Spinnaker guy and sheet

Spinnaker sailing can be exhilarating and for many, a reason to sail altogether! I am not among those, but I do love spinnaker sailing and mine goes up anytime it is possible – sometimes even when it is not, but that’s another story.

Because the forces are so great, the sail flies free and the amount of lines increases, it is important that everything works fine. Even more so when it is sailed solo or shorthanded.

Flying my spinnaker I noticed that the guy was not free through the spinnaker pole fitting. I did not like it, but it did not feel like a major problem. However, the last time I sailed I had some problem jibing the spinnaker because the spliced end of the guy would slide through the fitting and prevent it from opening.

I realized then that it was time to scale down the size for the lines. The old lines were 22mt x 10mm and the spliced end had the cover tucked back in the rope creating a 14mm thickness for the last 20cm.

I purchased two 23mt x 8mm lines Liros Racer Vision with a breaking load at over 4000kg. The core is dyneema SK78 and high grip cover. For some reason the indicated and provided lines with the boat were 10mm thick with dyneema core – I am not aware of their breaking load, however it sounds overkill as the sail would rip before a much smaller line with such a load.

The Red is the old line and the blue is the new one.

The old line was perhaps more comfortable to handle with bare hands, however impracticable over 10kn wind. Under that TWS the line was however very heavy on the spinnaker.

The new line has a great grip on the winch. Being slimmer it moves through the tweaks easily even in light wind and it goes through the pole fitting with low friction.

I have also spared about 600gr per sheet. 1200gr is perhaps not a great saving in terms of weight on a displacement boat like Veloce, however 600gr sheet in light wind makes the difference between a spi that flies and one that does not.

I have spliced one end to use a snap shackle removing the cover from the splice having no more than 10mm in the last 20cm. I normally use the snap shackles when I sail solo or in fresher breeze as it is faster to handle and ”park” somewhere whilst clearing the deck.

In lighter wind and buoy regatta I believe that the old reliable bowline is a far better option. In that case I only need to invert the ends of the sheet and guy when rigging the spinnaker.


Dyneema backstay and flicker

In order to reduce induced drag as well as increase sail area and possibility to twist the new mainsail has a larger roach. This required a flicker to lift the backstay which in turn required a lighter backstay.

Furthermore, trimming the rigging is something I avoid if possible as I find it very unpractical on such a boat as Veloce as well as very hard to get right. An alternative way to increase forestay tension is with a better adjustable backstay.

Veloce used to sport a double commando adjustable backstay which to be honest, not only was impossible to utilize actively shorthanded with its positioning above the transom, but it also remained unlocked on the leeward side after a tack. This meant that after tacking I had to reach the ”wrong” side of the double commando, before being able to re-tension. Last but not least, the double cascade made it impossible to mark max tension and additional ”speed” positions.

So in summary, here is the rationale to rebuild my backstay:

  • reduced need to adjust shrouds tension
  • greater precision
  • lighter standing rigging
  • larger roach

Solution to all of the above problems: a flicker on the masthead to lift the backstay, a new backstay in dyneema, single commando (providing reduced weight on the flicker as well) and much longer cascades for increased tension.

A traditional flat flicker on the top would have required moving all instruments (anchor light, wind indicator, anemometer). I then found another type of flicker sold by a local Swedish rigger, Benns, which could be installed on the side of the masthead. This however required a space of at least 10 cm which was not possible and it would have ended up on top of the backstay attachment. The solution was mounting the same flicker on the mast top as a traditional one, but it only required re-fitting the wind indicator. Following the instructions and using the drill coming with the flicker was a piece of cake.

As I mentioned, the wind instrument had to be refitted and it was easily achieved by purchasing a 2x10cm x3mm aluminium plate from a common local hardware store, bending it in 90 degrees angles as in the picture and fitting it on top of the flicker.

The first part of the backstay was a dyneema rope sk78 braided in 12 threads by FSE Robline called D12 in the same diameter as the wire backstay, 5mm (it has a slightly higher breaking load – 2356 kg – than wire for a fraction of the weight), 3 meters longer than the wire to provide marginal length for splicing. I spliced one end with a Brummel Eye splice and bound it to the masthead with a Girth Hitch to have equal load on the entire eye.

The other end was spliced on the spot by my sail-maker so that the cascade 32:1 was finely adjusted for the trim I wanted to achieve.

The result was a very light backstay that allows me to increase mast-bend up to 26cm with one hand, which is exactly what the mainsail is designed for. Forestay tension increases dramatically and sag disappears almost completely, whilst the upper part of the main sail becomes very flat.

I don’t have figures to compare from the previous set up, but I could sail short handed close-hauled with a TWA of 40 degree in up to 17 knots wind and heeling never over 25 degrees, which is of course over the optimal heeling angle, but acceptable to keep the boat on course. Definitely not something which was possible with the previous set up without hiking and without overpowering the rudder.

10 knots SOG record!

Amazing first sailing day!

Short handed, we left the harbor gliding at 3 knots over ground in barely 3 knots wind on a broad reach without downwind sail. It already feels like a small payback for the many winter hours invested in race bottom finish.

Hoisting the spinnaker and pointing higher to a close reach we went up to 4.8 knots outperforming our benchmark polar.

The wind appear to be dying out completely, but it the weather turned suddenly as weather often does and we ended up on close hauled leg in a moderate breeze oscillating between 12 and 16 knots. Because sailing short handed and lacking meet on the rail we got a chance to play around with the new UK Sails mainsail and its form and got up to our speed target anyway! Awesome results and great mainsail response.

Rounding a lighthouse (Hätteberget) on the Swedish West Coast we ended up on a run back towards the coast in a wind that by then had strengthened to about 19/20 knots. As the wind had just formed closed to the cost, we had no waves chasing us, which meant no surfing, but no disturbance either. Spinnaker up, speed shifting between 8 and 9 knots with a first time 10 knots recorded SOG on the log when coming up to a broad reach.

Everything worked out great and it feels like Veloce is ready for a great season 2019, waiting however for a new jib.

Impressed by the mainsail responsiveness and ability to trim. Leaving the large S2 spinnaker partly hidden behind the mainsail with both twikers set hard and playing with vang to spill out gusts felt like a very responsive setup for running in spite of a relatively high TWS and oversized spinnaker.

It looks like it is time for a major update to the boat polars!

Winch service

Disassembled and cleaned selftailing Harken winches

Veloce is equipped with a pair of Harken self-tailing winches 32 on the cabin top at each side of the companionway and a pair of larger Harken self-tailing winches 40 at each side of the cockpit.

Winches are critical on any boat over a certain displacement and sail area, they are steroids to your muscles if sailing short handed or even more alone. I, for example, use them to mooring, rotating the hull in a harbor, lifting anchor on top of all they are designed for. They are subject to heavy loads and exposed to the elements, in other words they require some tender loving care.

Here how I go about:

Winch with removed drum

Disassemble them from the hull, taking a picture at any element I remove to be sure to be able to re-assemble them. There are a number of available tutorials from Harken on Youtube that apply even if the winch size is different  and it is a matter of 3 minutes per winch to get them apart, with a large flat screwdriver as only tool.
The base of the winch can only be removed from inside the hull, but I find this not needed as all mechanical part can be taken off and cleaned elsewhere.

Wait for a rainy winter evening, which is not a big of a wait in the region where I live. Choose a good audio-book and group all parts per winch on a desk to be sure not to mix them up. I clean each part with some paper from the obvious dirt, apply some degreaser with a small paintbrush on all parts and dry them out with paper removing the remaining dirt. I normally need to repeat this process a few times to be able to get each part clean.

I clean with some degreaser the base of the winch on the boat as well and dry it properly before re-assembling all parts. I then apply
Harken winch white grease from on the cogs and Harken winch oil on all bearings and friction prone parts.
Re-assembling is pretty easy as well and I have my pictures showing how things looked like!

Job done!

Bottom reborn…part 3 (and last, finally!)

Sunny, very little wind. It finally was a good chance to paint with epoxi the hull and paint with antifouling.

Here the steps:

  • Build a shield against dust, direct sun and insects
  • Paint 4 layers epoxy International VC Tar
  • Insertion of rudder axle
  • Application of anti-fouling International VC17m
  • Re-positioning the boat
  • Sanding, epoxi and paint where the boat was leaning and under the keel
  • Final layer of anti-fouling VC17m

Protection tarpaulins hanging around the boat

Protecting the hull from debris has been critical as the epoxy becomes very soon sticky and any dust coming from other boat owner sanding their boats or insects due to the spring warmth remains attached and embedded in the plastic. On the other hand it is critical that either the structure supporting the tarpaulins is stable or the day is without wind in order to avoid the tarpaulin itself getting attached to the hull (which of course happened).

The first layer of anti-fouling paint was applied after 5 hours, with a hard foundation, but not yet as slippery as glass!


The day after completing the second layer I have order the a repositioning of the boat 15cm ahead and with a different leaning point for the keel. At this point in just 2 days I managed to scrape off the old paint from where the hull was initially leaning, sand it, 4 layers epoxy as well as 2 layers vc17m.

Unfortunately some of the epoxy has crept under the masking tape and cannot be removed without scratching the hull, therefore I am now scratching my head about how to solve the problem.

Bottom reborn… part 2

Finally spring is in the air. The temperature swings between 6 and 9 degrees Celsius.

The keel has been sanded with sand paper grit 80. Rust spots have been sanded away to bare metal and painted with two component epoxy primer International VC TAR2.

Next step is to putty where rust has been sanded as well as firing the keel. In order to bring up the temperature I have hanged a plastic tarpaulin around the keel and held it down with some wooden boards. This reduces chilling effect of the wind, dispersion of heat inside the space as well as greenhouse effect since the sun is still relatively low and light goes through the plastic.

A air heater has ben placed inside the space to reduce humidity and increase air temperature whilst an infrared heater set to warm up the huge iron keel. The effect of this last step is crucial as it increases induced warmth on the surface where the putty will be laid as well as making the keel work as a radiator and holding warmth up over night.

I have used West System putty with fast hardener that works down to 5 degrees Celsius. I found it very easy to apply with a small putty spade and a large one for fairing. The dough must be thick enough to to stay where it is spread. The putty was workable for about 20 minutes before going to gel phase and no longer applicable. To facilitate sanding afterwards and increase consistency I used microballoons mixed with the putty. It required quite a lot of it to provide the right thickness. West System sells separately pumps to provide the correct amount of base and hardener. Works wonderfully!

Bottom reborn… part 1

During last autumn I have set out with a ”small” project, or at least that is what I thought then, to give a refresh to Veloce’s bottom. As I had notice that the paint coming off in some areas close to waterline and on the keel, I decided to remove the old one and start afresh and changing from a polishing antifouling to a hard one with race finish.

What I will do

  • removal of self-polishing anti-fouling Hempel Mille
  • fairing the hull, keel and rudder
  • redefining keel and rudder trailing edges
  • painting with International VC TAR – 5 layers with alternating colors
  • painting with International VC 17 grey

Here’s how I went about the first step and part of the second:

After countless trials and change of tools I finally found the right equipment, or what worked best for me anyway.

I scraped off the entire bottom paint with a Bahco paint scraper, with 3 blades: flat wide, triangular and pear shaped. Quite pricey, but worth every cent. You probably need to give a try to a cheap one for understanding what I am talking about.

I then sanded everything with an oscillating sander from Bosh and grit 120/180. I tried not to go through the existing epoxy layers, however I found that in spite of the nice smoothness, I was not satisfied with the surface fairness and since I already employed some 150h work, it was worth doing a really good job. I used a hand sander with a long base (70cm) to resand the entire bottom (except keel) with grit 180/240. This gave a very good surface.

I then resanded everything with the oscillating sander grit 420/600.

In spite of the painstakingly slow and painful work I found that countless hours staring at a grey mass is very much comparable to meditating or performing yoga. Thankfully audiobooks exist nowadays.

The keel has some rust stains and the metal has a very unfair surface and very thick trailing edge. I then decided to sort that out to get my mind at peace. Because of the epoxy application temperature, I am waiting a few more weeks for the job and the description of the process. I suppose that when I will be to it, I will refresh the rudder trailing edge as well.