The fastest way to serious improvement is to talk a friend into building a Swift. There is nothing like having a good training partner. Another Peggy Watt photo (cropped)
How to sail a Swift Solo
For all of you who are launching and sailing your new Swifts for the first couple of times: Let me start by telling you that sail management on the Swift is different than on many other sailboats. If you are having problems, please give me a call or send me an email. Taking advice from non skiff sailors is often counterproductive. Sailors of skiffs without cap shrouds are also likely to give you information that may be less than helpful.
The hardest thing for me to overcome was the mantra “set the boat up for the lulls”. This is very good advice for double handers but really poor advice for the Swift. You will find that it is much easier to power the boat up once a race starts than it is to de-power. If you are under-powered, you will be bending your knees from time to time and can easily pull on more vang and cap shroud tension. Additionally, you can step on the board and push it all the way down during a tack and you can find time to move the jib pins in on a tack or the downwind leg without giving up much. On the other hand, when you are overpowered, it is difficult to bend in and adjust things without giving up a lot of speed. The centerboard (daggerboard) is a lot harder to pull up than to push down and tacking when overpowered requires getting right out on the new trapeze—leaving little time to do anything else without giving away a lot of distance and risking getting caught in irons.
A couple of concepts that will help:
The Cunningham on the Swift induces mast bend without adding much leech tension. The outcome is a flat mainsail with a soft leech—very good for heavy air. Increasing Cunningham will increasingly flatten and soften the leech.
The vang on the Swift will tighten the leech while only marginally flattening the sail—very good for light-medium air when you are looking for power. If your main is twisting off too much and providing too little power, pull on some more vang
The lower shrouds adjust mainsail fullness as well. Loosening the lower shrouds will flatten the main and make it easier to sail in gusty conditions. Tightening the lowers will increase power for those conditions when you can’t quite stay out on the wire.
The cap shrouds can cause much confusion. They work essentially the same way as the lowers. The problem stems from the false conclusions you reach while adjusting them without the sail loaded (on your cradle for instance). With no load on the main, it is easy to conclude that tighter caps lead to a flatter sail. Wrong. The reality is that only the windward cap shroud is tight when actually sailing. A tighter windward cap will pull the must tip to weather making the main fuller-not flatter. Tighten the caps when you need more power.
The primary shrouds are used to keep the forestay tension under control and to induce compression bending on the mast. Compression bending on the Swift Solo is much less important than on skiffs with lower spreaders so essentially we are talking about forestay sag. In conditions when you are looking for more power, reduce primary tension a bit. For less power, increase primary tension. This is fairly important for racing but probably the least significant of the adjustments on a Swift
The jib halyard/downhaul is used to move the jib up and down on the forestay (tightening and loosening the leech) and to tension the luff. Tensioning either control will tighten the luff. If you pull on more halyard, you will tension both the luff and the leech. If you pull on more downhaul, you will tension the luff while loosening the leech—good when the wind increases.
The jib track adjustment controls the width of the slot between the main and the jib. In wind conditions between 5 and 14 knots the pin should be in the second hole (from the center). If you have made the other de-powering adjustments and are still overpowered, move the pins out to the third holes.
In conclusion if the wind is above 8 knots, leave for the race course with:
a little more Cunningham than instinct calls for
looser caps than you might need
looser lowers than you might need
more jib downhaul than time going to weather may show is appropriate
If the wind is above 12 Knots, leave for the race course with:
The jib pins in the third hole
a bit more primary shroud tension (maybe 25)
the centerboard pulled up 4 inches
a lot of Cunningham
Sail to weather before the race starts and add power in this order until you feel fast:
move the jib pins in to the second hole
push the board down all the way
let the Cunningham off a bit
pull the caps on a bit
adjust the jib halyard/downhaul so that the telltales break top and bottom at the same time
It may seem like I’ve forgotten the vang. With the Swift’s mainsail, you will likely find that, once the vang is set, the Cunningham loosens and tightens the leech automatically as you adjust it for more or less breeze (if you think about it, pulling on more Cunningham bends the tip of the mast aft, flattening the sail and loosening the leech and visa versa).
If you have any questions, please ask them since this is a bit more complicated than many other boats. Do remember that without these adjustments and the auto-sheeting system on the main/jib, the Swift would be very difficult to sail. If you have the boat set up with too little power, you will be bending your knees more than necessary and going a bit slower than you should be. If you have it set up with too much power, you will be working very hard and going really slow. When in doubt, error on the side of too little power.
Set-up in various conditions:
In lighter conditions you’ll be looking for power (4 to 11 knots of breeze for most of us). After you pull your rig on with primaries set at 24 and caps at 16 on the Loos gauge, adjust your lowers so that the bottom of the mast is dead straight or slightly inverted. After hoisting the sails, adjust the Cunningham so that the diagonal wrinkles just come out of the sail—no further. Your vang should be pulled on farily hard. At this point, the bottom of your mast should have only a small amount of bend. Once sailing, make sure that all of your telltales are breaking at the same time—top and bottom of both sails.
Stay forward going to weather. You should be just barely aft of the shrouds and in really light air and flat water, you may want to have your forward foot forward of the shrouds while sitting in your harness (squatting on the gunwale when necessary). When you get small gusts, don’t over-respond. It’s fine to let the boats heel a bit initially and then bring it flat slowly. Otherwise, flat is always fast except in really light air.
After hoisting the kite, you’ll have to decided how high to sail. If the wind is above 8 knots the decision is easy. Go as high as you can and trapeze (hike) hard from about halfway back from the shrouds, depending on how big the waves are (in 10 knots and above, A Swift Solo will always go lower and faster by hiking hard and trying to go high/fast because you'll drive the apparent wind far forward) Below 8 knots, play the waves and try to sense what angle is faster. Continue to move fore and aft to take advantage of the waves. As the wind increases to near 11 knots, move further aft.
As the wind increases from 12 to 25 knots you’ll want to makes changes in this order, to de-power a bit. The first thing is to lower yourself right down on the trapeze. This provides some additional righting moment all the time but the real benefit is the increased righting moment during gusts when a higher trapeze causes you to loose most of your leverage as the boat heels. Second, pull the Cunningham on harder and sail a bit further off the wind. This will significantly flatten the main and soften the leech. Third, Move the jib track pins out one place to the third hole.
Pull the jib downhaul on a bit at the same time you go to more Cunningham on the main. This will flatten the jib by tensioning the luff and softening the leech. Next, move far enough aft to keep the majority of the waves out of the launcher—no further. If you’re still overpowered, let the lowers off three full turns and the caps about ½”. This will significantly flatten the main and soften the leech. Finally, raise the board about 6”. This will make the boat more forgiving in the gusts. Finally, try to get strong enough that you can play the main to weather without cleating it at all.
I’ve said nothing about easing the vang for a reason. More Cunningham and looser lowers will automatically do it for you. I’ve also found that with this sequence of changes, you’ll find that your jib relativity remains correct right on up the wind range. We seldom change the relativity now. When the relativity is wrong, it’s usually an indication that lowers and Cunningham (and sometimes the vang) are wrong. The exception is really light air.
During the bear away, keep the boat flat or slightly heeled to weather and move far aft before initiation. No need to let the vang off except if it’s close to 25 knots. Sail high and trapeze (hike) hard downwind. Try to stay about 2 feet forward of the transom, moving aft as waves require to keep the bow out. With time, you’ll find that the Swift is quite manageable even in 20 to 25 knots of breeze. Above 25 knots—leave that to the really young guys or wear a helmet and full downhill mountain biking pads. Remember, the pressure goes up with the square of the velocity (35 knots of breeze is twice as hard as 25)
When going out is heavier air (when you are overpowered) the Swift Solo can be either a difficult handful or a really pleasant and exhilarating boat to sail. To take it from difficult to pleasant, you need to learn to do the following:
move the jib track pins out to the third holes (going from the center)
This is very important. If you don’t do this the boat will not accelerate as well in the puffs and will be more of a handful. You will not be able to pinch as well but your VMG to weather will be better. This is especially true as the water gets rough.
let you lowers off a bit
A little lower mast bend will translate into a flatter sail overall. Do this only when you’re truly overpowered after making the other changes
let your caps off a bit
This will let the tip sag off and be more responsive to gusts. The boat will feel free and fast.
pull you centerboard up a few inches
If you go up too far, the boat will feel mushy. Experiment to get used to your board
pull the Cunningham on hard –very important
This is the number one thing to do when you’re overpowered. It’ll flatten the main without increasing leech tension much at all.
lower your trapeze
This isn’t just a matter of gaining static righting moment. When you’re lower the Swift has a greater range of stability when a gust hits. If you’re high, when the boat heels you quickly loose righting moment and eventually the ability to keep from being thrown into the capsizing boat. With a longer wire, the boat will get up on it’s gunwale before there is any danger of being tossed inward. This will almost always result in a save.
if it is really honking, move your jib down a bit on the forestay
This will give the jib a bit of twist
It’s not a bad idea to make a list and take it with you until you get used to making these changes.
Some Do's and Don'ts
drill through the cap and use an unside down tee nut to hold the string
Donít sail your boat without knee pads and shin gaurds and a life jacket (most areas a wet suit is also a must)
Donít leave your rig under tension overnight
Donít leave your boat out in the sunlight for long periods when not in use (cover it)
Donít leave your inspection ports or drain plug in when the boat is not being sailed. Use a string to tie the ports and drain plug together (picture on the right)--- mitten with yarn through the sleeve style.
Donít let you breather hole become plugged
Donít let anyone sail your boat without first giving them a stern warning about not standing astride the tiller to raise the kite (they will fall on their ass and break your tiller or transom bar).
Donít leave your sails in the sunlight when not in use
Donít believe that sailing downwind is easier without the kite.
Donít sail straight downwind. Instead, broad reach and jibeómuch like tacking to weather
Donít fall inboard during capsizes if you can avoid it. Instead, bail early and go over the outside so that you donít get pitched into you new sails (you damage either your sails or you mast track).
Do work your way up the wind range, starting in light wind (6 knots or so).
Do capsize and right the boat intentionally a few times to get practice and to check for leaks
Do hoist the kite on starboard tack. Drop your right knee on the starboard wing and place the tiller extension behind your right knee. Steer a course that keeps the boat level while in this position (usually lower than a beam reach but always higher than a run) by rocking on your knee/ass to whichever side the tiller needs to move. With a little practice you will find that you can steer the boat very well with no hands. Drop the kite on port tack using the same but opposite technique.
Do Set your primary shrouds at 20 to 25 on the new Loos gauge and your caps at 7 to 10. To start with, set your lowers so they are just snug after you set your primaries but before you pull on the caps.
Do steer aggressively through jibesókeep your speed up so the load on the mainsail is minimal.
Do make and install the halyard hoist sytem shown in the picture on the right
You simply put your foot through the loop and pump the halyard up. Both hands are free to feed the sail
Knee / shin pads are a must. The best ones are not these but pads made by SixSixOne for mountain biking (Veggies-you need to order both knee and shin gaurds--they velcro together)
Click on image to get info on pads
A few recent observations
SOME COMMON PROBLEMS (this list will be growing):
Problem “when I get in the boat it just wants to head up”
Solution—your jib relativity control is not set up properly. You need to set it up on land and mark it (see below). Then, make sure it is on the marks before taking off in the boat
Problem : “my mainsail battens don’t want to tack”
Solution—your vang is too loose. In really light air (sitting near the centerline light) you will have your vang and Cunningham all the way off. Before tacking or jibing, pull the vang on a bit and release it again afterward. In any other condition it won’t be a problem if you are set up properly for the wind. The exception is jibing with the kite up. You will nearly always have to grab the boom and give it a pull on the way through because there is so little pressure on the main.
Problem: "my boat is really slick when it's upside down and hard to keep my feet from slipping off the underside of the wing when righting it".
Solution: I forgot to tell you guys that you need to put some non-skid tape up against the gunwale on the underside of both wings adjacent to the centerboard. This makes a lot of difference and doesn't show when the boat is right side up. Use a 4" strip and cut it to the curve of the gunwale.
A special thanks to Julian for allowing us to modify the 49er instructions to suit the Swift Solo. The original work was done for the 49er class by Chris Nicolson (multi-time world champion in a number of classes)
Before you go sailing:
1. Make sure your mast base pivots 90 degrees aft in the mast step
2. Tighten your battens in the main until they are snug
3. Replace the pivot pin in the jib block at the base of the mast with a 10/24 bolt with a nyloc nut.
4. Step your mast in the driveway and tension the rig for two hours (see instructions below)
5. Raise your sails (in very light air) in your driveway to make sure that everything is working correctly and that your Cunningham and vang are set up properly. Cut excess off of your control lines at this point and melt the ends. Set you main and jib so that all tell tales are flying properly and mark your jib relativity controls with black permanent marker as they enter the cleats. This is very important!
Setting the relativity control for the first time:
The outcome of this exercise will be to put permanent marks on your relativity controls (as they exit the cleats) so that you can set the system up before leaving the dock or shore. Failure to do so will lead to a boat that simply doesn't want to tack easily or, worse yet, a boat that will go head to wind every time the main fills regardless of your efforts to bear off.
Start by adjusting your transom bridle so that the top of the loop is 37 inches above the top of the transom bar. Make sure that it is centered. With the mainsheet tied to the loop, pull it in tight and cleat it. Now adjust your relativity blocks (just aft of the launcher cheek blocks on the relativity control line) so that they are six inches aft of the cheek blocks. Cut any excess line off of the control line. Leave about 8 inches outside of the cleats on each side. Route your jib sheet through the system and tie it off on the becket block so that the jib clip is nearly tight against the exit block on the jib traveler (about 2 inches of line above the block). Now make permanent marks on the relativity control with a permanent marker on each side just as they enter the cleat. Saturate the line for about an inch and all the way around so the mark will last and is easily seen. Mark the cleat at this point as well.
Before going sailing each time, set your relativity controls to these marks or a little tighter if you're launching from shore instead of a dock (hoping in from waist deep water precludes getting any speed up to help the rudder work and having the jib a bit tight will help in getting the boat going).
STEPING THE MAST
1. Put something that will work as a temporary stand aft of the stern (a sawhorse works well). Rest the mast with the track facing downwards and the mast plug talon positioned above the mast step, then pin the talon to the step with the 6mm / 1/4" clevis pin through the appropriate hole of the step.
2. The primary and caps shrouds attach with one quick pin. The fork at the lever bottom should straddle the inner chain plate tang for the primary shroud and the outer tang for the cap shroud
3. The cap shrouds run from the top of the mast and the primary shrouds run from the hounds.
4. Run the lower shrouds (D1s) and attach them to the inner chainplate tang (a small hole just forward of the center). These should remain with the hull when you remove the mast
5. Uncoil the forestay and fit the T-ball into the key-plate at the hounds.
6. Attach a 12’ piece of lightening rope to the shackle in the forestay and run it through the forward hole in the forestay fitting.
7. Stand in the boat and raise the mast with one hand while pulling in on the lightening rope attached to the forestay.
8. Step out of the boat while keeping tension on the rope and attach the forestay shackle to the forestay fitting.
9. If you are going sailing immediately, throw the levers on your primary shrouds and tighten the caps shrouds (lowers should have 20 on the Loos gauge and the caps about 7). The lowers should be snug before tightening the caps but after tensioning the primaries
RIGGING THE KITE
Always rig the kite using the following sequence:
1. Make sure that your spinnaker sheets are outside of the shrouds and in front of the forestay and that the retrieval end of the halyard is through the sock and throat.
2. Place the tail stub (what you will be tying to the clew grommet) back by your port shrouds with the sheet laying on the edge of the deck.
3. Working from the port side of the boat, tie the tack grommet to the tag line at the end of the spinnaker pole.
4. Work your way back on the foot of the kite to the middle and find the lowest retrieval patch. Grab the retrieval line and put it under the spinnaker sheet and under the foot of the kite. Feed the end through the patch from the outside and through the second patch from the inside.
5. Tie a figure eight know with an 18” tail in the retrieval line and feed the end through the top patch. Tie another figure eight know to keep it from pulling through the patch.
6. Work your way aft on the foot and tie in the spinnaker sheet stub to the clew grommet.
7. After making sure that your halyard is clear and on the port side of the forestay, tie it to the headboard.
8. Pull the kite into the sock.
9. If the wind is very light, double check your rigging by hoisting the kite and jibing it on the launching dolly. After a couple of times, this step will be unnecessary.
RIGGING FOR SAILING
After the boat has been assembled and set up with the shroud tensions recommended above:
1. Place the hull on its trolley or cradle headed into wind.
2. Step the mast as described above and run the spinny halyard through the blocks and the sock.
3. Offer the boom fitting into the mast gooseneck, and secure by engaging and securing the quick pin. Attach the vang arm. Run the jib sheet through the blocks and tie off on the becket. Hoist the mainsail, pull the halyard very tight, and hook the bight onto the rack. Hook the outhaul grommet into the clew channel and pin it in the forward hole.
4. Hoist the jib. Hank it to the forestay as it hoists. Set the luff tension with the halyard. It should be almost slack in light airs, grading to very tight in really strong winds. Stow it in the spinny sock pocket
5. Tie the jib sheet to the clewboard. Use the middle hole.
6. Set the jib track traveler limit pins in the curved track in the second holes (from the center) for winds up to about 12kts and flat water, a little further out for stronger winds and/or rougher water.
8. Check that the spinnaker is smoothly stowed and that the runs of its halyard and sheets are clear, that the tiller extension swivels are taped to the tiller, the trapezes are adjusted "high" (best for maneuvering through moored boats, etc.) the foils are on board, and that the boat is ready in all respects for sea.
HANDLING ON THE BEACH
The golden rule for light sailboats with their sails up is - never turn your back on a rigged boat, and never leave it unattended. The following practices are strongly recommended:
• For brief periods between sailing: Someone stays with the boat. Ease both the vang and downhaul. If the main starts to flog then tighten the vang a little until it comes under control. A flogging jib is the quickest way to destroy it. Try and stop the jib from flogging by tightening the sheet just enough to quiet it.
• For short term absence: Tie the boat down and pin the jib traveler to wind-ward and sheet the jib in loosely so as to set the jib and stop it flogging, plenty of twist is a good thing. With the main, remove the clew pin and ease the downhaul and it should just sit there. But stay close enough to hold the boat should an unexpected gust occur.
• For extended absence: Drop the sails and make fast, ease off the rig tension and ensure that the boat is well secured. Tie it to some strong ground point as a minimum precaution so that if a strong wind does come through, dam-age will be avoided.
As an example, at the first 49er worlds at Cascade Locks boats were left overnight on their sides, wings retracted. One midnight a gust swept through, flipped several boats and broke one mast. Subsequently the mastheads were tied to a low fence.
LEAVING THE BEACH
The Swift is different from most other boats because of the effect of the fully battened main and the light hull weight. It has often been said that leaving the beach is the hardest part. Here are a few tips to make leaving the beach easier.
Before launching from a dolly, make sure your centerboard is lying on your kite sock and the rudder is in the cassette but not down. Be sure that your jib relatively controls are on the pre determined marks (this is a must in order to ensure that you can tack or bear away)
Upon launching move the boat to deeper water and push the rudder all the way down and have someone take your dolly. With the boat head to wind, tip the boat toward you and insert the centerboard and push it down (all but the last 10 inches).
Holding the Boat in the Water
A Swift Solo with its sails up has to be thought of in terms of those sails and where the person holding the boat is with respect to them and the boat. First, hold onto the boat via the wing and shroud. Neutralize puffs by heeling the boat to windward. The more the boat is pulled over to windward, the more the distance is reduced between the crewperson holding the boat and the sails' centre of effort. Don’t go too far or it will spin around the other way. With practice a person holding the shroud can easily control the boat and point it in any desired direction. Do not be concerned if the battens pop to windward; this in fact further reduces the turning tendency.
With the tiller in your forward hand, allow the bow to fall off until you feel substantial heeling moment trying to tip the boat. Hope on to the wing just forward of the transom (you can hang on to the transom bar) and continue to bear off until the boat is moving well. Finish putting the centerboard down by going nearly head to wind quickly to maintain some speed.
If you’re sailing from a windward shore be sure to keep the boat heeled to weather as you bear away and leave the centerboard partially up until you’ve complete the bear away and moved well away from shore
Further, if the wind is fresh then getting a fair bit of Cunningham on prior to leaving the beach, will help de-power the main and also allow it to twist off a lot more and make the maneuver easier. Leaving a vang a little eased will also help.
Returning to Shore
Preparation is the key
As you approach the shore but are still in deep water, go nearly head to wind and open the mast sleeve (so you can remove the main halyard easily once you get to shore). Keep up enough speed to remain in control. At the same time, uncleat the Cunningham and unhook it from the bottom of the sail. Pull the centerboard up a bit (If you pull it up more than 10” you will want to be certain that you will not have to tack or jibe before landing). Also it helps to pull the rudder up about 2 inches to make it easy to remove on shore.
Remember that most centerboards draw only 42 inches when fully down and the rudder around 30 inches, so if the centerboard is pulled up 10 inches then the boat can be brought right into the shore and you can jump out in waist deep water. If the wind is fresh the boat will be hard to control so immediately after jumping out, heel the boat and remove the centerboard (lay it on the sock). Pull the main halyard off the rack and remove it from the sock to let the main down. Blow the jib halyard and drop the jib as well. Remove the rudder and move the boat on to your launching dolly.
If you’re landing on a leeward shore, release the vang as far as possible. Sail as close as your dare to shore and head up quickly to remove the centerboard completely. As the boat begins to bear away steer to counteract the bear away and the boat will sail sideways until the water is shallow enough to jump out on the deep side. Immediately heal the boat to weather and head it into the wind.
There are many variations on this theme especially if the conditions are mild, in that the boat can be steered backwards and positioned very accurately by using the mainsail as a wind rudder in reverse. This requires practice.
While the Swift Solo is relatively easy to tack, it can be tricky because of the added task of the skipper getting onto the trapeze. With both tacking and gibing, you need to swing in from the wire and directly onto your feet—move through the boat on your feet—and then drop to one knee on the new wing after hooking in (this technique will be modified somewhat as your skills improve).
Additional dynamic factors are that the Swift Solo has quite big sails, as a % substantially bigger than the rudder, and although the rudder is more than big enough to do its job while under way, the situation when it is moving slowly through a tack is one area where some assistance is a good thing. Experiment with easing the sheet a bit going into the tack. Try differing amounts of easing.
Also, the lines of a Swift Solo are such that if the boat is allowed to heel to leeward, two things will happen:
• The first is the most obvious, the leeward chine will be driven deep into the water, which in turn will severely limit the rate of turn.
• The second is that by allowing the boat to heel the CofE (Note 1) will be moved to leeward of the CLR instead of being directly above which in turn will generate a yawing or turning action to leeward (due to the drag of the rig), counteracting the action of the tack. Conversely a heel to windward will have rig drag assisting the rotation of the tack.
On a technical note, due to the rapidly slowing speed of the hull during the period of the tack, the rate of turn at the start of the tack should be substantially slower than at the end.
In a perfect tack with constant speed, the rate of turn will be accelerated into the tack, maximum at the middle and progressively decelerated towards the end, much like a sinusoidal curve. But due to the rapid deceleration during the tack, this sinusoidal curve will be skewed towards the final stages rather than the middle.
The universal rules for a good tack are:
• Keep the boat flat or heeled to windward, especially prior to the tack.
• Ease some sheet, about 3 inches in normal conditions and cleat it.
• Steer in slowly to a maximum rate of turn about 70% of the way through and pick a spot 90 degrees to the initial heading prior to the tack so the boat is on the correct heading with the jib pulling the Swift out and forward and everything in control.
It is a natural tendency to move aft in a tack; in hydrodynamic terms this is like applying a drag brake to the boat. Keep as far forward as practical especially in light airs.
The manner in which you get hooked up and settled varies. A look at the “Higher and Faster” Video will help with this.
Gybing with Spinnaker
The key points:
1. Always look forward.
2. Gybe just after having accelerated in a gust or running down the face of a wave, as at this point the apparent wind will be at its least but most importantly the boat will have the greatest speed and therefore the helm will have the greatest amount of control.
3. Keep the Swift Solo flat or even a bit healed on top of you in heavy air (to weather).
4. Be positive.
5. Rotate the boat while holding the kite sheet and the trapeze handle in your forward hand and when you feel the pressure slacken move immediately in off of the wire and through the boat to the other side aggressively (on your feet). In moderate air it pays to drop the old sheet immediately after swinging in and pick up the new sheet at the block before moving through the boat. Because the main/jib sheet is cleated it will take care of itself except you may need to jerk the boom as you move through the boat to invert the battens (the kite is doing 95% of the work so there is little pressure on the main). Upon hooking up to the trapeze, drop your outboard knee on the wing. Sheet the kite all the way in and continue rotating the boat and then ease the kite. As you begin to feel the power on the new tack, continue heading up and swing out onto the wire with the kite sheet in you hand. With practice, you’ll find that the inward sheeting that occurs as you head out will just compensate for the forward movement of the apparent wind as the boat accelerates.
This whole maneuver requires timing. Don’t spend too much time setting up, as speed will be lost, and this will result in the boat being too loaded up to gybe safely. With speed maintained it is a smooth, easy maneuver. Without speed it is usually rather "wet".
As the boat comes out of the gybe it often pays to bear away quite sharply, so as to neutralize the turning and heeling moments generated by the gybe.
This is the same as a spinnaker gybe but there is greater emphasis on the need for speed and it must be done flat, or not at all. Hitting the new wing without delay is essential. Once again, you must gybe the boat from a broad reach with lots of speed—never while running straight downwind.
The main will come over by itself and the battens will pop by themselves.
Steer the boat quite square out of the gybe until you have control of balance.
Again, as the boat comes out of the gybe, it often pays to "bear away" quite sharply so as to neutralize the turning and heeling moments generated by the gybe. This is even more important with a two-sail gybe!
Bearing Away at the Top Mark
A Swift Solo has a large amount of sail and the technique of bearing away at the top mark is often referred to in skiff circles as the "twilight zone" - that is there is a great deal of uncertainty as to the success of the maneuver and sure and certain skills are required. Once you get this right it is one of the most exhilarating parts of sailing the boat.
First the reasons why it is a "twilight zone" (let us assume 20 knots plus).
• The boat speed coming into a top mark is probably 9-11 knots. The process of a well executed bear away will take 5-7 seconds at the end of which the Swift Solo will be moving at double the entry speed, so the first problem is the rate of acceleration. It takes a bit of getting used to.
• The boat’s ability to keep its bow up is proportional to hull speed so for a great proportion of the maneuver, the still slowly-moving hull will be resisting a larger force from the rig than is usual at that lower speed.
• Also the variation in apparent wind is working against the boat. As the skipper bears away, the apparent wind on the main will be moving aft faster than the boat will be turning. Also while the boat goes through the bear away maneuver the skipper will be moving from the upwind technique of feathering to the downwind technique of steering for balance.
• This swap over period (especially when two sail reaching) also has some skiffie speak and is termed the "mystery zone".
Firstly, on the beach, if the forecast is for fresh winds then tighten the primary shrouds a bit and loosen the lowers a bit.
Secondly, boat speed makes life easier, so when coming in to the mark, crack off a couple of degrees and lift the hull’s speed. Even an extra two knots will make a big difference.
Thirdly, dump the vang. Let it up a few inches in fresh conditions so that the leech of the main opens as much as possible.
Do not ease the Cunningham. Do that after you are away. Easing the Cunningham prior to the bear away will only fatten up the main and make matters worse. As a side note dumping the vang will result in the head of the main twisting right off, and that can cause you to nose-dive or roll in to windward after the maneuver, so if the vang is too loose, bring it back on quickly once the new course has stabilized.
And of course, get right down to the back of the boat and make sure the boat is flat when you start the bear away, because if it is flat to start with there is a much better chance of it being flat (and upright) when you end it the turn.
Provided there is sufficient speed up, don’t slowly ease the boat away. It is best be very positive with the turn. The apparent wind speed will be dramatically altered and centrifugal force will be used during the bear away to help overcome the additional heeling force.
In reality it is a very controlled, deliberate and co-coordinated but very fast maneuver.
While this maneuver is being executed, ease the main in a controlled manner which is co-coordinated exactly with the turn. Even with a sheet hand available on an Eighteen, most skippers tend to handle the sheet themselves as well as steering so that they can better co-ordinate the two controls during the turn.
The sails should be under-trimmed in a bear-away, and if the boat is initially slightly rolled to windward, this makes the turn easier. It is almost impossible to do it too fast. Do not overdo the maneuver as it is possible to crash into a gybe unless the steering is very positively controlled.
Because of the auto sheeting system, the Swift is easier than other skiffs to two sail reach. It is possible to do a slow bear away onto a screaming reach and than to get on to the lower side of the “twilight zone” at your leisure before swinging in and setting the kite. This procedure is very difficult in other skiffs but very easy in the Swift.
Once the boat is away, you can go into the boat, if it is for a spinnaker set, go straight into that procedure.
4.6 SPINNAKER SETS
Setting the Spinnaker
It’s best to set the kite on starboard tack (skiff races are run with marks to port so this is natural). After completing the bear away, drop your right knee on the wing will remaining on your left foot. Steer for good balance and then squeeze the tiller behind your right knee joint. You’ll find that you can steer by moving your ass from side to side to maintain good balance. By simply pulling on the halyard, the cleat will automatically engage. Hoist the kite with both hands-- hand over hand.
Once the kite is up, hook up to the trapeze, sheet the mainsheet in until the boom is about 18” off the centerline (you’ll learn how for different conditions quickly) and cleat it. Grab the kite sheet and pull it all the way in while heading up a bit. As you feel the power come on, head out on the wire with the spinnaker sheet. Simple steer for balance and you’ll find the boat is quite stable and really fast.
Dropping the Spinnaker
The process is about the opposite of the hoist and best done on port tack (this will be normal in a normal skiff race). Swing in and steer for balance before place the tiller behind you left knee. Pull on the halyard tail to uncleat the halyard and while keeping tension on the tail, begin pulling in on the retrieval end. The tension on the tail is to keep the kite from shrimping, i.e. filling with water.
ROUNDING ONTO THE WIND
After dropping the kite, hook up to the trapeze and let the main/jib out all the way. With the sheet in hand begin the round up procedure. As you feel the power head out with the sheet in your hand. You’ll find that you will be close hauled with a single pull on the sheet. Cleat it and you’re on your way (continue playing the sheet in a breeze).
If the boat is not flat before the turn, the heel will become exaggerated as the rig throws its centrifugal force out into the turn, and will not allow the main to be sheeted on until the boat is on the breeze.
Vang - Upwind
Rigged ashore pull vang on until "overbend" creases just start to appear on the main diagonally from the clew to the spreaders. Take up the vang to this tension and mark the control rope for a maximum reference. Note it is easy to over vang the mainsail which will induce more mast bend than luff curve, resulting in inconsistent pressure in the rig when sailing. The rig does not like to be over vanged.
Cunningham Tension - Upwind
Is the key to controlling upwind power. Luff tension induces mast bend which will reduce power to the rig. Be sensitive to this control.
Set up your mainsail with fairly firm outhaul in most conditions. Only when sailing in under powered conditions (off the trapeze) do we ease outhaul.
Use enough luff tension to remove scallops between the hanks. As wind pressure increases so must the luff tension.
Use less leech tension as the wind increases. The best way to achieve this is to pull the jib downhaul on further as it will remove the scallops at the same time.
The key is to sail the boat flat. Do not under trim the spinnaker as this will allow the leech to rotate up and twist around the luff resulting in a lack of power. Do not over trim as this will not allow spinnaker to exhaust around the mainsail. An exception to this is in fresh conditions where over trimming is an effective way to "throttle" back if you are going to fast for the sea conditions.
Ease sheet as far as possible without making the luff unstable. If the skipper is un-comfortable steering around the spinnaker it is often a sign that the sheet is eased a little too far
The underwater surface area of the board has a dramatic effect on performance both up and down wind. You control area by raising and lowering the board, basically when you’re looking for pressure you want maximum board area in the water and as you become overpowered progressively lift the board. The maximum up is 8 inches as beyond this point the board fouls the equipment when tacking.
The design and construction of the sails give excellent performance through a wide wind range. The Swift Solo offers thrills and when not handled correctly spills. It is important for all crews to respect that light weight equipment is the key to performance and sails are no exception.
Avoid Landing on the Mainsail or Jib in a Capsize
In a capsize, the sails can not be expected to withstand the load of crews free falling from the wing height and using the sails to break their fall. If unavoidable spread the load on impact by landing on the whole length of your body, either face down or on your back, by somersaulting. Feet, head / arms first is most likely to cause damage to the sail. The best escape is aft diving beyond the mainsail leech and in this case if you do land towards the back of the sail there will be more give to absorb the shock load than landing around the luff area which is supported by the mast.
Main and Jib Care Tips
Spray the main luff tape and track regularly with silicon to reduce wear on the bolt rope around the batten ends.
Minor repairs can be carried out with adhesive Sailcloth or ideally Mylar stickyback. Ensure the damaged area is dry and salt free, by wiping it down with methylated spirits.
Avoid handling the sails on hard surfaces such as concrete.
Tie a stopper knot and insert a small ball in the jib sheet and main sheet (more on this later). This helps to restrict the jib from wrapping around the forestay when cap-sized, reducing the possibility of breaking the jib battens. It also is a must to keep the boom off of the shrouds.
Spinnaker Care Tips
Your spinnaker cloth has a silicone finish which reduces friction in the launching chute and when gybing and with care you shall prolong the life of your sail.
Avoid drying in direct sunlight or flapping in the wind.
Check the mouth of your spinnaker chute for any sharp edges by running your fingers firmly over all surfaces. Sharp surfaces will not only cut the cloth, they will also "pull" seam threads.
Spray your launching chute regularly with silicone to reduce friction.
"Pulled" threads can often be addressed by holding the gathered area of the seam out on a flat surface and carefully adjusting the tension of the thread back into the form of the original stitch by re-tensioning the thread with a needle, un-picker or similar tool.
Tears can be easily repaired with the use of silicone sealant / glue and some .75oz spinnaker cloth. Wash the damaged area with fresh water and/or methylated spirits (clear alcohol). Cut a patch that is 25mm larger that the damaged area, smear a thin layer of silicone around the edge of the patch, spread the damaged area out on a flat surface and apply the patch. When dry the damaged cloth may be cut away leaving the patch.
The Swift Solo is designed to be lively and is light in weight. Apart from providing exhilarating performance, this lightness makes the boat easy to lift and carry but does require the owner to be conscious of the fact that the Swift needs care in handling on shore.
Never put the hull on the ground unless the surface is soft grass or similar, free of all pebbles, stones, nail heads, etc. The boat will always tilt over onto one side or the other of the bottom, and the wind may swing it around, and this is when dam-age is likely to occur. If for any reason the boat is resting on a poor surface then never, under any circumstances, allow anybody to step into it, as any object underneath is then almost sure to scratch the outside skin.
Always use your cradle and launching trolley or a low padded dock edge to support the hull when rigging (a 12” high dock is ideal). This will eliminate the otherwise inevitable scratching.
Never leave a rigged boat unattended. An unexpected gust can capsize an unattended boat.
The hull can be kept looking new for a very long time by following a few simple common sense guidelines:
• Keep your boat clean.
• Rinse off sand, dirt and salt with fresh water.
Always cover your boat when not using it
MAINTENANCE OF MECHANICAL PARTS
The best possible advice for keeping ball bearings working well is to keep them clean, and as free from salt as possible. If you sail in salt water, always try to rinse the boat and all fittings thoroughly with fresh water after sailing. Otherwise salt crystals inevitably form. These are abrasive and wear the ball bearings and races of the roller blocks and the jib sheet car, and cause grief with all sliding fittings.
In general, it is best not to lubricate with a liquid lubricant. Particularly in sandy or dusty environments any oil, etc. will attract and retain all particles which contact it, and the mix soon becomes an efficient grinding paste which is worse than salt crystals.
These can sometimes become fouled to the point where they remain wedged open due to an accumulation of salt crystals, sand or dust, or too tight a through bolt. If this occurs ease the bolts or screws until freedom is restored, then sluice with fresh water to dissolve the salt crystals or wash out the sand. In extreme situations, disassemble the cleat. Be careful not to lose whatever spring is inside (different makes have different "innards"). Wash the parts, spray lightly with silicone, reassemble and make sure that there is adequate bolt pressure to keep the as-assembly together but not so much as to jam the cam open.
The full-length battens make the Swift Solo mainsail a little more difficult to hoist than a conventional leech-batten only mainsail. The problem can be alleviated by spraying the bolt rope at the head with a dry silicone spray - this will lubricate the whole track. Do not use a "wet" lubricant because this will accumulate dirt. For easiest hoist face the boat head to wind, otherwise the batten protectors will be forced hard against the track and add to the friction.
Inspect the sails periodically, and have a sail maker re-stitch, add doublers or other correction wherever wear starts to appear. Prevention is much less expensive than repair.
The sails are the engine of your Swift and they are the best engine we can produce. They are made from the best materials, built to rigid standards of accuracy and quality. They will last a long time if you give them proper care. The following are a few do's and don'ts:
1. Don't wad the spinnaker into a tight bundle or stuff it hand-over-fist into its bag. Fold it properly. Roll the mainsail and the jib. Don't let the jib flog in the wind at the dock or on the beach. This weakens the stitching and creases the Mylar unnecessarily.
2. Don't wash sails in hot water or in the washing machine. Don't try and iron out any wrinkles, it will destroy the cloth. Don't allow chemicals, oil, tar or paint to come in contact with the sail. There is no known cure for a stained sail.
3. Don't store the sail for long periods while it is wet. A weekend won't matter, even with salt on, but try and rinse with fresh water and let dry as a rule.
4. Never put your sails on a radiator or up against any hot object. Sailcloth deforms and shrinks with too much heat.
5. Ensure that your sails too are dry before prolonged storage. The nylon or spinnaker is porous and so can "breathe", but the Mylar mainsail and jib are not porous and any trapped moisture cannot escape. The best way to store for a long period is to ease all batten tensions, dry thoroughly, roll lightly, and store loosely in bags away from UV and dirt.
6. Inspect your sails before winter storage and have a local sail maker attend any repairs and maintenance needed before the pre-season rush.
Always dry out your boat before storing. Open the drain plug and drain the hull with the bow well up, to get all the water out. This is particularly important if you live in a cold climate because water left in the hull can freeze, expand and cause damage by ice heave. Also, do not leave it outside on the ground under snow.
Store your boat on its’ cradle.
If you sail in salt water the wires and ropes of the rig inevitably become salt-saturated. Rinse the salt off the alloy and carbon spars.