Monday, April 14, 2014

Evanston: speed

        The above shows the results of the Double Handed Lightship Race in San Francisco Bay that took place on April 5.  
        Results are based on corrected time, applying a rating to elapsed time.  The higher the rating, theoretically the slower the boat.
        The three Moore 24s were the smallest boats and had the highest ratings in the fleet of 29 starters, 28 finishers, yet finished 1-3 on corrected time and within one minute of one another.
        Even more impressively to me are their elapsed times.   Boat for boat two of the Moores finished ahead of all but five in the fleet and the third ahead of all but six, including some fast and much bigger boats.
        Karl Robrock, the skipper of SNAFU, tells me that his maximum speed was 15.7 knots recorded by GPS.
        On another page about the race I saw that the course was 25 miles long.  Dividing that by elapsed time, the Moores’ VMG (velocity made good) was 5.84 knots.  The boats would have sailed more than the minimum course distance, so their speed through the water would have been greater than that.  And I am told there was a period of light wind and drifting during the race.
        All of which reenforces how difficult it is to average six knots for an entire ocean passage on a boat of moderate size.  
        Although I’ve always had boats that sail well, and as some of you will recall once held the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation in a monohull,  I think I’ve only done it once, on RESURGAM crossing the Atlantic from Portugal to Antigua in 1989.  It is less a matter of going fast, than avoiding going slow and/or to windward.
        I’ve never owned a boat capable of the speed of a Moore 24.
        EGREGIOUS, RESURGAM and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, all easily reached 8 knots, but only rarely went much faster.  CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE occasionally pegged her knotmeter at 10 knots downwind in gale conditions, but her best 24 hour runs were between 145 and 150 miles, more than respectable for an 18’ open boat with 132 square feet of sail.
        GANNET is certainly capable of thousand mile weeks—a 6 knot average is 1008 miles a week—and while I do not race others, I sometimes race myself, as I ended up doing on my fifth circumnavigation (I won), and one of the things that interests me about the coming voyage is whether I can make passages faster in GANNET than in my previous boats.  Also if she can bring off a rare 200 mile day.
        The limitation may be steering.  I am not going to sit at the tiller for hours, and if the tiller pilot can’t control the little sloop while surfing, I’ll have to back off.
        I’m looking forward to finding out.
        This is not about time.  It makes little difference if I complete an ocean passage a day or two faster or slower.  But about the quality of the experience, of feeling a boat sailing as well as she can.

        My congratulations to the crews of all three Moore 24s for their fine performance.