Will asked me to write a bit on the differences between the OK and the Solo. I first sailed OK’s back in 2003 and was still sailing the Solo as well. Trying to get to grips with the OK highlighted a few areas that I could improve in the Solo.
The OK’s hard chine means it reacts much more to changes in heel angle and the raked rudder feeds back much more to the helm. Getting an OK downwind quickly requires a more subtle approach to body movement and sail trim. Using the rudder to change direction has a much more detrimental effect on speed in the OK. When I got back into the Solo after a couple of years in an OK, I’d gained a few kilos, but found I was quicker downwind, than I had been. I was using mainsheet trim and heel much more and letting the rudder follow the boat rather than trying to muscle the boat downwind.
The OK rules don’t allow the mainsheet to be trimmed from the boom downwind. The mainsheet has to be taken from the last block in the system. Along with jury boats at most big events, it’s largely removed the issue with 1-1 pumping, that many single handers suffer from. It’s also a lot more civilised! To me, it feels a lot more like a true test of skill to get an OK downwind quickly. Perhaps it’s something the Solo’s could try?
The OK mast foot and mast gate positions are easily adjustable on the water, so it’s fairly straight forward to tweak and test different set ups. Many people have a range of foot and gate positions to suit each condition. The basics are move the mast foot away from the board to go lower and faster in breeze and towards the board for more height / power in lighter conditions. I’m convinced this is an area that is worth exploiting in the Solo and did start to move the mast around in the boat for different conditions. I didn’t do enough Solo sailing to properly prove or disprove whether it worked, but did get to the point where I had enough range in the Solo rig to be able to sail upwind with the board fully down in all conditions.
Most OKs have toe strap mountings that are adjustable athwartships. I couldn’t believe how bloody painful it was when they were in the wrong place! A bit of fiddling to get my knees lined up with the side deck pads and hiking was almost pleasurable. Getting back into a Solo and not being able to shift the anchor points didn’t do much to cheer me up when my knees were screaming at me.
The OK’s don’t allow slot gaskets, so there’s a significant amount of turbulence in the case. Downwind it’s fastest to raise enough board so that the trailing edge just meets the back of the case. The reduction in turbulence more than makes up for the extra peril of only having enough board sticking out to stand on. It’s a good motivator to sort out being really precise with steering and trim downwind. In the Solo the gain isn’t as significant, but I’m certain there’s some.
Upwind the OK is very sensitive to mainsheet tension – a couple of clicks of the ratchet block can all that’s needed to go from slow to fast. Being able to accurately control and repeat leech tension is essential to having consistent speed. When I got back in the Solo, I calibrated traveller, kicker and mainsheet and started to build up settings for each condition. It definitely helped being able to get off the start line knowing I was on tested settings and knowing where to make a change if I needed more height or speed. I still haven’t found a way to avoid having to work hard to go fast though!
The first Scorpion Nationals following the launch of HD Sails saw immediate success with Tom Jeffcoate & Harvey Hillary finishing 2nd overall and Andy Mckee & Tarren Jones finishing 5th.
57 Scorpions descended on Paignton for the annual National Championships. With a range of wind strengths racing was incredibly close as demonstrated by how many high scores the front of the fleet had to carry. The exception was Tom Gillard and Ollie Wells who sailed an impressive series to take the overall victory. Behind them Tom & Harvey recorded a series of top 3 results including a dominant win in the breeziest race of the week but a couple of tactical mistakes early in the week left them too much to do to challenge Tom & Ollie for the overall win. At the same time HD sails were halping Andy & Tarren record their best ever nationals result of 5th overall, in the process beating 9 time national champion John Mursell into 6th and 3 time champion Dave Wade in 8th.
After the event Tom said the new sails showed some impressive speed, especially in the breeze and on the reaches and that with a bit more time on the water (the first race was Harvey’s 2nd time ever in a Scorpion) they would be in a very strong position to challenge for more event wins.
HD Sails continued their 2012 dominance of GP14 Championship events by taking 1st and 2nd overall at the 2012 Irish Nationals.
Mike Senior and Chris White put in their best performance to date winning all 5 races against 39 boats in conditions ranging from 10 knots in the first race to 25+ knots. Mike and Chris most notably renowned for downwind speed in fresh conditions have recently been working hard with HD’s on their big breeze upwind speed. The results of which were clearly noticeable.
HD Sailors Shane MacCarthy and Andy Thompson had a strong second day to finish second overall. Focus now turns to the World Championships starting on the 12th August in Looe, Cornwall where 130 boats are expected to compete.
John Billington and Mike Senior dominated the 2012 GP14 Masters Championship winning all 3 races in breezy conditions held from New Quay Yacht Club, Wales. Mike usually seen at the helm of a GP teamed up with top Lark sailor John Billington for the event. Having never sailed together before, they showed fantastic boat speed which made up for the inevitable odd boat handling error!
The score line doesn’t however paint the full story. In the first race John and Mike capsized during their first tack and rounded the first mark near the back. With just short 30 minute back to back races planned, John and Mike had much to do. A top 5 was the aim, but some nifty downwind speed and upwind tactical decisions they were quickly back in the mix and managed to just grab the race win at the finish line. Races 2 and 3 were a little more straight forward as they led from start to finish winning both by a comfortable margin.
Attention now turns to the 2012 World Championships in Looe, Cornwall. If you are thinking of GP sails for this years Worlds please don’t hesitate and get your order in soon so you don’t miss out, order slots are filling up fast! Mike will also be attending the GP Bolton Open this Saturday, the Northern Championships at Derwent the week after and the Irish Nationals at Ballyholme on the 21/22 July and will be happy to chat about his HD set-up to help you with your preparations for this years Worlds.
Current Irish National Champions Shane MacCarthy and Andy Davis won all three races at the Leinster Championships. This year the Leinster’s were held at Greystones. 6 races were scheduled but only three completed, Saturday started off with quite light winds but built later in the afternoon to give superb flat out reaches. Sunday the forecast was not so great, the race officer tried to start a race but with very light wind and tide in the same direction it certainly made it difficult to get over the start line, only a handful of boats managed to make it over line and with that the race officer canned the race and the day.
Shane has now won the Leinster’s 3 years in a row and showing great boat speed is certainly looking forward to the World Championships in August.
If you are thinking of GP sails for this years Worlds please don’t hesitate and get your order in soon so you don’t miss out, order slots are filling up fast!
Northampton Sailing Club hosted the GP14’s over the May bank holiday, 8 races were sailed in total and HD won 5 of them!
Andy Davis & Andy Hateley topped the podium, Mike Senior & Chris White also using HD Sails finished second. Both boats tied on points and it was the two Andy’s with three race wins that gave them the Title.