August 19, 2013

2013 Cal 20 Class Championships

Report from Randy Smith – Cal 20 #63 2013 Class Champion

Skipper Jib Kelly, Doug McLean and myself arrived at this year’s Class Championship with fairly low expectations.  Although we have raced these boats together for 15 years and won two prior championships together, we had not sailed this boat since 2011 and many of our competitors had been practicing quite a bit prior to the event, including 5 past winners.  That being said, we did everything possible to have a good result.  Jib prepared the hull and rig flawlessly and we had no equipment failures.  Doug and I went through our normal daily pre-race and post race checks on rigging, fittings, sails, water, food, weight, weather, current and strategy scenarios.  We have raced with Ullman Sails for many years and always been happy with our speed, but in our quest to improve, we worked with the Newport Beach loft to make some subtle changes to our sails.  Specifically, the Cal 20 main in general is always sheeted very hard, often with the top leech telltale completely stalled.  While not conventional, it has always proven to be the fastest setting in over 10 knots of breeze.  Our 2013 main had a slight change that allowed us to sheet the main not quite as hard but develop more pointing ability and more ease of trim with aggressive backstay movement.  With no practice, I spent the first day of the regatta (Eliminations) learning how to trim the new design.  By the second day, we had things dialed in and dominated the very breezy day to lead the regatta after the first day.

What was completely stunning (but not surprising coming from the Ullman design team), on the second (and last) day of the championship, we encountered 5 knots of breeze and tons of current.  In a complete reversal of conditions from the day before, we were able to make some very simple rig tune adjustments and softer, twisted trim on both main and jib, and we were still able to change gears to be one of the fastest boats out there.   We sailed the event in a relatively heavy crew configuration of 580 pounds but this did not affect our speed at all in the light air.  The result of all of this was a convincing win against some of the very best one design sailors on the West Coast.

Team Ullman did a fantastic job on our sails.   I have used Ullman Sails since my first Sabot and Snipe sails back in the 1970’s and they are still very versatile sails to trim, race and win.

Thanks to the entire Ullman Sails team for our success.

Randy Smith