FJs. Out of college, you find yourself sailing a Vanguard 15 or other dinghy or perhaps someone’s keel boat. You’re living the dream on the water. Then, suddenly it happens--you’re married, you’ve got a family and, Shazam, there’s no more time for sailing. You think the dream has died and your sailing days are over. But wait, there’s more!

Give it a couple of years. You spend some quality time with your family and suddenly your kids decide they want to sail, too. Bam! It’s back to the V-15 or keelboat or whatever with them as crew. The dream is back...only its better. You’re sailing with your children and, if you’re really, really lucky, you married a sailor and you’re back on the water as a family. The circle starts over.

This is precisely what happened to Ken Horne in Texas. Here’s his circle of sailing life story and more:

“I’m just getting back into sailing after taking off 12 years to start and raise a family, but once my two kids got to be teenagers, my wife said, ‘You need to find something to do.’ At first, I got a trawler to putt around in but that was boring. Then I bought a J/105 thinking I would day sail  beer can race it with family and friends. Well, ‘casual’ has nothing to do with the kind of racing we are doing.

“We had only sailed one major regatta on the J/105 before the NOOD. For 2019 I bought a brand-new set of sails from UK Sailmakers Texas, at the Marblehead NOOD regatta most of the sailors we raced against said we were the fastest boat on the course. ‘These sails are rocking,’ said my jib trimmer who’s a pretty experienced guy. ‘This is the best jib I’ve ever trimmed.’ 

“We were fast upwind and downwind. The only thing that kept us from winning the regatta were my starts! The boat that won had perfect starts. Their tactician is a top woman match racer and she is representing the USA at the Women’s Match Racing Worlds.

“Our next regatta is the Ted Hood Regatta and then the North Americans, both in Marblehead where 30 boats are expected. 

“I was amazed how in Texas all the top J/105s sail with UK Sailmakers’ sails yet here we were the only boat with UK Sailmakers sails. Seeing our speed, a lot of people here asked me about our sails. In fact, on one of the tune-up days, a coach from another sailmaker tried to tell us how to set up our boat. Politely, I said thanks but no thanks. In tuning, we kicked his client’s (you know what). At the end of the practice day he was taking pictures of our sails.” If Ken and his crew keep sailing fast at the upcoming big J/105 events, chances are he won’t be the only boat with UK Sailmakers sails on courses outside of Texas. 

For more detailed information about UK Sailmakers’ J/105 Class sails, click here.

FASTNET FLEET APPROACHING FINISH

Perhaps it is because people are becoming increasingly time-poor, or because it neatly side-steps the problem of keeping a large crew together, but one area of offshore racing undeniably gaining popularity is shorthanded racing. In fact, World Sailing recently announced that a 'Mixed Two Person Keelboat Offshore' event will be introduced to the Olympics for Paris 2024. The 2019 Fastnet Race is a further example of this concept’s popularity — 64 boats are in the doublehanded Fastnet fleet that is approaching the finish now.

Over the last few editions of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the IRC Two Handed class has shown steady growth from 45 entries in 2013 to 64 competitors this year. Erik van Vuuren's Dutch W36 HUBO had a successful tune up the week before Fastnet by winning IRC 3 in the RORC Channel Race the week before. HUBO sailed the race doublehanded. Van Vuuren hopes his yellow, Titanium powered Waarschip 36 will have a similar finish in the 64-boat doublehanded fleet in the 630-mile trip around Fastnet Rock.

To track the fleet, go to: https://www.rolexfastnetrace.com/2019-fleet-tracking-race-player

BIG = GOOD ... SMALL=BAD. NOT NECESSARILY WHEN IT COMES TO SAIL SELECTION

The Swan 36 FINOLA (GBR 23806) and the S&S 41 WINSOME (NED 118) on the starting line of the 2019 RORC Channel Race.

By Graham Curran, UK Sailmakers Ireland
Walking through the Arrivals gates at Dublin Airport after the weekends’ RORC Channel Race, I was going through the events of the previous day and night. I sailed aboard Chris Frost’s Swan 36 FINOLA in preparation for our Fastnet Race starting next weekend.

We crossed the line at 0800 on Sunday morning after 23 hours of racing – finishing 2nd in IRC 4 about four minutes behind the winner, Harry Heijst's S&S 41 WINSOME, also powered by UK Sailmakers. As is usually the chase when finishing second; I went through the race in my head to find where we could have gained those four minutes of corrected time. There were several occasions where there were gains to be had or losses that could have been avoided; but there is one in particular which we found interesting.

Critical Sail Selection
At 0200 on Sunday morning, we were in the last 40-mile stretch of our course – approaching the Owers turning mark before heading back for the Solent. We had been flying our S2 spinnaker (symmetrical runner) since the start of this long downwind leg in 12-15 knots of breeze. As we rounded St Catherine’s point and made our way to Owers the breeze began to steadily shift to the right; making our sailing angle tighter and tighter.

Eventually, we ended up tight reaching with our pole just off the forestay; our speedo was reading 6.8 – 7.5 knots, there was significant load on the helm, and a lot of active mainsheet trimming was needed to keep the boat on her feet. Something needed to change. FINOLA’s set-up left us with three options: continue as we were, unfurl our 145% overlapping genoa and set up on an outboard lead, or change to our Code Zero.

Our decision was to drop the spinnaker, unfurl our genoa, set up an outboard lead, and then consider launching our Code Zero after evaluating the situation. As always, the lads on the bow played a blinder; the drop and swap went perfectly without issue. We gave ourselves ten minutes to settle down and evaluate the situation. We found the boat was much easier to handle with little or no undue pressure on the helm; but our speed was down to 6.0 knots – time to try the Code Zero. After a short period, we had the Code Zero flying and genoa furled; FINOLA was cruising along at 6.8 to 7.5 knots again. This was the same speed that we were making with our spinnaker, but the difference in the boat’s behavior was dramatic -- no significant heel and a wonderfully balanced helm.

The Lift and Drag Compromise
Life is all about compromise. Sailing is no different. Where there is lift, there is drag. Our goal as sailors is to maximize and harness lift while minimizing resulting drag. Lift gives us the power to move forward, above and below the water. Drag is what slows us down, usually manifesting itself as heel and stall. So how does this tie in with the rest of the story?

Drag Bad, Lift Good
Let’s keep it simple, primal as it were – down to caveman style “drag bad … lift good.” When we were reaching with our spinnaker, we had plenty of lift. The boat was moving through the water at hull speed or above it. We had all the lift we needed. The problem was that the spinnaker was causing too much drag, which manifested itself as heeling moment. To keep the boat on her toes we needed to use a lot of rudder and ease the mainsheet. More rudder means more drag below the waterline – slowing the boat as a result. All of this made the crew work much harder than is needed at 2 a.m. in the morning.

This is not the spinnaker’s fault. A running spinnaker will simply, by design, not reach effectively. It has a deep profile with wide shoulders, which is great for running downwind but not so great when sheeted in hard while reaching. The shoulders hook in behind the mainsail causing drag and heel.

So we opted for the genoa instead, which dramatically reduced drag as the sail can be trimmed perfectly for the angle of sailing without causing any hook (drag) in the leech. In this case drag was reduced as well as lift. While we heeled less, our speed dropped about a knot. This was mainly due to the reduction in sail area; a 145% LP genoa is less than half the size of the spinnaker.

Enter the Code Zero. It splits the difference in size between the spinnaker and genoa but, far more crucially, it is designed with much more twist in the leech. With the Code Zero the speedo instantly jumped back to the 7ish knots we were looking for – but without the excessive heel we had with the spinnaker. A Code Zero is designed to sail with a lot more twist than a running spinnaker. Although the Code Zero produces less lift, mostly because it has a smaller sail area, it also produces less drag since the leech does not hook in toward the boat.
So, here is the take away. Sail area is not the be-all and end-all; bigger is not always better. Design and effective application are far more important. So next time you think “throw up the biggest one we have!” stop and consider the situation – you may just find the net gain elsewhere.

Oh, yes, how could we have saved that four minutes? Probably by changing directly from the spinnaker to the Code Zero and bypassed the genoa. And since this race was a tune-up for this weekend’s Fastnet race, we will have a much better understanding of the sail inventory and its crossover points for the biggest race of our season.

TURNING A DOUBLE PLAY

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By Buttons Padin
In baseball, players get traded today and are starting with a new team the next day. At first you wonder how they can integrate that quickly into a new team; however, if you’re a second baseman, you know the moves...where to stand in each situation and how to turn a double play with your new teammates at shortstop and first. Sailing is very much the same. By and large, racing boats are sailed the same manner...think sailing best practices.

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Sailing in Newport this summer, I’ve been trimming spinnaker on a Fast 40+ but also got to sail on the 12 Metre Intrepid for one race in the Pre-Worlds and then another in the Worlds with a new “team.” In the first race on the 12 Metre, I was in the mast area doing topping lift and downhaul. A skill forgotten on many asym boats, but one I acquired years ago. I managed to do that well (I got “thanked” rather than chided!). Next race I was in the cockpit doing offside runners, the traveler and hydraulics. Again, nothing new so it went well.

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Flip that around to the NYYC 175th Anniversary Regatta when we had some new folks on the 40+ for a few days. Being experienced sailors, they could seamlessly fit into various positions and, after getting down everyone’s name, became part of the crew...team. They could turn the double play.

In that way, sailing is like baseball. Frankly, I’d rather get hit by the boom than face flying spikes sliding into second base.

JIM LINCOLN CROSSES HIS LAST FINISH LINE IN FIRST

Jim Lincoln, UK Sailmakers’ representative in Long Beach, California, passed away in his sleep at the age of 61 in Hawaii after finishing the 2019 Transpac race first in class on the classic wooden ketch CHUBASCO. Jim was the manager of CHUBASCO for the last year and enlisted several top marine professionals to get the boat into top racing form. For the last nine years, Jim represented UK Sailmakers in the Long Beach area selling and servicing sails.

John Bennett, President of UK Sailmakers International and good friend of Jim’s said, “Jim always took care of customers well. He was very conscientious and always took care of all the small details right away.” John did two Pacific Cups (San Francisco to Hawaii) and several 800-mile Cabo San Lucas races with Jim. “He always had a smile on his face and his sarcastic humor kept us all in good spirits and he was a great sailor to boot.”

Oliver McCann, owner of UK Sailmakers Marina del Rey, who Jim worked with said, “Jim was an affable, capable, steadfast and reliable sailmaking colleague. We will very much miss him. It's a shock that he'll no longer be a part of our community.”

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Jim was born June 3, 1958, in Detroit, Mich., and grew up in Glendora, Calif. In the late 1980s, he lived in Huntington Beach where he met the love of his life, Janet. Jim and Janet were married on July 26, 1998, and two years later left to sail their 33-foot sloop, Summer Wind, down through Baja California, the Sea of Cortez and much of mainland Mexico.

Sailing was Jim’s passion. For someone who started sailing as an adult, there wasn’t a Southern California regatta that he didn’t compete in and very few seasoned sailors that he hadn’t crewed with. He raced in club races, inshore races and offshore. Jim’s passing will be a huge loss to UK Sailmakers as well as to many sailors in Southern California.

ISLAND GIRL FAMILY STORY

ISLAND GIRL before her refit that included new topsides.

If the family that sails together stays together, the Burkhart family are clearly staying together. When Frank Burkhart bought the Islander 36, ISLAND GIRL, he had limited experience and no crew. Twenty-four years later, the Burkharts and ISLAND GIRL are a regular sight among the sailboats on San Francisco Bay and the surrounding waters.

However, she wasn’t always a family bay-cruiser. Although Frank had some basic sailing skills when he bought ISLAND GIRL, he decided the best way to improve quickly was to race. So he entered the boat in the Offshore Yacht Racing Association (OYRA) series, which is a series of ocean races across local waters such as California's Half Moon Bay, Drakes Bay and the Farallones. “Putting a crew together took time, but ultimately I had a crew that made me look good,” said Frank.

By 1996 Frank and his crew were serious contenders in the OYRA and managed second place in their division, as well as receiving the South Tower Demon award for “having broached way too many times under the Golden Gate Bridge.”

The crew did improve and by the following year found themselves in first place. This was also the year that the future Mrs. Burkhart, then known as Lynn Langford, joined the boat and began to impress everyone with her sailing skills, and her boat-food skill, producing what Franks described as the “best food on the Bay.”

Soon after, Frank and one of his crew were invited to join a boat in the 1998 Pacific Cup (San Francisco to Hawaii). Following the PacCup, ISLAND GIRL and her crew relaxed a little with “less serious ocean racing and a lot of beer can racing an, a lot of casual sails.

A few years later the Burkhart boys, Will and Luc, were born and sailing took a back seat to everyday family life. However, the twins were not going to stay onshore forever. Today the teenagers are an integral crew on ISLAND GIRL ,enjoying beer can racing out of Sausalito Yacht Club and regular weekend sails all over the Bay.

This past summer Frank and the boys gave ISLAND GIRL a much-needed make-over. “As with any boat, maintenance and upkeep is constant. With the boat being used only occasionally while the boys were growing up, there were multiple tasks and upgrades needed.”

Together they sanded her wood bare and applied 6 coats of varnish, sanded the deck, painted and applied new non-skid, and hauled the boat to have the hull topsides sanded and painted. “ISLAND GIRLis now looking like a new Islander 36 ,” Frank said.

Frank remembers one recent night sail across the Bay that stands out. “One son caught a ride home from Alameda by car, so my other son and I decided in the middle of the night to sail home. Leaving Alameda at 2am, we had the typical beautiful views of San Francisco, past Alcatraz and finally into Sausalito. Winds were definitely up, mostly above 20 knots with 30+ knots gusts coming into Sausalito. To say the least, the boat worked hard and had water pouring over the decks most of the way home.

“It was fun listening to the discussions between ship captains on the route they were taking and to watch out for a sailboat crossing the shipping channel. At least we knew, that we had been seen as we were the only sailboat on the Bay.” (For anyone who hasn’t experienced San Francisco Bay at night, it can be very black and contain numerous large ships!)

And as Frank and his family become saltier and even more experienced, what will their sailing future hold? “More racing, maybe back to OYRA. And definitely many more days on the Bay with family and friends,” Frank said.

What a great testament to love of family, boat and sport!

DETAILS ON SIN DUDA!’s MAC RACE VICTORY

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UK Sailmakers interviewed Lindsey Duda (Chicago Yacht Club) who skippered her Santa Cruz 52 SIN DUDA! to victory in Section 2 of the Chicago-Mackinac race. For Lindsey and her crew, this win was keenly gratifying as the boat “has a lot of furniture” and was racing in light air against many newer, lighter speedsters. Here’s our conversation:

UK: Lindsay, before we get started, give me your single overall take on the race.

LD: We had moments of high speed, but mostly light air. I've done Mac races where we have sat for 12 hours going zero knots, but this was not one of those. I was surprised that we would do so well in a light air year.

UK: Tell us about the competition in your Section.

LD: MAIN STREET (a J/145) was our toughest competitor and they finished over an hour after us. She is very fast, and we had eyes on them the whole time. (There was a big mix of boats in their 16-boat section. Third was the Nelson/Marek 46 SKYE, another UK Sailmakers customer, fourth was the Ker 43 ABRACADABRA, the old Christopher Dragon carrying many UK Sailmakers sails and fifth was the Soto 40 ARMA. This was a wide span of boats many of which could have done well in a light air race.) Since we have a lot of furniture, I was surprised that we won this race in the conditions that we sailed in. I always thought the race we would win would be a heavy air one.

UK: How were the conditions...besides light?

LD: We saw a lot of different directions We started with the Code Zero and then sailed with slightly cracked off with the Light No. 1 for a while until the wind shut off and then clocked around. We did lots of sail changes between our light No. 1, Code Zero and A1 (all from UK). 

We were pretty keen on fleet management, trying to stay in between our competitors and where we thought the wind was going to fill. Looking at the forecast, we expected the wind on the Michigan shore would die out, so we stayed further out in the Lake, the western most boat in our section. We were pretty confident that when the wind filled in, it would be stronger in the west and in the middle of the Lake it seemed to work out.

UK: Tell me a little about your crew composition.

LD: We sailed with 9. At the start Matt Knighton was aboard as media person to document the start. Not long after getting the video shot of our start, he gathered his gear and jumped overboard and was recovered by a RIB. He just walked past me and jumped off the stern without saying goodbye. It was pretty funny. I was on the Mac Committee this year working closely with the communications team and having Matt aboard was just one way we worked hard to get good images to share. He put the camera on our bowman’s head to get the footage of our start and the unfurling of the Code Zero.

UK: You said you did a lot of sail changes, but mostly between three sails. Tell me more:

LD:  I love the Code Zero and we used it quite a bit. We did a last-minute audit of our inventory and left the heavy one and Jib Top on the dock. It was nice to have a smaller inventory since it made sail decisions a bit easier. 

We had a brand new main, A1 and A2. The A2 got very little use this race, but the new (Titanium) main is excellent. Having UK’s Pat Considine on the boat is always a great asset. Great sailor, very calm & quiet.

UK: Lindsey, how about one final comment?

LD: I think this was one of my favorite Macs, not just because we won. The race was challenging and the whole fleet was close together the whole time.

UK Sailmakers followed-up with our own Pat Considine (UK Sailmakers Chicago) who was aboard SIN DUDA! for the win. Here are Pat’s comments:

As for sails, we had a year-old UK Code 0 that we had optimized for light air, making it bigger than normal. We also had a 155% light No. 1 genoa and, with all the jib-reaching that we did, that gave us an advantage over many of the newer, lighter boats who don’t jib reach well (the tops of the sails twist off and they lose power). Heck, we didn’t use the new UK No. 3 or A2 at all; but we did use the new A1.

The boat had a new UK Titanium main that replaced a five-year-old Uni-Titanium main. The old sail had a lot of miles on it and had served SIN DUDA! well as the boat traveled around (Transpac, Caribbean 600, Jamaica Race, Cabo San Lucas Race, Puerto Vallarta Race and 3-4 Chicago Mac races).

But mostly we used the light No. 1 genoa, A1 and Code 0. We didn’t do a traditional jib-to-jib headsail change the entire race, and with the Zero on a roller furler, it was a breeze to set and furl.

Going into the race it looked the new light boats would prevail. We didn’t know how we would handle the boats in a light air downwind race. As it turned out, the race was a lot of jib reaching and, as the largest boat in the section, our waterline length and overlapping genoa helped us.

SIN DUDA! is a good boat with good sailors and good sails. That’s always a winning combination.

Reefing Downwind in 30 Knots

Here’s a great video taken in this year’s Race to Alaska that shows the crew of SHUT-UP AND DRIVE reefing their main while blasting down waves. The boat is a Figaro 2, which is a 33-foot one-design created for shorthanded ocean racing. The wind was blowing a steady 30 with puffs up to 40 knots. Take a look and note the following details:

  1. All three on deck were wearing PFDs – a good thing.

  2. With the wind pressing the luff of the sail against the shrouds and spreaders, a downhaul had to be attached to the reef point so they could pull the reef tack down to the reef horn on the boom.

  3. The driver was doing an amazing job of keeping the boat flat despite having a chute up in following seas and experiencing unpredictable puffs.

  4. At about 1:35 into the video, the driver gets the boat accelerating down a wave, which lowers the apparent wind. This reduced the pressure of the main against the shrouds and spreaders making it a bit easier to lower the main. She then continued to sail a little high to reduce the load on the main during the reefing process, all the while keeping the cleated spinnaker full.

  5. The reef was finished in under five minutes. Good seamanship, boat handling, and nerves of steel.

Zoom, Zoom!

For a good article on how to reef properly, go to the Learning Center of the UK Sailmakers website, click here.


X-YACHTS 46-FOOTER AND X-DRIVE CRUISING SAILS

Shown above is a video of a new X4.6, a 46-footer by X-Yachts with a new set roller/furling X-Drive Carbon cruising sails.

X-Drive® performance cruising sails are perfect for cruising sailors who like their boats to sail well. X-Drive is a two-part construction system. The first part is a lightweight laminate that is cut into cross-cut panels that when put together give the sail its designed 3D shape. UK Sailmakers refers to the joined panels as the “sail skin.” Next the sail skin is reinforced by bonding hundreds of continuous high-strength, low-stretch fibers that run between the sail’s three corners. This construction system is similar to how buildings are built; the steel skeleton provides structure while the glass curtain wall creates the shape. In the X-Drive construction the sail skin is like the glass curtain wall, which creates the shape.

There are many combinations of fibers and laminates to make sails based on the requirements of strength, performance and cost. Fibers can be Carbon, UHMPE (generic for Spectra) or S-Glass. All the laminates UK Sailmakers selects from for cruising sails have a taffeta layer and can have an internal fiber structure of aramid, UHMPE or polyester yarns.

X-Drive is the ideal sail construction process for cruising sailors who appreciate a well shaped sail, but who also need to keep control of price. These good looking sails give maximum durability and signature good looks. On the X4.6, the main rolls into the boom and the roller/furling jib has UV covers on the foot and leech. Video footage courtesy Jeppe Ullmann, whose father Morten runs the UK Sailmakers loft in Denmark, where these sails were made.

COME-FROM-BEHIND WIN IN TRANSATLANTIC RACE

The S&S 49 HIRO MARU at the start of the 2018 Newport to Bermuda Race flying the same X-Drive No. 1 genoa she used in the Transatlantic race. Notice the partial black taffeta layer on the part the leech that overlaps the mast as well as on the part of foot that comes in contact with the life lines. Click on the picture to enlarge it and you’ll see Hiro driving while smoking his signature pipe.

Hiro Nakajima's HIRO MARU scored an incredible come-from-behind win in IRC Class 3 in the 2,960 NM 2019 West to East Transatlantic Race. Nakajima and crew raced his aluminum S&S 49 that was originally launched in 1971 as SCARAMOUCHE. Nakajima and crew finished the race with an elapsed time of 17:02:21:40 to beat Rives Potts’ venerable CARINA, the grand dame of the fleet by nearly five hours on corrected time.

CARINA had led the class for most of the race, but Nakajima believes the race turned in his favor when they passed to the south of the Isles of Scilly (off the southwestern tip of England) while CARINA passed to the north.

HIRO MARU approaching the finish line off the Royal Yacht Squadron’s castle on the Isle of Wight.

HIRO MARU’s crew celebrating after winning IRC 3 in the 2019 Transatlantic Race.

“We did not go as far north as CARINA. They followed the weather,” said the 62-year-old Nakajima, a retired architect. “We stayed closer to the great circle route. I think we enjoyed slightly better breeze that allowed us to really close the gap. Everyone’s just excited, very ecstatic.”

Hiro driving past Castle Hill after crossing the starting line off Newport, R.I.

When asked what the key was to the win, Hiro shared the following comments: “The race was fantastic. The key moments for us were when we realized that we were chipping away at CARINA's lead every day. Each watch competed against the other to claw back CARINA's lead one mile at a time. We also got some lucky breaks with wind along the way.

“Watches began with, ‘Where's CARINA?‘ or ‘How many miles did we get back during the last watch?’ Our navigator, Mark D'Arcy, was the best and he gave us the best guidance and overview of options available. We could not have done this without him.

“I have to say the UK Sailmakers A3 was one of the best sails ever. We had it up for days on end. It suffered abuse from us and the elements, yet it never faltered. The UK #1 (X-Drive Carbon) was the second most used sail and it performed like a champ as well.

“I never would have believed we would win our class, which has made our win even more rewarding for me and the entire crew.”

Congratulations to Hiro and the whole crew of HIRO MARU from everyone at UK Sailmakers.