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RIDING DOWN THE WIND
Mort Lund
April 24, 1961
Three weeks ago on these pages, Olympic Yachting Champion George O'Day introduced the art of planing, in which light, flat-bottomed boats like the 5-0-5 (below) can be made to rise onto the surface of the water and skim along at triple the speed of conventional craft. Now O'Day, with his Olympic crewman Dave Smith, shows how to get even more speed out of a planing hull, first by wave riding and then by setting and handling a spinnaker. These advanced maneuvers are used only in downwind sailing, and require a more sensitive touch than the basic lessons of Part I, where the wind was coming from broadside or slightly ahead.
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April 24, 1961

Riding Down The Wind

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Three weeks ago on these pages, Olympic Yachting Champion George O'Day introduced the art of planing, in which light, flat-bottomed boats like the 5-0-5 (below) can be made to rise onto the surface of the water and skim along at triple the speed of conventional craft. Now O'Day, with his Olympic crewman Dave Smith, shows how to get even more speed out of a planing hull, first by wave riding and then by setting and handling a spinnaker. These advanced maneuvers are used only in downwind sailing, and require a more sensitive touch than the basic lessons of Part I, where the wind was coming from broadside or slightly ahead.

In the lakes and bays where planing boats usually are sailed, the waves tend to be short and choppy like the ones shown here. Unfortunately, these are the hardest to ride, since they lack power and hence cannot carry the boat any great distance or lift its speed more than three to four mph. Nevertheless, each wave, if ridden properly, can mean a gain of a few yards; and over the full course of a race, these yards can add up to victory. O'Day is particularly skillful at handling a boat in a choppy sea. As each wave approaches, he catches the crest, holds it for a moment, then drops off again, ready for the next one. So quickly do O'Day and Smith manipulate the tiller and sails that the entire sequence shown here takes no more than 10 seconds.

In a larger sea with more carrying power, the jobs of both the skipper and crew are much easier. The sequence can last for half a minute or more; and if the wind is blowing hard enough, a well-balanced boat can hold onto a crest for nearly a quarter of a mile, skidding down the face of the wave at 15 to 20 mph. A planing ride at these speeds is unlike anything else in small-boat racing. A flat wake hisses out astern as the boat surges forward with such steady power that she seems to be riding on steel rails. One false swing of the tiller, however, and this exhilarating charge downwind can come to a sudden, wet halt (see pages 50-51).

1 As wave approaches from left, O'Day pulls tiller to start stern swinging into crest.

2 With boat's stern toward swell, Smith and O'Day slack sails, get ready to hike out.

3 When crest reaches middle of hull, men pull hard on sails for added speed.

WAVES FROM THE SIDE

The first move in riding waves that come from the side (as shown here) is an abrupt turn to swing the broad stern of the boat into the crest. When the wave hits, the stern rises and the hull gathers speed as it starts to run down the front of the swell. To stay on the wave as long as possible, Smith and O'Day pump the sails in hard, and lean (hike) well out on the windward side, keeping their balance by tucking their toes under the canvas hiking straps, just as they did in the first planing demonstration in Part I.

Riding waves, boat turns 20� off course in order to catch swells.

WAVES FROM THE STERN

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