Official homepage of International Monotype-XV Ice Yacht Racing Association
by Sulev Küünarpuu, Estonia
I have been asked many times to give young people and beginners advice about how to make the iceboat run better. I daresay that this is not an easy problem to solve, and furthermore the only boat one knows well is his own. Boats differ considerably from each other.
1. The Monotype XV is a team iceboat (two people only, but still a team). Everything is discussed and agreed together but the final decision is made by the helmsman.
2. Everything begins with putting the iceboat together. If this is done smoothly and quickly, we may expect that the other stages of iceboating will also go well. In a team where men have been racing together for a long time, both have leamed to share tasks and obligations, so neither one is disturbing the other. A Monotype XV can be assembled by her team in 20 minutes, from unloading the boat from the car or trailer until hoisting the sail.
3. Runners are a very important part of any iceboat. They should be kept in the best Condition at all times. The most important thing is that the side runners are exactly parallel. Unless this is attended to very carefully the speed of the boat with suffer seriously. Nowadays the parallelism is measured with the runners on the ice, whereas earlier the iceboat was put on trestles and therefore the measuring could not be done so precisely. The more blunt the edges of the runners are, the better is its speed, but they must be sharp enough so that the boat does not slip sideways, and can be handled in the ice and wind conditions at that time. Otherwise you can be dangerous to yourself and also will make others feel unsafe.
Some points about sharpening the runners. There are some weather conditions when the best runners are perpendicular ones (for soft ice) and others when arched ones are the right ones (for black ice). But the weather is never absolutely limited to using just one type of runners.
Re-sharpening of runners takes much time and also is boring. The runner shape normally used is somewhere between the two extremes. But before important events, iceboaters are never so short of time and nervous that they do not try reshape the runners according to weather conditions of the moment. Even then, however, this effort does not always give the best result because the weather conditions may change rapidly during the day. Every iceboater must decide
for himself what the optimal runner shape and sharpness is, and how much risk he is willing to take in using runners that are perfect for one set of conditions but will not go well in others. Often a compromise between extremes is best.
4. The sail and its trim are also important. The sail should never be pulled out too much, but there should be no creases in the sail when sailing. My opinion is that battens should not be too stiff, especially the upper ones. It is best if they all seem more flexible than necessary. Stiff battens take power out of the sail, which is especially noticeable when sliding is bad or the wind is light.
5. The mast is the most enigmatic part of an iceboat. It is essential that when starting or easing the sheet out the mast will pivot. As the boat speeds up and the sail is trimmed in the mast should rotate back to be more in line with the hull. It would be ideal for this change to be just the right amount at just the right time, but how can this be achieved?
The easiest and most painless method, if it gives enough effect, is to reposition the sheet blocks, moving them forward or backwards on the boom. If this is not enough the matter is more complicated. First, try changing the position of the mast step deck ball. When moving the ball forward the mast should pivot more and when moving the ball backward the mast should pivot less. If the change of the ball position does not help, the rigging of the mast should be readjusted. How fast you go on the beat and reach legs is determined by the tension of the upper and lower diamond stays. When the upper diamond stays are tighter, sailing toward the leeward mark may be better but the iceboat may become too "alert." When sailing upwind, the windward runner will be in the air all the time. Efficiency on the windward and reaching legs should be equal, as the speed lost on one leg is almost impossible to be gained back later. Reaching and beating efficiency can be made almost equal by raking the mast forward or backward. The less the mast is raked aft, the better is speed on the reach.
6. When racing the co-operation between the helmsman and the sailor is most important. With little wind and soft ice, going downwind, the risk is that the sail may be trimmed too close. The speed is lost at once. The sailor should ease out the sheet and the helmsman turn the boat more to windward. All his should be done quickly and smoothly. Rough and heavy moments will lower the speed more.
7. Try to use less ballast if you have obtained enough experience in iceboating and are confident in your steering, especially when there are windshifts and ice conditions are complicated. As you get more experience you will gain confidence and you will not lose speed.
My recommendations and thoughts may not be 100% correct. Every iceboat has its own "that" that is typical for that iceboat only. For finding that "that" one should sail a lot of time in the same boat. For successful racing, the technique of boat handling should be almost automatic; one should not think about it. The only thing to think about is tactics and strategy, so keep an eye on other competitors and follow the changes in the wind.
Fair winds, and plenty of determination to get more iceboating experience.
IM-XVIYRA, c/o Ulf Torberger, Jaktvägen 81, SE-187 42 TÄBY, SWEDEN
This page was last updated on 10-sep-2017.