What a glamour day. Brought to us by sheer patience. This season down here in Walvis Bay hasn't been a good one. It's either been blowing like crazy... or nothing. Today was just right and we were ready to make the most of it.
The new steering slot, which alters the way the rudder moves to my inputs, arrived today and we didn't hang around in fitting it to the boat. Thanks once again to Uwe at JAZ MARINE in Cape Town for chasing this up for us. As the wind filled in we began to dress accordingly in preperation. The wind had built significantly by the time we got onto speed-spot and sure enough... we had another windy day on our hands. i tried a startup closer to the shore and then set VESTAS SAILROCKET off on a course. She wouldn't hold up to the beach over 40 knots so instead of trying to correct it with a totally new steering configuration... I abandoned the run. The wind dropped slightly so we headed back up. I was determined to get as many runs in as I could so that I myself could develop a solid routine for starting sequences. On the next run I just sheeted in to 20 degrees and watched what happened. She was reluctant to bear away at the start but as she accelerated she settled down onto a nice course running parallel to the beach. I could almost sail her hands free. We weren't going very fast as we were well sheeted out... but VSR was very well behaved. It showed that I don't necessarily have to oversheet and use large steering inputs to get her onto the course.
In the next two runs I focused on doing tighter 500 meter runs withe the final run involving a 500 meter run with the boat fully configured as she should be i.e. wing sheeted in to 10 degrees and the flap on. The wind had dropped to high teens but I was still able to feel the balance of the boat, effectiveness of the new steering system and just have a play with her.
We ahve never done four runs with the wing before so I think it was a great exercise for the whole team. The quality of the data is now much better than it ever has been so thanks to PI RESEARCH for helping us chase the 'gremlins'. We now sit surrounded by laptops digesting all this data so that it can be used to our advantage as early as tomorrow.
After the grounding on Run 61 we moved the beam back forward but it appears that it could now come back a few degrees as it seems that we have lee-helm where VESTAS SAILROCKET is trying to bear away from the beach a bit too hard.
I feel pretty happy with today. I think we have learnt a lot recently and I'm pretty sure that we are on the right path with this latest steering system. We need days like this. If we are going to ever max this boat out then we can't just go out on top end days and see what happens. We need to be well practiced and confident enough in our craft and level of development to be able to go out with a practiced approach and totally master a top-end day.
Tomorrow is set to be windy so we better be fast learners...
Greetings all and apologies for the absence... we are still sort of digesting the current state of play.
We have been out sailing in strong conditions and I will fill you in a bit more early next week.
All is OK and VESTAS SAILROCKET is thankfully still in one piece and ready for action. Rain inland has brought Northerly winds which stop the prevailing winds from building.
Run 60 and 61 were very illuminating. Run 60 went well and we tracked beautifully at over 42 knots. On Run 61 we were visited by our old arch nemesis in the form of a round-up to windward. The new control system didn't seem to have the predicted power to correct it in time and we eventually ran aground. VESTAS SAILROCKET survived and showed just how tough she really is. The bottom of the main foil got pretty scuffed up.
At the time it was pretty frustrating but the good aspect is that it was all very well documented with video and onboard data logging. It gives us a lot to think about. Malcolm was on site and had a grand stand view of all the action.
VESTAS SAILROCKET...Too fast and too shallow!!!
Despite the fact that we had this unfortunate scenario unfold, I'm confident that we also have the means to understand and control it. These were the first high speed trials with the new system and it had many great aspects to it. The fact that my hands were free in a rapidly developing situation probably saved the day.
We will continue to develop the new system, adjust the geometry of the boat to swing the wing forward a little and change the way we approach the course. I want more of a point-and-shoot style where I peg the boat on the course as soon as possible and do more controlling with the wing. No more big course adjustments at speed. If this is necessary then just abort the run.
More pics and detail to follow.
I'm pretty keen to get back out there.
Kind of funny... canning a speed sailing run because there is too much wind! Something unfamiliar to wind and kite surfers. The wind forecast was growing today every time we checked it on the internet. We got onto the course as soon as we could but it was already gusting over 20 and soon it was hitting 24 knots. I was psyched up for a big run today... but... the dreaded but... I had to quell the momentum. We have made significant changes to the setup of VESTAS SAILROCKET and they should be checked progressively. Assumptions can really bring you undone in this game.
So, sigh, we brought the whole show back and packed it away. Tomorrow it's set to 'honk' again. We will get setup nonetheless and remain poised to pounce at any opportunity as we will the next day... and the next.
Our time will come. I'm not about to let a little impatience bring us unstuck at this stage.
So the wind is forecast to come... but then so it was yesterday... and it didn't!
We are as ready as we can be although the instrumentation is proving to be problematic. Everything else is dialled in and the tide is flooding into the lagoon. Speed-spot at Walvis Bay will be ablaze with VESTAS jackets today as four engineers from Denmark are on-site having won an inhouse competition to come to Namibia to see VESTAS SAILROCKET in action. I'm hoping that the Walvis wind tunnel turns on.
If so... and our new system is where it should be... then today could be a big day for us. The importance of these coming days have been on my mind recently. I feel we have arrived at an important point and it is time to perform. I know what's expected and what we need to deliver.
I hope today gives us that chance.