Register now for the 2019 VX One Winter Series hosted by Sarasota Sailing Squadron!
After hopping in a VX One for the first time at the 2018 Newport Regatta, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Lucky for me, I had a great crew in Jeff Eiber, whose boat USA 175 we were sailing. He was able to get the initial tuning in place so that I could spend the regatta getting to know the boat and what makes it go fast. Because we had winds from 4 to 15 knots, I got to experience the VX One in a wide range of conditions. What transpired was a lot of falling down in the back of the boat, a lot of getting tangled up in lines, and a whole lot of learning coupled with a whole lot of fun.
“The VX One rewards the fundamentals of sailing” -That’s my catchphrase for this boat. What does it mean? It means that the VX One rewards clear air, good boat handling, clean starts, great boat balance, hard work, and letting the boat talk to you about what it needs – in short, the basics of sailboat racing.
As expected, sailing this boat flat is the key upwind, but you also need to be able to put the bow down. There are two solutions to this problem: Add weight to the rail or pull the vang on and hike. Since the boat is very weight-sensitive and more weight hurts you downwind, the best solution is to use the vang, and a lot of it. On the windiest day, with 15 knots, I pulled the vang as hard as I could get it. This allowed me to ease the sheet to stop the boat from heeling while still maintaining the leech tension for point. Consequently, I was able to put the bow down and get the boat sailing flat while keeping the leech engaged and forcing the boat upwind.
For a short-cord keelboat, the faster you go, the better the foil works, and therefore the boat slides to leeward less, but at the same time the boat also “releases.” By this I mean that it frees up and becomes easier to sail. Small rudder movements do more to change the boat’s direction instead of just creating drag. The mainsheet becomes easier to play because instead of having to dump and trim 6 feet of sheet, you have to play only 1 to 2 feet. The increase in speed powers the boat through waves instead of having the feeling that you’re hitting them and bouncing off. All this means that you can spend more time going fast and less time worrying about your speed relative to other boats. The key to the whole mix is the vang. Whenever I felt the boat bound up, I’d try pulling on a little more vang, and off we’d go again. This was true even in the lighter air.
Another piece of the puzzle was the rig tune. Thankfully, Jeff did most of the work here, but by the end of the event, I had asked enough questions that I was starting to understand what he was looking for. In any condition going upwind, he’d start from a base setting and observe the leeward upper. He was looking for it to be just going slack. Then I’d trim the main in harder than I normally would, and we’d look for over-bend wrinkles. Jeff wanted the large wrinkles from the spreader to be traveling about half way down to the clew of the sail. If they extended more than that, he’d tighten both lowers the same amount. If the wrinkles extended less than that, he’d ease off the lowers. This procedure kept the main looking flat enough in the breeze and full enough in light air. As for the base setting, Jeff would always set the boat up for the lightest wind that we were expecting during that particular race.
STAY OUT OF THE BACK OF THE BOAT
Next on my list of things learned was to stay out of the back of the boat. This lesson applied to doing anything, not just normal sailing. It was so easy to get too far back in the boat in a gybe, but that would simply stop us. The same was true for tacks, although they were a bit less critical. Staying out of the back rewarded us with good roll tacks and good roll gybes. And the reward didn’t just come from rolling hard or staying forward. It came from exiting the tack or the gybe at the correct angle so that the boat would power up right away. Upwind, if you’re too low, you’ll give up boat lengths, whereas if you’re too high, the boat will stop. The same concept holds when sailing downwind, but in the opposite direction whereby giving up boat lengths comes from being too high.
FIND A CLEAR LANE
In virtually all sailboat racing, you need to sail in a clear lane, but doing so was particularly important for our VX One. Because we were light on crew weight (350 lbs.), we needed to be very careful about having a heavy boat above us that could roll us or a light boat to leeward with insufficient vang on that was pinching. With a clear lane, we could fall into our bow-down mode, and within three boat lengths, we were the same point as the boats around us, by going faster than they were and in turn sliding sideways less.
In closing, I want to give a plug to the VX One. It’s really fun to sail. Hike hard and try to be as fast as possible all the time, and the boat will reward you in spades. With luck, I’ll get back out on a VX One soon. I’m just hoping that the next time will be in 15+ knots with the spinnaker flying!
The VX One Class was one of the largest classes at Charleston Race Week this year with 22 boats on the line. Eight races were run over the course of Friday and Saturday. Racing was cancelled on Sunday due to high winds. As per usual, CRW provided fantastic weather with good breeze and lots of fun both on and off the water. For the second year in a row John Potter on USA 187 “VX One” claimed the top spot. Chris Alexander on USA 124 “Isabelita Con Queso” finished second, with Greg Fisher on USA 175 “Reciprocity” finishing third. Boats now return to their home fleets for the summer. Check out our calendar for events happening all over the country this summer. For the most up to date information, reach out to your local fleet captain.
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stay up to date with the vx one class at charleston race week
April 12-15, 2018
The VX One class took part in the Sarasota Sailing Squadron One Design Midwinter Regatta as our final winter series event for 2017-2018. Despite very light winds, 20 boats were on the line with Brian Bennett on USA 171 taking first, Jeff Eiber on USA 175 taking second, and Jerry Callahan on USA 205 taking 3rd after five races. The fleet then packed up and is headed to Charleston Race Week which takes place April 12-15 in Charleston, SC.
Two days of warm weather, sun and wind, created fantastic racing conditions for the second stop of the VX One Winter Series at Sarasota Sailing Squadron. 22 boats were on the line and after 5 races, Marty Kullman and Steve Liebel took 1st on board USA 106, followed by John Potter on USA 187, and Christian Koppernaes on 153. The final stop of the VX One Winter Series is coming up next month, March 16-18.
After three days of racing in a wide range of conditions from 6 to 26 knots, Jeff Eiber (Cleveland, OH) and his son Emery won the 2018 Mid Winter Championship on board VX 175 “Calvin Ball” in Sarasota, FL. 24 VX Ones were on the line for the first stop of the VX Winter Series at Sarasota Sailing Squadron and only a few points separated the top boats. Boo Heausler on VX 197 “Second Line” took second place, just two points behind Eiber, followed by Sam Padnos on VX 188 “TWD”. Racing resumes February 3-4 for stop number two of the winter series, with the final stop taking place March 16-18 before the fleet heads north to Charleston Race Week.
Full Results: http://www.regattanetwork.com/event/15653#_newsroom
Highlight Video: https://vimeo.com/251359321
Please join us in Sarasota, FL for the 2018 Winter Series!
Event 1: January 13-15, 2018
Event 2: February 3-4, 2018
Event 3: (SSS One Design Regatta) March 16-18, 2018
Register Now: http://www.regattanetwork.com/event/15653#_home
The fleet will then go to Charleston following the March event for Charleston Race Week
Charleston Race Week on a VX One
By Cedric Lewis
This was my first time racing on a VX One and my first time participating in Charleston Race Week. For those of you that don’t know me, I grew up in Annapolis and participated in the Junior Sailing program at Severn Sailing Association. I have owned several big boats all named Mirage including a J-29, Mumm-30, and my current J-105. I am now just 6 months removed from surviving a major heart attack called the widow maker. My friend, John Potter called me a couple of months ago to check to see how I was doing. Our conversation switched to sailing, as it always does. He was telling me about the winter series they have for the VX One is Sarasota. He is trying to grow the fleet and help promote the boat and asked if I wanted to come and sail CRW. He said he would get myself and Fredrik Salvesen (my partner in the 105) a boat to use in the regatta. Unfortunately, Fredrik’s work commitments wouldn’t allow him to sail. I called John back and we came up with a new plan. John’s boat partner, Dave Guggenheim, would sail with Paul Curry in their regular boat and I would crew for John on a borrowed boat.
I have been feeling pretty good and I am always up for a new challenge, especially when it comes to sailing. After hanging up the phone I was thinking to myself, what did I just get myself into! I had only sailed in the boat one time before in Beaufort and it was in only 5knts. I knew I needed to get some more time in the boat before getting to Charleston so I didn’t embarrass myself. Paul Murphy had just brought a boat back from Sarasota to Annapolis. I arranged to go out with Paul a couple of times to practice. One more practice day on Thursday when I got to Charleston and I guess I was ready.
Friday’s conditions were light in the morning but built to ~12knts out of the SSW. The first race I was still trying to figure out the boat and the current. The wind got light and shifty but we managed to catch a couple shifts and we were launched. It is a good thing because downwind I felt like I spent the entire time on my backside in the bottom of the boat. As the day went on I was getting better with my blow through jibes but I was still ending up too far forward in the boat and John was constantly telling me to move back. After three five leg races the RC switched it up and gave us a 4 leg race with finish down wind. Things were starting to click for us and I was starting to get a hang of it. In the last race of the day we lead from the start. On the last leg I was having probably the best downwind of the day with good jibes and I was managing to stay back in the boat. We were looking for the other end of the finish and realized we were about miss the finish. John jibed the boat and I was not ready for it. I got caught with my weight leaning out and the boat quite literally jibed out from underneath me and I went over the side. I hung on to the spinnaker sheet and managed to stay attached to the boat. I made my way to the back of the boat and pulled myself back on board, sheeted in the spinnaker and we finished third. We ended the day with 9 points, tied for first with Will Van Cleef and Marc Durlach.
Saturday we woke up to fresh breeze 15~20knts. I was half dreading it and half looking forward to it. The first race we seemed to be slightly out of phase and did not sail a good upwind. We rounded in about mid-fleet. I was having trouble getting the chute up and pulling and several boats went past, John’s comment was “well that’s embarrassing.” I finally got the chute up and we took off screaming down wind. We passed a couple boats downwind and managed to do the same on the second downwind and clawed our way back to 4th. We did much better and won the next 2 races and the then the wheels came off in last race. Since it was forecast to blow up to 20 and we were in a borrowed boat, John decided to use one of his older jibs instead of the boat owner’s newer jib. We started the last race and on probably the second tack, the foot cord on the jib got caught on the cheek block on the bow. I went forward and cleared it but it did it again on the next tack. The jib is a deck sweeper and over the time the chafing had worn a hole in the foot expose the foot cord. I came up with a solution to ease the sheet a couple of inches just before the tack to lift the foot up off the deck and then sheet back in after the tack. That got us to the weather mark but we were well behind at that point. I had been struggling all day with the hoists. We originally thought the halyard was getting hung up on the spreader because I would get it up to a point and then it would hang up a few feet short of a full hoist. Then we would here a pop and then could pull it the rest of the way up. On the last race the problem became apparent. There was no stopper knot on the belly cord and I pulled it through the grommet on the sail and this time it would release. It looked like we had an upper chute and lower chute pinched together by a couple of feet of line. At that point we threw in the towel and withdrew from racing. We headed back to the dock to exact repairs. With the drop we maintained a 4 point lead on Will.
Sundays breeze was back down to 12~14knts. The first race we were fouled at the start and got away slowly. The whole first beat we were getting ping-ponged around the course with people tacking on us. We rounded the weather mark deep and needed to do some catching up if we wanted to remain in the hunt. Downwind was more of the same with boats jibing on top of us but we managed to claw back a couple of boats. With the boats spread out we were able to sail the shifts and made gains to weather. We rounded the weather mark and this time we got our chute up first and passed two more boats. We finished the race in 5th which was our worst finish excluding the drop race. We did manage to maintain our lead over Van Cleef by 2 points heading into the final race. We vowed not to repeat our mistakes from the first race and go out and win the final race. We got away clean at the start and we were able to sail our own race. We played the shifts while maintaining a loose cover on Will and we rounded in first place. We managed to connect the dots downwind going from puff to puff. The second beat we did the same thing, playing the shifts while keeping track of #154. We again rounded the top mark in the lead headed for the finish.
Here are my impressions after only 5 days of sailing the boats. The boats are extremely well laid out, simple and crew friendly. The vang kicker goes up and mainsheet trim comes from the boom leaving plenty of room and a wide open cockpit to cross on tacks. The jib is self-tacking with one continuous line to trim sheet and adjust the car. Once the jib is sheeted in I only made minor adjustments to the car height. Hoisting and dropping the chute is all done with a single line (how cool is that). Pull from behind the block and the chute goes up, the pole is extended and the tack line is pulled in. Sheet in and off you go. To drop the chute you pull the same line in the other direction and the pole retracts and chute uses a belly cord to suck it into the bow.
What did I learn? I am not in as good shape as I thought I was. I have been sailing big boats for too long and hiking like that, especially on Saturday, was challenging. I was fortunate that the boat we were sailing had a hiking line to hold on to which did help with the abs. As the races added up I slowed down. Up wind I did my best to look around and call puffs and shifts and report on the other boats. Sailing downwind everything speeds up ten-fold. I would say I had my hands full. I had absolutely no time to look around. The speed of these boats off the wind is mind boggling! One false move on my part and we drop off a plane and 4 boats go whizzing by. The boats are much more tactical downwind than the boats I am use to sailing. You sail at much hotter angles to get the boat planning. The hotter angles also means the jibes are reach to reach.
The VX sailors are a tight knit group willing to step in and help each other out. This was apparent when Peter Gamble broke his rudder on Saturday. Everyone jumped in to help make the repairs and get him back on the water on Sunday. The class is full of great sailors willing to share knowledge. They recognize that building the class means helping along the back of the pack sailors. It will only make the class stronger as a whole to keep these boats involved.
I never got a max reading going downwind on Saturday but I am guessing we were ~17 knots which is the fastest I have gone in a mono-hull since my Mumm-30. And unlike my Mumm-30, I felt like the VX One was in complete control the whole time. I had an absolute blast sailing these boats and Charleston is an ideal sailing venue. The conditions could not have been better. I plan to be back next year and hopefully in my own VX One.