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Sunday, January 17, 2016

PeckForce Lives!

Just a quick video about the miraculous survival and resurrection of the DF RG-65 PeckForce...

Roo should be sailing this boat at the next club regatta, we'll see how he holds up!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

PeckForce Down! Or...Adventures in the First Texas DF Series of the Year...

The Texas DF Series is the reason we built the PeckForce DF RG-65 to compliment the Peck RG-65 (Blue Splash design), about 10 races per year attracting about 20 skippers is too good to pass up! I also figured it would be good for burnishing my sailing skills in general, as I hope to campaign my own Mustang rather heavily this year. So...I drove down to Houston with Chuck LeMahieu of Dragon Sailing, and big supporter and participant in the class. It was surprisingly cold, about 40ยบ, and very windy...a steady 15 mph or so to start and building throughout the day to true C-rig weather. I only had a A-rig, and knew it would be challenging turned out to be more challenging than I thought:

PeckForce Down!
He lost the main deck patch and began to founder in the high winds...

Selfless skippers snagged the PeckForce to keep her afloat till rescue could be had...Well done!

So this is what happened.

After the first four races it became clear that the A-rig I had was hopelessly overpowered in the existing conditions; while I could wrestle it upwind, it was hopeless with repeated pitch-poling downwind. On more than one occasion I was at or near the lead at the first mark, and last at the downwind gate due to uncountable nose-diving. I had a good opening run, finishing 2nd and 1st in the first two races, and probably should have called it quits as the wind just kept building. I rather stubbornly decided to try and nurse the boat through the rest of the regatta, figuring I could save a bunch of points by avoiding all those DNS's. Sailing to stay upright rather than win, I was able to string together some finishes near the middle of the 20 boat it seemed like it was working.

Unfortunately, about midway through the regatta the continued submergence must have weakened the main deck hatch enough to have it give way on a mark rounding with the deck rail buried, and in poured the water! PeckForce immediately started to founder, and the water knocked out the electronics. He quickly sank until only the bow, with a trapped air bubble, stayed afloat. Alert skippers immediately snagged the rapidly filly vessel, risking their own boats being dragged down with it, until it could be recovered. My thanks to everyone!

Surprisingly, after drying everything out, only the sail servo seems to be malfunctioning, amazingly the rudder servo and receiver still work, a few rigging repairs and a winch replacement, and he will back for the racing in the February series.

There are a number of lessons here; build-out all your rigs, and bring them no matter the forecast, learn to recognize when too much wind is REALLY too much wind, and check adhesive hatch covers frequently. Also, a boat that is well built without extra hull openings, can sometimes survive on a trapped be sure to keep those hull openings at a minimum!

Below, are a few photos (courtesy of Check LeMahieu) that show PeckForce before his unfortunate attempt at bottom diving:

PeckForce on the uproll, putting in a good finish early in the day...

High winds flattening the fleet, PeckForce in the hunt, but struggling with his A-rig.

Early in the day, the manageable winds put him in the hunt!

Third at the rounding...

Pre-start maneuvers...I had pretty decent starts for the most part.

I was able to hold on here, but the 20+ gusts buried me.

The penguin looks sharp on the rounding!

That's all for now, but I'll have some more thoughts on sailing the DF soon!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Club Race; "PeckForce" competes for the first time!

The TRYC kicked off the New Year with its somewhat annual New Year's Day sailing, and raced RG-65's in cold conditions in about 8 mph of wind and generally good conditions. While I am very excited to campaign the Mustang (USA-62) this year, it was a good opportunity to test out our latest acquisition the DragonForce (DF) RG-65 aptly named "PeckForce".

The DragonForce is the latest rage in the RTS (Ready-to-Sail) market, and I discussed the boat in some detail when it first came out. A basic kit is under $200 and includes a radio and useable sails (though skippers often replace both). PeckForce is completely stock expect for the sails, which while useable as provided, I find rather ugly. The kit provided radio works well enough, although fine travel control and precise maneuvering are a bit more difficult. Nonetheless, the DF is probably the finest RTS boat ever sold in terms of fit, finish, completeness of presentation and quality sailing.

PeckForce went quite well, no surprise in this tightly controlled One-Design, I was able to sail against two open RG-65's which were very fast (as I well know with the Mustang!) in the prevailing conditions, and several other DF's including that of DF guru Chuck Lemahieu. In five races I had three firsts (DF scored separately) with very rudimentary tuning. I'm traveling to the first Texas DF Series next weekend, so by then I should have a pretty clear idea of how fast I can make this boat go...until then, here's a few pictures:

PeckForce finishes way ahead of the pack...and just behind the open RG-65's...

Heading out to race in company with Chuck LeMahieu's Atomic Annie

Peck the Penguin, visible on the side of the boat!

A good first day with the new boat, I need to finish marking the sails!