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First Sails in 3490

Started by David Sanderson, 08 Aug 2022, 03:42

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David Sanderson

Having picked up 3490 just over a week ago we have had our first few sails in her.
I should probably say that I was a fairly experienced sailor, who is back after about a 20 year break, and my wife is a total novice.

The first sail went fairly well, a little mooch about on Wednesday evening. The wind was a light f2 with occasional small gusts.
Things I noted were the tiller extension was about a foot too long - I kept poking the crew with it, and the outhaul on the boom meant the helm couldn't adjust it whilst sailing.
Positives were how the boat picked up in the slightest gust, and generally that nothing of note fell off or broke, and we didn't immediately capsize (small wins  8) )

During the week I swapped the tiller extension for an old Laser one, and re rigged the outhaul to the thwart cleats (using the existing unused turning blocks let into the centreboard housing - so clearly something was rigged that way once).

On Saturday there was 'Casual Sailing' organised at the club - so there was rescue boat cover :)
A perfect opportunity to have another familiarisation sail. 
The weather was warm and sunny, but the wind was somewhat variable - from both out hiking gusts to nothing lulls.
I'm going to blame that for our first capsize :) From a lull to a full on splash.
Still SWMBO floated in the water as crew, once she realised we were over and I swam round the back and got onto the centreboard. Fortunately the water is quite warm at the moment.
Being a double bottom the board was not too far out of the water and she came up easily. SWMBO got scooped into the boat and I decided that over the transom was the best way in.
We then spent a couple of minutes laughing and sorting ourselves out before heading in for a cuppa and some food. The self draining cockpit is (I think anyway) worth the price of admission.

Break over we went out again. This time we managed to pick up a few good gusts and the speed that the 12 accelerates is amazing.
One notable gust got us nearly planing, except we had the weight too far forward, and you could see the bow thinking about becoming a submarine. EEK! I luffed up rather than crash. We will need more practice there, but if we can get it right then the water will seem quite small I think.

Shortly after this we had our first death roll gybe. I think (and I'm not sure) a gust caught us as we gybed and then wibble wobble all fall in...
As we had gone in to windward I stood balancing on the centreboard just popping the mast slightly until we drifted more head to wind, then again she came up easily. I manged to hop in as she came up, and SWMBO got scooped up. Cue the laughter again...

Sunday - A Race day.

After Saturday's familiarisation SWMBO was obviously less nervous than she had been and even looked like she was enjoying it. So of course we managed to death roll capsize on the way to the first start... Still I managed to start the countdown whilst standing on the centreboard, so maybe it wasn't all bad ;)

After a leisurely start (novice crew and a boat which we are not very good at handling yet) we managed after the first beat and reach to get back in amongst the middle of the mixed fleet.

The racing was a bit to and fro, with odd moments of brilliance, and other moments that were less good. We have got better at popping the centreboard and rudder to clear the weed - there is a lot about and when you don't spot your dragging it it really slows the 12 down. On the list for when we get better is rudderless sailing - then we'll only have the centreboard to deal with  ;D

The second race didn't feel as good - Both SWMBO and I were quite tired (little sleep as we had collected No 1 Daughter returning from a trip at very early o'clock).
We were late to the start - just could not get the main up due to mast track and halyard jamming issues. Still we started dead last and managed to pull a few places back as we went round. The wind was increasingly shifty and light.  I also hit a mark - 12s are wider and turn in faster than I expected.
We rounded the race off on the last lap with an "Exhibition capsize" in front of the clubhouse - The Gybe mark. As we ran in towards it the wind strengthened, and combined with our lack of experience and slow reactions we rolled in... I did manage to get over the back onto the board - I had abandoned hope of correcting the roll and just accepted the inevitable. At least we were round the mark when it happened.
That brought the total capsizes for the weekend to 4.

We managed a not to disastrous 13th from 16 in the first race and 12 from 15, using 1089 as the PY as recommended on the website.
The insides of the buoyancy tanks were still bone dry, so I don't have to worry about that, but I will have to look at the mast track / sail feeder and halyard sheave.

There is also a lot of learning to do about rig controls and such - we basically set the rig tension / position and left it alone on both days. Plenty of time for that in the future.
Overall Im enjoying the experience of a 'responsive' ( ;) ) sail boat, and SWMBO also seems to be.
As an instructor I know commented: "A National 12 - ideal learning boat" - Although I'm fairly sure he was being sarcastic  ::)

Couple of questions for more knowledgeable types:
We spent a fair bit of time with the board at about 1/2 down - it didn't seem to affect the beating and it made the weeds a little less of a problem. I guess we would make more leeway, but is this a valid way to sail a 12 - weight forward, nose in and board up a bit?

The mast is carbon fibre - if the track is worn does that mean Ill be needing a new mast? (I suspect its the original one from 2004 ish).  If so what is the current 'good' mast - carbon I assume but from whom?



Hi David, 

A great account of your first few sails in your National 12, an excellent read!

A few pointers:

Would try cleaning the mast track and spraying some mclube or similar first. Masts are expensive - but can be purchased from Super Spars or Selden.

I find kicker tension is vital off-wind, letting it off is an accelerator until you are past the point of no return (when the leech is too open and goes past the mast) - similar to a Laser. I play with the kicker a lot on a run.

Also, when it is time to gybe, it is vital (for me at least) that the crew grabs the kicker strop and physically pulls the boom across - telling the helm when it is about to go - or if it won't go (too much power in the sail/rig).

Then, the crew should follow the boom across the boat unless it is fairly windy and they're best stopping in the middle to stabilize it - normally depends how well the steering has gone! It is something fine tuned over lots of practice.

These are just my views and I hope others will share their thoughts! Keep going though, the N12 is a delightful dinghy, especially if you're lucky enough to sail with your wife as I am too.
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