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How Speedwagon Won the Nationals

In the 2014 VX One Nationals my crew & I were really quick in a breeze but when it became marginal planning conditions downwind in less than 13knots the boats with lighter crews made huge gains. For that regatta we weighed in at 230kg. The crews that weighed 200kg were putting 100 to 150 metres on us downwind.

I have done enough regattas in many different classes to know that when you have a small fleet like the ten boats we expected for our nationals that all else being equal, ‘the fastest boat will win’ and when you sail in a large fleet, ‘the smartest boat will win.’ In a small fleet there is enough clear air on the track for a fast boat to get enough of it and get truckin’ even if they do not get the best start.

Knowing this I spent a lot of time thinking about what would be the ideal crew weight to sail the 2015 Nationals at. I expected that we could get strong and medium to light conditions for the regatta again. While not wanting to be off the pace in the heavy I did not want to be run down like a sitting duck in the marginal conditions either. I decided that 215kg would be the right weight to sail at.

I was keen to sail the nationals with Anton, a school friend that I had done a lot of sailing with in the 80’s. We sailed the ASBA Midwinters together in Mooloolaba and it was a lot of fun! I weighed 85kg, he was 70kg so we needed a 60kg crew. I rang Cribby, a friend of mine who runs the youth program for Yachting NSW. He recommended Jordan Makin a Laser Radial 4.7 sailor who lived on Lake Macquarie. Cribby said that he could hike all day!

Although he lived on the Lake Jordan was down in Sydney quite often for Youth Squad training and when I contacted him, his parents were happy to bring him down to sail the VX One for our build up to the nationals. We had five weekends in the season where we worked on boat handling and trim. Probably the best practice he got on spinnaker trimming was the hour and a half run from Pittwater to Sydney that we did in November. In the ocean swells you can really see what the change in apparent wind angle does when you surf down waves. Jordan was a bit tired at the end but he trimmed the whole way!

I bought a new Mackay boat this season as it was a good opportunity to grow the Australian fleet and step into a new boat. When my crew came down to sail for the first time I had installed longer ropes on the leaning straps so that we could adjust them to the right length for comfortable and effective hiking for each of us. Being 15kg lighter than the team I had the year before I had worked out that we needed to hike 130mm further out to have the same righting moment as a 230kg crew.

Hiking on Speedwagon

Hiking on Speedwagon

Our sails for the regatta were Ullman, made by Bruce Hollis in Sydney. The main had done 5 regattas, including the ASBA Nationals in Freo in 20 to 25knots and the last VX One Nationals. It still looked great in fact Brian Bennett commented at the Midwinters last year that it looked really nice. The spinnaker was new for the last VX Nationals and had done three regattas. The jib was new and had been out of the bag once.

Before the races we set up the rig to make sure we had enough power. The leeward shroud would just go loose in the lighter air upwind. This meant that we could sail fully powered up in the light stuff and maintain our height. In the gusts we would need to pull on vang and ease mainsheet. If the pressure was staying up for a while we would pull the cunningham on.

The VX One is designed to sail upwind with six to eight degrees of heel. Every boat has their ideal angle of heel when sailing upwind. If you do not allow the boat to sail over its ideal angle of heel you will be fast! In the VX One I do not like to go any slower than 6.0knots upwind. If we are fast and flat the mainsheet must be fully on and the sails powered up as much as possible. If we are fast and the mainsheet is out we trim on I steer up to grab some more height. If we are slow and fully hiking the mainsheet is eased to get us up to speed.

In the gusts and greater pressure we sailed inside the luff of the jib. In any boat when you have more wind than you need it is most important the ‘keep the boat on its feet’ ie. sail it at the correct angle of heel. When you do the foils work and you don’t make the leeway you will see boats on their ear do. It is critically important that the mainsheet trimmer is aware of the correct angle of heel and works with the helmsperson to keep the speed and heel exactly right.

We set up our jib with the sheet in the standard middle hole on the clew board. This gave it a decent amount of foot round for power in the light end of the range. We have the jib track marked with a number 1 on the bolt hole 300mm from the centre of the boat. Then we have each of the next holes numbered 2, 3 and 4 as they go outboard. We had the jib car between 1.5 and 2 in the 12 to 18 knots on the first two days.

Jib sheet tension is a really critical control as a tiny change in it will change the position of the leech of the jib a lot. It is imperative that the trim of the jib is really consistent. I would go to leeward before the start and check the position of the leech and then tell Jordan that is the tightest trim we will want in the race. The jib halyard was set so the wrinkles just came out of the luff.

With the boat setup for the lighter air we expected on the beat the forestay will sag when there is more wind. This effectively narrows the angle of attack of the jib and closes the slot. This is bad and needs to be avoided. When this happens the jib sheet needs to be eased to open the leech and slot to restore the correct angle of attack through the middle of the sail. When the breeze was on I would call for an extra 5 or 10mm between the jib blocks. Do not over do it. Just as it is important to helm smoothly up wind it is also important to over react with trim changes as any over reacting will result in a loss of height. I think many of the boats could have had their jibs over-trimmed. If in doubt (slow) ease it out!

In the 2014 Nationals there were one or two race where we did not get a good start when we were in a bit of a bunch on the line. I figured that a higher percentage start with clear air and a lane would be much more beneficial than getting caught in a bunch and lowering the chance of getting off the line clean.

On the first two days when the breeze was 12 to 18 knots out of the south-east the pin end was favoured, the left hand side of the beat was a bit more promising and we nailed most of the starts at the pin. We had really good pace and after about three minutes could tack and cross the fleet by 20 to 30 metres.

Since I sailed the VX One North Americans in 2013 I have been thinking about the optimum twist in the mainsail downwind. Having done more one design VX sailing than I had the Americans were using less vang than me and it was fast! Mainsail setup with an assymetric spinnaker is a lot different to a symmetrical one on a lead mine. Originally I thought that a lot of mainsail twist was only needed on boats with massive masthead Assos like Melges and the other sportsboats we sail against. However the lesson was rammed home to me when we sailed down the coast from Pittwater to Sydney. At the beginning of the run we could not catch Iain Murray who was sailing Scott Lawson’s boat. His crew weight had to be at least 30kg heavier than us so we should have been at least able to match him. It was not until we matched the twist he had in his mainsail that we got up to speed.

It may not be what you are use to but the main should be twisted so that the slot with the kite is nice and open. The boom will then be around the leeward corner of your transom. It can be eased out by up to a metre in the gusts and in about halfway to centre line in the lulls. As a guide I like to sail with the apparent wind around 90 degrees. If it is light I will head up for pressure and if it is breezy I will go lower with it.

As the VX One lights up downwind it is critical to find and stay in the best pressure. If conditions are variable the boat can go 50% faster and 30 degrees lower in pressure so it is worth getting into it!

On the first two days when the pressure was variable we missed getting to one band big time and Scott and Fred closed right up on us from behind. If not for our trimming and lighter weight I am sure we would have been third at that bottom mark.

Scott’s crew weighed 235kg and Freddos 245kg. If we rounded the top mark in good pressure there was no difference in speed but when the pressure dropped a bit we would be able to extend our lead.

Freddo had good starts and sailed very consistently, usually around third or forth. Scott was fast all around, especially upwind when the breeze was on. We noticed that he was closing in on us upwind on more than a few occasions. Scott had a win and heaps of seconds. We won six of the eight races.

You may guess that I am pretty competitive and don’t like to leave anything to chance. You are right. I also love sailing the VX One and want to improve the competition so I am happy to share everything that I have learnt.

Andrew York

VX One Crew Weight

An important question when people are looking at moving into a new class is what is a good weight to be competitive. As the VX One is relatively new on the scene and there is not a lot of data on crew weights in a whole range of conditions I am putting down my thoughts to encourage discussion from observations made by others.

The optimum crew weight is obviously dependant on the strength of breeze that you expect to sail in. In an Australian summer in most places around the country the breeze expected would be in the 15 to 20knot range most of the time with the occasional lighter days. However, in North America where many of the VX Ones sail it might be that conditions are more like 10 to 15 knots most of the time.

Most of the sailing I have done in Sydney has been with a crew of three with our total weight being in the 210 to 240kg (460 to 530lbs) range. This has been pretty comfortable but there have not been too many boats to compare speed with to date.

When I planned my trip to the North Americans I checked out how much breeze we would expect at the regatta. From what I saw it looked likely to be up to 13knots. With this in mind I was happy to be on the light side. Phil Thompson & I were 165kg, about 365lbs. It was great to sail in a fleet of 22 boats and observe the performance of them.

After the first day when Brian won the three races everyone was keen to find out how he did it and this included finding out what his crew weight was. His crew weight was around 440lbs (200kg), he said that he liked to be around that weight most of the time.

In the 10 to 13knots that we had up the first beat most of the time Brian and the other heavier crews were able to sail just a little faster than the others. This meant that they could take the first shift and cross the fleet to weather and that set up the rest of the beat nicely for them.

Downwind there was no perceptible difference in speed between the boats with different crew weights when we were in displacement mode, in less than 10 knots of breeze or in planning mode in over 12knots or so. The only real difference was in the marginal planning range when the lighter crews would get up and plane first and leave the heavier crews behind.

This did not happen often and did not appear to be as significant as getting the jump on the fleet up the first beat and being in good shape at the top mark.

Back in Australia I sailed my VX One in a mixed sports boat fleet in Fremantle Western Australia in

VX One Hauling Upwind 20 to 25knots with a crew weight of 230kg (505lbs) and was pleased to find that there was no need to have a heavier crew in these strong conditions.

With 17 to 20 knots expected at our nationals I had a bit of a rethink about what would be the right weight for the regatta. I had originally intended to sail at 210kg (460lbs) but I opted to sail at 230kg (505lbs).

With 20 to 25 knots on the first day we were quick. We were 5 seconds off the lead in the first race and well over 1 minute in front in the second. On the second day the breezes was around 15 knots in the first race and we won but in the other three races the breeze was patchy down the runs. There were two boats sailed very well by crews just under 200kg (440lbs) and their ability to stay on the plane longer and accelerate quicker in the puffs made them about 100 to 150 metres/ yards quicker downwind. I think if the breeze stayed above 11 or 12 knots we were fine but if it dropped down to 10 knots they were gaining big time! From a boatspeed point of view I felt that if we could stay above 10knots we were OK but if we dropped below it we were getting done.

On the final day in 15 to 16knots I think we were also the fastest upwind. In flat water we were doing 6.3 to 6.4 knots upwind and for a brief moment when we all hiked out horizontal we did 6.7knots without cracking off at all.

Brian’s design crew weight range for the VX One is 180 to 220kg (395 to 485lbs). We are yet to see if there is any difference between a crew at 220kg and one at 230kg and it may be hard to measure.  I think if the venue is going to have 15 knots or more a crew of 220 to 230kg (485 to 505lbs) will be more competitive than lighter crews I and if 10 to 15knots is expected around 200kg (440lbs) will be most competitive.

Andrew York

VX One Fleets Build

The VX One fleet is set for great growth this season! Chris O’Neill has just taken delivery of his boat. Chris has just been for his first sail as a new owner and has his boat stored on the hardstand at Rushcutters Bay, Sydney Harbour next to Yorky’s boat and just across from Phil Tomkin’s

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Chris washing his boat after his first sail as a new owner

 

Michael James in Queensland sold his boat to Alan Moffat and has a brand new one he is putting together so there are now two boats in Brisbane. Michael is also setting up Ken Walters new boat which will be heading to Canberra to join in the racing with Fred Kasparek.

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Alan and his son Kynan with his VX One he bought from Michael James

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New boats for Michael James and Ken Walters

Australian VX One Mid Winters

ImageIt was pretty light going on Lake Macquarie on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June for the first one-design regatta in Australia for the VX Ones. With not much more than 6 knots of breeze from the east and south east the race committee of the Royal Motor Yacht Club Toronto have done well to get five races in.

Saturday belonged to Michael James from Brisbane who led the fleet home with two bullets. Sunday saw Scott Lawson’s team take two of the three races with Yorky’s  team taking the other one. The races were all two lappers but the legs were only about half a mile in the light conditions. Mark Long was been kept busy moving the top mark to the major swings in the breeze, as well as taking 200 photos per day!

With two races to sail on Monday it was tight at the top. The boats were towed south of the club and managed a couple of quick races in 6 to 7 knots which dropped down to four knots by the end. The day belonged to Freddo Kasparek with two wins moving him past Scott into a solid second overall. Scott and the young guns were not on fire like they had been the previous day but managed to hang onto third overall in the regatta.

Although the conditions were light and most would have preferred to be planing around at 15 to 20 knots as the VX’s are known to do, everyone enjoyed the opportunity to fleet race together. With the experience in the fleet ranging from Fred & Michael who have had their boats for over a year to budding VX owners there was plenty of discussion ashore about setup and trim on the boats.

Magic Marine announced that they will be sponsoring the VX One Class in Australia. On Saturday night Andrew York had the pleasure of introducing Marja Van Helden of Magic Marine to the other VX One owners and crew. At short notice Magic Marine provided prizes for this regatta and announced great on-going deals for VX One owners on all their sailing gear.

 With seven races completed for the regatta the overall results are:

AUS 126 Michael James:           1, 1, 5, 2, 2, 2, 2       10 points

AUS 127 Fred Kasparek:            3, 2, 3, 3, 4, 1,1       13 points

AUS 136 Scott Lawson:              2, 4, 2, 1, 1, 5, 5       15 points

AUS 139 Andrew York:               4, 3, 1, 4, 3, 3, 3      17 points

AUS 141 Malcolm Thompson:    5, 5, 4, 5, 5, 4, 4       27 points

 

By Andrew York

How did I hear about the VX One

I have been asked how I found out about the VX One so here goes. In January I first saw a VX One in the US magazine ‘Sailing World’ where it won ‘Boat of the Year’ She looked good but I did not think too much about the VX until I say that there was to be a demonstration weekend at RANSA in May.

I then checked out all the information and videos that I could on the web and came to the conclusion that the boat looked like she performed well in light air right through to strong breeze. The one design nature struck a chord with me as I prefer one design racing. I ran the NSW Laser association for a number of years back in the late 70’s & early 80’s. Just as the Laser had been a boat ahead of its time back then I see the VX One ahead of its time now. It is a modern design which is a strict one design class and has exhilarating performance.

After checking out the videos my thoughts were that if she performs at the demonstration weekend as well as the videos seem to indicate then I’m sure it is a boat with a great future and I will want one.

I ended up helping Fred Kasparek the owner of the boat and Brian Bennett organize the weekend and sailed the boat more than Fred, including some great spinnaker rides in 25 knots with Cribby and then with Brian.

The performance of the boat was breathtaking so indeed I did want one and after some discussions with Brian I became the agent for them in NSW.

So far I have taken 30 people for a sail. They all love the boat, many have said that they would love to sail in a fleet of them. I do not think that there is a question whether the boat will take off or not. It is just a question of time. As soon as some commit to buy one others will follow soon after. The VX One is too good a boat not to take off.

I have made my first sale which is a big step. Phil Tomkins is due in Australia in February with another VX One that I will have for sale.

Top of Sailing Anarchy with Sydney to Pittwater Run

Top of SA

VX One Australia hit the Top of Sailing Anarchy Front Page for a day in November 2012

The Video of the Sydney to Pittwater run received 12,000 views in one day. There are currently 19,500 views of the video.

Below is the story and video!

At the end of October when the forecast showed that there would be a 20 knot southerly and 2 metre seas on the Friday it seemed like a great opportunity to Yorky to see if he could get more than 25 knots out of his VX One. If he could do 24 knots on Sydney Harbour how good would it be surfing down that swell offshore?

Yorky put a plan together to sail his VX One from Sydney to Pittwater. His partner, Julie would take the trailer to a ramp just inside Barrenjoey.  A friend was lined up with his rubber duck to accompany them on the trip. A crew & someone to take photos and video did not prove easy to find. A number of his friends really wanted to sail but were busy and actually had to work!

As luck would have it a few connections led to a phone call to Josh McKnight, the Moth World Champion. Josh had just finished his University exams and was keen to do the trip. Yorky also contacted Andrea Francolini who had a small window of opportunity at 7am to take photos on The Sound before a shoot he had at Middle Harbour Yacht Club.

At the last minute the rubber duck could not do the trip so Cribby saved the day, picking up Andrea from MHYC for the session on the Sound. On the way down the Harbour Yorky & Josh hit 20 knots as the southerly began to build. After 40 minutes of sailing around, the rubber duck with Andrea taking photos they headed out to sea.

The waves were up to 3 metres and the breeze had built to 25 knots. It made for an extremely exciting run to Pittwater. The boat took off on many a wave and probably did mid-twenties on numerous occasions but the GPSs onboard were a bit worse for wear with all the water, so unfortunately there was no maximum speed recorded.

Enjoy the video!!!

Single Handed in VX One

Saturday the 20th October saw Yorky hit the harbour single handed. The wind was forecast to increase to 17 to 18 knots which he expected might be a bit much so he set off early. A southerly hit at 20 knots or so but there was no way he was going to pack up before he set the kite. It was a great ride from Rose Bay to Athol with the boat on the edge as he just kept above Shark Island. Top speed was 16.7 knots which he thinks is a good mark for single handed in a VX One.