Footing or Pinching: How do you find the Groove?

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by luffingalong, May 24, 2013.

  1. luffingalong

    luffingalong New Member

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    When sailing upwind, I find it hard to find the angle to the wind that give the best forward progress. Go too high and you are slow but go too low and you cover more distance than needed. I think this is how pinching and footing are defined. So how is the groove between the two found that gives the best combination of speed and distance? It seems the successful racers find the way to do this. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
     
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  2. sailcraftri

    sailcraftri Well-Known Member

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  3. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    One word - practice. And race so you can compare yourselves to others. I have never measured it, but the difference between pinching and footing a Sunfish is probably not more than 2 degrees.
     
  4. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    As others have written, 'finding the groove' is hard. And maybe a bit illusionary as well.

    In a Sunfish, sailing a tad 'low' may get you to the windward mark a little earlier. At least that's what Eduardo (multiple World Champion) said.
    Factors to consider are
    wind strength
    water: flat, choppy or (various kinds of) waves
    your weight

    And there's more; that's what makes racing 'interesting'...
     
  5. Sailkb

    Sailkb Member

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    I'll chime in here and say that being new to racing I have generally come in near the end of the pack at my club races. I have struggled with this same issue, the balance between pointing too high and footing (correct term?). I made one of those homemade wind indicators offered by Tag on this forum and raced once, in light air, and came in second! Definite help as I continually monitored it and made adjustments. However, I haven't used it since because I made it too flimsly and it came apart in derigging and I failed to remake it and raced the rest of the season without it. But especially in light air the wind indicator is the answer. In heavy air I am tempted to just go as fast as I can rather than play with cheating the wind, but I need more experience to prove that as the best approach. And yes, practice, practice, practice.
     
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  6. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    As I often sail in Light-and-Variable-Winds :D my wind-indicator is made of a feather glued to a 14" length of a plastic tarp-remnant "string"—tied to 5" of tiny chain—and fastened to the S-hook where the spars meet. (Just short enough so when the deck is wet, the feather won't stick to it).

    You can buy more-expensive indicators having a feather—like for the catamarans I formerly sailed—but this one is extremely sensitive and readily replaceable.

    The "groove" is a tiny spot, indeed: sail too high, and the feather drops—sail too low, and the feather swirls in circles. The "happy medium" is where the feather floats steadily just aligned with the boom. When there's "no" wind to lift the feather, I steer a circular course, and often find a spot where I can "sense" the wind.

    Not being a tobacco smoker, I tried burning an indoor "fragrance-stick" (of incense) to see where to point the boat; alas, the smoke would dissapate before the wind direction could be uncovered. Disappointing, yes, but the area around the motionless Sunfish did smell better! :)
     
  7. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    Here's my "design"—but using a paperclip instead of a small chain...
     

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  8. Alan Glos

    Alan Glos Active Member

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    Sparing no expense, my wind indicator is a wire coat hanger wand duct taped to the gaff about 3' up from the deck with about 8" of 1980 vintage cassette tape recording tape taped to the outer ends of the wands (an not just any tape but a vintage Grateful Dead tape. Good karma.) I raced in very light air this past weekend, and wind direction detection and resulting sail trim was critical to success.

    Finding the groove upwind is often elusive, but I know that pinching in light air and chop is the kiss of death. In these conditions. fall off, ease the mainsheet and foot to keep moving. Trim and point in the gusts and ease and fall off in the lulls. Also keep in mind that the Sunfish sail lays against the mast on starboard tack so you will not point the same on both tacks.

    Alan Glos
     
  9. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

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    Alan means the sail lays against the mast on port tack. BB
     
  10. Alan Glos

    Alan Glos Active Member

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    Beldar is correct. Mea culpa.

    Alan Glos
     
  11. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    On Sundays, the Grateful Dead won't do you any good. Need to switch the tape to Mahalia Jackson or another gospel singer to find the groove.
     
  12. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    Now a question for some of our more "seasoned" Sunfish sailors: P7260137-002.JPG

    Given that this vertical red bar is parallel to the mast, would pulling the boom into the very corner of the cockpit be "pinching" on starboard tack?
     
  13. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    From the sail shape, it looks like the boat is on port tack...
    Or am I missing something?

    More in general, the top racers recommend to not pull the sail in beyond the corner of the stern.
     
  14. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

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    :oops: Sorry...To take the photo, I'm standing in knee-deep water. (Boat's not moving).

    Good point—thanks. :cool:

    But still, it'd be different for port/starboard tack. If it's not too foggy or cold, I'll check for any difference this morning.
     
  15. sinogin

    sinogin Member

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    For the sunfish, upwind sail trim depends on wind speed and whether you are on port or straboard tack. The more wind there is, the more you can trim in your sail to point higher and keep the boat flat. You can pull in the sail more when you're on port tack because the mast is to leeward of sail, giving it a flatter shape, and it also allows you to point higher (i.e. pinch more). The video below should show some examples of this.

    In lighter winds, I find myself "feathering" very often. I foot for speed then slowly point higher until I feel myself slowing down too much and then I foot off again. These are very subtle movements and I'm always comparing my relative speed with boats nearby, that are on the same tack.

     

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