Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nacra 17, racing tips

It happens on friday the 21st: The very first virtual Nacra 17 race. Virtual sailing for cat nutters. It's in Tschotcke at 2pm SLT, that's around 2300CET, and the sweet and lovely Scubabear (ask for a bear hug) will be your RD. It's gonna be a blast...
Inshore cat on the loose
Loads of boats with untrained crews and a weather forecast that says 21 knots from the south east! Wanna bet how many capsizes we will see? I'd say a handfull. Maybe more. Racing a cat like the Nacra 17 in 21 knots of wind is all about finding that sweet-spot just before the boat is overpowered.
Looking for the sweet spot means continuously powering up until it is just a bit too much, then powering down a bit. Miss that last bit and you are fish food. Forget tactics; Being faster is key. Find that sweet-spot, and you're on your way to the  podium. Don't waste energy looking for windshifts. Find the speed. The Nacra does not support windshifts anyway.

When you've found the speed, be aware that there is a slight lee helm to compensate for. The lee helm makes it difficult to stay on optimum trim and direction. It also makes it much harder to see headers and lifts, so better stay alert there...
Looking for that sweet spot
There's other stuff to learn too. Timing. The Nacra 17 is so much faster than a dinghy. The starting tactics is much different from the usual approach. Timing is crucial in order to hit the line right at the gun. Trust me. With these boats you don't wanna be late for start.

On a downwind leg you'll need to pay close attention to the polar. Genakker sailing will enable planing on one hull. Once you get up there, you can send a smile to the rest of the pack. Via the rear mirror.
Have a break, have a...
Another thing to look out for is the tacking and gybing. Cats are way slower at turning; However, it seems that Dutch (the builder) has cheated a bit here. The Nacra turns pretty much like a monohull. Slam and you're over. Hopefully, there will be an update to fix this. And the lee helm.
... Nacra cat
Still, too many tacks will set you back. If not because of the turning, then because of the balance. Getting the balance right, right after a tack also requires timing. In 21 knots of wind two people need to unhook the trapeze, run or crawl over to the other side, hook up and get out at just the right time, when the wind hits the sails. Better hurry out there and do a few tacks...

Update: Orca posted a handfull of nice shots from the event...


  1. Nice!
    Just one small correction: The Nacra 17 DOES support 'wind shifts' in Race mode.
    You're right, the original BWind 2.5 Tablet Windsetter didn't have that option. It was added later as an update to the Mesh Shop Volvo Twins [ ]. That Tablet also works with the new Nacra 17.

    Having said that, I should also add that the pattern of BWind 2.5 wind shifts and the Tablet selection options are far different from the standard raceline WWC setter most sailors are familiar with.

    Skippers who want to race the boat should look at the shift waveform:
    [ ]
    and (God forbid!) Read The Manual. :-)

    Friday looks like Fun!

    1. Thanx Jane; I read the manual. Shifts that appear simultaneously at every position? No need to look outside the boat for those shifts. Twelve degrees change of direction by the second? That would render the telltails completely useless.


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