Thursday, July 21, 2011

The A-Team Reports - Zack Marks

The first thing that I noticed when rigging the bowsprit and the asymmetric was how much gear I did not have to use. The auto guys could be taken off, the foreguy could be left in the boat, the topping lift could be skied, and the pole could be tied to the boom with launcher lines removed. A very clean look. And the bowsprit (the Kiwis call it “the prod”) is superlight.

The first day I sailed with the rig was in New Jersey in Barnegat Bay. Andrew Jones and I sailed downwind with Parry and Macy in non-wire running conditions. We eased the tack line and seemed to be holding well and against them. They might have been a touch faster but that also might have been technique. Either way the performance felt fine in light air. A friend, Mike Dowd, was on a coach boat. He said that the separation between the spinnaker and the main and jib looked much better with the a-sail than the symmetrical.

The next time I used the prod was on a windier day in Marblehead. It was probably about 10 knots, which was enough to wire run. I sailed with another Pleon instructor, Pete McGrath, who is a current collegiate sailor but had never sailed a 505 before. Despite having a rookie crew everything was easy. He pulls out the tack line and trims the sheet while I raise the sail. Going into gybes he eases one sheet and pulls another. By the end of the day his last two gybes were really good and he was having a blast. It was easy for a new sailor to pick up. Regarding, performance the boat felt great downwind. We were playing with some keelboats that were racing and we could easily gybe back and forth through the fleet.

The video that I uploaded was also sailed in Marblehead with yet another rookie 505er. Ian Barrows skippered while I crewed on another day around 10 knots. As a crew who has sailed with the single pole, the double pole, and some other weird stuff in between, the a-sail was incredibly easy and clean. I even tried gibing backwards a few times because the spin sheet blocks are so far aft that it is an easy hand switch. Check out the video for all the details. While the kite does not stay flying the whole time and it takes a while to get trimmed back in, I think that in heavier air this will be less of an issue because the kite will be floating further away from the boat.

Overall I really like the asymmetrical spinnaker. The boat was really easy to rig and the performance was about the same if not better. I would like to do more testing in windier conditions but unfortunately Marblehead is not known for its massive summer seabreeze. I will have the equipment down in Newport for the upcoming clinic if anyone wants to try it out.

1 comment:

  1. I happen to think the A kite would be a good thing for the class. If it can reduce the complexity, keep the speed and fun up, be reliable then it would seem like something we should do. It would take me a while to get used to having the pole out in front of the boat all the time, but other classes do it. Jim USA 7776