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Centre-main topper Options
RichardH
Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2008 4:44:08 PM
Rank: Administration
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Joined: 4/15/2008
Posts: 21
Points: -663
Location: West Midlands
So while Becky's on holiday with her parents, I decided to have a play today, and do something we've been meaning to do for a while.

Our sailing clubs training school is what you might call stuck in a rut, and unwilling to move forward, teaching in old wayfarers and aft-main toppers. The training principal considers centre-main boats to be Level 3.

So, our next project is to get the toppers converted to centremain. I tried one today - couple of extra pulley blocks, non-permanent fixings - and apart from the main sheet being about 3 ft too short so I couldn't push the sail out any further than for a broad reach, it all went well.

I found there was more room in the cockpit than normal, and because there wasn't as much rope left over, I wasn't getting tangled up as much. It wasn't a very windy day, it was about Force 2, gusting up to 4 or 5, but our lake being small gets very swirly, and the best description for what the wind is in the middle of the lake is, well, like a washing machine. Constant headers and lifts from side to side reaching across the lake made it pretty awkward, but the boat went well, even planing once.

I found tacking much easier, being able to look forward, and gybing too, although I did get wetter than I planned too when coming off a run, heading up onto a close reach, straight through a gust, which took the boat over. Fortunately I was only in 3 ft of water at the time... the dry capsize technique needs some more work...

Rigging up a topper centre main is definitely worth the effort - it was more room, and felt easier and less effort to sail. I thought the mainsheet would get in the way of the centreboard - but it didn't even once. You can get the blocks and other bits to convert an aft-main topper to centremain for about 30 quid - and it's well worth it.

We'll get some details online about rigging it centremain soon, as soon as we've come up with a more permanent/neater solution than all the bits of rope I had floating around today! Until then, Topper sell an official "Worlds Race Pack" which contains a new traveller, halyard, 4:1 outhaul, 6:1 downhaul and 3:1 kicker, for just short of £200. We'll show you details for a cheaper but similar setup hopefully before the end of the summer.

- Rich
SailorTom
Posted: Sunday, July 6, 2008 2:29:24 PM
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Joined: 5/6/2008
Posts: 13
Points: 39
I would have to agree, although i'm surprised you got tangled up less. There is usually more rope on a centre main rigging for pretty much any boat. i suppose it depends where the excess rope ends up. Centre main sheeting makes boat handling much easier because of the ability to use both hands to sheet in.

Do you think the centre main topper has better performance than the aft main? when it was developed it wasn't supposed to add any performance to it (as a one design class) but in my opinion the centre main is significantly better as you can gain much better trim on the sail with it (e.g going block to block), not to mention the easier boat handling, but that depends more on personal preference.

It'd be good to find out what other people think?
RichardH
Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2008 6:29:27 PM
Rank: Administration
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Joined: 4/15/2008
Posts: 21
Points: -663
Location: West Midlands
As far as the rope tangling goes, I was using the mainsheet off an aft-main topper, so like I said it was a touch too short, and I couldn't push it out more than half way. I guess with a full length mainsheet it may be a bit more problematic, but that being said, sailing our Laser 2 now most of the time I have gotten used to centre-main. We sailed Enterprises on Saturday to run a taster session, and it took a while to get used to aft-main again. It's definitely a bonus with centre-main being able to shove that mainsheet between your knees to pull it in!

As far as performance goes, it's hard to tell with anything on our lake, the wind was pretty badly swirly that day (just as an example, on Saturday with the Enterprises, right in the middle of the lake where all the wind from all the trees converges, it was veering 270°!). I didn't feel particularly safe in the topper that day - it didn't help that no-one else was out, and the wind kept messing around. I was in the middle of the lake and it would head, then lift, then head, then lift all in the space of 10 seconds.

Just by looking at what the "race pack" does though it's clear that it makes better performance more easy to come by, particularly to smaller bodies, if you also add in the high purchase kicker, outhaul and downhaul. I only did the mainsheet system on this try, but I think the outhaul on Toppers are particularly poor (or maybe it's just ours) and never really pulls out at all, there's no purchase on it.

One other bonus - when you're going along with a cockpit full of water, and your one hand is at the front of the boat anyway with the mainsheet it's easier to operate the self-bailer, unless of course you're too nervous to operate it because the boat balance is switching every 2 seconds.

We'd definitely love to hear what other people think.
MartinH
Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 3:21:46 PM
Rank: Newbie
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Joined: 3/4/2009
Posts: 7
Points: 21
Location: Wiltshire
RichardH wrote:
As far as the rope tangling goes, I was using the mainsheet off an aft-main topper, so like I said it was a touch too short, and I couldn't push it out more than half way. I guess with a full length mainsheet it may be a bit more problematic, but that being said, sailing our Laser 2 now most of the time I have gotten used to centre-main. We sailed Enterprises on Saturday to run a taster session, and it took a while to get used to aft-main again. It's definitely a bonus with centre-main being able to shove that mainsheet between your knees to pull it in!


What, you don't use your teeth! :-)



Quote:
Just by looking at what the "race pack" does though it's clear that it makes better performance more easy to come by, particularly to smaller bodies, if you also add in the high purchase kicker, outhaul and downhaul. I only did the mainsheet system on this try, but I think the outhaul on Toppers are particularly poor (or maybe it's just ours) and never really pulls out at all, there's no purchase on it.


Our outhauls aren't too bad. It's the kickers that keep slipping. It gets disconcerting to be bashing along in a bit of a blow and suddenly it loses all tension.

Quote:

We'd definitely love to hear what other people think.


We have had two centre main Toppers for a while in the training fleet and this winter have reconfigured the other eight in the fleet. From what I have seen the advantages are:
a) It seems to encourage novices to sit further forward,
b) There is less likelyhood of them sailing "cross-handed",
c) It is good preparation for Lasers and the modern performance boats.

Our move was prompted by the RYA which is now advocating that centre sheeting should be introduced as early as possible. This season will show if some of our older instructors are up to the change. I know I've had to remind myself of the approved method a few times before "converting" some of our learners.

______________
Martin

Grad 2146
Laser 85169
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