Wednesday 13 October 2010

Oar/Sail vs Sail

Clint Chase, boatbuilder and rower in Maine, went to the TSCA regatta in Small Reach Regatta at Lamoine State Park on the coast.
Clint took his lovely rowing boat Drake, with its auxiliary sailing rig, and had a blast keeping up with much longer sailing boats by the simple strategy of sailing down wind and rowing upwind. He writes:
But this morning was proving something that I try to espouse whenever possible: a rowboat with at least some keel to it can sail downwind quite fast, but not up wind. And you don't need to ruin the lines of the boat for rowing and you do not need to add the complexity and drag that a centerboard or daggerboard introduces. Lee boards are simply not necessary for off the wind sailing. Drake has enough stability and keel to even sail without any slippage on a bean reach, and this was a revelation this morning on Frenchman Bay.
The return trip was a 8-mile row to windward....Drake showed her stuff by being able to row a steady 4+ knots back to the start line and beat most of the sailboats that had to tack many times to get home. This is what she was designed to do: sail smartly off the wind and row efficiently upwind. If this were a real RAID I would have no doubt that we could be very competitive and with a larger boat for two rowers, probably win. But I enjoy the autonomy, privacy, and relaxation that rowing and sailing alone can bring.
I will be going out with some sailors on Saturday, although I don't have a sail so it will be rowing all the way. Must watch to see how much faster I am than boats who have to go upwind crabwise.


doryman said...

I went sailing a few weeks ago in a Caledonia Yawl, which is 19 feet long and sails well. Others in our group were rowing and one fellow kept up with us on every tack for about an hour and a half, paddling a 17 foot home built kayak, chatting the whole time. Not bad for a sixty year old fella. And it makes you wonder about all the expense and bother associated with the bigger boat!


Anonymous said...

Interesting... Assuming the course is directly to windward, and the sailing boat is making 45 degrees to the true wind, an oarsman doing the same speed would get there in 70% of the sailboat's time. I think...

Chris Partridge said...

Clint Chase emailed:
I can go on forever about how people misuse their sail-and-oar boats. Case in point: on the second day, coming back upwind, the fleet passed through a harbor. I could not believe how all the sailors refused to take out even one oar to move their boats through the flukey wind in the harbor, not to mention all the rocks and boats in the way. Just rowing with one leeward oar, keeping a sail full of some air, and having a person on the tiller could make all the difference. Most of the people insisted on trying to beat through the harbor in the light air and the tide setting them back. I got a bit bored so I rowed onward. It is a pretty site, all the sails, but I think it is even prettier when they are using their oars for their intended purpose!

Anonymous said...

I made another post about the row/sail thing as it seems to be a question I hear often. It really is a trade off. Kayaks are quite amazing with regard to getting to windward and I always though I would not be able to keep up with one in Drake but that was not true in a recent race. I was able to keep up easily with an expert paddler. Interestingly, when we came off the wind and I was rowing, I could not keep up.