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Calibrating a high performance boat like a 505

by Michael Quirk 30 Apr 07:11 PDT
High speed 505 sailing © Christophe Favreau / www.christophefavreau.book.fr

Video explaining a simple way of calibrating a rig to make changes quickly and without thinking as wind conditions change during a race.

Most boats, particularly smaller ones like a 5O5 that don't change to smaller rigs or sails as wind increases, have a way of reducing power as wind increases. This often requires changing mast rake to rebalance the boat which also triggers a number of other necessary changes in sail trim as a result.

Under racing conditions the crew needs to be able to make all these adjustments quickly without losing concentration on racing.

In the case of a 5O5 there are tuning grids available which give you settings of various controls for different wind strengths. These calibrations have generally been determined by the top sailors over years of experience and require markings on lines and the boat so changes can be made with minimal thinking and in the knowledge that the settings will be correct.

In this video Australian Yachtsman, Robin Duessen explains how he has used color coding in his 5O5 to keep it simple. Having worked out where the key controls that affect sail shape need to be (the tuning grids are a good starting point) colours are used as markers so when rake is changed all the other relevant controls are simply set to the same colour. Done correctly this maintains the mast configuration to ensure it continues to suit the luff round cut in the mainsail and even how far out board the jib should be set.

Video thanks to Christophe Favreau

"I would say if you want to know how to set a 5O5 up, Mike Holt's video clinic is a must which we used initially" said Robin Deussen after his second Australian Championship title.

"Colours are something we found very easy to use as a calibration tool, more idiot proof than numbers, maybe it is only us that need to dumb it down. My setup in colours are done in this order:

  1. Rake
  2. Ram
  3. Sidestay Tracks
  4. Jib/in & out
  5. C/board travel would be approx 250mm along the back of the trunk over 15 kts we also move it back and up with different holes in the board and top of the case.
Then l use my vang and cunningham as my accelerator.

This is all to keep the boom on the inside of the side tank which is a great guide.

Setting the Rake up and travel is the most important thing, being able to get forward and back enough is critical.

We cut 25 mm out the back of our gate and moved our mast step position forward 2 holes (24mm)on the proctor mast step to be able to get the aft rake without bending the mast around teh back of the gate when fully raked. Also, because we moved the mast step in our boat the Ram track on the mast was now too short so l made a telescopic adjustment for the ram itself, in light air l move it in then l can get my mast forward enough without reverse bending the mast".

About Robin Duessen

Started sailing at 12 years old as a complete novice. His family has no background in sailing but his German father drank at the local pub where someone had a boat and thought it would be a good idea to stop the kids running a muck. Now 60, Robin affectionately known as Fritz has:

  • Won 3 National Sharpie Championships in 1984,1985 and 2001
  • Was Trimmer on the 1985-86 South Australia 12m (then the America's Cup boats)
  • Was Tactician during the World 12m Championship in 1986
  • Was Tactician on the 1986 Steak & Kidney America's Cup Defender series
  • Sailed a lot of keelboat and match racing series along the way as crew for John Savage, Phil Thompson and Fred Neill during the Cup stint
  • 1988 FD National Champion
  • Crew member on the first Lexcen Cup win in 1989
  • Four-time Australian National Team Racing Champion (with Sandy Higgins and Brett Young)
  • 505 National Champion in 2012 and 2020
  • Melges 24 National Champion in 2019
  • Top ten in 505 World Championship, Brighton Seacliff
  • 14th in 5O5 World 2018 in Poland

About the 505

The 505 is a double-handed racing dinghy that incorporates a lightweight hull design with a powerful sail plan and trapeze. What makes the boat unique is its outstanding performance across conditions and the ability to impact boat speed through in-race adjustments. Quick and responsive in light conditions, and stable and easy to control in strong wind and high waves, the 505 can also plane in just 10 knots of wind. Almost every adjustment can be made while racing, which makes racing incredibly dynamic as it truly takes the best sailors to win. Since its introduction in 1957, the 505 is now the highest performance dinghy available today, and the boat of choice for some of the world's best sailors as well as professional sailors when they are looking to race for fun.

For the latest on 505 racing around the globe visit www.int505.org

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