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.
Yesterday we went sailing again in similar conditions to the first day. We sailed conservatively with speed once again not being the objective. I tried doing a run with the wing more eased to see how the boat responded. We are basically trying to verify our predictions and simulations. If we can trust their accuracy then we can predict where we are about to go and what will happen when we get there. Yesterday VESTAS SAILROCKET locked in to the course nicely. We only peaked at a lowly 30.6 knots... but we did a 500 meter average of 29.8! What was nice is how the new steering system locked onto a course. There is zero feel at high speed but then that is a good thing in a craft that is rarely seeking a neutral helm. Once I turned onto the course and sheeted according to a desired rudder position... that was it for the rest of the run. You have to remember that the new system is an 'exponential' one in that it is incredibly fine initially and then very coarse towards the ends of the steering input. Our aim is to have the boat sitting in a particular area of this curve when at speed. We have decided to re-initiate a weather helm set up so that I am steering in the region of the curve that causes VESTAS SAILROCKET to bear away. This action cannot initiate the dreaded 'round-up' towards the beach. If I want to come up closer to the beach then the steering will pass through the gentle 'dead-band' of the curve where 8cm of movement only turns the rudder 0.6 of a degree.
There are a number of ways we can do this, we can sail with the rig eased a little or we can rake the beam, rig or both aft. That is what we will do today. The whole beam and rig will come aft be half a meter. If we run down the course sitting in the predicted 'safe' area of the steering curve... well... then we can put the bloody hammers down.
No joking party people... I sense we are very close to getting the control we always dreamed of and what is possible after that... well we will see. I'm hoping for a big week this week. So far things are looking good. Malcolm will be with us tonight and I think he will be pretty impressed with the work we have done over the past month since he left.
The tides and winds both look great for the week.
It's hard for me not to get excited.