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Old 02-10-2014, 20:45   #1
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How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

I am fairly well experienced, owned 11 major yachts, and have now moved to Cats due to the shallow water of the Barrier Reef and Queensland.. After a year study of cats, I decided I wanted a Production built boat. No offense to all the "Customs" but this was a personal choice: I have never seen one that would not have a dozen major changes if they had the opportunity to do it over... And a lot were serious mistakes that would have been corrected in a production sequence early on.. I am also Blessed to be able to by new, so a new or near new Production boat it was...

In the Production boats, I was interested in a half dozen, for example like Lightwaves, like Leopards were in the running but the 44 was a bit too small in the bridgedeck, and the 48 had the overhang in the front so you could not see the port hull for docking.. Most of the Lagoons have the vertical windows and that hurt my eyes, sorry, just my personal taste and I could not get over it.. Just me.. Sorry you Lagoon Owners, it is just me. Of all of the Production boats, I bought Fountaine Pajots newest model, the Helia 44. It is about the biggest living area, Bridge deck clearance the tops, up kitchen in the main salon, and so on fit my tastes. I was sold on the Maestro, the Owners hull to starboard full length with laundry. Top end luxury, mine is the most ridiculously over equipped Show Boat I have ever seen, anyway, I bought it.. Lovely... Unique situation below replacement costs.. So not really risky and I told my wife: Look, if we see one better we will change over. Right now there are only (2) Helia 44 Maestros in the Southern Hemisphere, and this boat is the most over equipped I have ever heard of... Not meant to be bragging just a fact... And in my 60s I am totally over fixing boats up for a year or two

My problem is I refuse to retire, and can only go on maybe two 10-12 week cruises a year, and few week or two, but I am finding like l like the Club Race for fun twice a week here in Mooloolaba. I am sold on the idea of a Catana, stronger, faster, with dagger boards. I am told they exist with inboard helms, but I have not seen one. The outboard helms are out for us in our 60's.. Too much motion, too exposed. But I do like the idea of the daggerboards.

My new Friends, with dagger boards: Just how much of a pinch on a hard beat to weather, can I really get with the daggerboards in something 44-50'? Like less practical drift than my mini-keels? And what.. 5 degrees better to windward..? Is that a safe guesstimate? The Helia is great, but not a race boat... And I don't want to hold things up on the Club races.

Happy with my Helia 44, but wonder what would happen if I saw a well equipped Catana that did not have the outboard helms... heh he... This is a long term plan and the point is now I have a luxury Cruising boat, that can maybe club race for fun... It might work better with clubs if I had more of a racing boat with boards that I could cruise.... You thoughts would be appreciated, thank you...

If I am too long winded and boring to explain the circumstances for your comments... You can say that too. I have a thick skin.. I is nice to speak with people of experience on these grey areas that could go either way...

Kind regards, Helia (Greek, sunburst, little ray of sunshine) heh he
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Old 03-10-2014, 00:35   #2
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

Every design will be a bit different I suppose but somewhere between 5 and 10 degrees less leeway would about cover boards vs keels. Boards fully up vs fully down is worth around 12 degrees for us so add back mini keels and your somewhere in the middle there I would expect. Of course you then need to add in some better pointing ability for hull and bridge design on the catana vs a helia too but not sure how much that would be depending on sail plan etc.

Congrats on the Helia - I like the FPs and we looked at the Oranas (Helia wasnt out yet) but just a bit too much boat for us as a couple "we" decided.

Interested in your view that aft helms have more motion than the flybridge type set up on the helia though - surely not? Havnt sailed the Helia but everytime Ive climbed onto our saloon roof to adjust the main or whatever offshore in some seas Ive been feeling pretty happy I wasnt sitting there full time!

Sounds like you should be looking/ dreaming at the outremers for your needs - bulkhead helm for cruising and tillers for club races....
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Old 03-10-2014, 01:44   #3
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

Hello Helia,
congrats on the purchase of your catamaran. Having read your post and the fact that it appears that you have bought yourself a very good production boat at a very good price after much research I am really scratching my head on what you really want .
You have just bought one hell of a cruising cat that is no slouch under sail BUT after all the good points you have raised it seems you are still not satisfied with the sailing performance of the boat .
Regardless of a sail boat being a trimaran, catamaran or a mono I don't think the perfect boat has been built that is fast enough, has perfect sailing characteristics and is great for cruising and at the same time keep the admiral happy.
We own a Lagoon 410 which we are about to sail south from the Whitsundays to home on Lake Macquarie. I was concerned over the pointing ability of our boat as it is new to us but was very pleasantly surprised when we could outpoint a Bavaria 37 who was being sailed by a mate who is a very good sailor.
If your trying to point up there with the Sydney 38's etc then I think your right in thinking the Catana's and Outremers are the go but at what cost and more importantly family harmony. In my humble opinion 5 extra points to windward and three hours of racing is a poor exchange for a unhappy wife. (Unless she is way more understanding than my significant other half)
Out of curiosity what angle are you able to achieve to windward.

Greg and Sue
SV Sunshine
Lagoon 410
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:11   #4
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozsailer View Post
Hello Helia,
If your trying to point up there with the Sydney 38's etc then I think your right in thinking the Catana's and Outremers are the go but at what cost and more importantly family harmony. In my humble opinion 5 extra points to windward and three hours of racing is a poor exchange for a unhappy wife. (Unless she is way more understanding than my significant other half)
Out of curiosity what angle are you able to achieve to windward.

Greg and Sue
SV Sunshine
Lagoon 410
Woooohhh hang on there Ozesail! The reason the catanas are on many wish lists is that they sail well AND keep the admiral happy. Same goes for the new outremers but definitely not the older ones where there are some serious comfort compromises to sail to wind fast in the 40 foot range. (I know cos I tried the admiral out on a 45 - no dice)

No admiral should be unhappy sailing to wind on a cat either- we all know many admirals dont like healing for some reason - so if the hubby wants one that he actually enjoys sailing then fair enough I say!
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:43   #5
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

Hi Barra,
having re-read my post I certainly could have worded it better. The interior of modern Catana's and Outremers would keep the vast majority of owners very happy. Believe it or not I have met quite a few better halves who still prefer a monohull. Go figure .
I just had a quick squiz (look) for the price of a new or newish Catana and found that a 42Ft 2013 Catana is for sale at $685 K US. Here in OZ that cost would be substantially more. The question in my book is does the price justify the extra speed, pointing ability or extras on the boat.
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Old 03-10-2014, 05:25   #6
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

For club racing you can't beat racing against the same class cat. There's no thrill in kicking a Seawind 1000s ass if you are on an outreymer 50. For all out speed and fun the outreymer would be hard to beat, they can do bulkhead helms as well as tillers, but obviously cruising comfort would be much less than the helia. Our lagoon 380 tacked at 45degrees, I'd think the helia would be at least as good to windward? Anyway for me club racing is getting the best out off the boat and crew and not line honours..
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Old 03-10-2014, 06:38   #7
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

Just a thought/tip. While it may seem like the bottom line is pointing angle or tacking angles, the REAL numbers are VMG (Velocity Made Good) & CMG (Course Made Good).
Realistically, that's the information that you're looking for. As, while boat X may tack through Y degrees, or point to within Z degrees of the true wind, at the end of the day, it's how much distance you've made towards your destination that counts.

Odds are such isn't new to you, just thought I'd put it up here, so that those who aren't in the know, learn a bit.
And to figure the above numbers, one needn't have a fancy set of B&G or Ockham instruments, just a handheld GPS will give you most of what you need. Unlike back in the "old days". Not that it hurts to have decent instruments.

Also, how well a boat goes to windward is a LOT more than just the difference between boards & keels. Proper sail trim, & shape make a GIANT difference, as improperly trimmed sails add a HUGE amount of drag... as does an even slightly fouled bottom, extra windage (like say a dinghy hanging in davits when you've got room for it on the back deck. Where it's completely out of the wind's flow over the boat... being that it's tucked in behind non-removable bits of structure).

John Shuttleworth has written several very good, scientific, papers on what adds to & or takes away from a multihull's ability to go to windward. And they're kind of mandatory reading on the subject, if one's serious about it.

My apologies for getting a bit OT, but there's a lot which can be done on top of the boards vs. keels thing, to get a cat to go to weather.

Ah, & the simplified version is to get a good set of Polar Plots for each boat in question. And when I say good, I mean to say that it's worth finding out in what configuration of the vessel, the one's which they're giving you were drawn up.
IE. Under what drag conditions, as well as sea state, boat loadout, etc. they were derived from.
Even just a windsurfer hull lashed to the windward or leeward lifelines makes a big difference in such things...

Good luck getting the above info out of a sales guy ;-)
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:10   #8
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

Congratulation on your Helia!
Unzivilised summed up a lot of what to consider. However, for pointing ability your sails would be the most important factor. I have sailed a 36 foot cat out of Hillarys yacht club, which has daggerboards and are very fast with great pointing ability. This boat was a pure racing boat with very limited creature comfort and as such does not count.
I have two friends with FP Mahe 36' and with mini keels and very good sails totally outperform even a lot larger mono hulls with racing sails. So I strongly believe you can get really good performance out of your Helia!
One big issue in this discussion is weight! If you have all the goodies you can put on board, which adds a lot of weight, which enemy No 1 in any cat. Therefore racing in cruising set up is not something that would be giving good results!
So to get proper sails and you would have great performance from your Helia.
Good luck in your efforts.
Cheers from Lucky

Happy lead free sailing
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Old 04-10-2014, 01:37   #9
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

Well, thank you all for the well considered comments..... It is a real pleasure to share these critical ideas with experienced birds of a feather..
I have the Dealer for French Cats in the Southern Hemisphere check for me, and yes there was a Catana with inboard helms. However, it was a custom order, and he thinks only ONE was ever built... Scratch that off...
A few questions deserve solid answers: I love the Helia, bought for the best layout, and this one is over the top on gear so I bit.. This is not a brag, please don't take it that way.. It has three refrigeration systems with a full freezer for one, separate pretty fast ice maker, six reverse cycle salt water condensed air conditioning systems, two in main salon, two in Maestro Masters cabin, one in each of the other two queen staterooms. Cummins-Onan 9kva diesel genset, the larger Volvo 55 hp motors option, radar, full Garmin Nav in main salon and helm, full instruments, solar, laundry, you get the idea, it has the works. I am adding a high pressure salt water washdown pump and DC watermaker and more solar panels in process now. That long ton of gear does hurt her to windward I am sure. But with the watermaker, I can drop out about a half ton of water and run on only 200 instead of 700, sooooo, that and less fuel in the tanks if I want to race, so maybe I can lighten her back up that long ton...

Now on performance, why the interest, is for this much luxury (and added weight) the Helia does all right. This last Wednesday I Club raced her... Single Handed solo, just for the sport to see what She could do.. It ended up blowing 20 knots and higher gusts, and the first trip on this course up to and island back, just sporting wind and waves, but the second trip up got pretty messy. I was tacking at 7-8-9 knots with about 25-27 apparent, and it was one and two meter wind waves with white horses everywhere enough to throw salt spray over the whole boat. As I rounded Old Woman Island the second time, on the last tack in 25 knots on a reach I hit 10 knots upwind at about 60 degrees and I was at the very limit reaching without reefing the main.. Battling the best I could, I came in about 45 minutes behind the last boat. Despite radio congratulations for having even finished the course Single Handed in that shirty weather, by the time I got fenders down and gear stowed and docked, there was no joining them for the proposed drinks at the bar... I was about an hour and a half late....

Now, I think my Helm wind instruments need calibration, but my guesstimate is the Big Girl tacks at about 90-100 degrees, so 45-50 degrees to windward is all I could do... I would pinch her to 40, but it was not steady and I am not sure about that. If I had boards down, the 45-50 degrees to windward could have been 35-45 degrees in my guestimation.. I love this Helia, but if I found a Catana 47-50 like vessel with boards, I would certainly have a look. Unfortunately in six months of looking I found no such beast that had acceptable luxury as well.

The comment something like "There's no thrill in kicking a Seawind 1000s ass if you are on an outreemer 50" That comment is valid, but for me it was not about winning.. I only would race against myself as a challenge, to improve my skills, it is about not holding proceedings up with the social part of the bar drinks afterwards... I just want to keep up with the pack so to speak, it is not about winning, to me racing is just an excuse to go day sailing on a mission..

On the comment about the Catana outboard helms, you can feel the extra motion if you walk out there, it IS significant. But also you are exposed to the weather and sun, not sure in my 60's if that is for us..

All in all, I LOVE THE HELIA !! Best boat I have ever owned for sure. My ideal would be that sort of luxury and layout and BOARDS to keep up with the pack better and not hold people up... I may still play with the running rigging and sails of the Helia, and run with a Crew to trim things tighter, and carry on. Maybe they will grant me an earlier start... Larger would be the answer maybe, the Helia 44 has a big Brother coming at next years boat Show downunder, a Saba 50. If She had a proportional rig in size to her waterline it would be worth a look, but ....

I told my wife: "Every boat is a compromise, this will do until we find something better..." I will probably just stay with this Helia 44 until they make one with boards... I will either improve with running rigging and sail mods and a crew, get an early start for the races, or just quit racing.. I just wanted to know how much more the boards would have gotten me....

Thank you all very much..
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Old 04-10-2014, 03:24   #10
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

Glad to hear that you had a fun time playing with her solo.

There are a couple of ideas which I didn't mention earlier that can help with windward performance.
- Rudders can be redesigned & rebuilt with both a more efficient foil section, & foil shape, to give you more lift to windward. In addition, of course, to making them larger in order to accomplish the same thing. It's not quite the same as having daggerboards, but it can make a good deal of difference, never the less.
- If you want to get wild, there's no rule to say that you can't either switch to boards, or have both boards & keels.
- End plates can be mounted on both the bottoms of the keels as well as the rudders, & this would/will increase their lift & efficiency by a good margin (at a reasonable cost to boot).
- With some built in shallow draft keels, one can have their foil shape modified to have lift improved, while reducing drag. And or, the size & shape of the keels can be changed to produce the same effect.
- Although I'm uncertain how much you'd really want to increase your boats draft, you could deepen your current keels.
- Work can be done on reducing weight aloft, & consequently cutting down pitching... thus increasing speed, by say:
Swapping out halyards for higher modulus ones, & or stripping their covers.
Sails can be lightened by going to different laminates, & or Spectra.
Standing rigging can be switched over to the latest generation in high tech cables.

Like I said, just some thoughts.
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Old 04-10-2014, 07:33   #11
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

Hello Helia,
great to see you out and about and having a go one out. Not an easy feat. Can I say that having sailed mono's for the past 20 years and changing over to a cat was a whole different ball game.
Having only owned our boat 8 months we are getting better but still a whole lot more to learn. If I could suggest forgetting the daggerboards for the moment as having read your post regarding your recent post there is a big improvement to be had with crew and by the sound of it the setting of the sails (as mentioned by more learned persons than myself ) One of the big things that has been told to me by other cat sailers is to use the mainsheet as a vang and the traveller as a mainsheet (in the simplest terms as that's all I understand ) Utilising this method has given me better sail shape and performance.
Weight is obviously going to be an issue on any boat but keeping the weight out of the bows is very important, racing or otherwise.
Just to clarify my experience. This is my first cat. I am learning as I go and always ready to learn more. There are far more people on this site that know way more than me but I get excited knowing that my experience grows each time I take the cat out. I now tack down wind rather then trying to go dead down wind. Its is quicker by far 15 to 20 degrees off the wind. I just re-calibrated my Raymarine wind instrument. It was out a minimum 10 degrees. It was a relatively easy process once I got an interpreter to change it from engineering talk to dumb ass sailor talk.
I have no doubt that in six months time (or less) you will not be the last boat back in and will definitely be at the bar after the race. I should be coming through Mooloolaba in 4 to 5 weeks on the way south. I'll keep a look out for your boat.

Greg and Sue
SV Sunshine.
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:27   #12
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

ozsailor,
I mentioned Polar Plots before. One of the things which they will tell you is what the optimum wind angle you want to sail in order to maximize your VMG, in any particular wind strength, with any given sail.
Or to somewhat de-jargonize things. What the best angle is to "tack downwind" for wind strength X, with sail combo Y up. AKA optimum jibing angles.

They will do the same thing for you upwind as well. Telling you how close to sail to the wind in order to maximize your VMG & CMG (as at various wind speeds, how close you sail to the wind in order to optimize performance, varies)... and wait, there's more.

Also, they'll tell you what your theoretical boat speed should be when; sailing at wind angle X, wind speed Y, & on course Z (relative to the wind). Based on whether you're carrying a tiny jib, a 135% genoa, or kite type; a, b, or c.
Thus, with the latter bonus I just mentioned, they'll let you know if you have your sails properly trimmed, & whether or not you have an overly heavy hand on the helm. As if you're using too much of it, & or too often, you're slowing things down via driving by drag.

If you have a full set of instruments, which are programmable, and perhaps ones which are high end enough to be able to learn. Then you can input your polars into the instruments (computer), & not only will they learn a boat's particular quirks (real world performance in various conditions & sail combos vs. the boat's generic polars), & refine them (generate more accurate polars). They will also be able to recommend better courses for the helmsman (useful especially when you're cross-eyed tired), and if you're competitive, who's the better driver onboard ;-)

The latter points (or all of this stuff) may not seem "cruisy" per say, but when they add 20 nm a day to your runs, one starts to pay attention. Especially if you're trying to catch up to or avoid a specific weather front.
Read catch better winds if you're stuck in the light stuff, or avoid a nasty weather system.

[I'll cover interactive, AI, weather routing software later ;-) ]
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Old 04-10-2014, 15:56   #13
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

I've enjoyed reading your obvious joy and enthusiasm for your Helia 44. Thanks for sharing.
It makes no sense putting dagger boards on the boat. It will never be a race boat. The hull cross section and rudders will have been designed for mini keels. Wetted SA and drag will remain your enemy. The mini keel actually provide some buoyancy. Before even considering it you really would need the opinion of a naval architect who would then need to study the fluid dynamics before designing the foil shape position and case. Then think cost and the modification impact on resale. People who generally buy a production cat will want just that. Any modification will be viewed with suspicion. And then let's say you succeed and become the fastest non standard Helia 44 in the area. What doses that mean? There will be huge improvements in speed to be made just by getting to know the boat and its nuances and learning how to trim optimally for the conditions and AWA. And all that costs you nothing.

On that front, and having read about your recent solo race experience, can I suggest you consider reefing the main earlier than you describe esp. for upwind performance. In my experience you will point better and be faster upwind. Being over canvassed will make you round up meaning more weather helm and more drag. Think about every bar of rudder angle on your auto pilot as being a handbrake. So above 20kts AWS, reef that main. You'll be surprised. I'd also support the comments about sheeting angles using the traveller predominantly and the main sheet just to control twist as required by wind speed and wind shear.

Enjoy your boat. Sound fantastic.
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Old 04-10-2014, 17:16   #14
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

If your boat is the most ridiculously over equipped Helia then it will sail that way. To increase performance then remove all the excess weight. If you like what the boat was equipped with then enjoy it for what it is. If you equipped a similar sized Catana like this boat is equipped I doubt you would gain much in performance.


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Old 04-10-2014, 20:25   #15
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Re: How much gain to windward with daggerboards in a big Cat

For clarity Helia the boards wont help you point significantly higher. The sail plan, boat design, lack of windage etc do that. The boards reduce your leeway. Like i said down or up makes about 12 degrees difference to us so I would reckon our design boat with mini keels vs boards would be around 6 to 8 degrees better CMG. A higher windage, bigger sail plan for length boat like yours may get a greater benefit im not sure.

If I were you I would be looking at weight first as thats the easiest fix and it sound like youve got alot. A 12volt watermaker that will run on your solar would be a big weight saver on liquids like you mention.

Then look at your sailplan - nice flat jib will make a big difference to pointing over what youve probably got there now. Add a gennaker on permanent bowsprit furler and your better covered for off the wind too. It will never be a great boat to wind but you could definitley do better than 45 to 50 degrees with those changes. From your posts it would be well worth it as if your like me you will get frustrated with the kind of performance youve mentioned already and that will wreck the journey to some degree.
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