Sunday, June 14, 2015

J/88 Sailing Fast Offshore- By Kerry @ North Sails

J/88 Blue Flash- winner of Ensenada Race (Newport Beach, CA)- Scott Grealish’s J/88 BLUE FLASH won their class in convincing fashion and nearly pulled off the overall win in the Newport to Ensenada Race.  Kerry Poe of North Sails Oregon offers some fresh, challenging new ideas on how to sail fast offshore:

“Once again I had the pleasure to sail with Scott Grealish and crew Andrew Haliburton, Chris Thomson and Sean Grealish, on the J-88, Blue Flash. This was the first time any of us had done the 125-mile Newport to Ensenada race. The conditions proved to be challenging requiring constant sail adjustments and sail changes to keep the boat moving at optimum speed. Blue Flash is well prepared with double asymmetric tack lines on the sprit for sail changes, another fixed point on the sprit for the highly loaded Code 0's and a pad eye on the deck for the furling windseeker/spinnaker staysail. I believe one of the keys to our success was our ability and willingness to make sail changes. Bowman Chris Thomson claims he did more sail changes in that race then he has done in all of his racing combined. Chris and Sean did a great job of not only doing the sail changes, but also not complaining when it was time to do another and another and another. We used a light/medium jib, windseeker, A1, A2, large code 0 and small code 0. We probably had each one of those sails up at least 3 times each.

J/88 Blue Flash team- winnersFor this race, we had a specialty/experimental small code 0 built. Many of the modern race boats have non-overlapping jibs with swept aft spreaders and a wide shroud base. When the wind gets light and when you are sailing slightly cracked off from closed hauled, until you can put up a free- flying sail, the boat benefits having a large overlapping headsail. However, that would require a rating hit. In order to have a larger sail for tight sailing angles, the weapon of choice is the code 0 which is measured as a free-flying downwind sail. In order to measure as a free-flying sail the mid -girth has to be at least 75% of the foot length, and the sail must have no battens and a free-flying luff. The code 0 has a low stretch luff line that is put on the winch and tightened to reduce luff sag. It is usually flown on a stand-alone furler. The large code 0 sheets around the shrouds and is fairly deep, thus supporting the large spinnaker-like roach. Since the sail sheets around the wide spreaders and is fairly full, the sail does not sail to weather very well. We felt like we needed a better sail for very light upwind beating conditions. The idea that Scott Grealish, Rod Johnston, Dave Hirsch and I came up with was a code 0 that is flown at the end of the 6' 10" sprit and sheets to the jib track and in front of the spreaders. The sail could not be as flat as a jib or the battenless positive roach would just flap. The shape had to be as flat as possible but still deep enough to support the roach.

243 sq feet 429 sq feet 556 sq feet
Small Code 0
Large Code 0

The sail was built just in time for the race. Unfortunately, we did not have anytime to try it out before the race so we just went for it. We were able to sail about a 55 TWA with a gain of 76% bigger sail than the largest headsail. Our angles were deeper than a standard jib, but the difference in boat speed more than made up for it. The sail was also very useful as a blast reacher. Since the sail is on a furler at the end of the sprit, it was very easy going back and forth between it and the headsail.

The perpetual trophy was an actual working signal cannon. The best part of the trip was Chris calling TSA to ask if we could bring a cannon on the plane with us. TSA asked if it was a working cannon, which he explained that it was. The TSA agent than asked if everybody won a cannon, which Chris replied that "hell no, just us". The agent said he had to talk to his superiors and call us back. He called back and congratulated us and said bring it on board.”