No. 102 - April 1993



Pinstripe? The latest fashion on Wall Street? Maybe, but in this case, it is latest the material from Challenge Sailcloth. And it just might be of interest to Tanzer 22 members that take

racing seriously.


What makes it interesting is that Pinstripe is a woven Dacron fabric with warp strength of Kevlar laminate. But Pinstripe is not a laminate and has no Mylar. And no Mylar shrinkage problem.

As you know, our Class Rules limit our sailcloth to a woven material and until now, this excluded the Mylar and Kevlar sails which were laminates.


So why has Challenge brought out this new material? One reason is that many sailmakers have returned to firm finish Dacron for racing sails, due to laminate shrinkage and durability problems. Pinstripe is a firm Dacron with some Kevlar in the warp direction. The finished product is white with a dark Kevlar pinstripe spaced about a quarter of an inch apart. I have a small sample and in truth, it looks great. Fact is, I think it will look a lot smarter than those horrible brown colored sails we have been seeing lately on grand prix racers.


For the past few years, we have been getting requests from a few members to allow Mylar or Kevlar sails. By and large, the bulk of our membership has resisted any suggestion we change this rule. Now with the availability of Pinstripe, everything has changed. It is a 100% woven material and as such should be considered legal under our rule 3.1 " ... all sails shall be of woven fabric." Is it expensive? I don't know. If you are interested a phone call to your local sail loft should provide the answer.




Every once in a while something comes across my desk that looks interesting. And if I think it might be of interest to our members I like to report on it. Recently i received literature on a new log and knot meter. The Speedwatch Log and the Speedwatch Boat.


Manufactured in Switzerland by JDC Instruments and distributed by Laylin Associates, Ltd., in North America. (10413 Deerfoot Drive, Great Falls VA 22066. 703 759-0511 & FAX 703 759-0509.)

The Speedwatch Log is a combination log and knotmeter, the Boat model is a knot meter.


The intriguing thing about both these instruments is that no through hull holes need to be drilled. The water impeller which is slightly larger in diameter than the eraser on the end of a pencil, screws onto a stud which is part of a small mounting unit which is attached to the hull with silicon. At right angles is the surface from which the stud protrudes. The design protects the impeller from floating debris. Drag is imperceptible.


As the impeller revolves, it emits magnetic pulses which pass through the hull of the boat (like radio waves). Inside the hull (and opposite the impeller mounting unit) a sensor picks up the magnetic pulses and sends them by wire to a patented micro-computer which processes the information through to a large, easy-to-read LCD display. Both instruments give instantaneous speed and maximum speed attained (held in memory). Speedwatch Log also gives distance traveled. Tough waterproof Dual Lock Velcro make installation a snap.


Both instruments are waterproof and solar powered, so there is no need for 12 volt installations. Speedwatch Log has a large capacitor which stores energy during the day and powers the instrument at night. Buddy Melges, winner of the America's Cup endorses the Speedwatch Boat as well the microelectronic windmeter companion, Skywatch, which the distributor assures me is the best handheld wind speed instrument available today. Either water speed instrument can be purchased with a trailing log, rather than the underwater impeller mount system. This costs $5.00 more than the other system and is especially useful in warm waters, where underwater growth is a problem.




How do you encourage novice (and not so novice) racers to come for the various championships? Here is one idea.


About five or six years ago, our club's racing fleet was dwindling. Something needed to be done and quickly. The Race Commit­tee came up with an event called the Novice Series. For three Friday nights in June, people who have never raced before, take their sailboats out for a White Sail race. On board each boat is a regular racer who helps, teaches and explains the unfathomable intricacies of sailboat racing. After the last race, a trophy is awarded and the novice racers are encouraged to join the regular racing series. It has been a great success. Every year there are several novices that join the racing circuit.



1982 was the last year my father raced our boat "Semsema" with a heavy duty crew. (I was the lightest on board.) We won every single race we entered, including the Quebec Championships. My Dad retired and so did all the crew. The following year I decided to helm and a friend of mine, Tony, along with my wife crewed. At the Quebec's that year we came in second to last .... was it 17th or 18th? (I can't re­member!) We slowly crawled our way back up the ladder until once again we started winning. The moral of the story? Don't give up! How did we do it?


Every year we start out with a plan. We try and put together a crew, decide which races we are going to do and when we are going to practice .... that's right, we practice. A couple of nights a summer, we drop some life jackets (secured to bricks) overboard to form a mini triangle and we go around it dozens of times .... Spinnaker up .... jibe and spinnaker down, etc. We also exchange jobs so that we are more in-tune with one another. (Those of you that cruise might want to try this. It is a very comforting feeling to know that you are not the only on the boat who knows how to take the sails down and start the motor! )


Apart from the practice, I try and make sure that everything on board works as well as I can afford. Over the years we've replaced sheets, blocks and sails. I am also the only one from our club that know of who wet sands the bottom of the boat with 2000 grade sand paper. (Again, it is a comforting thought to know that your boat is not going to blow up when the wind is howling at 30 knots plus.)


Last, but not least - participate. It is the only way to learn how to sail.




An oxymoron if there ever was one! There is not such thing as a "Fun Race"! While there is no doubt that racing can be, and most often is, fun, there is no such thing as a Fun Race.


Given the nature of all of us, no matter what activity or game we are playing, we want to do well. Truth is, we would like to win. Even the rankest novice, even if it is for the first time, wants to do well. Maybe even dreams of scoring the winning goal. And would rather die than let the team down. The spirit of competition dwells within all of us. Granted, some more than others.


Nowhere is this more true than in sail boat racing. No one wants to come last! Now, we can't all be first, but we all want to do well, perhaps just to be ahead of a certain rival, or first at the windward mark. Whatever. We all have our own goals and objectives. And yes, dammit, we are serious about it. Frankly, I have yet to meet the person who enters a race "just for fun". To gain experience, yes. To see if they might like racing, yes. To find out how their boat compares to another, yes. But just for fun, never.


But as I said at the beginning, racing is,or should be fun. And the day that stop having fun, I'll hand up my spinnaker. But how can you have fun when all you hear are skippers shouting "up, up, up" "room at the mark" - "starboard" plus other words not fit to print? The first rule is never to take things too seriously. Not that you shouldn't be serious about racing - but don't get so serious that the day is spoilt for you. So you are forced out at the line, so what? Your wife probably still loves you. The bank isn't about to call your mortgage nor is your boss likely to fire you tomorrow because you were caught barging. You tried and it didn't work. Maybe next time it will, or perhaps it is time to try a different starting technique. So you sailed into a hole and a hated competitor passes you. Big deal! The game now is to try to catch him. Or at least narrow the gap.


We have yet to get the gun this year. (That doesn't mean we don't keep hoping we will - there is always hope.) But, we, that is my crew and I have had some great races. One of the best, we only placed somewhere in the middle of the fleet. But we had a great race. Good winds, some smart spinnaker sets, pipped a few at the marks, passed another couple on the spinnaker leg, lost a few on the upwind leg, but, and this is the important part, we felt we had sailed well. The boat felt good and so did we. So we had a lousy start. But if we can manage a decent start in tonight's race and sail as well as we did last time, we could win! And I guess that is part of the fun. There is always next time.


And if another skipper shouts at me when I am trying to sneak by on port and I don't make it, we do our 720 and carry on. (But only if he puts up his red protest flag!) I refuse to take it as a personal insult if I am screamed at. If I am in the right, who cares. If wrong, I probably deserve it! We try not to do too much screaming and shouting on our boat, but others seem only able to enjoy the event if everyone on the boat is yelling at the top of their voices. Different ships, different long splices.


The thing is, one must try to accept one's competitors as they are. Some are gentlemen, some are boors. There are those that I wouldn't crew for nor have on my boat. But that doesn't stop us from enjoying the race. I wouldn't be human if I didn't get a perverse satisfaction when I see one of those uglies forced out or loose a protest.


But by and large I have found that if I treat my competitors fair and square and try to sail each race with the proper spirit of fair play and sportsmanship, the rest of the fleet treats me the same way. Good manners do rub off, just as do bad manners. Shouting and scream­ing begets more shouting and screaming. I have found that a quiet request for room at the mark generally gets me the room, even if my overlap is questionable. Shaking fists and four letter words rarely have the same effect. Fact of the matter is, they will invariable provoke just the opposite.

Maybe there are fun races after all!