Tuning Guide and Rig chart can be found at the bottom of the page.
Solo Nationals 2010 By Matt Howard
All Images are copyright protected (Photo: Tom Gruitt/ www.fotoboat.com )
Steve has asked me to write a few thoughts on the 2010 Solo Nationals and has prompted me with a few questions which I hope I have answered below adequately. It’s not meant to be a highly polished yachts and yachting article so here goes.
Laser Medallist at youth level
Finn National Champion
10th Finn Class Worlds
Training partner for Athens Olympics 2008
RYA head Finn coach 2008-09-10 last three years
Big boats- IRC National Champion 2008,
Commodore’s cup winner 2008, ARC racing division winner.
Solo World/National Champion 2010, 2011
I believe the Solo Class has a forum where any questions that might be generated from this article could be asked and where there are loads of really good sailors who can answer them better than I can. I will also have a look every so often and offer any help I can. Alternatively you could email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer. However depending on where I am in the world you are more likely to get a quicker answer on the forums.
Below are a few thoughts on how I set up and sailed my Solo 5110 at the Felpham Nationals. The points below are for the breeze we sailed in 12-22knots and not for light winds as I’m yet to sail the boat in anger in the light. Most of these settings will be nothing new I’m sure as Charlie was good enough to give me all of his rig tuning (thanks Charlie) and Robbie Wilson told me about the centre board positions (thanks Robbie).
Boon super duper fast boat
New Boon Epoxy Foils
Selden D+ mast
North ST1 Laminate sail
– Mast heel forward, step pin in hole 4 back from the bulkhead and the fore stay set so the mast doesn’t quite hit the back of the mast gate. Shrouds, set so the mast is just stopped from hitting the front of the gate, I use one chock in front of the mast.
– This is fully down in the light and then continues to move aft
as the wind increases. On the windiest races I had the top handle forward so that the trailing edge corner was just exposed out of the top of the case.
You are always looking for very slight weather helm. When fully hiked if you let go of the tiller the boat should slowly head up. Make sure the boats flat though!
– 14 knots plus (when using a lot of kicker) the traveller stays set a few inches down from the centre jammer. So effectively it only moves across the boat about 10 inches when you tack. The kicker therefore becomes your traveller. You let sheet out to the boom is over the leeward quarter. From there you can ease further for gusts or waves or head right up in a lull or flat spot.
Under 14knots or when not using a lot of kicker the traveller sets the boom over the leeward quarter with the main sheet controlling leech tension.
Kicker_ as mentioned above I use the kicker as a traveller but the main use of the kicker is to bend the mast and therefore flatten the sail. You know if you’ve overdone it as the sail about 0.5m above boom will sit up to windward. Ease off till that goes and you should be roughly right.
– use it over 16 knots when sailing into chop or just to generally de-power. I use it into waves only. This gives you a deeper entry and open top leech, to make aggressive steering through waves easier.
– I steer a lot upwind, every wave has some tiller movement. The aim is to keep the bow in the water to maintain waterline length, to stop any slamming as this effects rig, foils and momentum, try to keep the boat at a consistent heel angle. The consistency of the heel is more important than whether you are dead flat or running a touch of heel. In many ways the accuracy of your steering is more important than anything else, and the rig, sail and centre board position should enable this.
– The aim of this is to keep your average speed up, even if this means sailing more distance. While a massive surf is great, the important thing is to use that speed to go around, punch through, or catch the next wave. Try not to ride the wave straight to the bottom as you end up with a very stop start run. The majority of the time I will be single parting the main sheet (no pulleys) this is particularly useful if the conditions are such that it’s difficult to catch waves- the extra power you get from this pump versus through the blocks can make the difference between catching waves and not.
When in waves I make sure the leech is super loose. You want the leech to be really twisted- more so than any other boat I’ve sailed. The shrouds prevent the boom going out to
90 degs but if you have the mainsail twist the top will be working properly. The great advantage of this is that it enables you to run by the lee. Unlike the laser where by the lee is preferred the solo shrouds stop “easy” by the lee sailing but
the open leech will allow you to do it for short periods to stay on a wave. Sometimes due to the way the waves are this is your best option for riding waves…
– Centre board – if it’s raked well aft so the corner is exposed leave it where it is- this gives you plenty of grip for surfing and turning. It also makes the boat more stable allowing you to be more confident and turn the boat aggressively.
– I sit with my back leg over the centre board case on the leeward side, it makes for interesting gybing but it allows body weight to be easily put to leeward to help the boat head up and keeps the boat more stable.
– The Solo Nationals were slightly different course configurations than I’m used to and slightly different to most championship courses in that the committee boat was anchored on the course axis (line between leeward and top marks) right at the leeward mark. More normally the start line is positioned in such a way as the axis and leeward mark is roughly in the middle. So at Felpham it mean’t that if you started at the pin the beat was vastly skewed with a lot more time on port than on starboard, and even more so if there was pin bias. In this case the most conservative thing to do is take some of the bias by starting ¾ of the way along the line from the committee boat and get onto port if the breeze was average or left phase. The idea here is to ‘square’ the course up, get back towards the middle of the course to minimize risk. In this case you make sure that unless it’s a big starboard lift that you are on port. Then when you have squared the course up a bit you can race your numbers normally (take lifts or average numbers on both tacks).
This approach is the one I used at Felpham on the shifty days and when the tide was under us upwind, which made the course more open (unsure which side would pay). Towards the end of the week when the tide was against us upwind there was tide relief inshore. This needed a slightly different approach. This was a case of asking the question ‘ there is pin bias on the line but I want to go right, how much of the bias am I willing to give up to get to the right?’ This is a hard question and changed depending on how much bias there was and how strong the tide was. When the line was square or committee boat favoured it was easy- start at the boat and tack. As the line gets more pin bias that question becomes harder and good boat speed often makes it look like you have made the right choice when perhaps you haven’t!
I hope that’s answered a few questions and helps some of you make your solos go faster, I look forward to racing against you all again next year and once again thanks for making me welcome into your class.
Matt Howard 5110, 5211
Solo Tuning Guide updated 2010
written by Charlie Cumbley (North Sails)
Updated September 2010
The Solo is a boat with a relatively simple rig. Once you are on the water there is little adjustment possible. It is essential therefore that you get the right rig settings before launching. When setting up a new boat you need to establish the following:
Mast foot position
You should have 2 mast foot positions, essentially a
light/medium setting and a medium/heavy setting.
This measurement is from the front of the mast heel to the outside of the centre of the transom.
Please note different builders and different mast fittings may not allow this exact measurement but as close to these as possible is preferred:
Flat water (inland conditions)
0-16 knots – 3052mm
16 knots + – 3065mm
Choppy/rough (sea conditions)
0-12 knots – 3052mm
12 knots + – 3065mm
More rake is now used where possible, the same principle
applies to forestay tension on either mast foot position you use. NB. This is measured without the sail up.
When the back of the mast touches the mast gate the forestay should just be in tension.
Preferably you have a mast with the track cut out, you can then use much more rake, in this case the forestay should be just in tension when the mast (where the track is cut out) is 5mm from the back of the gate.
The same principle is used for either mast foot position. When the shrouds are just in tension the mast should be 5mm from the front of the gate. If you sail on flat water or are over 85kgs you can sail with tighter shrouds to limit sideways bend, in this case the shrouds can be in tension when the mast is 10mm from the front of the gate.
Centre board position
Turn the boat on it’s side and fully lower the board so that the handle is touching the thwart. In this position the board should have 25mm of forward rake, now lift the board and mark the handle when the leading edge is vertical (LV), relative to the bottom of the case. Lift the board further until the trailing edge is vertical (TV) and mark the handle. The board needs to be just tight enough in the case so that it stays where you set it, but you can easily adjust it with your foot when hiked upwind.
Use 1 x 10mm chock to be used as per the tuning matrix below.
|Control||0-5 knots||6-10 knots||11-16 knots||17+ knots|
|Centreboard||Leading edge vertical||Trailing edge vertical||40mm up from TV mark||40-100mm up from TV mark|
|Chock||Chock behind mast||Chock in front||Chock in front||Chock in front|
|Kicker||Slack||Slack||Tension to control leech||Max. kicker|
|Outhaul||50mm depth in foot||100mm depth in foot||50-100mm depth in foot until overpowered then tension progressively||Max. outhaul with crease along foot|
|Inhaul||15mm from back of mast||10mm from back of mast||5mm from back of mast||0-5mm from back of mast|
|Traveller||0-50mm from centre line||50 – 150mm from centre line||150-50mm from centre line||0-50mm from centre line|
|Cunningham||Slack||Slack||Tension progressively to de-power||Tension to de-power|
|Boom Position||End above inside edge of tank||End halfway between tank||End over outside edge of tank to 100mm outside||50mm-250mm outside|
Because Solo’s are relatively easy to sail a boat speed advantage is hard to find. The settings that have been used for this tuning guide are based around a Solo sailor weighing 84-86kg using a Selden D+ mast and North sail. However these settings still apply providing you use the correct mast and sail combination for your weight.
The settings are dependent on sea state, weight, mast, sail and fitness. So in a force 3 a 90kg helm would be on full power settings whereas a 75kg helm with the same rig would be on overpowered settings. The overlap between settings can be achieved with a combination of rig, sail and centre board adjustment. There are different ways to achieve the same result. If for example you are caught out with light/medium settings in strong breeze raise the centre board further, use more kicker tension (to bend the mast) cunningham and outhaul tension.
Use a combination of main sheet tension, kicker tension and traveller position to find the best speed upwind. As a general rule start in light winds with the traveller on the centre line and little main sheet tension so that all the leech tell tails are flying. As the wind increases use more main sheet tension and ease the traveller to stop the boom getting too close to the centre line. Kicker tension in light winds should be set just slack so that it controls leech twist out of tacks. As the breeze increases and you have to ease the main sheet to keep the boat flat use kicker to control the leech profile, and adjust the traveller (usually move inboard) to keep the boom roughly over the outside edge of the quarter. Once fully overpowered use kicker upwind to increase low down mast bend and flatten the mainsail.
In a Solo body position is extremely important. In very light airs your body weight should be centred on the thwart, but do not move forward of this point however light it is. Once you are sat on the side deck move back so that your front leg is pressed against the thwart. As you become fully hiked move back to 150mm from thwart, and then up to 300mm as the wind increases.
Use only enough centre board so that the rudder is neutral when the boat is flat with the following sail settings:
Leave the out haul on it’s upwind setting. The inhaul (if adjustable) should be released so its slack. The kicker should be slack or just in tension to stop the leech opening too much in gusts.
Ease out haul so that lens foot is fully eased (you should have a knot in the control which hits the bottom of the boom when lens is fully eased). Ease the in haul until slack. Set the kicker so that the top batten flies approximately 90 degrees to the boat, this allows the leech to open and maximise speed. If planing is a possibility keep the boat as flat as possible and take the mainsheet 2:1 from the boom.
Only ease the out haul on reaches if you can use more power. Ease Inhaul until slack. Once on the run ease outhaul to allow a little depth in the foot. Set the kicker as for medium airs or ease to de-power on the reaches. This is also very quick on the run but can be very tippy! By spending time on the water preferably with a tuning partner you will be able to establish the right settings for all conditions. This will allow you to concentrate more of your energies on finding the quickest way round the course.
Good luck on the water! Charlie
When you have set up your boat or have found some fast settings, (mark them with a permanent Marker). You can always go back to them when you get confused.