Simplifying the foredeck


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    Hey, folks- We switched a few things around for last night’s race, mainly had my trimmer drive, and I did bow. For no other reason, I think, to give me good perspective on what takes my usual crew so long to hoist and douse the kite. Now I know! There’s not really a lot more that goes on than what I was used to on our J24, and I regularly switched crew around to gain familiarity of all jobs on that boat, same thing goes for this one. We did ok, but the events up there almost like a slow-motion crash; you’re aware of what’s going on, but there’s nothing you can do about it, so you end up trying to work faster than you are capable (windward douse in 10-12 kts of breeze only 4 or 5 boat lengths from the leeward mark, for example- our skipper gave us more time at the next rounding). It’s almost like it warps the fabric of time.. Anyway- one thing we did on J24’s was tie the downhaul and topping lift together, so all you had to do was clip on the topper, and you were done. I’m guessing that’s not an acceptable method on the O-30. We have a carbon pole, and at least some of my crew are suggesting we move the downhaul to a shackle in the middle of the foredeck (away from the mast) to prevent the pole from skying.

    Does anyone have any ideas they’ve done to simplify the tasks done in launching and dousing the kite? This is of particular interest to me, since I’m eventually going to be doing more and more shorthanded racing, including some singlehanding.

    Any help would be most appreciated-



    Old School

    As I am sure you have figured out, simplifying the foredeck for crewed vs shorthanded sailing are completely different. For instance, a SH sailor would probably not want to launch out of the forward hatch, whereas most (all?) competitive crewed boats do.

    My boat is set up as simple as possible for fully crewed work, and that includes having the downhaul at the base of the mast. I think we have only skyed the pole once or twice in the five years I have owned the boat. Are you tweaking down before the gybe? If the downhaul is forward, it has to be adjusted for every guy adjustment. Yes, it is much stronger if you have it forward, but not as simple.

    In my opinion, the single greatest thing that any boat can do in order to speed up the mast/foredeck team is to carry the pole on the boom. It makes life so much easier not having to worry about if the sheets are over or under the pole. Once the team is used to using the setup, they should be able to windward douse at two or three lengths, stuff the pole and be ready to tack a length past the mark.

    All of my headsail halyards are cleated forwards…genoas on the deck behind and to port of the mast, spinnaker on the starboard mast. Downhaul at the deck behind and to stbd of mast, uphaul on the starboard lower part of the mast. Everything within reach for the mast man…NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING comes back anywhere near the cockpit or pit. The divide and conquer theory works well on these boats…keep adventureland members in charge of their own domain.



    Thanks, Scot- I’ve moved the twing lines back to the area just aft of the primary winches (skipper can reach them, and so can either trimmer). They were originally attached to the cabin top and occasionally tangled with the genoa leads. We do twing down before gybing, if it’s breezy enough (which it usually is). I didn’t think about the geometry of the downhaul attached that far forward- that would only complicate things, so that’s out. We’ve not yet launched/doused the kite from the cabin hatch, only from a bag attached to the rail, then from the forward hatch, but I can’t imagine moving too many more lines further away from the cockpit. Right now, everything (all halyards, uphaul and cunningham) is located on the cabin top next to the secondary winches- the usual location. The downhaul is actually trimmed from the forward side of the mast at it’s base- something the original owner did to make something available to the bowman.

    The more I think about it, it looks like we’re set about as simple as it gets unless we launch from the companionway reducing the chores on the bow. My wife was down in the v-berth gathering the kite on douses, and she’s quite small.. maybe putting one of my gorillas down there would help get it down faster so the bowman doesn’t having to help stuff it before attending to the pole…


    Jason Adamson

    On my boat I typically sail with 6-7. My fordeck is pretty clean, and I have the foreguy running to the middle of the foredeck rather than at the mast base. We always hatch launch as it keeps the cockpit clear and no bags to deal with after the hoist. My spin halyards are cleated on the mast thru jammers and my topping lift is on the starboard side of the mast thru a cam cleat.
    On hoists the only thing to do it snap the pole on the mast ring and have the mast man hoist the topper from a seated position on the rail. Bow man (woman in my case) gets off the rail right before the hoist to open the hatch and help pull some kite out while the mast man is hoisting the halyard.
    On douses I try to sail a little hotter of an angle right before the mark then turn down so the bow can grab the spin guy and bring the sail around to weather without too much pressure. While this is happening the mast man is triping the pole to release the guy and then poping the topper to drop the pole down on deck, shoving it back between the cabin house and the shrouds to keep everything clear. As soon as that is complete and bow has the foot around the mast man dumps the halyard and bow collects/shoves the kite back into the forward hatch. Mean while the cockpit is dealing with the jib and I am driving/trimming the main.
    Gybes are done best with a steady hand and slow turn from the driver. Most foul ups I’ve seen racing are not the fault of the bow but the driver turning too fast and not watching the foredeck movements. Having done bow and now driving I rely on my foredeck to tell me when to turn not the other way around. Twings definitely help in breeze, in the light you can get away without them. They steady the kite and actually center the effort.
    Like most things in sailing, practice makes perfect and having a steady trustworthy crew is probably the most important item you’ll ever have on the boat.

    PS I sail with my local sailmaker and he is all about simplicity, the fewer lines the better. My spin halyards are on the mast, jib and main are back to either side of the companionway, topper on the mast and foreguy to the starboard aft edge of the cabin top. In fact he and I also race on an SC 50 that he has simplified to the point of no mast track for the pole, just two pin locations for the but end. Very similar to the J24.

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