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Flying Scot Tuning Guide - by Mike Noone


By Hi-Noone5850 - Posted on 14 October 2009

1. MARK YOUR SHEETS!!!

The Scot Racing experts, like Greg Fisher, are always recommending that you mark your sheets and control lines so that you can set them quickly to known and good positions. This is great for Jib Sheet cleating immediately after a Tack, and for cleating Spinnaker sheets before and after a Gybe. It is also very helpful to be able to repeat settings for Outhaul and Vang by reference to marks on the control lines. Take a Magic Marker on your boat the next time you sail and Mark your Lines in the optimum settings. You will then be able to quickly repeat and achieve the optimum settings after changing course or when responding to changes in the wind strength. This is the lowest cost "Tip" in the book, but, probably has the largest payoff in improved performance than many other more expensive "go fasts."

2. GO TO "TWO-TO-ONE" JIB SHEETING

One of the best ways to get fine control of the Jib Sheet adjustments in to use a "Two-to-One" system on the sheets. This requires twice as much line, but gives double the leverage on the sheets. This means that you need only half the force to "sheet in" in heavy air -- a great benefit for the Crew!! Also, the sheets can be more easily, and finely, adjusted -- even in heavy air.

The "2-to-1" arrangement can be done with the traditional Jib Sheeting to the Ratchet Blocks on the side decks, or, in conjunction with a "Seat Cleating" set-up which also aids in line handling and in the easy release of the sheets under load. Check out most of the Fleet Racers for details on how to rig the system. Greg Fisher claims that this is the most important change that you can make to your boat to improve sail control of the Jib.

3. BOAT PREPARATION

MAST AND SHROUD TENSION

THE LOOSE RIG To measure the aft rake of your mast, hoist a tape measure on the main halyard and hold it tight at the intersection of the transom and the rear deck. This measurement (without your jib up), should be 28' 4 1/2" to 28' 5 1/2". On our boat we have placed a channel adjuster above the deck at the joint of the forestay and the wire attached to the toggle. This allows us to quickly adjust the rake and lengthen the forestay if necessary. To measure the "slop" of the rig, you need to measure the forward rake of the mast. With the tape still hoisted, push the mast forward until the shrouds restrict it. The difference between this forward measurement and the aft measurement should be approximately 2-3".

THE TIGHT RIG The tight rig tuning is only functional with the jib cut for this tuning. A Loose Rig, or even a Snug jib put on a tight rig will be too flat, especially in medium winds.

First, drop your shrouds as low as possible in your channel adjusters. This should put the very bottom of the swage fork on your shrouds just barely above the actual chain plate that exits the hull. Raise the mast; hook your jib halyard to your bow plate (and perhaps tie your spinnaker halyard on the bow plate as well as a safety). Tighten the jib halyard until tensioned close to the suggested tension of 240lbs. We use a 3/8” socket wrench in the halyard box to crank the rig up tight enough. The standard aluminum cranks will break if used. It may be a trial and error process until you’ve reached the proper rig and tension. However, once achieved, you will not have to readjust the rig again! We suggest setting your rig up with the rig tension between 220 and 250 pounds. If less than 220, too much headstay sag will develop in medium winds, if more than 250; the mast may be pushed out of column in heavier winds.

The rake measurement, measured with a tape hooked on the main halyard to the joint of the transom on the back deck, should be very close to 28’4”- 28’5”. Farther forward than 28’5 1/2” will result in too “light” of a helm and the need to heel the boat more to keep in balanced. More rake than 28’3” will create too much weather helm.

SNUG RIG JIB
The Snug Rig jib will tune very similar to the Tight Rig, using the same methods and tools above.

The rake measurement should still set very close to the 28’ 4”-28’ 5”. The rig tension will be considerably less then the tight rig, however. Set the rig to 100-130 lbs measured on the forestay.

Hook your jib tack shackle around the forestay

 

When hooking your jib up at the tack, be sure to hook the shackle around the forestay. This will position the tack of the jib closer to centerline when sailing upwind on port tack.

NO MORE TOGGLE
It is no longer necessary to use the toggle to set your rake, jib luff tension or slop in the rig. In fact, you will never ever need to look at it again; your forestay will take the entire rig load while your jib halyard will simply adjust cloth tension.

RUDDER BLADE
In the past we have indicated in our Tuning Guides that the angle of the rudder blade to the rudder head should be set so the blade is much closer to parallel to the rudder head than comes stock from the factory. This has meant moving the blade and redrilling the rudder blade hole.

We have found that this change is not necessary and in some cases has perhaps contributed to rudder blade bending due to increased leverage on the blade.

Instead we feel confidant that setting the rudder blade angle similar to what come stock from the factory (the forward lower tip is approximately 5” aft of a straight line tangent to the forward edge of the rudder blade and parallel to the forward edge of the rudder head) increases the strength of the rudder blade without compromising speed or pointing ability.

SAIL TRIM

MAIN SHEET TRIM
When you want focus more on pointing, overtrim the main slightly, and for short periods of time. When accelerating in first gear, ease your mainsheet and/or vang so the upper batten will be angled outboard slightly from parallel to the boom. Only in this trim will the top telltale consistently flow off the top batten ( though its not in this picture!). In all other sail trim positions the top telltale may appear stalled behind the back of the leech.

The main should be trimmed so that the upper batten is parallel to the boom (sighted from under the boom looking up the sail). In lighter winds, or when sailing in a great deal of chop, it is helpful to ease the mainsheet slightly so the upper batten is angled out approximately 5º. In drifting conditions, when the boom is hanging on the leech and hooking the upper batten, set the upper batten parallel to centerline of the boat. Only in drifting conditions should the main be trimmed this way, as this will place the boom approximately 2' (61 cm) off from centerline.

In very heavy winds, with the help of the boom vang, set the mainsheet tension so the upper batten is again angled outboard approximately 5º from parallel to the boom. It is important, in winds above 15 mph, to apply heavy boom vang tension so the mast and boom will bend correctly to sufficiently flatten the sail. It has been found that the boom may be deflected from the straight line nearly 3 to 4" (7.6 to 10.2 cm) in heavy breezes. This heavy boom vang tension will help make playing the main much easier, as the sheet will not have quite as much strain as it does in even moderate winds.

NOTE: Make sure when rounding the windward mark that the boom vang is eased off so more strain is not applied to the mast and boom!

MAIN SAIL STEERS THE FLYING SCOT
The mainsail is very important in steering the Scot. The skipper should always hold his mainsheet and be ready to ease it quickly when he feels an increase in his weather helm (i.e. load on the helm acts as a brake). When the boat is tracking well again, and the helm is balanced, he should slowly trim the mainsail back in.

CUNNINGHAM / MAIN HALYARD TENSION
Pull the Cunningham just tight enough to leave a hint of horizontal wrinkles off the lower one-third luff of the sail. With the North Flying Scot main, it is better to err towards being too loose than being too tight. Of course, in a breeze it will require much more Cunningham tension to smooth the sail, but there should still be a hint of horizontal wrinkles.

It is important to start with the proper main halyard tension at the dock. There is a definite tendency to over-tension the halyard and pull all the wrinkles from the luff before any Cunningham is applied. This is especially important to avoid in lighter winds.

BOOM VANG
Downwind, trim the vang just hard enough to keep the boom down and the leech supported on the main. Still use the guide of setting the upper batten parallel to the boom. When the boom vang is trimmed correctly on a beam to broad reach, the telltale should fly straight off the leech at the upper batten. There is a tendency for the boom vang to be pulled on too hard when sailing downwind. This will over-tighten the upper leech and, due to the side bend of the mast, over flatten the mainsail./p>

As previously mentioned, upwind in heavy air, the vang is set hard enough to restrict the upward movement of the boom to just allow the upper batten to ease no more than 5° to 10° past parallel to the boom. In these conditions, as mentioned, the mainsheet simply acts as a traveler and allows the boom to move mostly sideways and outboard. With each wind velocity the vang tension applied depends primarily on crew weight. Lighter weight crews will tension the vang earlier due to becoming overpowered earlier, while heavier crews might not need boom vang tension until much heavier winds.

4. "SAIL IN CLEAR AIR" and "GO THE RIGHT WAY"

How many times have you been affected by the wind shadows of other boats -- especially the Big Cruisers?? The "Wind Shadow" downwind of another boat can extend for several boat lengths and the disturbed air will slow you down dramatically -- particularly when the overall winds are light. It is CRITICAL to try to sail in "Clear Air" as much as possible. Sometimes at the start this can be a problem, but, it is often better to "Tack Away" to clear your air than to continue in the shadow of other boats.

This is the one time when "Going the Wrong Way" may be the fastest way forward -- at least for a short time.
When you have a "Clear Lane" to sail in, then "Going the Right Way" becomes the highest priority. On an upwind leg, the "Right Way" is always the one which keeps the bow pointed closest to the Mark. It is always a great learning experience to watch boats from the Race Committee Boat and see the direction that some are pointing!! Whenever your bow is pointed at 90 degrees to the Mark you are gaining no ground to windward -- but you often see this from the vantage point of the R/C boat. Learn to "see" the headers and then Tack to keep your bow pointed close to the Mark.

5. START "ON TIME"

In the short races on our small Lake, typically about 40 minutes duration, it is extremely difficult to make up time if you start "late." To be competitive you must be "on the line," or very close to the line, at the starting signal. Starting "in front" gives you the best opportunity for "clear air" and also gives you the best chance to find the wind and see the shifts as they come down the course towards to you.

Practice the timing of your approach to the line during the countdown period, and be sure to stay close to the start line in light air conditions!! If you are 10 seconds late you may give up several boat lengths to those who start "at the gun," and if you are 30 seconds late, you will have a real challenge to catch the leaders in a typical race. Our Fleet is getting very competitive, and the leaders do not often make mistakes, or "go the wrong way," to allow you to catch up -- although it does happen!!!

As Buddy Melges advised, "Start first, and then Extend your Lead"!!!

6. "KEEP YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE BOAT"

Many boats have fancy compasses - some even digital -- that may be useful on the ocean, but, on small lakes it is better to "keep your head out if the boat" and look upwind to see where you should be going!! Wind patterns are readily seen on the water surface and are the best guide. However, if you are not in the lead, another big wind indicator is to look at the boats in front. How are they pointing?? How are they heeling?? Did they just tack?? This is one time when having some faster boats in the race can be a big advantage!! When the Thistles are out in front they become the best wind indicators on the Lake. You can see where to go next -- and sometimes where NOT to go on the Lake! In very light air, some of what you see may not reach you, but, in most conditions "looking upwind" is the best way to go -- and you will save money by not needing that fancy compass!!

Remember, when going downwind you have to look behind you to "look upwind."

7. TIPS ON MAKING THE FLYING SCOT FLY by Greg Fisher

Check out the attached North Sails Tuning Guide

8. DO NOT POLISH THE DECK!!

The Scot deck is sloped, smooth, and VERY SLIPPERY when wet -- ask my Crew about going for an unscheduled swim at Midwinters!! By all means polish the Hull and clean up the inside, but DON'T polish the deck or seat. In fact, you may want to consider applying some extra Non-Slip tape to the side decks and seats to be sure that you stay in the boat when the deck gets wet!! When you go forward to tend the jib, or as you approach the dock, be sure to step on the Non-Slip tape and NOT on the smooth deck.

9. CHECK THE FORESTAY PIGTAIL

Check the Forestay Pigtail where it enters the Turnbuckle under the deck at the Bow. With so many of us making adjustments to Rig Tension and Mast Rake to accommodate the new "Tight" or "Snug" rigs, many adjustments have been made using this Pigtail Turnbuckle.

 

If you do that, PLEASE be sure that you re-wire the turnbuckle tight (or thread a ring-ding through it). It is easy to forget this, and the fitting is "out of sight" when it starts to work loose. A Fleet Member just advised me that during his Spring Check-Up he found only a couple of threads remained in the turnbuckle -- which was not wired tight!!! Could have been a very close call!!

PLEASE make sure that there is at least 1/2 inch of thread (better yet 3/4 inch) in the Turnbuckle. DO NOT use this adjustment to make large changes in mast rake!!!!! Use the custom Scot Forestay Extender (sold by LayLine for$10.95) to adjust mast rake. Then you only need to make very small adjustments at the Turnbuckle to address small changes in Rig Tension - and then "Wire it Tight"!! If the mast falls it could do some real damage to your head!!

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North Sails Tuning Guide (PDF)197.64 KB