Puddle Duck Racer Sailboat Class - Newsletter 6
A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to all the participants that were able to attend the 2011 World Championship race, and thanks to Jackie, Bill Nolen & their crew for being such great hosts !!!
In this month's selection of articles, we have some reports from the event. Some of the stuff said might be a bit of a shock to people that have never been to one of our races. Yes, you really can build a duck in 2 weekends and go sailing on the third (its been done many times), yes there are lots of fun and goofy ways to casually sail, BUT.... when it comes to racing ducks, they are far more challenging than if you were racing a conventional factory built sailboat.
This month's articles speak about many of the challenges that duckers face when racing our boats. You will see that while Scott Widmier had the fastest duck on the water for that day's course and weather conditions winning both of the two races he participated in, that ain't enough. Because Scott broke his mast and had to sit out a race, he placed lower in the overall point standings. Brad consistently performed, and was able to snatch the win, gaining the title of PDRacer World Champion and eternal glory!!
Destruction of the mast and the sleeve that holds it is just the beginning of problems. We have a very stable hull shape, and that means duckers fly much larger sails than would normally be put on an 8 foot boat. Like typically you will see about 40 square feet on a pram of the same size, but in our class 59 sqft is considered small, and many fly in the 80+ sqft size, so the stress our hull & rig will see is way above conventional 8 foot boats. Next are all the issues with the rudder, it gets yanked around a bunch and sometimes completely ripped off. And that is just a couple of the hardware issues, stuff that falls into sailing technique & strategy is a whole nother can of worms.
You need to manuver through a fleet of other boats without hitting them, and try to get across the start line at the right time. After you cross the start line, there is that long climb upwind which is very challenging, even to seasoned racers. Pointing a couple of degrees higher into the wind can mean huge differences in your overall time. When you finally make it to the windward buoy and turn to head down wind, guess what... you now have a bunch of moving obstacles (other duckers) to avoid. Don't forget to look back over your shoulder, or someone will sneak up on you, block your wind, zap all of your speed and pass you.
Just when you think you have it all figured out, you show up and the weather and/or course is different than what you have been practicing, so you have to adapt to the new conditions. That means you may need to bring 3 or 4 different sail rigs to compensate for what it is like on the course when the time comes to start the next race.
All the while, you must continually go over the right of way rules in your head so you avoid causing an infraction & get a turn penalty. I could have won the very first puddle duck race ever, but on the final buoy turn I bumped into Ken, had to take a penalty turn and lost the race because of it. OOohhh... the agony of defeat! Strange as it sounds, the challenging aspects and ever present possibility of failure, is what makes it fun, and worth working to achieve.
I really appreciate that duckers openly talk about and publish the breakages that occur and other challenges they faced. Because we sail experimental sailboats, the more we share about what fails, the more we can all learn together so that we can come up with ways to build them stronger and faster than before.
Capturing the rights to host future world championship
We currently have a fairly sizable bid for the next world championship. If you are interested in hosting a championship in the future, consider hosting an event now and sending in your bid, even if it is not bigger than the current one. This will let everyone else know you are trying to organize a sizable fleet and will help encourage others to join in your efforts. More info on the world championship page.
Everglades Challenge 2012
Buckle your seatbelts duckers - its finally gonna happen !! Ever since the first duck was built, duckers have been talking about entering a puddle duck in the Everglades Challenge. Up till now, it was just talk. Scott Widmier is leading Team EC Puddle Duck to enter the next race, using puddle ducks. This is extremely exciting news for duckers everywhere, but there isn't that much time left till the start of the next race. For more information see:
Everglades Challenge 2012
They also started a forum to support the team effort, see:
Dave Gray Monthly Column
Dave Gray is starting a monthly column and has the first installment with a workshop of building his Dangerous Duck design PDRacer. For more information see:
See: Dangerous Duck Workshop
Dave also has a new forum to get retirees with time on their hands to get involved in sailing and also help promote the pdracer. See: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/60sailing/
PDRacer Article in Small Craft Advisor Magazine
I've been subscribing to SCA since issue number 1, and when I got my latest copy in the mail the other day (issue 72 Nov/Dec 2011, page 37), opened it up and guess what I saw ? A great article from Bill Nolen about building his puddle duck!!! Eleven color photos over 3 pages with text. What a great help to get the word out about our club, and help show sailors in general about how simple it is to build boats from plywood. Currently available at available at many West Marine, Barnes and Noble, and independent booksellers and newsstands. Subscription is still the most reliable way to get the magazine, and they also offer a digital subscription. See their website: SmallCraftAdvisor.com
2012 PolySail Notable PDRacer People and Boats Calendar
Dave Gray is now accepting photos for the annual fundraiser calendar which the proceeds support the the class and fund a lot of the advertising that I purchase to help promote our class. You can send in photos of ducks and nominate the duckers that you feel are notable, and also get your upcoming duck events listed on the calendar. For more info about the calendar and to pre-order yours, see: calendar info page
Personally I nominated Dave Gray and his duck, because it spontaneously caught on fire, on the way to the world championships. I know the reason why it did, I have previously raced against him and know he has a really hot boat, so hot infact, it burst into flames!!! :) Maybe you can contact him and help this nomination, as well as nominating other duckers that you feel are notable and should be in the calendar.