Here it is – the next round of “Ask Ullman”, brought to you by – you guessed it – Ullman Sails! Keep the questions coming – sail trim, boat handling, tactics, industry news, you name it. Leave no stone unturned. In most cases, we’re probably all interested in the answer too. Send ‘em to the Editor here.
Q. My boat goes half a knot faster on port tack than starboard. What are the most common reasons for this? How do I find the cause?
A. The most common reason for this is that your speedo is not straight. Even a tiny bit off can give you a different reading even though the boat is probably still going the same speed. Also it may be that your mast is not centered or that your foils are not symmetrical. If none of these apply, then it’s probably that the wave conditions are different and on one tack they are slowing you down.
Q. I am always curious about your projects. What did you think about the J-70 and will you keep sailing in that class?
A. The J/70 is a breath of fresh air. It’s clearly the right boat at the right time and I am committed to sailing it for at least another year. The class has experienced amazing growth, which speaks to the need for a boat that is not as high performance as some other boats, yet the racing is very competitive and the distance between boats is minimal. This makes for some great racing.
Q. When you come on a boat for the first time, how do you judge people’s skills at the job they are doing onboard, and then how do you go about changing people if you sense they are not up to par?
A. This is obviously a very delicate subject. The worst thing I can do to a crew is come onboard for a regatta, make changes and then walk away. One of the best things I can do is suggest that they hire a coach for a practice day sailing before the regatta. The coach can video tape things and review them afterwards. People never get to see themselves and a video never lies. The coach, along with the entire crew, can make suggestions. There is no point in making someone feel bad while they are racing, so it’s best to suggest how to do things better and offer encouragement in a debrief for the day after the racing is over.
Q. I am curious what your thoughts are about having professionals sailing in different classes.
A: It really depends upon the boat and class. For example in a competitive class like the Melges 20, the class rules require a Cat 1 driver. The rest of the crew can be Cat 3s. For the Melges 24 there are no restrictions at all. This is appropriate for this level of sailing. For PHRF in SoCal, there is a rule that no pros can drive and there is a limited number that can be onboard. This is a good rule for weekend sailing, but not for a championship regatta. It comes down to the class and the boat owners’ decision to form a class rule.