On Saturday, we visited the Helsinki International Boat Show. Sailing is the main theme of this year’s event, and therefore, at least from a sailor’s point of view, the program is perhaps the most interesting for years. Even to the extent, that on Saturday there were some interesting presentations going on at the same. On the other hand, I have not seen the sail boat exhibition hall ever so empty, as there were fewer sail boats at the show than during the previous years. This is of course due to the economic downturn, which is hammering the boating industry.
Merikarhut Ry had organized a top class speaker on this year’s event as, on Saturday, Peter Bruce held a lecture on heavy weather sailing. Bruce is the author/editor of the last three editions of the famous storm survival bible Heavy Weather Sailing. He gained wide experience on seagoing in extreme conditions during his navy years. He also participated and finished in the infamous Fastnet Race 1979, on which he shared an interesting story on Saturday — as an answer to a question on the worst situation, he has encountered.
The one and half hours’ presentation followed pretty much the same structure as the book has. However, the scope was limited to the monohull sailing yachts. It was interesting to see, that although Bruce has a vast experience on sail racing and has for example been twice a member of a winning Admiral’s Cup team, his views on sail boat design were rather conservative. At least he pointed out the benefits of the traditional hull shape in terms of seaworthiness, stability and comfortable motion.
A lot of interesting practical information was presented on the lecture. For example, Bruce talked about breaking waves, using drogues and sea-anchors, heaving-to -method, securing the liferaft, setting storm sails etc. He also made an interesting point on avoiding breaking the boom in bad weather: the preventer should always be fitted on the far end of the boom. When the boat heels strongly, the boom may hit the waves with a huge amount of strength. If the preventer is attached to a point in the middle of the boom, this may cause it to break. He also described his preventer arrangement, which consists of short rope ’permanently’ attached to the far end of the boom. When not in use, the other end of the rope is secured to the point where the kicker is attached. With this arrangement, the preventer can be easily deployed (by lengthening it with a longer rope) also in a bad weather. We will definitely set-up a similar kind of arrangement next season.
Below are some photos from the boat show: