• Weather Cancels Midwinters Provides Training Opportunity

    Nathalie Criou is always up for adventure, single handed or with a crew. Last year she competed in the legendary Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro, and this year
    she has sights set on the 2019 Race to Alaska. This past weekend, when the midwinters she was to compete in when the forecast suggested marginal conditions,
    she and crew set out to get some heavy weather training on her Figaro 2 Envolee

    We want to be prepared for heavier conditions and rain and limited visibility we might encounter up north so for us it was a perfect day to train. We know the Figaro 2 can take the conditions, but can we? We decided to stay in the Bay as R2AK is also a fair bit inshore and we wanted to train with obstacles nearby. Our goal was to test a double reefed main Vs single-reef in the conditions above 35 knots and maneuvers in heavy-ish weather including taking a second reef and gybing with the guys floating the kite to free up the sheets and make it easy for us to move the pole around. So we picked our most diminutive crew to prove that it was perfectly fine to do these gybes with that method. And because we were entirely floating the kite, it didn't matter which side the main was on, giving us a lot of flexibility as to when the move the main over - we pushed it over when a gust would hit as the boat would take off and the heavier breeze would actually make it easier for the kite to stay full. As the boat accelerated the apparent wind would go down and it was easier for the main to get across. The waves weren't big enough to do any real surfing so we couldn't use that.

    The bay was a bit lumpy but not anymore than it is on an ebb on a windy summer day. and much like R2AK we had periods with no wind at all and then within seconds a big squall would pass through and bring 30+ knot. The most violent one, a big dark cloud carried gusts of 35 to 38 knots. Otherwise most of the heavier wind we saw was between 27 and 32 knots, very typical of summer day conditions on the Bay which we race in all the time. We had 12 knots at some point for a little while in-between squalls and as low as 2 knots...The water surface state would change very quickly too which was interesting. The wind would remain low for very short periods of time so not worth modifying the sail plan. The biggest challenge was that the wind was very shifty. We saw it come from pretty much all directions and even during a squall it would shift quite a bit, making driving tricky. We had to be on it all the time. At some point we were upwind, battling 36 to 38 knot winds with the rain almost horizontal, whipping our faces, I could only see because I was wearing glasses, but the water hurt when it hit my cheeks!

    It was also a good test of our foul weather gear and we now have plenty of time to upgrade if we need to.

    We found that a second reef in our main was too much for a full crewed boat in the low to mid 30s as the boat felt underpowered upwind and we could further depower on the heavier side. One reef was plenty. It was definitely way too small a main downwind in those conditions as our small kite would project a lot more sail area which wasn't easily balanced out by the mainsail which made for more exciting downwind driving. So lesson learned! By the time we feel we want a second reef in the mainsail, it's probably not a set of conditions we will be flying our kite in. There wasn't really enough wind to sail with our storm jib but we might try it next time. Given the lumpy bay, we wanted the power up forward to go through the waves.

    Overall, good team coordination and we basically just did gybes back to back during our downwind run, up until we had to douse because the depth was becoming a problem...



    PS: oh, we appreciate plugs for support: donated bike frames for our pedal drives, we are recruiting cyclists for the team and we have an athlete account with RYC (listed on the website) that allows for tax deductible donations from individuals or corporations. We will be shooting a full length documentary offering for plenty of exposure to companies...
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Weather Cancels Midwinters Provides Training Opportunity started by Photoboy View original post