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1st Year Racing Gemini, H375 #644

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jracoffman View Drop Down
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Joined: 12 March 2013
Location: Westport, CT
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    Posted: 01 January 2014 at 18:03

Racing Experience

Overall, our racing got off to a slow and frustrating start.  Trying to race the Hanse 375 with the stock Dacron cruising sails, which include the self-tacker (especially in lite winds) is almost fruitless.  Even with the racing sails and 145 genoa, the boat is too heavy to keep up with liter race boats when the winds drop below 6kts; when that happens, it is time to crack open the beer.

 

In addition to new racing sails, the other necessary upgrades included the addition of cockpit traveler, longer genoa tracks to accommodate a 145 genoa, additional larger cockpit winches, as well as a mast track and car to use a whisker pole downwind.  Our first several races before the new sails arrived and upgrades were completed we were typically finished in the back of the fleet (often DFL).  However, once we got the new sails, and completed the other enhancements we moved to the middle of the fleet.  Finally, once we successfully appealed out PHRF rating, we were consistently bringing home silver and glassware almost every week. 

 

Having an inventory of racing sails which include a 145% genoa for winds up to 13kts true, and a 109% jib for winds up to 25 knots true has proved critical to our success.  I am using Quantum Fusion MR5000 sails.  I will never use the self-tacker unless winds are consistently over 25kts, and make sure you can inhaul the self-tacker 6-8in from the end of the track and sheet in block-to-block for max pointing ability.  Over 20kts TWS, I also recommend reefing the main when sailing upwind.  My whisker pole makes a huge difference for downwind performance when racing Jib and main.  Other critical success factors are nailing the starts, knowing the rules cold for good tactics and good crew work. 

Race #1: May 27, 2013, dist. 7.7nm, courseWK2X, winds WSW 8-15.  Gemini was 2nd across the line, but corrected to 5th place with our initial PHRF rating of 108. Crew was myself, my co-owner Rob, our wives and my twin 5yo boys.  Although we were short-handed, and failed to get the course down at the start, I thought we performed considerably well for our first race with NO modifications to the boat other than the racing bottom and using the stock Dacron cruising sails (including the self-tacker).  Pointing was a bit of an issue versus other boats, as we were sailing 5-10degrees lower than my competition.  I learned later to ‘inhaul’ the self-tacker 6-8” from the end of the track for max pointing.  It might have helped if I could have completed a jibe in the last downwind leg but I called it off when I saw my boys asleep in the cockpit.  PHRF rating at this time was 108. We were correted over by boats in the 138 to 165 range.

Race #2: June 12, 2013, dist 3.5nm, course M-C-H-X, winds WNW 7-10kts at the start, but died.  Gemini finished DFL (4th place) against a fleet of larger boats (42-45ft so more LWL) and one liter race boat (Bene 367 first).  Though we had a good start, and kept up ok through the first leg, we couldn’t keep up with the bigger boats on the reaching legs with our stock sails.  On the last downwind leg, the winds dropped below 6kts and the boat basically parked.  We finished 6mins 15secs behind 1st and 2mins 20secs behind 3rd.

Race#3: June 16, 2013, dist. 5.2nm, course WKMGMX, Winds SW 6-11 (closer to 6 and liter).  Gemini finished DFL again out of 5boats.  We got ‘horizoned’ by an Express 37.  I have learned if the winds drop below 6kts, especially with the self-tacking jib, just crack open the beer and start drinking.

Race#4: July 4th, dist. 6.1nm, course WMWMYX, Winds SW 8-13kts:  4th of 5 boats.  Again, we did not get the course down which really hurt us, but struggled to compete against other liter race boats with more sail area.  Still had trouble pointing as well as boat speed under the self-tacker.  Finished 3rd non-corrected.

Race#5: July 24, 2013, dist. 3.46nm, course M-T-L-X, winds N6-8kts: 5th out of 7 boats.

Race#6: July 28, 2013, dist. 6.5nm, course WD2X, winds SE 5-9kts (closer to 9kts).  Our new Quantum Fusion MR5000 racing sails arrived (main and 145 genoa)!!! The traveler is installed along with the new genoa tracks.   Gemini finished 2nd out of 6 boats!!!  Conditions were near perfect for our brand new 145 genoa and the crew performed well.

Race#7: August 4, 2013. dist. 6.8nm, course DGHDHX, winds NNW-W 6-16ths.  Gemini finished 4th of 6 boats with PHRF our rating of 105 even though we were 2nd across the line.  Winds were shifty and up and down, so we were overpowered at times with our 145 genoa up.

Race#8: Aug 7th 2013, 3.3nm, W-J-M-X, winds SE 10-11kts, Gemini finishes 6th of 7 boats 1min 30secs behind 3rd place.

Race #9: Aug 18, 2013, dist 4.4nm, winds ENE=ESE 6-9kts, Gemini finished 1st on a corrected basis with our new PHRF rating of 120 out of 4 boats, 6 seconds ahead of the Bene 36.7 that won every other race and placed 2nd this time.  Now the other skippers are really grumbling about our new PHRF rating. 

Race#10: Aug 21, dist. 3.2nm, course W-J-M-X, winds S @ 10kts, 1st place of 13 boats.  PHRF rating had been changed to 120 putting Gemini in to our club’s Division 2.  Winds were perfect for 145 genoa and two great reaching legs.  We were 1st across the line and tied for 1st place with a Metalmast 30 on corrected basis.  Finished just ahead of a Farr 33 also rated 120. 

Race #11: August 25th, 2013, dist 6.3nm, course GPITW1, Winds SSE 7-11kts.  Gemini finished 3rd of 5 boats on corrected basis and 3rd non-corrected as well behind the Bene 36.7 and NY 36 race boats.

Race #12: Aug 28th.  Started but abandoned due to lack of wind.  We probably would have finished close to last given the very light winds had the race not been abandoned.

Race #13 September 2nd 2013, dist 5.2nm, WN2X, Winds SE.  Finished 4th of 5 boats.  Corrected and non-corrected.  Winds were a little heavier, and we attempted to race with our 145 genoa and main reefed upwind which left us a bit over powered at times.

Race #14: , September 22nd 2013, dist 7.8nm, WH3x, Winds NW 10-22kts.  1st across the line, but 2nd place corrected.  Beat out on corrected basis by a Sabre 34 with a 165 handicap rating vs. Gemini at 120.  Winds were heavy and ossiliating up and down.  Used the self-tacker as #3 jib which proved smart move given the heavier winds.  Did not reef the main, which at times left us over-powered upwind.

Race #15, October 12th, 2012. The 58th annual Indian Harbor Yacht Club “Gearbuster” Race - Dist 20nm (Greenwhich to Eaton’s neck and back), Winds 15-30kts, Class 5 – PHRF Non-Spinnaker 120 and under.  A “Gearbuster for the Ages”.  Gemini finished 2nd of 9 boats both corrected and non-corrected.  The weather was rough with winds typically ranging between 20-30kts and waves over 6’ in Long Island Sound.  One boat was DNS and two more were DNF.  We had our new 109% jib with vertical battens that proved perfect for the conditions and reefed the main for the upwind leg. 1st leg was a long beat.  We had a rough start not hitting the line right after the gun, and started on port tack with a starboard tacker hunting us down from the other side of the line.  Although tactically it would have been better to duck, given the conditions I thought it was safer seamen move to tack.  We found out later we were protested, but prevailed in the hearing.  Once we tacked back out the J100 was WAY ahead, and the Tripp 37 about 10-20 boat lengths ahead.  That said, we slowly and methodically reeled them back in.  Down wind, we shook out the reef in the main and hooked up the wisker pole.  Not an easy task in 20+kts of wind and surfing down 6+ ft waves.  As we approached Greenwich harbor we caught up to the Tripp37, overlapped them about a 0.5nm from the finish and just edged them out at the finish.  We were 8mins 7 secs behind on the J100 corrected basis.  The crew got a real workout and did terrific.  The 109% jib was a great addition to the sail inventory, and should work well up to 25kts true.  Above that I’ll use the self-tacker.  Above 20kts, I believe the main must be reefed upwind.  For more interesting commentary, checkout http://www.indianharboryc.com/default.aspx?p=.NET_ArticleView&qfilter=&tview=0&itemID=303213&chgs=&ssid=273876

  which has some pretty good footage from some other boats.

Hope my fellow Hanse racers found this useful.  I am looking forward to a much better 2nd year racing Gemini.

 

James Coffman

James C
Gemini, Hanse 375 #644
USA 60468
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