by Brad Funk
Zhik Moth Worlds extreme conditions left their marks on me and the boat today. Managed to complete two of the three races but was unable to compete in the third. It was a total physics lesson today with vmg's, displacement and material strength testing.
Fleet Starting: Brad is far right - Zhik Moth Worlds 2011
The first day of gold fleet racing was surreal, lining up against all the top notch guys. And it was windy again.
Successful forward progress involved hiking full out in the straps and balancing the massive puffs, all of which was extremely challenging and rewarding. And then you had to choose which vmg you wanted to go - 12knots high mode (close to the wind) or 17 knots low mode (more open sail trim).
Tacking was different as well. Normally I'd foil-tack/gybe to change direction, but today I had to learn new techniques again. Getting to the other side of the boat for the new tack involved sailing straight into the wind until boat slowed enough for me to control the degree of windward heel for the new tack. (It was too windy for anyone to do a foiling tack, at least not yet; needed to learn the new conditions.)
The first race, first mark, I rounded in third at the top and stayed there until the bottom mark. I sorted out the boat for the 25 knot u-turn to go back upwind when the mainsheet slipped out of my hands. The 5 minutes spent upside down trying to right the boat killed my hard effort to clinch a top five position, which had been my goal. But I needed to finish so I played it safe and finished in the 20's.
The next race produced a similar situation. I rounded seventh at top mark, gybed onto the inside layline with massive puffs hitting. Apparently these were recorded at 27.6kts, the maximum for the day. I soaked low, making a 3-boat gain. But it wasn't enough. The mark came so fast (well, I was approaching so fast), I double gybed to slow the boat but over did it, and in the drink I went. Again. Frustrating. Think I know what I have to practice.
I mentioned yesterday how the guys were ready to share techniques and ideas. Well, I talked to them afterwards and they told me they had no vang on; I had half, which, apparently, is way too much in 25 knots. Still you live and learn.
I had heard a 'crack' in the rudder gantry a few days ago and had it looked at. We applied some carbon fiber to reinforce the area, but apparently it wasn't enough to do the job. The rudder loads downwind were excessive and extreme, and I heard another 'crack' during the second race. In between the second and third races, as I made my way to the water boat (to get water), the rudder gantry, that holds the rudder to boat, exploded. I'm out for the third race. Mach2 boats are designed very well and strong, but the forces and leverages exerted at these speeeds wears and tears any materials on this planet. Maybe someday, we will find a stronger, lighter material!
Overall, I learned a lot, particularly about what angles to use when coming into a mark at Mach2 speed, and that throwing on more reinforcing carbon is one way to ensure I will be able sail another race. Lay day tomorrow and well needed. Six races left. Chow Earthlings.
See you on the water,