No. 84 - October 1989



Foss Foam Inc., has been producing sailboat rudders for over 25 years for most major boat companies.  The Fiberglas blade with its rigid urethane core has proven to be an extremely strong, dependable rudder.

Tough Fiberglas and urethane plastic used in the construction of your rudder is nearly indestructible.  The urethane core is composed of a strong rigid closed cell urethane.  Ether, diesel, solvents or marine borers will not damage your rudder blade, even if the glass coating has been damaged.

These rudders do not need to be painted, they can be used just as they are.  If you do paint your rudder, particular attention should be paid to the paint manufacturer's instructions for preparing the surface.  Solvent washing is not enough!  The rudder must be sanded heavily to remove a heavy coating of mold release.  We recommend white paint be used.  White is a popular color as it is easy to see weeds and other debris which can catch on your rudder.

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THE USE OF DARK COLORS ON YOUR RUDDER as they generate heat when the boat is out of the water in the sun.  Since the rudder is made of cellular material this heat can cause dimensional changes and cosmetic damage.  If the rudder is painted with a dark color it should be shielded from the sun with a white wrapping when the boat is out of the water.  The rudder warranty excludes damage caused by heat.


Cosmetic surface repairs may be performed by cleaning. drying and roughing up the damaged area and applying Bondo or any similar filler with a putty knife.  Should a small blister appear it may be filled with resin or cut away and repaired.  Once the patch has dried, it may be sanded smooth and painted directly with bottom paint or any coating you desire.

Should you have any questions about your new rudder, feel free to call the manufacturer at (813) 577-0478 or (714) 646-0244

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Edson now have available wheel steering for boats the size of a Tanzer 22.  Called a R.L.A. (Remote Linear Actuator!) Transom Rudder Steerer - weighs 36 Lb.




The following article appeared in American Sailor and is reprinted with their permission.  American Sailor is the news magazine of the United States Yacht Racing Union.

A few months ago, I read about a fellow who participated in a pick-up tackle football game in a city park.  He sustained a serious injury during the game resulting in partial paralysis.  It was a terrible tragedy and one must have great sympathy for the man.  However, we do make choices in life and some of those choices are filled with risks, right?  Wrong.  Not in today's America.

The football player who (according to the news story) not just willingly but enthusiastically joined the game sued the city for permitting tackle football to be played on its property.  Ten years ago one would probably have been amazed if anyone saw merit in this claim.  But not today.  The injured player received a substantial cash settlement.

What does this have to do with sailboat racing?  Actually, quite a bit, because our sport has not been immune from this intensifying atmosphere of litigation in our country.  Attitudes on the water tend to be the same as we find on land.

Perry Mason syndrome.  Because there are no referees in sailboat racing, we police ourselves while we compete.  We have a system of rules - some of them quite complex - and we have a system for settling disputes arising from broken rules.  The wronged party can protest the infringer by notifying him at the earliest opportunity and by raising a red flag.  Later, the protester informs the race committee, submits a written report and, eventually, he and the protestee along with witnesses appear before a protest committee which decides the fate of the two parties.  This system has existed since "yacht" racing began: but in the earlier days of Corinthian racing, there were few such protests.

Today, unfortunately, there are sailors who make a "career" of protest hearing appearances, just as there are those who make a career of suing their fellow man.  The former are quite knowledgeable about the racing rules and they use this against opponents who may not have equal familiarity with the rules.  It is part of their strategy to win races in the protest room.  We see more and more of this in regional and club racing especially as former college racers start competing in such events.  In college racing, the protest is not only tolerated it is sometimes coached.

My strategy is the direct opposite: stay out of the protest room.  There are several reasons for this.  First and foremost, I enjoy racing; if I can't win on the course, to hell with it!  Second, I don't like the hassle of litigation and besides, I have better things to do than sit in a protest room on a Friday or Saturday evening.  Finally, even if I feel that I am absolutely correct, my chances of winning a protest generally are not much greater than 50-50. I have sat on protest committees and I have seen the performances of skippers who know the rules well and who have considerable skill in handling juries.  More often than not, a protest committee is called upon to make a judgment based on which party it believes, rather than on an interpretation or the rules.  Since I don't know how to "work a jury", my chances of winning a protest would be greatly reduced.

A kinder, gentler notion.  There is also a thing called sportsmanship.  Quite often, people on the race course make what I would call "honest mistakes".  They misjudge distances or boat speeds, for example.  If such a mistake causes me to make a minor course alteration and loose a couple of seconds, I will say something to the offending skipper (I do believe in letting a competitor know when he has fouled me), but I won't protest.  This bothers the younger members of our crew, one of whom will invariably yell at me in such situations, "let's get the flag!"

I admit there are times when I overdo this.  In a recent race, for example, I got caught too far to weather of the line before the start.  There was no way to get inside the committee boat without barging, so I chose to hang windward and reach down the line as soon as the first wave of boats went through.  Un­fortunately, a barging boat to windward of us got pinched off at the start and had to tack away before crossing the line.  She came around behind the committee boat and, in order to cut her distance back to the starting line, came at us on port tack.  In order to avoid a collision, I bore off for the line - and had nowhere else to go but into a barging position inside the commit­tee boat.  I got caught barging, was protested and withdrew from the race.

Because of my anti-protest mindset, I didn't protest the boat which caused our predicament.  This, in retrospect, was clearly a case where the flag should have gone up.  On the other hand, instead of sitting in on an unpleasant hearing, I was able to drink beer and eat sandwiches with my friends back at the club.  "You pays your money and takes your choice."

Making a choice.  A couple of years ago, I read an article in a sailing magazine which pertains to this subject.  It was written by a respected sailor, writer and lecturer on sailboat racing.  Under the heading, "Little Tricks", the writer gave pointers about halyard length, reading sailing instructions, placing cleats, etc.  One of his suggestions was the following.  "Before you leave the dock, make sure you have a protest flag on board.  ... Carry your flag in a place where it is easily accessible - a crew's pocket is a good location."  What's that you say about not encouraging racers to protest?

I much prefer the Buddy Melges approach to the problem.  He says, "My basic racing rule now is that I will never try to steer myself into a situation that I know might create a discussion after a race."  Moreover, "whenever one boat is pressing a rule on another boat, both of them wind up losing ground to the boats around them."  Certainly, Buddy knows the rules as well as any­one, but he has often said, "I use the racing rules only to avoid a collision ...". The rest of the world would do well to remember this.  It would make the sport more enjoyable for everyone.  So, let's put away the red flag and have fun!

Charles Hedler is a former chairman of the IMS Class of the Chesapeake Bay and a sailing columnist for the Capital newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.  Sailing his C&C 35, "Pistol Pete", he won the IMS II division of the Governor's Cup in 1988 and IMS overall at CBYRA Race Week in 1987.  He is currently on the executive board of the Chesapeake Bay YRA.

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Wait until the beat; that's when we'll pass them!!  This is the battle cry of many Great Lake racing crews.  It is this hope that spirits sailors to work hard while sailing upwind.  At least on the windward leg of the race course one has the feeling that there is always a chance to win a race.

Most races, however, are not won on brilliance but on the elimination of errors.  There are a number of tricks you can use to consistently keep your boat at the top of the fleet.

During a race, one boat establishes a lead over another at key times.  No time is more critical, of course, than immediately after the start.  Once the starting gun sounds, skipper and crew should concentrate strictly on boat speed.  A missed wave can slow down the boat and allow a competitor to leave you wallowing in foul air.

Once the race begins and you have cleared the starting area, immediately begin analyzing your progress - are you gaining or losing distance to windward compared to the boats around you?  If you are gaining, of course, keep going.  If not, it is time to make adjustments and to consider recovery tactics.

For example, when you find yourself in trouble early in the race by sailing in your competitor's backwind, it is best to tack away, but not before setting up another boat as a blocker.  (If you are heading towards the favored side of the course, in clear wind, keep going.)  Wait until one or two boats have sailed across your stern so that when you tack on their hip about five boat lengths away, these boats will clear a path to protect your clear wind.  As competitors approach from opposite tacks, they will first be affected by boats to leeward and ahead of you.  These blocking boats may force the opposite-tack yachts to tack or at least disturb their wind and water.


Remember, though, that you lose at least one boat length when you tack.  The object of setting up a blocker is to cut down the number of tacks you make on the course.  When I am sailing poorly, I generally find I am trying to do too much.  I might be trying to cover two sides of the course or too many boats simultaneously and I find I am tacking too often.

The key is to establish your strategy before the starting gun.  To do this, you must determine which side of the course is favored.  I suggest utilizing the "Buddy System" for this purpose.  In a pre-race practice session, team up with another competitor and start on a close-hauled course at opposite ends of the starting line.  Continue sailing for about two minutes, then tack at the same time toward one another.  The boat that is farther ahead has sailed on the favored side or the course, assuming the two boats are sailing at the same speed.

After this exercise, sail back to the starting line and stand up in your boat to get a better perspective to determine visually which side of the course appears to have more wind.  Your first reaction is usually the best.  By watching the angle of heel of other boats tuning up on the course and the course they are sailing you can locate favorable breezes.

There is no magic to predicting wind shifts, but it is important to know what the wind is doing to gain the edge over the rest of the fleet.  Although I have been surprised by the wind many times, wind behavior is normally predictable.  Begin with a quality forecast or anticipated breezes.  I find that local sailors are often reliable sources as long as you don't talk to too many people.  Watch the clouds; if they are moving in a different direction, this may indicate a change in the breeze.

Perhaps the best way to stay in phase with wind Shifts is to train yourself to continually predict what the direction and strength of the next puff will be as it approaches.  The ripples on the surface of the water are excellent indicators.  When you see a puff perform in a certain manner the next time you see the same "type" of puff, you'll know what the wind will likely do.  Keep in mind that wind often changes at the top of the mast first; you may get an indication of what is happening by obser­ving your masthead fly.  Watch the course and trim of your com­petitor's sails.  Also note the feel of the wind on your neck, face and ears.  There are plenty of other sources of information about the wind, including flags on surrounding boats and the shoreline, anchored boats, smoke from stacks ashore, competitors' masthead indicators and even the sound of the wind passing through trees or rigging.

To accurately read the wind, you must work to improve your vision.  First of all, always wear sunglasses for eye protection and to help you compare the colors of the water.  You might find it easier to detect changes in the wind by contrasting the color of the water with the constant color of your sails, deck or perhaps an object on shore.

Before the race, record the wind's behavior by watching your compass.  You might find it necessary to luff head-to-wind per­iodically while making your pre-start maneuvers to get an accurate wind check.

The strongest part of a puff is usually the first part.  If I am preparing for a tack, I always look for a puff ahead and make my tack just as my boat sails into it.  By doing this I lose less distance because my boat will accelerate faster and earlier when tacking in a puff.  When sailing in light winds, avoid tacking in lulls because you will lose more distance.

On boats with tall rigs, you can often observe a phenomenon known as wind sheer, which occurs when the wind aloft is blowing in a different direction or strength than the wind close to the water.  It is always better to sail in a wind that is hitting a majority of your sail area.  Wind sheer often occurs when there is a new, building breeze or an old, dying breeze.  Wind sheer is consistent.  For example, you might find the wind aloft farther aft on starboard tack but farther forward on port tack.

As you sail upwind it is very important to note the position of your competitors.  Any time you approach a competitor, be sure to have your boat at full speed - even to the point of bearing away a few degrees to accelerate for extra speed.  Remember that sailboats only increase their speed when you ease the sails while bearing away.

References are helpful when trying to determine whether you are ahead or behind a competitor, or gaining or losing bearing.  I use tacking lines, drawn on the deck, as a reference when sighting other boats.

If you are in a fleet of boats that are sailing at relative­ly the same speed, a hand bearing compass can be helpful.  You can use the compass to see if you are losing or gaining bearing (if you are losing bearing, the other boat is gaining distance on you) by taking bearings on the bow of a rival boat at regular intervals.  At the same time, take a bearing from the bow to the stern of the rival boat to determine the number of degrees to a boat length.  If, at first, one boat length equals three degrees but the second time you take a bearing, equals four degrees, the boats are getting closer together.  If yours is the windward vessel, you are losing distance.

The hand bearing compass is especially handy during crossing situations.  If you are holding a constant bearing with a con­verging boat, a collision is imminent.  If you are gaining bear­ing on your competitor, you will cross ahead.

If you are catching a competitor, you might find that you have to dip his stern when approaching on port tack.  Whether to dip or tack is a crucial decision because you lose considerable distance by dipping.  My strategy is normally to tack safely to leeward and hurt my competitor if I am not concerned about which side of the course to sail on.  If there is a chance I cannot make a safe leeward tack, I will dip.

When you dip, it is important to begin bearing off approximately four boat lengths away, then aim directly at the stern of your competitor's boat to prevent the starboard tacker from tacking on top of you, which is sometimes called a "slam dunk".  The biggest mistake made during a dip is bearing off too hard and too late, which will cause you to lose considerable distance to your competitor.  The "slam dunk" does not work in winds under 10 knots.  In this case, the leeward boat will sail through the leeward side of the boat to windward.


It is always best, on the windward leg, to tack in the vicinity of a competitor if you can hurt that boat.

Perhaps the greatest mistake made by sailors is not staying with the fleet.  Sailboat races are won by fighting it out in the trenches, not by sailing to and over the horizon.  The trick to winning is being consistent in playing the percentages.

It is important to have priorities during mark roundings.  Your first priority should be boat speed: second, position relative to the competition; third, setting new sails: and fourth, making minor adjustments to the boom vang, cunningham, traveler, outhaul, centerboard, etc.

Your approach to the windward mark is crucial.  Most sailors are so anxious to get there that they tack short of the lay line and are forced to pinch their way to the buoy.  As a rule, it is best to overshoot the windward mark when you are making your final approach.

Plan to overshoot within 10 to 15 boat lengths, then overshoot by just one boat length; this allows for misjudgement, a bad tack, unfavorable current or waves, a heading wind shift or an unexpected move by a competitor.  Even as you overshoot the mark, you will have more speed for a faster rounding.  Remember, the more speed you have entering a mark rounding, the more you will have as you exit.

Plan your maneuvers in wide open waters so during the actual rounding you will be able to concentrate on speed.  If there is a long line of starboard-tack boats parading down the lay line, don't tack in the middle of this group.  Instead, sail well above your competitors to ensure clean air and manoeuvrability.  The more speed you have, the more manoeuvrable you are.

Avoid tacking right at the mark.  I use five boat lengths as a general rule.  This allows time to set up for the rounding by preparing the crew and new sails.  The most costly error at the windward mark is making repeated tacks.

Before rounding the windward mark, know what your new course will be.  Pick a landmark or compass course to steer by so you are heading for your next mark right after rounding.  Do not follow the leader - often, they are sailing the wrong course.


Keep your wind clear of boats rounding with or behind you. If your masthead fly is pointing at another boat,  you are in danger of being blanketed.

I do not haul up the spinnaker until the apparent wind is aft of 70 degrees.  This is particularly important in light winds, when it takes several seconds to make your rounding and when the apparent wind stays forward longer.  In fact, in these conditions, it is often best to wait to set your spinnaker until boat speed stabilizes on the reach.

Though you begin a race by competing with an entire fleet, once your position is established you are really sailing against a couple of competitors.  Many sailors make the mistake of trying to catch large blocks of boats all at once by shooting corners or taking fliers.  You may be the hero once or twice a season but fliers don't win races most of the time.

Remember that trophies are awarded for regattas, not individual races.  Therefore, you should always race with a special element of conservatism.  Don't take chances that could put you in the back of the fleet and cause you to lose the regatta.

Reprinted with the kind permission of Gary Jobson.  Gary is an internationally renowned sailor, lecturer and author.

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