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Starting Technique and the damned kicker thing..

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iGRF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote iGRF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Starting Technique and the damned kicker thing..
    Posted: 12 Oct 20 at 9:13am
I've always struggled with the whole kicker concept, to me it always seems more akin to a choking device than something positive, but I've gone along with all the theory, stick it on upwind, off a bit to bear off, off downwind if your sailing by the lee etc etc and it does seem to have varying effect on the different boats I use.

So my question to the panel, at what point do you fire up the kicker, during the start sequence, given the oft necessity to stall, manoeuvre etc..

It must need to be on during those essential first few seconds does it not, to maximise power off the line?

Yet on boats like mine (prone to irons with the kicker on) you risk screwing up..

Telling me what you sail might also help, it does seem true different boats and rigs are more or less susceptible to confounded kicker buggeration.
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JimC View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 20 at 9:28am
It's principally about controlling twist in the mainsail leech. When you understand what you require there it comes together. And yes, the effect is radically, even utterly different on different types of sails and different ways of setting up the rest of the gear. On some setups it's also the principle mast bend adjustment, others do everything they can to stop it affecting mast bend, some setups also use mainsheet tension to adjust the leech, others deliberately avoid it. So it really isn't possible to provide useful generalisations that will cover say a Laser and a 49er, although that doesn't stop people doing it.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Mozzy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 20 at 9:46am
Off to downwind position until 20-30 seconds (basically off until you have your start position determined). 

Precise moment we pull it on will depend on how much we're still fighting for position. But it only comes on about half way, or to a light wind setting when it is applied.

I then snug it up to it's proper setting once up to full speed. 

Having it off give maximum manvouverbility, and also stop the boat moving forward as the sails flog. Less likely to get stuck in irons and you can sit with the bow further off the wind without the sail powering up. 

Ideally the kicker would come on at the same time as the main and jib during the start acceleration. But we only have so many hands. It's a bit of a trade off between having enough so that you can hold good speed for a few seconds after triggering, versus having too much and hampering the acceleration or getting stuck head to wind. 

The downside of having to go back in to snug the kicker up is it can disrupt the flow, and you momentarily lose a bit of righting moment. Which isn't great if you're about to be rolled.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sam.Spoons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 20 at 10:12am
Which boat are you talking about? In the Blaze we use no kicker upwind* and a fair bit reaching until dead downwind when is comes off again to allow by the lee. Reason being that upwind on the Blaze the kicker causes mast bend and depowers the rig. Leech control upwind is with the mainsheet which lets you power up and spill wind. 

Other boats use the mainsheet to control only sheeting angle upwind, sometimes cleated and the helm plays the kicker upwind, others (OK and the like) use the mainsheet to control twist but play the traveller to depower.

* just enough to take the slack out of the tackle
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Post Options Post Options   Quote davidyacht Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 20 at 11:45am
Calibrate the kicker with an indelible marker, so that you have a running position, a standard upwind position and a full kicker on position.  

This will allow you to pull to the standard position slightly before, at or after the start and then fine tune when you are going up the beat.  

If you did your homework on a practice beat before the race, then you will have a fair idea what the setting needs to be.  

In the Solo which has a traveller, I have the traveller down, and just use the sheet tension at the start, then snug the kicker on once we get going.

Being over kickered before the start is fraught with issues.
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iGRF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote iGRF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 20 at 1:54pm
It's the Farr which is giving me issues, not only because I haven't managed to get a control system that I can run out to the wire and swinging back in to grab it in the heat of the start (as happened yesterday in an offshore gustfest) could only snatch and grab probably putting too much on then ending up in irons trying to tack on the first header (I usually love shifty offshore, on the wire I hate it) The new Farr rig I have is very kicker sensitve (full batten, fairly full cut, big head).

(Interesting that news about the kicker and the Blaze Sam, that might answer another issue I had, but it's not as difficult to adjust)

Mozzy, thanks for your input that's very valuable, about what I reckoned now with the benefit of hindsite.

I almost need a double mainsheet kicker combo so they can be applied together then adjusted on the fly in relation to each other from the wire. I once had a mainsheet jammer with an upper and lower jammer can't remember what boat it was now, might have been the Alto..Main above the kicker but both easily to hand, going to have a think about this maybe Ihave some kite technology I ca apply.

Thanks all, very helpful and confounding in complication as usual...

Edited by iGRF - 12 Oct 20 at 1:58pm
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Mike Holt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 20 at 5:27pm
100% agree with Mozzy. You need to be able to steer wherever you want pre start and kicker off gives you full control. Also allows the boat to accelerate as you start, too much drag on the sail from a stationary start otherwise.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Do Different Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 20 at 6:28pm
iGRF. Look at the setup on your Contender club mates, if as pretty much others they will have a kicker tail led to the trapeze in some way, that way it can be adjusted from the wire; a lifesaver on a heavy bear away or pre-tacking if heavily kickered.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote JimC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 20 at 6:29pm
Originally posted by iGRF


I almost need a double mainsheet kicker combo so they can be applied together then adjusted on the fly in relation to each other from the wire.

If you take a lead from the kicker to a swivel aft of and below the mainsheet takeoff you could just tie the tail of the kicker and mainsheet together.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote iGRF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 20 at 10:37pm
Originally posted by JimC

Originally posted by iGRF


I almost need a double mainsheet kicker combo so they can be applied together then adjusted on the fly in relation to each other from the wire.

If you take a lead from the kicker to a swivel aft of and below the mainsheet takeoff you could just tie the tail of the kicker and mainsheet together.


Yes I think that's the way I'm headed.

Another option I'm considering is rear sheeting, then I'm not so kicker dependant and it becomes more a tool offwind on reaches.

Contenders use their kickers a lot mainly because they've got a crap sail design it's totally soft, but that also brings with it a more forgiving nature, the problem with my rig is got lots of the features of a modern syle but without the auto control you get with a windsurfer bend curve, it's not surprising the what can I say contradictions kickers bring with them and half arsed sails not designed in any way compatible with the actions of the mast.
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