New Vertical Rudder Sailing Report


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With a warming trend upon us in northern California, the forecast for the gradient winds was dropping fast. There was no wind this morning from the sensors on the coast so I decided to go where I know there's always wind, even when it's totally dead on the beach; the Russian River.

With a bit of fog pushed up on the coast, there was wind already when I got to the Jenner boat ramp at 9:15 am. Headed up the River with my new rudder. With fog on the coast there's always more wind in the river canyon and the flow was double the usual velocity at this time of day when I passed by the usual venturi spots as I headed east.

By the time I got to within a mile of my turnpoint at the Duncan's Mills bridge, it was blowing as hard as it usually does at 2-3 pm, not at noon. I ate a sandwich on the beach at my turn around spot, cranked the outhaul all the way on and the same with the cunningham. It was blowing hard on this section of the river. Well over 20 at times. The perfect conditions to test the trim of the new vertical rudder.

In a nutshell, what the rudder delivered was even better than I had expected. Very little pressure on the tiller with only a slight bit of weather helm in the highest gusts. Was able to sail the entire upwind return leg with the tiller almost right on the center line.

The was the first time The Betty has felt very well trimmed in strong air. The only downside... if you could call it that... was if I pushed the tiller over hard in the tacks, I could feel the rudder stall sometimes. To be expected I suppose with a higher aspect ratio rudder that has no foil shape (yet). Moving the gooseneck a bit back and lowering the boom will take care of the remaining 10 - 15% of trimming the boat out. I didn't change either of these during the trip. They were both in "sailing guest stock setting".

So... all the work I put into creating this Frankenstein rudder was worth it. Including glassing the tip of the rudder with 10 ounce cloth. The river was low and I dragged it over the bottom on more than one occasion while transitioned the shallow areas. It is, after all, now 21 inches below the transom. I think I'll add another layer of glass on the tip. Here's a photo of the tip after my outing today. No damage to the mahogany!


My new best friend


- Andy
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awesome... you're inspiring projects in us, I'm sure. Love the hockey stick!
You must have close to a perfect wife that lets you put boat parts on the "good" furniture :-D