Author Topic: Driving in big wind and short chop  (Read 2088 times)

Eddy Parker

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Driving in big wind and short chop
« on: November 07, 2014, 09:08:23 AM »
Last Sunday I was going to go back home early to do work that pays the bills, I promise.  Then my 18 year old daughter sent me a text that the winds were going to be blowing 15-25 NW, which would make a great spinnaker run from New Bern, NC to Oriental, NC; about 19 miles.  I couldn't say no to my baby girl so we waited till our third crew to show up so we could go sailing.  Sarah brought a friend from school who had been on a sailboat a total of three times, he was in for a ride.  Winds were gusting into the low 40s, so it was a bit breezy.  By the time we got out on the river the winds were steady in the high 20s with gusts in the low 30s.  It was a great ride, and as soon as those kids edit the video I'll post it.  We completed the run in 1:49:22, but we really slowed down at mile 11 as there is a big dogleg in the river and the wind started softening up.  Many runs of sustained 13-14, and big grins the whole way. Here is my question:

The river is pretty shallow (less than 10 feet in general) so the waves are steep and close together.  We would come off one wave and immediately plow into the back of the next.  The boat would slow down and the loads from apparent wind would increase significantly.  You couldn't drive up to accelerate as the boat was too loaded up already.  Driving down you were just climbing a big hill and going slow.  Is there a good technique for these conditions?  I would say it was similar to Miami last year but the waves were a bit larger due to more fetch.

Peter Beardsley

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Re: Driving in big wind and short chop
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2014, 11:04:23 AM »
Tough conditions, and there are people around who sail in those conditions more than I do, but weight aft helps a bit, as does heading up as much as makes sense to "jump" the waves as long as you're not so far on the edge that you risk wiping out too easily.  There was an article about this in an old Sailing World issue that is not properly archived but if you have the Jan. 1997 issue lying around, you can check it out:
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Drew Harper

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Re: Driving in big wind and short chop
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2014, 11:40:57 AM »
Pretty common conditions for us in SF Bay. Wind in the slot generally gusting 25++ and when the ebb rolls in the current can run up to 4 knots against this breeze...infamous Bay chop.

This is the only time we put everyone in the back of the far aft as possible. As you know, Vipers really never need the same hull trim as most other boats due to the larger rocker but in big air, big chop we just sort of 'wheelie' downwind through the waves. It keeps the bow very high to avoid the plunge into the next wave, allows the kite trimmer some additional time to ease the sheet for the bigger stuffs in the next wave but most importantly keeps the rudder as deep as possible in the water. The angle of the rudder on a Viper makes it ventilate quite easily in these conditions and we've found that keeping it deep helps a lot. Recoveries in 25+ get to be quite important when you have an inbound oil tanker coming on you at 15 knots :-))

Steering is fairly active, just to find the flatest spot to land the bow on the next wave. One thing...when the boat gets airborne, it's critical that the kite trimmer keep the sheet on. If he eases, the boat will round upwind and this often turns into a wholesale cluster %$*@#. Keeping the kite full during these flights is a bit unnerving at first but helps keep you pointed downwind.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2014, 10:12:52 AM by Drew Harper »
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