Merlin, tacking the top batten

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Michael4
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Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by Michael4 » Wed May 11, 2016 10:29 pm

I am really no expert and seek advice!

We have real bother trying to tack the top batten of our Merlin in light winds.

Merlin 950, original Proctor mast and boom, simple Cunningham, drum kicker, keel stepped, transom sheet.
The mainsail we are now using is a 2003 (well modern!) Jeckells loose footed job. I have a clew slider and outhaul etc. Top batten is quite stiff. (Jib is 2013 Hyde (just yesterday), no hanks so jib halyard currently set quite tight)

What is the trick or more to the point what combination of yanking, shaking and heaving creates the desired effect? I've fiddled with the tension of the top batten to little effect.

Any suggestions much appreciated, the original flappy sails from '59 don't have this problem but then their performance into the wind now sadly leaves something to be desired!

Michael
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by roger » Wed May 11, 2016 10:54 pm

A well timed roll tack and pull on the mainsheet usually helps and reduce the batten tension in light winds.
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by realnutter » Wed May 11, 2016 11:09 pm

Try centre sheeting... gives you the possibility of grabbing the sheet at the boom, and cracking the sail across...
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PeterV
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by PeterV » Thu May 12, 2016 7:35 am

Try experimenting with kicker tension too. I found a bit of kicker always helped the top batten go over on my Lark.
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by Rupert » Thu May 12, 2016 8:12 am

Cunningham tension will also pop the batten.
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by SoggyBadger » Thu May 12, 2016 12:17 pm

It's been many decades since I raced Merlins. Never had a problem tacking the top batten though. The "secret" is the quality of your roll tacking. It needs to be very smooth in light winds to avoid shaking the wind out of the sails. Also, after you passed through head to wind ease the main so that the end of the boom is outside the gunwhale as you smoothly bring the boat level on the new tack.
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by Mikey » Fri May 13, 2016 9:23 am

As previous posters have said a good roll tack is essential and you could try a softer batten. You need to be very careful when attempting to update an old rig as usually the sail is not cut to suit an early Procter rig. You cannot expect a sail that was perhaps cut for example for an M7 to set well on an old stick. Your controls are also very dated and you cannot get sufficient tension to pull the sail into shape - e.g. winch kicker not cascade and the hull could not take the required rig tension anyway. I think you will struggle to get a really good set. People are getting new sails cut specifically for old rigs and some are coming onto the second hand market. I would advise getting second hand sails from a boat of a similar vintage - they are about - I recently got an excellent suit for my 9b from Chris Rathbone at UTSC (ex. 2266).

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Ed
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by Ed » Fri May 13, 2016 11:17 am

You need to be very careful when attempting to update an old rig as usually the sail is not cut to suit an early Procter rig.
This is more than likely your problem.

Having said that, with a little playing with rig-settings and learning the 'knack' of a good rolltack and you will most probably be able to make it work.

If it looks right, it normally works OKish, even if not delivering full potential of power. If it doesn't look right and you can't get it to even look right, you will have to either give up or consider getting the luff re-cut. This won't be a fix-all, but it might make the sail workable.

Best wishes

eib
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Michael4
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by Michael4 » Fri May 13, 2016 1:21 pm

Thanks everyone for your help.

Sailing the Merlin is something of a shoestring operation for us so we will have to work with what we have got and as you say, it is something of a mishmash.

Yes, we certainly need to improve our rolling tacks, they are somewhat haphazard at best.

My problem is that I don't fully understand what is happening in other words what is preventing the batten from 'popping'.

Is this because the weight of the boom is dragging the leech down and consequently bending the batten?

Should we try heaving on the kicker and loosening the sheet as we go about?

Is it (as some suggest) because the batten is too stiff and so once it has tacked it has a hard time going back?

Does adjusting the length or tension of the batten make any real difference?

In order to understand things I need to approach it one step at a time. Rolling tack improvement first, what next?
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by Ed » Fri May 13, 2016 1:56 pm

Thing is.....it is not just better roll-tacks....

But doing your roll-tack in a specific way that will help pop the battens.

It is all about timing and integrating (and then controlling) one part of the roll that maximises the motion of the top of the rig/sail, which causes the batten to flick over. You can then time that with a hard tug of the main sheet.

Gosh, much harder to explain than to demonstrate.

Sometimes you will see crews and other boats, do a nice gentle, quiet, controlled roll to leeward and then as the helm just starts the roll-back, they thump their arses down on the gunwhale, giving the sheet an almighty whip, which gets the batten to flick over with an bloody great crash/thump. Sometimes it works and off they sail..... Sometimes it doesn't: the boom flies back hitting the crew in the mouth. The helm falls back out the boat, which then starts to capsize back on top of both of them. The crew is swearing, the helm is swimming and the batten is still stuck on the wrong side.

Been there.

eib
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by Michael4 » Fri May 13, 2016 2:30 pm

Thanks Ed, you have set the scene for our forthcoming race on Saturday evening. We will dispense with blue double breasted blazers and dress appropriately!
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by Pat » Sat May 14, 2016 9:33 am

One technique used in the Lark, which suffers similarly, is a quick pull on the boom to snap the batten into place. This merely emulates what you should be doing as you pull the boat upright in the roll tack. Getting the batten tension and kicker tension right is also important and doesn't cost anything to adjust!
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roger
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by roger » Sat May 14, 2016 6:08 pm

Ask someone(who knows) to observe you and maybe they can help you improve your technique
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Michael4
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by Michael4 » Mon May 16, 2016 10:52 pm

Well we practised and fiddled and practised again and I'm happy to report that we now seem to have got the knack.

Thanks everyone for your help...and thanks to the N12 website which is a really good example of what a class website should be.
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Re: Merlin, tacking the top batten

Post by chris » Fri May 20, 2016 3:52 pm

It may help in light winds to have minimum tension on the batten itself - only just enough to remove creases on the sail there. Worth playing around with tensions.

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