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 Post subject: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:46 am 
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Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 3:15 pm
Posts: 124
Location: Buffalo, NY
Managed to pitchpole my 18 for the first time last weekend, which I've heard is a rare-ish occurrence on an 18, so naturally I've got a few questions.

The situation:

We were sailing downwind, winds were 21 gusting to 30, mast raked as far back as possible, moderately tight rig (top hole on the forestay, 3rd hole on the shrouds, old style shrouds & 7 hole adjuster). Waves 1ft or less, skipper at the rear crossbar, crew just forward of skipper, main travelled all the way out, moderately sheeted. Jib all the way forward & sheeted loose. The apparent wind was shifting between ~75 and 105 degrees, the waterline at the bows was fluctuating between half and 3/4 the way up, and all of a sudden, the bows disappeared, a wall of water hit us, the boat threw us forward, the shroud caught me around the neck, the boat nearly turtled and then came up on it's side. Pretty violent way to go over, and I can't imagine how it would've gone if my crew was on the trapeze. The force of the sudden stop actually snapped the cleat off of my mainsheet blocks. We got the boat back upright fine, I was actually very surprised at how easily it came back up.

So I guess my question is, what could I have done to prevent it? There really wasn't much time to release any sheets, as soon as the bow dug we were going over. It was a hell of a ride up until then, a lot of fun if not a bit frightening. That's a lot of wind for a Hobie, and my crew and I are light weight. Also on that note, is there a safer way to go about sailing in these conditions? How does the crew avoid going into the mast or boom on the trapeze when the worst happens (capsize or pitchpole)? What about a way to prevent going into the shrouds? I was a bit worried for a minute there; my neck & jaw was pretty well bruised afterward.

Also, about the shrouds. I bought new ones recently, but they didn't fit. I hear that now I need a 10 hole adjuster, in place of the older 7 hole adjuster. Why the change? The parts guide still lists part 20830010 (7 hole adjuster) as the appropriate part for the shroud adjuster on an 18, is that incorrect?

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Mike
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'79 H18 standard 'Rocketman II' sail #14921


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:53 am 
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Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 10:25 am
Posts: 2618
Location: Jersey Shore
The only thing you can really do is dump sheets and steer downwind to lessen the chance of pitchpoling. Its a little counterintuitive at first as you may be tempted to round upwind in a puff, however this will almost certainly lead to the boat capsizing on its side.

Downwind in a blow, I will typically be sitting just in front of or on top of the rear crossbar with the crew right in front of me. Feet are under the hiking straps to prevent being thrown forward or overboard. If the crew is on the wire, I recommend installing a sissy cord to give them something to hold to prevent being thrown forward. I often will steer directly from the tiller crossbar with the hot stick trailing behind and I may even lean my upper body aft in the puffs. If its really windy, you may consider rolling up the jib. Its also important to pull up the dagger boards about half way to help prevent capsizing. Otherwise, hold on and enjoy the ride!

sm


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:50 am
Posts: 380
Wow, 21-30 is pretty big! I'm glad everybody is ok and you were able to easily right the boat. I have never messed with this setting and there are a lot of people here like SM who are far more experienced than me, but in theory I believe you could have loosened your diamond wires on shore to induce more mast bend which moves the draft aft. Obviously you're cranking hard on the downhaul as well given the extra rake you were running and the high winds. On some boats you can rake the spreader arms back as well but there's not much adjustment available on the H18 arms (mine are permanently set all the way back - does anybody play with these?).


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:36 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 3:15 pm
Posts: 124
Location: Buffalo, NY
It was a lot of fun, I just didn't see the pitchpole coming. I had the diamond wires loosened up to the point where I could press them to the mast 24" up. I wouldn't have thought that falling off would prevent a pitchpole, but I guess it would stall the sail and reduce lift. Not sure how raising the dagger boards halfway would prevent a capsize though, I thought that was just to reduce drag?

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Mike
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'79 H18 standard 'Rocketman II' sail #14921


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:00 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 10:25 am
Posts: 2618
Location: Jersey Shore
Turning downwind allows the bouyancy of both bows counter the pitchpole force, rather than just one bow. It can also stall the sails which reduces power.

Pulling the boards up lets the boat slip sideways rather than tripping over the boards. Definitely pull them up going down wind in a blow.

sm


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:40 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:36 pm
Posts: 184
I learned a lot about sailing downwind this year at 18 nationals. Winds were... rather excessive most of the time. That instinct to steer upwind in a puff to dump power is hard to fight going downwind, the other thing goes with the debate between traveler all the way out or halfway out for sailing downwind. My understanding is that if you have the traveler all the way out and moderate sheet, you will harness more power, but if you travel out half way and sheet out more, you get a twist to your main that will allow the mainsail to dump some wind in a strong puff. If you are sailing downwind and trying to get max power, travel out and if you are concerned about depowering or you find the wind forcing you to turn up with big puffs, travel to the hiking strap and sheet out more.

The other thing, is that you don't want to sheet out in a puff going downwind. Your sail will fill up and power up more and surge you forward, steering downwind and sheeting/traveling in, will allow your sail to dump more wind(relatively).

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Tom
Fleet 259, Central Coast CA
H18 ('81)
H18 ('85)
H20 ('97)
H18 ('78)


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2013 7:44 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 2:15 pm
Posts: 1090
Location: Oakland, CA
And sometimes you're just toast, especially in high winds like that.

If getting off the water isn't an option, then what everyone else wrote: tighten the main traveler a bit, tighten the main sheet a bit, furl the jib, steer downwind, try to avoid a gybe.

The safest place for the skipper a pitchpole? That is a stunt I have not deliberately practiced, but holding onto the rear crossbar works, however the nature of a pitchpole is sudden so good luck with your reaction time. The safest place for the crew? Holding onto the skipper and hoping the skipper's grip on the rear crossbar holds.

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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:40 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:19 pm
Posts: 357
Location: San Diego
I almost pitch-poled a few weeks ago while trapping off the wings. I was flying a hull pretty high when it happened and I ended up falling and hitting the bridles on my right side just above my hip. I hit the bridles hard enough to tear my harness and leave black marks on the harness from where the plastics fused to the cloth. I had a terrible bruise on my side for a couple weeks, it hurt to twist.

The lee ward wing had hit the water which slowed me down a little, which caused me to take a step forward while trapping out, which caused the lee ward hull to dig, which slowed me down, which made me take two steps forward, which made it dig more. I ended up falling 5-7 feet off the front of the wings and hit the bridles while the windward hull was high in the air, the boat ended up on its side.

I loved every minute of it, When I came out of the water I had a (censored) eating grin.

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ALLEY CAT 1984 RED LINE HOBIE 18 MAGNUM
Sail # 10505 or 277
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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 8:28 am
Posts: 748
Location: Clinton Lake, KS
Check out this photo sequence shot in Dallas at Mid America's... The Sailor is one of Fleet 297's (Lawrence KS) own... (he is currently working on starting a Hobie fleet in A-stan).

How many guys could pitch a H18 upwind... Mark can... :lol:

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https://www.facebook.com/HobieFleet297


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:48 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:38 pm
Posts: 225
Location: Roswell, GA - USA
I have never pitchpoled the H18, it has a lot of buoyancy up front. I have had it right on the edge before and it can be a little scary. I have the SX wings that allow me to sit almost even with the back end of the boat so that helps. For the original poster, once it goes down deep, it is probably too late to do anything but hold on, glad you are OK.
The photo sequence is great by the way.


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:41 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2005 6:29 pm
Posts: 2096
Location: High Point, NC
"The only thing you can really do is dump sheets and steer downwind to lessen the chance of pitchpoling. Its a little counterintuitive at first as you may be tempted to round upwind in a puff, however this will almost certainly lead to the boat capsizing on its side."

...........

This is excellent advice. Turn under the mast, which is always going to be downwind.

The only thing is that once your rudder/s is out of the water, turning is no longer possible. I would say that is the point of no return. Nothing else you can do except hang on and see whether the boat will continue over, or sit back down.


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:42 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 8:28 am
Posts: 748
Location: Clinton Lake, KS
Quote:
The only thing is that once your rudder/s is out of the water, turning is no longer possible


Ask Dean Barker about that! :shock: (America's Cup)


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:54 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:58 pm
Posts: 179
Location: SE Michigan / NE Indiana
I've only PP'd my H18 twice, and it was on the same day. Had 3 on the boat with two just in front of the rear beam and my son trapping off the back. Wind was strong to begin with and then a really big gust hit us. Rudder ventilated as I tried to steer down to depower, and it was all physics after that. My son ended up about 20 feet in front of the boat, tinkerbell fashion. Fortunately, it was in 80° water and nobody was hurt. All fun and laughs as we righted it, only to do it again about 15 minutes later.

Looking back, I've often wondered how we could have avoided it. The transition was too quick to reattach flow - by then the lee bow had solidly dug in and it was all over. The key seems to be avoiding the rudder ventilation in the first place. Maybe rake the mast forward a bit more? A bit tighter on the jib? Maybe I kept the boat too flat with 3 on the windward side - should I have allowed the boat to heel more to depower?

I've yet to experience this phenomenon on my F18 with the spinnaker up. That's why I think its a center of pressure balance issue and not solely too much wind.

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Jeff R
'88 H18 Jolly Mon
'10 F18 Closely Called
Sail Michigan's Great Lakes in 2014
cramsailing.com


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:41 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:36 pm
Posts: 184
Sometimes you need to sheet out to turn down... I haven't experienced that on a broad reach, but it sounds like phenomenon that occurs when you're not paying attention during a weathermark rounding in big wind. Everything is sheeted in, but the boat won't turn down without traveling out. If you turn and sheet/travel out, you can maintain speed and control. It seems if you travel out and keep your main sheet tight, you'll harness more power than slight traveler and more mainsheet out. However if your rudders fail, the power is useless.


Sooooo maybe try to dump some mainsheet and turn down next time. Also make sure to keep the weight at the stern. I've buried my leeward hull past the tramp, standing on the shroud and holding the rudder castings, and managed to fall back down (and not lose my place in the race!) Never gonna happen on a 16, but the 18s are quite buoyant up front!

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Tom
Fleet 259, Central Coast CA
H18 ('81)
H18 ('85)
H20 ('97)
H18 ('78)


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 Post subject: Re: Pitchpoled!
PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:21 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:58 pm
Posts: 179
Location: SE Michigan / NE Indiana
Good point regarding the traveler. After sailing a buddies Nacra F18 (older design with small high aspect ratio rudders) for several regattas last year, I'm now very judicious with the traveler when rounding the windward mark. Not sure I had that in my skill-set when the above mentioned PP's happened. I'd be reluctant to sheet out in those conditions as that would open the top of the sail to the wind and make the situation worse.

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Jeff R
'88 H18 Jolly Mon
'10 F18 Closely Called
Sail Michigan's Great Lakes in 2014
cramsailing.com


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