Catapult sailing: the run

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The Boat

This is about running before the wind, the breeze "pushing" on the sail (let as far out as it will go) rather than flowing across it.

    (As a simple summary, if beating is about aligning the boat to the wind, and reaching is about adjusting the sail to windshifts, then the run is about shifting weight smoothly and quickly to keep speed.)

(Photo right) At Bassenthwaite in 2010, Nigel and George are getting their weight well forward in light breeze and staying still---you can feel them urging the boats forward, telling the wind to push harder.

 In heavier wind, weight adjustment on the run needs to be more active and alert.

At Bass (a year later) in the strong gusting breeze (below left) Paul is watching the bows dip as he rides a gust, with no option but to hang on as far back in the boat as possible (as the sail cannot be slackened off further) He aims to keep speed up, since running directly downwind eases the wind pressure.

(The sight of Chris being towed home in the background is no comfort.)

 On the same day, Alastair (below right) has had to come forward to keep speed up during a lull and to lift the transoms up out of the water. This is nervous sailing, staying balanced to jump back when the next gust arrives from behind (avoiding being jolted forward if the bows dip and the boat checks.)

(See also: port and starboard on the run in a strong breeze here)


 All the adjustments depend on conditions and the course---in stronger wind, it may be difficult to carry out any which require moving from the back of the boat, and in a lake course with a short run, adjustments may not be worth the time taken to trim, and then readjust before the next mark.

 Basic adjustments are:

     -- Fully rotating the mast (which may not follow the sail right around---hopefully it will!)

     -- Releasing the outhaul completely

  OTHER OPTIONS (Roughly in order of ease or usefulness)

 -- Flipping the wishboom  If the wishboom is tipped from lying flat to roughly vertical, the sail can be let out further, exposing slightly more area. None of the boats here show this! (Nigel's in the top photo is slightly tilted.) This is a medium-breeze option---in light winds, the sail pressure will not hold it in place, and in heavy conditions it is not worth the risk going forward to lift the boom.

 --- Raising the centreboards (now "outlawed" by the Association racing riules!)  Good in theory, but opinion varies on whether it is worth it in practice.  Heavy conditions prevent doing it quickly and easily. In moderate breeze, the downside is replacing them, moving awkwardly in the boat as the buoy (and other boats) get closer. There is also the risk (if not dead before the wind) that board will be caught by the leeway and twist as it goes in, breaking off a chunk of the trailing edge. This can be guarded against by putting it down tilted back so the leading edge of the board runs firmly down the front channel, at the cost of marking the paint. A long run in lighter  conditions is the clear place for this.

    --- releasing the downhaul This is right in theory, but probably makes little difference (and is another thing to remember to re-do at the leeward mark)

    --- standing up  This is a light-wind option only! (photo below left.) Nigel at Carsington demonstrates getting weight well forward in light conditions by standing at the front beam. The "sail" area is increased as the breeze can push on him as well as on the sail. It gives a good view of the wavelets ahead, and of the sail (and a grand view of the fleet)  but control of the tiller is less easy, and any gust means a dive back into the boat

     --- tilting the rig to windward. Alex in the Round Sheppey Race (below right) seen finishing the long run up the Swale: he comments that with the rig tilted so the sail is over the midline, the helm becomes very light, not slowing the boat. It needs a long run (and probably Alex' expert feel for the boat) to be successful

 photo: Rob Spendley  

       Finally, whatever you do on the run, you may still not  find the extra yards over the opposition, below at Bala.

catapult catamaran racing at bala

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