In the third and final part of our series of tuning tips, we look at how boat prep can give you a speed edge
Your boat preparation should include making sure that your hull and foils have no dents or scratches and everything is nice and shiny! Use McLube Speed Polish on the hull before big events, and preserve all that hard work by using the undercover when trailing.
Be obsessed with keeping the rudder in really good condition and doing everything possible to stop the keel getting scratched and knocked in transit or when lifting. Whenever out of the water, pack the keel with the new high density foam packers from SportsBoatWorld, which keeps it really solid. Before dropping the keel we always try to flush a load of water down the box to get rid of any bits of grit and then keep the boat level so that it doesn’t rub on the sides of the keel box. When we trail, try and slide some plastic sheets between the keel and keel box to minimise movement and damage. The foils should line up vertically, and the keel tight in the keel box and the rudder should have minimal play.
Be careful about putting a wet rudder in the rudder bag as this may lead to osmosis. Rudder fittings also need constant attention: replace the bronze inserts regularly, and keep an eye out for cracks on the stainless fittings and on the rudder blade – if you find any, seek professional advice on how to repair them.
After sailing, flush all the blocks with fresh water as often as possible. Replace running rigging as soon as you see signs of fray or the outer cover deteriorating – steadily shorten all the running rigging to minimum length. Ropes that are too long are heavy and cause snags. Make sure you are using a spinnaker sheet with a rat’s tail type splice that attaches to the clew for faster gybes. Change the jib halyard cleat from the spinlock to the Harken cam and plate – this means that you can adjust jib height more accurately.
Keep an eye on the spreader bracket, especially on old masts – these can be re-welded but replacing them is advised when you see cracking. The new spreader brackets are a thicker gauge. Think about having the boat re-painted below when it starts getting scratched – we have seen many boats where the paint has become damaged and the plywood bulkheads become wet and rotten: not fast!
Keep the boat as a dry as possible between events. Ensure the boat is dry below when you pack up, leave the hatch open, and secure the cover properly with the main halyard on the attachment point to stop water gathering at the back.
Down below is an often ignored area. Ensure you have the correct safety gear that the event requires, but make sure you don’t carry any extra, and make sure what you have is sensibly light. If you are carrying an engine make sure you have a bungee method to secure it in place. On deck keep the extra gear you carry to a minimum – a Gerber, a couple of lengths of Spectra, some split rings, a spare block or two and some tape will fix most things.
You have plenty of options here, it really depends on what information you want to see, and what you’d find distracting:
• Tacktick Race master – a wheel-based transducer for true speed through the water, though it does vary on each tack as it is not set on the centre line. Also has depth and a good flux compass.
• Velocitek Prostart – Great start line functionality, but GPS-based speed and compass.
• Novasail – Has similar start line functionality but a flux compass.
• We are now allowed to have a combination of the above, so using the Velocitek with a Tacktick micro compass (or now the new Velocitek Shift) is a popular choice if you want to use the start line tool.