Make Sure Your Race Day Doesn't End Early

Bill Faude

(Appeared in the August 98 issue of Flashes)

A couple of days ago I got an email from Keith Taboada of New Jersey, currently proud owner of a wonderful yacht which I believe is called the Country Squire. Keith had a great idea for an easier way to facilitate a quick change to a failed rubber tiller extension universal mount. Keith's idea is to not through bolt the rubber piece to the tiller extension tube, but rather to attach it with a clevice pin and a cotter ring ding. This way, if the UV's eat the rubber and you're left with a handful of useless tiller extension steering with your foot in 20 knots, all you have to do is, take off the ring ding, remove the pin reach into your little spare parts bag, pull out a pre-drilled, spare universal put it in the tube and you're in business. No tools needed, your forward crew could probably do it easily between gybes downwind.

This great idea (which I now believe is even better than the previous best idea for solving the universal problem which had been to simply put another universal at the other end of your tiller extension tube and just flip over to the new piece if you have a failure.) wins Keith the new burger prize (see below) this month. Nice job Keith.

Keith's idea got me thinking about other pretty minor gear failures which end your day early--at least end any hope of being competitive in a race if you're not ready for them, which also could be very easily prevented or fixed. I thought of two others: The T-fitting or balls on your boom vang breaks or your main sheet pedestal pulls out.

If it's happened to you, you know that when (not if) the wire that sticks out of your boom, whether it's in there with swedged balls or a stronger T-fitting fails, you're usually sunk. You can't tie the wire around the boom and if you decide to tie a piece of line around the boom, it's probably gonna stretch like mad, and you've still got to cut a hole in the shelf of your main and even then you probably don't know the right kind of knot to tie up there to keep the rope from slipping—it's a mess. You always could take another vang wire fitting out on the water with you, and some people swedge several balls onto the wire so they can just move up when one fails. 

Well, now maybe there's a better solution. The major mail order parts catalogues have started showing small, stainless eyes with t-fittings on them designed for use as mast fittings for running back stays which are now of spectron line not wire. So, just buy one of these (they're an inch long max. And not too expensive) and when you're vang wire breaks, just put it in the hole in your boom (make sure that's big enough in advance) and tie it to the first block on your purchase system with a couple loops of line. It will keep you racing, it's very small to easily store and it keeps you from keeping a spare piece of wire around.

The problem with the mainsheet universal is equally easy to solve. Mainsheet blocks obviously pull out if the screws mounting them vertically to the centerboard trunk, work themselves free. There's really no way to tie everything back in place, so you could find yourself trimming from the boom. You could put a small ratchet block on the boom running free, just in case which you could then turn on in an emergency or to help you when it's REALLY. You could also wear two belts and suspenders. An easy way to prevent the problem in the first place is to simply remove the screws and through bolt. But this is impossible on some designs, so maybe the best alternative is to get a piece of stainless plate and have it bent around the sides of your board box. Then put some screws through the plate into the fiberglass horizontally. Even if these screws work themselves loose, they'll still be working in tension, holding your block and cleat in place.