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Summer in the UK at the Gertrude Cup

29 August 2016 Sam Haines

Marching Band at the Squadron

"Marching Band at the Squadron"

Photo by:
Sam Haines

For the last 10 days I have been in Cowes competing in the Gertrude Cup, representing the Royal Brighton Yacht Club with Chris Hampton’s, Team Tango, which also included Mark Andrews.

I have always enjoyed my time sailing in the UK, with all the yachting history and just how the Brits can put on a show. This event had a fairly hectic social program, with a dinner each night at a different yacht club, which finished up at the Royal Yacht Squadron, complete with marching bands.

The Gertrude Cup is a good concept where the boats are evenly matched with sails provided, and you sail a different boat each day.

The racing was tight with four boats that still had a chance of taking the win leading into the last race. The final results showed four points from first to third, with the overall win going to the youth team of Tim Gratton, Emily Wiltshire, Lilly Carlisle and Jack Davies from Royal Thames Yacht Club Youth Academy.

Second place went to Team Elizabeth, which is Tom Carruthers, Chris Busch and Dog Palfrey, representing the San Diego Yacht Club. We came home in third place, a further two points behind. There were 10 nations represented at the regatta, with over 15 teams competing for the Cup.

It was good to see the amount of Aussies racing over there, with a quick bit of math over a beer we calculated that we represented around 25% of the fleet, and this will be the same at the Worlds.

All of the sails where provided by North Sails, with a PC+ mainsail, GM jib and a FR spinnaker all made in a slightly heavier cloth than what our standard sails are made from.

It was very good to jump on and off different boats each day, and tune up the rig to make the sails work on a wide variety of rigs. From my point of view this was an eye opener as to just how different some of the gear going around is, and to make this work for the sails was interesting. All of which made me think that you need to know if your boat has a stiff rig, soft rig or in between, as this will influence how you set the rig up, and then also which mainsail will work best for the rig.

Through the regatta we didn’t have any trouble getting the boats going, it was more a case of doing what you had to do to get the correct characteristics on the rig set up, and often this meant carrying more or less rig tension compared to the tuning guide, so as to either power up the sails or depower. It is also important to know where your keel is positioned, as this also has a correlation to how much rake you can carry.

If your keel is max aft and max depth, then you will be able to carry the maximum rake to the tuning guide, and as your keel is further forward, you have to stand the rig up further. This applies more to the old boats with sail numbers in the 1200s and below, as the new boats are on wholly max aft and depth keels.

The event also took place on the very same track for the Worlds, which was a very good preview for the Worlds in a few weeks time. My thoughts having spent the week sailing on the Solent, is that we will all need to be adaptable to different conditions leg to leg, and day to day, due the influence of tide, which adds an other dimension to the sailing.

The wind is also different day to day with weather systems and sea breezes having an influence over this. Because we are sailing from the Island, you don’t have a locked in sea breeze direction, as it can come from either end of the Solent.

I think the key here will be knowing your tides, and the influence they have over the track, along with a good understanding of the forecast for the day. And like any event, time on the water is always good. You can safely say that we will sail in all conditions through the week, with top end to bottom end wind, as the weather systems move through.

I will report in after the Worlds to give you an understanding of what has evolved, with every one developing their Etchells to gain an edge.

Please get in contact if you would like to talk over your rig, or anything Etchells. And to the teams also heading to the Worlds, good luck, see you over there, and look forward to working with you all.

Bye for now Chaps and Ladies,

Sam Haines

North Sails

One Design Manager

Gertrude Cup

"Gertrude Cup"

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