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Starting Technique and the damned kicker thing..

Printed From: Yachts and Yachting Online
Category: Dinghy classes
Forum Name: Technique
Forum Discription: 'How to' section for dinghy questions and answers
URL: http://www.yachtsandyachting.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=13695
Printed Date: 15 Jan 21 at 3:16pm
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Topic: Starting Technique and the damned kicker thing..
Posted By: iGRF
Subject: Starting Technique and the damned kicker thing..
Date 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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Replies:
Posted By: JimC
Date 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.


Posted By: Mozzy
Date 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.


Posted By: Sam.Spoons
Date 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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Spice 346 "Flat Broke"
Blaze 671 "supersonic soap dish"


Posted By: davidyacht
Date 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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Happily living in the past


Posted By: iGRF
Date 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...

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Posted By: Mike Holt
Date 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.


Posted By: Do Different
Date 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.



Posted By: JimC
Date 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.


Posted By: iGRF
Date 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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Posted By: Do Different
Date Posted: 13 Oct 20 at 6:38am
How can you go rear sheeting, you'll get in a right tangle trying to get the tiller extension through forward.

You can control leech tension with the last few inches of hard sheeting on a centre setup. Ask Sam it's what he would be doing on his Spice.

 


Posted By: Sam.Spoons
Date Posted: 13 Oct 20 at 9:17am
It is indeed, with a crew rear sheeting would require twin tiller extensions (tried it but only briefly). On the Blaze I use off the boom sheeting with a rear traveller, getting the extension through is no problem as there is no mainsheet going from the boom to floor mounted ratchet in the middle of the cockpit. Sheet loads are lower too so its definitely worth a try, doesn't solve the kicker problem though (but it may remove the need for adjustment upwind).

On both boats I use the last few inches of mainsheet to control twist and keep the boat on it's feet upwind. Much simpler than having to juggle kicker, traveller* and mainsheet all the time.

* actually no adjustable traveller in the Blaze and just fixed strops on the Spice.


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Spice 346 "Flat Broke"
Blaze 671 "supersonic soap dish"


Posted By: H2
Date Posted: 13 Oct 20 at 10:56am
On my H2 (fully battened, big flat top head like your Farr), the kicker is used upwind to de-power but you also need a minimum amount to close the top of the sail off to avoid having to oversheet. Bit like Mozzy, if the start line is going to be hectic I keep it off till I have chosen my spot to enable ability to bear away quickly, also having kicker on will move boat forward or into irons. With a minute to go I pull it onto light wind setting and hike like mad until I am safe and then get it set according to the breeze.

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H2 #115


Posted By: H2
Date Posted: 13 Oct 20 at 10:57am
Also iGRF - this year I moved to rear sheeting / off boom in my H2 which is 100% the way to go but I suspect will not be possible with your long tiller extension.

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H2 #115


Posted By: Sam.Spoons
Date Posted: 13 Oct 20 at 12:35pm
Off the boom works fine with a 1.6m tiller extension on the Blaze, it could be a foot or more longer without issues.

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Spice 346 "Flat Broke"
Blaze 671 "supersonic soap dish"


Posted By: iGRF
Date Posted: 13 Oct 20 at 9:28pm
I still maintain a tiller extension just short enough to go through forward. So rear sheeting remains an option, I also quite enjoy the off boom sheeting I have on the Blaze which could work then maybe I could use the old main sheet and press it into service for a centred kicker..

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Posted By: NickA
Date Posted: 29 Oct 20 at 12:01am
Originally posted by Sam.Spoons

Off the boom works fine with a 1.6m tiller extension on the Blaze, it could be a foot or more longer without issues.


Likewise on the v3000 ... But 1.6m is a bit short on a trap boat. 1.8m would be better but doesn't fit through the gap even with off the boom sheeting.

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3604 ...lapse of reason
Javelin 558


Posted By: Sam.Spoons
Date Posted: 29 Oct 20 at 10:33am
I've just measured the old extension off the Spice and it's 1.56m I don't recall finding it too short even though I did replace it with a 2 metre carbon one. The extension on the Blaze is actually 1.5m but, as I said, it could be a foot longer with no problems.

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Spice 346 "Flat Broke"
Blaze 671 "supersonic soap dish"


Posted By: Cirrus
Date Posted: 29 Oct 20 at 8:02pm
As a rough guide - on a Blaze if the detached extension reaches 'nose height' you will not be too far out.  So if you are tall (and you hike of course !) you will find the extension is approx the right length for you  .. and vice versa.    If buying a fixed length one, and in any doubt, go for a longer one than you think you need and be prepared to shorten it .. lengthening it would be a little more demanding on your skills base ...Big smile



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