It’s 91 days now until Everglades Challenge 2014. Hot Canary has a comfortable dry slip at the St. Petersburg Sailing Center. It’s a perfect base of operations for our preparations and provides quick access to water. For competitive one design sailors around the world, the St. Pete Sailing Center is a well-known venue over the past 5 plus decades. Today it is the home club for a number of legendary competitive sailors. Every day we are prepping HC, we get advice from at least one of these people. Past America’s Cup winning helmsman, Ed Baird stops by often with advice and encouragement. Just yesterday local sailing legend, John Jennings and multiple world champion Ethan Bixby both weighed in with some training and rigging tips for us. The thing that is really amazing is all of these guys are aware of the Everglades Challenge and they keep up with the race and who is competing every year. The growing entry list in Class 4 of traditional competitive sailors is proof that the EC is becoming a main stream event. Chief may have to add a professional sailing class in the future. We’re also hoping to get some additional advice and tips from Meade Gougeon when he gets back to Florida for the winter. Nice to have so many coaches.
Back to our program; it is progressing along schedule. We’ve sailed the boat enough now to get a good feel for its performance and shortcomings. The re-rigging was completed when the box of high-tech rope arrived from New England Rope. Thanks very much to that great company and new sponsor of our program! We’ve padded the interior of HC with comfortable custom cut cushions, which is a great relief to our knees in this cramped cabin. Custom storage bags have been designed by Runs With Beer aka Bill Wright. They should be completed soon. Our power management plan is coming together. We’ll again have a solar panel powering our battery system. We’ll use this power for our iPad, iPhones, running lights, GPS, Go Pro cameras,interior lighting and autopilot. This will require some re-wiring which will most likely happen this weekend and next. That might sound like a lot of stuff in an 18′ boat but it’s all very compact. Our plan, besides attempting to win, is to document the experience for other people’s entertainment and to showcase the event. To that end, we’ll have 2 Go Pros going during the terror filled moments and we’ll do some documentary stuff with the iPhones. At least that is the plan. A 30 knot cold front may force us to sail and survive instead.
The sailing has been refreshing and enlightening so far. The Hot Canary is a predictable little sport boat with mostly good manners. She goes upwind well if sailed on the chine and as flat as possible. Once over powered she is slow, a situation we need to avoid. We find that with our combined crew weight of 360 pounds, we have to reef at about 10 knots to go upwind well. The consistent advice from the above mentioned superstars is to rig a trapeze system to overcome the boats tenderness with a crew of 2. We’ll put that on the to do list. That’ll help to add to the horrific and terror filled moments out in the Gulf of Mexico, I’m sure. Reaching and running are a different story. The boat is easy to steer and very fast. The mast head spinnaker and articulating prod put a lot of sail area in the right place. Speeds equal to and sometimes above the windspeeds are pretty common. Once planing, it’s easy to stay on a wave and the speed just keeps going up. Yesterday, we had about 10 to 12 knots of wind and were broad reaching at 11 in total control and comfort. We took the chute down and jib reached back into the yacht basin at over 9 knots most of the way. How about some strong northeasterly/easterly winds for the EC. That would make for a fun and fast reach down the coast.
The sail program is sorted out and a good one, we think. We’re going to use the dacron main and jib that came with the boat. We have re-rigged the code zero spinnaker that Meade and Jan didn’t like and we think it could be a super good sail and easy to handle in the usual EC conditions. We’ve tested a smaller asymmetrical spinnaker taken off of my Sakonnet 23 for use as our ”storm chute”. So we’ll have 3 spinnakers to choose from which should be sufficient for all conditions. The main is a full batten sail which is taking some getting used to. The shape is excellent and it doesn’t flog when reefing. It does lay up hard against the swept back spreaders when broad reaching which may present some chafing problems. Headstay sag is a bit of a worry but we think it’s inherent with this type of rig. We tack through about 90 degrees which is sufficient.
That’s the story so far. A bit more re-rigging and re-wiring and the “to do” list will be complete. Some good weekend sailing to continue to get comfortable in all conditions and possibly an overnight training mission is in the future. We’ll keep you posted.
Here is a video of our latest sail..