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May 2024 | Issue #42


Preparing for the sailing season!   Spring training in the North!

Bryce Dryden Wins the 2024 Y-Flyer Midwinter Championship Regatta
By Nile Hatcher

On March 15 – 17, the Atlanta Yacht Club (AYC) and Y-Flyer Fleet #1 played host to the 2024 American Y-Flyer Yacht Racing Association’s Midwinter Championship Regatta.

Nile and Lavon Hatcher served as regatta chairs for the ninth consecutive year.

Thirty-eight competitors travelled from 11 states and Canada to sail in the 61st annual event.

Five races were sailed under near picture-perfect weather conditions with temperatures reaching the low 70’s with west-north-west winds at 8 to 15 mph on Saturday, with a lighter breeze on Sunday.

PRO Troy Davis and his race committee team laid out square courses and did an outstanding job on the water.

Bryce Dryden with crew Jennifer Irish (AYC) took home gold fleet honors including three bullets.

Amanda Hodges with her sister, Tara Whitworth, (AYC) as crew came in a close second.

Josh Putnam and Jackson McMullen (Augusta Sailing Club) placed third.

Mark and Beth Saunders (S. Car.) placed fourth with Carlin Hodges and Mindy Sherry (AYC) rounding out the top five finishers.

Trey Shipp and his daughter Elizabeth Solanki (AYC) won the blue fleet championship winning in a tie breaker over John Smith and Ryan Gannon (Saratoga, NY).

Third place honors only one point back were awarded to Gregg Andres and Sully Madewell (AYC).

George Scarborough took home the Merril Callen award for the highest placing skipper over 50 years of age who did not finish in the silver.

Amanda Hodges won the Viking Spirit Award for the highest placing female skipper.

The Noah Benton Award was presented to Leif Carlson as the top placing junior.

Be a Crew Trainer
By Tara Smith Whitworth

It's a no brainer: Talk

Randy Smith drafted me as crew when I was seven (and a good weight for Allatoona drifters). At first, there were only two jobs: move to the other side on a tack, and release or pull the jib. The fine distinctions between adjusting a“hair,” a “skosh” or “PULL” became clear. I jumped when Dad said jump! The crew duties expanded to whisker pole, boom vang, barber hauls, and centerboard, upon command. I did as I was told. But because he explained why he was doing what he was doing, the sport of competitive sailing took root in me.

Is your crew at a reactive level? Skipper, do something about that: communicate. Inside and outside of the boat, a lot happens. An alert, informative crew is an advantage that lessens your brain load. Two heads are better than one. Plus, as an involved participant, crewing is more fun.

     How can a crew absorb and understand racing? A running commentary from you at the helm is the ticket. Let a crew learn from what you tell, or prompt as questions. Encourage your crew to be a keen observer and feed the skipper some of this information:

* Is the boat heeled at the correct angle? Is the skipper in a position to see the sails and the water ahead?

* Who is coming down on top of you at the RC end of the line? Who is coming up on you?

* Who may have starboard rights on you when boats around you tack?

* Is a competitor moving to get overtaking advantage of you (positioning to block the wind) on a run or reach?

* As you approach the windward mark, who may have rights to inside at the mark?

* Coming head-to-wind at the starting line: it shows favored end of the line for the start, and the favored tack.

* Compare your boat's heading to nearby boats. Are you pointing as high? Are the near boats getting lifted or headed? Are we fast or slow compared to others?

* Notice the water surface (often darker ripples) shows wind puff/gusts and shifts. A heads up from the crew prepares you for the effect. RC flags are also indicators.

* Where is the strong or fresh wind coming from? Where is it dying?

     Of course, knowing the tuning and rigging, the points of sail, and common racing rules helps. Yet teamwork makes racing work. The careful choreography of boat balance, two sets of eager eyes on the sails and on the course, and both of you anticipating what's ahead.

Sail fast, y'all!

Tara Smith Whitworth (R) (Amanda Smith Hodges' (L) sometimes crew)




The Opposite Tack

The Fix Is In

By Doug Kinzer

Sailboats are beautiful things.  They bring us happiness, peace, opportunities for competition and great ways of making new friends.  How do we tend to repay all of this beauty?

Damage and Neglect.

Let’s face it.  Most sailors are excited about their boats when they’re using them or sitting around the sailing club talking about their boats.  But when it’s time to head home to real life, the boat just sits and waits for the next time.

This also tends to hold true for minor damage.  If the nick or ding isn’t very big (most aren’t), then it gets blown off until the owner gets around to it.  Thus, the blemishes accumulate until at last, the owner decides to try to get their boat back into something resembling good condition.  Sometimes, this is where people like me step in.

Most of you know that I do boat repair and rehab and all that goes with it.  I’ve been doing this off and on for 40 plus years, but I’ve been “full time” for the past 13 years or so.  The most valuable skill in doing boat repair is experience and repetition.  If you get reasonably good at it and do it a lot, you’ll get good results.  There’s occasionally money to be made in my case, but it isn’t as much as it sounds to the client.  So when someone asks for a price and I tell them, they often reply:  “Maybe I’ll try fixing it myself”.  My response:  “Okay.  Let me know if you need anything.”   Then I wait for the phone to ring.

I often consult on the wacky world of fiberglass and gel coat repair.  But most people “Google” it and find the basic instructions and guides pretty quickly.  I still do this myself on occasion because I’m not above trying to get better.  But as a wise person once said to me:  “You can read the instructions on how to fly an airplane. But it doesn’t make you a pilot”. There’s no substitute for experience.

For you DIY’ers out there who want to dive in to the mess and toxicity and dust of fixing your boat yourself, I’ll offer a few tips in no particular order of importance.  I won’t go into a lot of chemistry and science and all of that.  I’ll just share some cautionary thoughts and some tips on getting a decent result.   And then I’ll wait for the phone to ring.

I also won’t comment on personal safety.  Because, duh!

The first rule is that you have to make it worse to make it better.  When you see some damage on the outside glance, odds are, the damage is a bit bigger.  On the typical fiberglass Y-Flyer, the foam core prevents any impact from damaging the inside skin of the boat.  This is a good thing.  You’ll have to grind the repair out in a “dish” shape, making sure to get the damaged fiberglass removed.  Normally, the ‘glass will be the color of the resin.  Damaged glass will appear white because the resin has been broken and crushed and some of the fiberglass with it.  Try to grind that out.  Don’t worry if you get to the foam; the foam is about 3/8 inch thick.  It provides a good backing for the new material.

Normally, you can repair the ‘glass skin with either a light weight glass fabric (6 oz is good, or whatever you find at Home Depot).  Glass mat is more random and it shapes a bit better and is more forgiving when prepping for gel coat.  Whatever you use, figure out how much you need to fill the repair to slightly-less-than-flush with the rest of the surrounding area.  If you use multiple pieces, cut the pieces so that the pieces “taper”.  The first piece is full size.  The second piece is slightly smaller.  The third piece is slightly smaller and so on.

If you got all of your stuff from Home Depot, the resin you bought has wax in it because it is designed for the DIY’er..  The wax serves to seal the resin as it hardens so that it will harden all the way.  Assuming you have this type, you can mix the resin according to the instructions on the can and wet out your ‘glass.  Cautionary note:  If it is hot outside, reduce the amount of hardener somewhat.  Usually, those resins recommend about 13 drops of hardener per ounce.  You can reduce that by a few drops if it is really warm where you’re working.  Don’t go below about ½ to 2/3 of what they recommend.  Most resins mix well at a 2% hardener ratio; don’t go below 1%.  Stir thoroughly.  Wet out the glass until it “disappears”.  It’ll be too resin rich, but you’re not building a boat here; you’re just fixing it.

Once the glass has hardened completely, you’ll have to sand it smooth and make sure all the wax is cleaned out.  Then the real fun begins.

Gelcoat.  Some folks think of gelcoat as a great confusing mystery, mostly because they tried it and failed.  It makes sense.  There are many ways to fail at a good gelcoat result.  There is only one road to success:  do it right and do it with care.

Gelcoat is basically resin that incorporates a goodly amount of pigment, usually about 15%.  At least that’s what the suppliers tell you.  Gelcoat can be acquired as a neutral gelcoat that you have to add pigment for color.  You can get pre-colored gelcoats from a variety of suppliers that have color chip charts and booklets so you can get something that is close to what you need.  And finally, there is clear gelcoat which is usually used to coat over some sort of fancier coloring or glitter flake.   Fortunately for the Y-Flyer family, there won’t be much use for clear.  It’ll be mostly a particular color and it will be polyester gelcoat…at least for now.

If you were smart, you bought a boat that is white.  Just white.  Not cream, buff, snow, bright, pinkish, slightly grey or whatever.  White out of the pot is awesome and easy to repair.  If your boat is old and white and you really want to repair it yourself, then you’ll need to have some yellow oxide pigment.  I call it “dirty yellow” and it goes in virtually every color on an older boat.  If your boat is old and white, it is no longer “just white”.  If you’re taking a stab at tinting your own color, there are a couple of things to note.  A little pigment goes a long way.  If you’re “creaming” some white gelcoat, you’ll use pigment a pin-prick at a time.  If you’re making a batch of, say, royal blue, you’ll be using neutral gelcoat with plenty of pigment…but try not to exceed the 15% pigment ratio (and that 15% includes the other colors you’ll likely be using.  Need my phone number yet?   😊  )

There are places that can provide matched gelcoat.  Which is to say, they can get a close match.  They have color chip charts or chip cards that you can use to get something close to what you need.  Guess what?...there’s work to do here, too.  You’ll need to wet sand a small area and buff it so you get as close to the original color as possible.  You need to do this because when you’re doing the ultimate finish work, you’ll be sanding a lot of the fade out of the gelcoat surrounding the repair.  As a result, you’ll have a mismatch that may bother you…or not.  The process is “mix and dab”.  Small little swatches of gelcoat smeared on your test area after adding a tiny bit of pigment.  As you go, you’ll see the color emerge.  Once you get it as right as you can, you can clean off the test area with some acetone.

Gelcoat and hardener mix the same way as regular polyester resin, being as they’re basically the same thing.  Again, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.   Different gelcoat producers do things differently for whatever reason, so keep that in mind.  As with regular resin, get the hardener right for the given temperature.  If you use too much, the resin or gelcoat will harden too fast and too hot (resins generate heat as they harden) and the result will be too brittle.  Too little and you’ll be waiting a long time for it to harden, if it hardens at all.  I mean, the resin will always harden.  It can take a ½ hour or it can take 27 years.  Your choice.

Prep for the gelcoat by sanding everything smooth to 80 grit.  If you’re spraying, you have to tape off a few inches away from the actual repair.  That area should be sanded to 80 grit as well.  Don’t go nuts or you’ll sand through the surrounding gelcoat when you do your finish sanding….depending on the builder, how much wet sanding for speed has been done, etc.  Use caution.

Most gelcoat is sold without wax added, so if you want your gelcoat to harden all the way to the surface, you need to seal it off from the air.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  One is to get some styrene wax solution to add to the gelcoat.  The styrene has a wax in it that will rise to the surface as the gelcoat hardens, thus sealing it.  Once it is hard, the surface will feel waxy, but you don’t be able to scrape the gelcoat off with your finger nail.  Another way is to use something physical to seal it.  Wax paper can do this.  Packing tape works as well (some tape goo will remain, but that’s easy to deal with).  If you don’t do anything to seal it, then enjoy the goopy sand paper process.

The gelcoat can be applied like any other coating despite its “finickyness”.   You can brush it, but you’ll have brush strokes that will need to be sanded out.  Spraying it yields the best results.  If you use a store-bought spray gun, then the tip orifice is likely too small.  As a result, you’d have to thin the gelcoat quite a bit more than recommended.  Like 25-30%.  If you do this, spray the gelcoat on in thin coats, perhaps 2-3.  If you pile it on, the solvent won’t be able to escape and then you’ll have a minor nightmare on your hands.  That means mixing a few different batches.  Remember the air contact problem.  Coat 1:  no wax.  Coat 2:  no wax.  Final coat: yes wax.  The coats can be applied when the previous coat has tacked up.

Once your awesome color matched fiberglass and gelcoat repair is all hardened up, it’s time to do the finish work.  In a nutshell, pull the tape and start wet sanding.  If your application is really good, then start with 400 grit and then 600.  You can stop there if you want before buffing.  I go to 800 for the stuff I do.  Then buff it out with a polishing compound of some sort.  I use 3M Finessit for Gelcoat.  If you don’t mind spending a fair amount of money, I recommend it.  Once buffed, you can apply whatever secret sauce you want.  On the deck, I use marine wax with a good UV filter in it.  For the hull, I use something with PTEF in it.  You can use ceramic, but it’s a lot of money.  Graphene is out there and it is a bit cheaper and will bring on the shine.  I haven’t tried that yet, but I plan to soon because a friend of mine is psyched about it.

That’s all there is too it, except for all of the many little minute details I left out.  If you give it a shot, I’m happy to answer any specific questions you might have.  But a cautionary note:  I’ve been doing this for over 40 years.  The fiberglass part is pretty basic and usually there’s no problem.  But with gelcoat, I still have a Greek tragedy every 10-15 jobs.  So if you screw it up, remember:  it happens to everybody.  That’s why you keep plenty of acetone and paper towel around.  You can also go to lots of sources online to get advice and tips.  Just remember: opinions are like a certain part of the anatomy; everybody has one and they often stink.

Good luck.  If you follow instructions and have basic skills, you can do it.  Otherwise, you can find my contact info pretty easily.  Or any other boat yard in your area.  So if you end up paying a repair shop to do the job for you, remember:  You know why divorce and boat repair are so expensive?  Because it’s worth it!*

[* - Thank you, Lewis Black]


From the President:Amanda Smith Hodges

Here at AYC April showers bring cold water downstream. Since MidWYnters in March we have had FABULOUS wind for club racing, but really chilly water. If I could only transfer these days of clear blue skies and steady winds to July and August. Now that would be sumpin’!

As my grandkids send me baseball, volleyball and soccer schedules, I’m marking down fleet races and regattas for this Spring and Summer. We are already registered for Nationals and Internationals. Carlyle Nationals is only 2 months away, so get registered! Food, family, and fun awaits you at Lake Carlyle. Oh, and great sailing!

So, after Nationals, just keep your boat packed for the road and three weeks later sail at Saratoga in the Internationals. We can compete against the Canadians in everything from boat launching to bocce ball.

Let’s have our own version of the ‘Summer Games’ up in New York. And if you can’t win on the water, perhaps you can win betting on the ponies at the track. My best tip: bet on the first horse to poop when they walk out on the track cuz they have to carry less weight. We’ll split the winnings…….you heard it from me first.

The website is getting good traffic, but needs your input. Post a blog. Write an article about the Y.  Catch us up on the news from your fleet or club. Post a boat for sale or excess gear you don’t need any more.

Our webmaster is listed at the bottom of the website’s page so let’s flood him with fodder for our site. You don’t have to be a great writer to send in an article. If my stuff is getting posted, then YOU can get something sent in for publication.

May is a fleet racing month and tune-up time before the Hog Wild in Little Rock over Memorial Weekend (to practice for the Championship of Champions to be held in October in Little Rock in Y Flyers). That club rolls out the red carpet for sailors to come sail over that holiday weekend. Their hospitality is rivaled by none.

If you need me, just holler, “Mom!!” and me and 14 other moms will respond to you. It’s the way we are………

The Sailing Siren, Amanda S. Hodges

Y2660 and Y2813



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