Last night and today, after the fractional gennaker was put back in service, our education continued.
It is essentially impossible to put a reef in the mainsail while going downwind. One can winch down on the luff reef lines, but one is putting a huge load on them while trying to get the sail down. It is being blown against the rigging. We have tried heading up so that the sail will flag back away from the rig, but with one of the gennakers, we can’t get close enough to the wind.
So I thought that perhaps the protocol should be simple. Roll up the gennaker, roll out the staysail, sail upwind, and put in the reef. So I did this last night, and it worked much, much better, and if we had headed even closer to the wind, it would have been better still. So that must be the protocol for reefs going downwind now.
Similarly, gybing these boats going downwind is scary. We did it the other night with about 22 knots of wind, and 2 reefs in the mainsail, and the load that is suddenly imparted to the entire boat when the wind goes onto the other side of the mainsail in a gybe, is huge. When the front had gone through, I had considered tacking, instead of gybing. I had heard that one of the great French skippers had said ‘you can’t win the Vendée Globe with a good gybe, but you can certainly lose it with a bad gybe’. That makes sense. So this morning when a gybe was in order due to the lifting wind shift, I decided to try it.
Roll up the fractional gennaker. Then I thought to roll out the staysail, so that after our tack, it would help push the bow back down if it was backwinded. But then I thought, ok, we’re experimenting here, let’s do it without the staysail and see if the boat will tack all the way through. We set the True Wind Angle at 060 degrees, mainsail only, and voila, the boat went through the tack on the autopilot tack mode, and got all the way through. I had let the mainsail out a long way so it wouldn’t get driven back up into the wind, and that helped. Next time, I will try it at True Wind Angle 070°.
So we have some new protocols. A challenge with these boats is that you can’t exactly go out and find Southern Ocean conditions very easily to learn these protocols. But now I feel better that we have maneuvers that we can use at least start to deal with the Southern Ocean. These have been done so far in relatively good conditions, 20-25 knots of wind, can’t be sure how the will work with more wind, but hopefully we will have already been at smaller sail combinations. We shall see.
40° 00’S x 14° 27’E
True Wind Speed
True Wind Direction
Mainsail (with 1 reef) plus Fractional Gennaker
66° F / 18.8° C
65° F / 18.3° C
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