What to do to the cruising boat to make it participate in regattas

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Racing the boat with which we normally also go on a cruise does not have to be a taboo, but rather can become a nice alternative with which to use it outside of summer vacation. Many people think that with a cruising boat it is useless to try their hand at racing, but in reality, all we need to do to have fun is to have a clear idea of how to prepare our craft and participate in events that are within its capabilities. So where does one start when preparing a cruising boat for racing, and what kind of events are worth participating in?

MAKE IT ALL WORK

Before we think about sails and more sophisticated operations, if we want to take a cruising boat racing, we must start with A,B,C, that is, rigging and deck fittings. If we take the boat to a regatta, it is likely that it will be subjected to greater stress than when we sail on a cruise, so a complete check of everything should be done. Everything must work at its best and be in good condition: we will then check the tightness of the halyards, replacing those that stretch as soon as the wind picks up slightly.

Dyneema halyards will certainly do the trick, even if we choose a line that is not necessarily very high-end. We will check the halyard stockings for wear points that could worsen under load, and we will overhaul the stoppers to make sure that even in a stiff breeze they hold the lines steady. Similar check will have to be done with all blocks, particularly those at the mast foot of the mainsail halyard, jib, and spinnaker halyard, but also the blocks that we will use as a deflection for the sails from carrying gaits will have to be checked. If we have entry level quality blocks on board, it is possible that the plastics have microcracks caused by the sun, in which case the pulley should be replaced.

IT ALL STARTS WITH GOOD HULL WORK

Having finished the part about the deck equipment, it is time for another basic operation, which is the preparation of the hull. This is a topic that is too often underestimated, but instead underlies the performance of any sailboat, even cruising boats. The first thing to do is to drain all the layers of old antifouling, bringing the hull down to practically gellcoat. Indeed, we need to eliminate the step that is created by applying the paint season after season if we are not used to sanding it completely.

Once the hull is brought to zero we usually apply a protective primer over the gellcoat, sand it lightly after it dries, and proceed to apply the new antifouling. The best solution is to apply a type of paint that can be given by spraying. This will ensure that we will not have excess paint and the layer on the hull will be as thin as possible. After applying it and waiting for it to dry, an additional sanding of the hull with very fine paper, almost a caress, is done before launching to remove any imperfections.

In fact, the fairing, even if made by spraying, may be slightly rough, so to do a good job every little roughness should be removed. If the first regatta we do is weeks or months after the hull work, a light wash, with cloth and sponge, by a diver before the event we attend will suffice to ensure excellent smoothness characteristics.

WATCH OUT FOR APPENDAGES

Speaking of the hull and appendages, together with a professional builder we can check whether there is a possibility of flaking the trailing edge of the bulb and rudder. Often on cruising boats, the exit profile is quite abundant, which causes vibration when the boat accelerates and more hydrodynamic drag. Slightly reducing the trailing edge of the fin and rudder will help us avoid the problem and improve the hydrodynamics of the boat, but the work should be done by a professional who will assess whether or not it can be done.

At this point we will have a boat with overhauled deck equipment and a polished hull. We are ready for the next step.

Mauro Giuffrè

THE FULL STORY IN THE AUGUST ISSUE

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