They may seem untouchable, but sometimes even the pros learn valuable lessons the hard way. Scott Nixon, Quantum’s Director of Offshore One Design, sailed the 2016 Quantum Key West Race Week with team BobSled aboard Bob Moran’s C&C 30. Nixon talks about a costly mistake the team made and what they could have done differently, so you can avoid making the same mistake.
The last race of Quantum Key West Race Week caught more than a few teams by surprise. Most of the racing throughout the week was held in moderate winds in the 12-16 knot range with flat seas. Friday a front passed through the Keys and delivered a solid 18 knots of wind at the start that quickly built to almost 30 knots. The strong southerly delivered large rollers and plenty of chop with the ebb tide flowing out of the Key West shipping channel.
Our solid group on the C&C 30, BobSled, needed a good race to remain in contention. Our first spinnaker set was perfect as we bore away and surfed on a wave right before the hoist was called. The spinnaker went up with no issues and we survived the windy run.
On the last set of the day we were not so lucky and stuck the bow in a large wave on the bear away around the offset mark. This stuck the bow under the water, and with the tack of the spinnaker already set to the end of the prod, we were doomed. The water filled the spinnaker tack and then filled the entire spinnaker pulling it overboard before we could get it fully hoisted. Shrimp o’ plenty as the entire spin was under the boat. We had to do a full back down in 25 knots to recover the shrimp filled sail.
A tough way to end the week, but great lessons were learned in this new class.
Here is what we learned:
1. The Quantum C&C 30 class spinnakers come with a Spin Pak Velcro System – use them all the time. You will be able to sneak the tack out to the prod and hoist a few seconds early without the sail twisting. The Spin Pak allows us to band the head and the tack of the spins with Velcro to keep the ends from opening too early on the first set. This is the modern method of ‘wooling’ your spinnakers (using yarn) and it works great. We do this to the spins before each race. One design racing in the C&C 30 class is so close that our second spinnaker set usually does not get banded with the Velcro system, since we can’t afford the bowman off the rail upwind during the race. This is why our first spinnaker set was so good and relatively easy compared to our disastrous second set on the last race.
2. It’s OK to pre-feed the tack to the end of the prod in light to medium winds with flat water as you sail to the offset mark for the hoist. But, in heavy winds and large seas where there is a possibility of water on the deck, you must only pre-feed the tack to just past the bow pulpit. As the boat bears away around the offset mark and the hoist is called from the tactician, pull the tack line to get the remaining spinnaker tack out to the end of the prod simultaneously with the halyard hoist. This will reduce the chance of having the sail fill with water and collect shrimp. It may take a few seconds longer, but is much safer.
A very valuable lesson and one we won’t soon forget during the next class regatta.
Quantum Sails Annapolis
Director of Offshore One Design