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Old 23-06-2015, 13:00   #1
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bowman question in beer can race

We were out for a beer can race last weekend. I was on the bow, watching out for the two other races criss crossing our course, but as this was a modernish cruiser, there isn't a place to stand at the bow during maneuvers. As such, during tacks and gybes, I moved back to the mast. Rounding the first mark, our skipper let another boat go inside of him, and we seemed clear, then we were tangled up in their stern rail.

Is this a case where a bowman might have made a difference? If I had still been on the bow would I likely have been able to give directions to avoid the collision or just been exposed to the potential for serious injury?

Also, what does the bowman normally do on this kind of boat? Climb on the bow pulpit (not gonna happen!)? Lay down and let the sail go over you?
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Old 23-06-2015, 13:15   #2
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

I would often go to the pulpit when I did foredeck. But not always. If I understand your situation, I think your helmsman should have been able to see the other boat inside of him at the mark...? That would be on the helmsman....
If you tangled his stern pulpit, then the inside boat was forward and had rights ...right?
Your helmsman should have kept clear?
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Old 23-06-2015, 13:57   #3
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

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I would often go to the pulpit when I did foredeck. But not always. If I understand your situation, I think your helmsman should have been able to see the other boat inside of him at the mark...? That would be on the helmsman....
If you tangled his stern pulpit, then the inside boat was forward and had rights ...right?
Your helmsman should have kept clear?
So you would stand/ squat on the pulpit itself?

We did not hit the stern dead on, but about two feet forward.

At the time, I was actually under the impression that the other boat had straightened out mid turn, while in our blind spot. I later realized that the physics would be very similar if we turned a much tighter radius than they did. Would either make a difference in whose fault it was?
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Old 23-06-2015, 14:21   #4
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

I'd just stand and hang on to the pulpit. If blowing hard I would likely go to the mast like you did. Watch out anywhere near the mast though.... I've ben cold cocked by a clew cringle pretty hard!
So you are heading to the mark, a boat goes inside of you (and sounds like he passed you doing that). He was on your windward side?
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Old 23-06-2015, 14:29   #5
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

I learned on a boat without a pulpit or lifelines (Columbia 5.5) - I just hung on the headstay in front (for tacks) - for gybes I would have been back at the mast moving the spin pole.

We often 2 handed the boat which made me bow/mast/grinder all in one.. That was fun.
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Old 23-06-2015, 14:36   #6
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

Stand in the pulpit?

Real bowmen stand on the bowsprit!

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Depending on the boat, and conditions, I would have stayed at the forestay (step around the stay).

On the boats where that is not possible, I would scurry back to the mast and step around the mast (aft) as the jib moves across the boat, then go back to the bow/pulpit, quickly!
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Old 23-06-2015, 15:32   #7
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

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Stand in the pulpit?

Real bowmen stand on the bowsprit!
And just before the collision I was thinking "Huh, this boat has the same problem as ours, there isn't anywhere to stand in front of the furler!"

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Depending on the boat, and conditions, I would have stayed at the forestay (step around the stay).
Hmmm, that might be possible. Everyone in the cockpit probably would have had a heart attack if I tried it without warning them. I am not really even sure how possible it is, given that the roller furling is so far forward both in this boat and my own, but you better believe I am going to give it a go here at dock!

Quote:

On the boats where that is not possible, I would scurry back to the mast and step around the mast (aft) as the jib moves across the boat, then go back to the bow/pulpit, quickly!
What kind of boats are you on? Between the boom, the boom vang and the main sheet, I pretty much NEVER step aft around the mast.

In this case, I wasn't in a hurry to get back because I knew we were well clear of the Lasers. This is why no one is going to hire me to be a professional racer. Which is too bad: I watch them stand on that bow sprit on the Volvo 65's and like to think I could get up the nerve to do that.
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Old 23-06-2015, 15:43   #8
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

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And just before the collision I was thinking "Huh, this boat has the same problem as ours, there isn't anywhere to stand in front of the furler!"



Hmmm, that might be possible. Everyone in the cockpit probably would have had a heart attack if I tried it without warning them. I am not really even sure how possible it is, given that the roller furling is so far forward both in this boat and my own, but you better believe I am going to give it a go here at dock!



What kind of boats are you on? Between the boom, the boom vang and the main sheet, I pretty much NEVER step aft around the mast.

In this case, I wasn't in a hurry to get back because I knew we were well clear of the Lasers. This is why no one is going to hire me to be a professional racer. Which is too bad: I watch them stand on that bow sprit on the Volvo 65's and like to think I could get up the nerve to do that.
You don't need to be much aft of the mast. just a foot or so and alongside the mast. The boom wont effect you there.
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Old 23-06-2015, 15:46   #9
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

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You don't need to be much aft of the mast. just a foot or so and alongside the mast. The boom wont effect you there.
Ah, I understood you to be saying that you walked around the mast. I was imagining it like those contortionists who thread themselves through laser beams in the action movies.
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Old 23-06-2015, 17:27   #10
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

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At the time, I was actually under the impression that the other boat had straightened out mid turn, while in our blind spot. I later realized that the physics would be very similar if we turned a much tighter radius than they did. Would either make a difference in whose fault it was?
As I understand the scenario, you were rounding a windward mark and another boat (on the same tack) got an inside overlap at the mark. That boat is entitled to mark room and while inside of your boat she isn't required to turn toward the next mark; rather she has the right to luff you all the way to Greenland if she wants to. You have to keep clear. You fall down on her from windward and hit her stern, it's your fault.

On the other hand, if your skipper let her go inside to round the mark thinking he could then drop down inside between her and the mark with rights as the now inside leeward boat, he would be wrong. Once the other boat has the initial inside overlap she has rights all the way around the mark and he must keep clear. He hits her stern trying to go inside, it's his fault.

That said, if this situation required tacking around the mark, then the boat with the initial inside overlap must give the other boat room to clear when she tacks around the mark.
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Old 23-06-2015, 18:35   #11
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

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Old 23-06-2015, 18:54   #12
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

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Some of those exercises are substituted by working on the boat, especially when neither my partner nor I have had enough sleep. Currently, our bimini is off, so we find ourselves beaming our head on the boom every so often. The last one standing gets to work the bow once we have the stanchions and push pit reinstalled.
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Old 23-06-2015, 18:55   #13
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

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Great read....!
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Old 23-06-2015, 20:06   #14
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

Unless you need to be on the bow to do your bowmans jobs (i.e. raise or douse a sail, jibe a spinnaker, etc), your position is sitting your ass on the rail. You shouldn't need to go forward just for a standard tack of a headsail (or a jibe of a headsail, for that matter).

It is also not, typically, the bowman's job to "call" to the skipper about other boats. You shouldn't need a guy on the bow to call back information to the after guard about other boats, it is inefficient and generally weight on the bow is bad because it slows the boat down and makes it harder to steer. Generally the headsail trimmer will relay information to the helmsman about other boats to leeward and the main trimmer or people on the rail will relay information about boats to windward. In general, if the skipper needs a guy on the bow to tell him whether or not he is gonna hit other boats, then he is either too close to other boats or not sufficiently experienced to be where he(or she) is putting the boat!



The only time you should be calling info from the bow is probably the start, but then only if you know what you are doing. Just because you are the bowman doesn't mean it is your job. If you are the bowman and are experienced, sure, but if not, sit on the rail unless you are doing something that is definitely your job, and watch / ask questions / learn.

For what it is worth, if you do have to go to the bow and the afterguard then decides to tack or jibe, either go around the front of the forestay (i.e. between the forestay and the pulpit) or under the foot of the sail (crouch or lie-down, crouching is better if possible). Typically this will happen when you are setting up a new headsail in preparation for a sail change, or setting up a spinnaker in preparation for a kite-hoist.
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Old 23-06-2015, 20:17   #15
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Re: bowman question in beer can race

When I was the spinnaker/foredeck guy while racing in the 60s in SF Bay, while otherwise not on the foredeck for sail-change handling, I remained at the main cabin hatch to observe other boats. Good enough view and lots more safe/comfortable than hanging onto the pulpit.
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