Spun Yarn: Capsizing Edition


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One of the main causes of a capsize in the Capri 14.2 is a sudden accidental jibe. And it doesn't have to be in heavy wind. I've seen it happen in moderate breezes of 6-8 knots.

But is a capsize a sure thing if you jibe? Not at all. The main thing that can aggravate the severity of the jibe is the position of the centerboard. Let's say you are running downwind in, say, 10 knots of breeze, with the board down and the control line properly cleated. You could jibe, but if you do, the centerboard creates so much resistance to a roll that a capsize is usually averted.

What if the board is up? Well, once I was running downwind in the High Sierra Regatta where strong breezes are commonplace. I was following a Capri 14.2 when it suddenly jibed and made a perfect barrel roll, tossing its crew over the side and rolling inverted in a heartbeat. The cause was obvious, as its centerboard was in the full up position. Oooops. Proof that zero lateral resistance equals zip roll stability. What's more, having the board secured in the full up position makes it almost impossible for the crew to get the boat upright again, as there's nothing to pull on, just a wet, slippery hull.

Why raise the board to begin with? Well, when racing, raising the board will reduce drag somewhat while running downwind. But as stated above, it's a risk. In light breezes, it's not unreasonable to raise the board part way, only one needs to remember to lower it again before rounding the leeward mark.

However, it's been my experience that the increase in speed with a "half-board" is marginal, and not worth the bother. That's because when you raise it halfway, you are mostly tilting it aft, not lifting it up, thus the wetted surface is scarcely reduced at all.
My recommendation: leave the board fully down and cleated all the time. This is especially true when sailing where there are few, if any powerboats around that can come to your aid.

By Ed Jones
Thanks for sharing your experience. I have a 1987 model. I started sailing last summer and read and studied books so I would know what I was doing. The books said center board up half way in a jibe, but 90 percent of the time I'd forget to raise it. I noticed it didn't seem to matter so decided not to bother with it.

Vapor Lounge


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raising the centerboard

I completely agree with leaving the centerboard down, and while raising it may yeild a minimal decrease in forward resistance, the act of re-lowering it for the next leg actually negates any decrease in resistance you may have achieved by raising it, as you are in effect pushing the leading edge of it forward at a rate faster than the speed of the boat, (lowering it is a forward motion that exceeds the forward speed of the hull).
Centerboard Up

Enjoyed reading your article Ed. Yesterday I was sailing in the WYC Commodore Cup and we put the centerboard down half way. It became stuck and made the boat unstable for the rest of the race. We had very light winds and thought we should try lowing the centerboard but never again.

Bob Amenta
Some people claim that if you are running and a sudden gust of winds forces the boat to round up it will trip over the board and get knocked down.

If the board is up and you do get knocked down boat will turtle immediately and you will have the pain of pulling board out and hanging out to raise mast. I find one solo person cannot right a small 12 sailboat that turtles. Turtles are to be prevented, specially with neophyte or married women aboard.
Main Sail Float

Does anyone have one of the "floats" from Catalina, the one that's sleeved over the head of the main? Has anyone had the occasion to test it? Has anyone attempted to make their own? I could go on, but you get the gist... I'm just looking for a little information on "Turtle Insurance" that would look less like a mast-mounted dirigible. Thanks, all.