Silver Rudder 2022
A short story long.
We start all the way back in April 2021, when I ordered our new Aeolos P30.
It was originally supposed to have been delivered in September 2021. But a lot of delays in first building the boat which primarily stemmed from delivery problems of many parts and a constant refining/optimization of the boat during the building. Then a transport hell that lasted from May to September before the boat was in the EU.
My starting signal for this year’s SilverRudder already went off in Copenhagen on Monday 5. of September, 13 days before the start in Svendborgsund.
First in a drive from Copenhagen to Pauger Mast in Hungary. There I got the 2-part mast on the roof of the car on Tuesday morning. From there the trip went towards Genoa, where the boat had arrived on a ro/ro ferry a week before. The Italian customs officers spent the whole of Wednesday and Thursday morning wresting the boat out. Only after midday on Thursday could the course be set north. Arrival in Copenhagen on Friday afternoon. Now less than a week until the start.
The boat was worked on intensively from Friday to Saturday afternoon, after which we drove it to Thurø and launched on Saturday evening.
Sunday and Monday were spent rigging and a very temporary installation of the NKE electronics.
First short trip on the water Tuesday afternoon with a few potential customers. In more than 20 knots tws there was plenty to see.
On Wednesday we got a few hours on the water in even higher windspeed. But we got so much peace on board, so there was an opportunity to fly the small asym of 80 square meters. The boat went easily and effortlessly 13-14 knots at twa around 140. Set and drop were practiced a few times alone. Then it’s learned 🙂
Upwind we were somewhat overloaded with canvas. We probably should have taken a reef or two, but it wasn’t rigged yet. Despite a heeling of 25-30 degrees in the gusts, the boat was in fine balance. Completely without rudder pressure, it continued straight in the gusts.
Thursday morning another short trip on the water with Helle. Again, more than 20 knots tws. Not the ideal conditions for autopilot, rig and sail tuning. But it is as it is, and the start is tomorrow. The last small adjustments were ready at 16:00. One hour before the skipper’s meeting.
I couldn’t have came to this point without a lot of help from especially Hans Genthe, but also from the local support team of Dorthe O. / Anders + Riggerne and not to forget Helle (my beautiful wife)
Start at 10:30 again in fresh conditions, gusting at 30 knots, slightly open wind angle. With a little more practice, a jiib 0 would be suitable, but I limited myself to jib and full mainsail (which became the only sails up all the way to Rantzausminde) There was a countercurrent of 1 knot at the start, but everyone kept strangely enough away from the starting line. It left plenty of room for me and I got a perfect start, free wind and lots of speed.
It is a moment of truth that both I and the entire Silverrudder community have been waiting for so long. Does it stand still in the sea, or can it move when it is set up next against other competitive boats?
Half an hour later, the answer was clear: It can move 🙂
I was somewhat unsure if my autopilot was properly tuned and decided to hand steer as much as possible. Going on deck to set flying sails up towards the Great Belt Bridge was not an option in fresh conditions with the 30 knot tws in the gusts. The boat flew off in very fine balance at 10-14 knots. Unbelievable to feel the boat even in the strongest gusts and with great heeling, didn’t get lumpy, but balanced nicely on the rudder without pressure.
The two front Dehler 30 OD, were sailed nicely and seasoned and passed me before the bridge with respectively A5 and Code 0. A handful of Seascape 27 could go a bit further under in the bridge and thus got a nice lead.
The wind decreased to 10 knots in Kerteminde Bay and turned to the north. The light air suited the beast very well. At Lillegrund the wind had again turned to the west, but I had moved forward to second place of all the boats. Only Max Gurgel was in front in his Dehler 30. It should be possible to catch him up at the light conditions towards Æbelø. Unfortunately, the wind built up to 20 knots as it turned north again. It gave an unpleasant stop sea right against the starboard tack. Not only to Æbelø, but all the way to Fredericia. I didn’t have an answer to that with the few hours in the boat. The result was a far too great loss of distance to the leaders. It was not made any easier by the wind, log and echosounder falling, while the autopilot also lost its perception of reality at irregular intervals. A bit like fencing blindly in the dark night.
So, despite the very open wind angle from Stenderup Hage all the way to Svendborg, the Code and nylonsails had to stay in the bag.
The boat speed was between 8-13 knots. It’s a shame just to be able to watch a handful of competitors coming up from behind the sails with spinnakers and disappear beyond the horizon in front of me.
Lurking in the back of my head was a remark that Andreaz Mihelin made during the live streaming from the start and that Helle (the world’s best shorecrew) had conveyed to me: “Jan Hansen not being the youngest guy, will have his hands full in this complicated boat. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t make it around Fyn” Harsh and honest words from a good sailor like Andreaz, but good motivation to just get to the course in slowmode.
At Lehnskov, the wind dropped to around 4-6 knots and the countercurrent was 1-2 knots.
To sail on without a spinnaker would be hopeless, so I manege to fly the little chicken chute at 80 sq.m.
In the thin air, I have never seen a boat sail so fast. The closest boats aft quickly became smaller and those in front larger. A really good feeling of pressure in the boat.
After a few jiibes I got around the ferries and a bridge to the reach the finish line at 07:24. Just under 21 hours of sailing under my belt, but I felt as tired as a 64 year old man
What have I learned:
There is a lot more to be gained in lighter conditions with a deeper trim on the mainsail (softer topbattens and straighter mast). Better jib trim, it was a little too high at the clew. Choose a bigger kite on the way to the finish line.
In strong winds, I just need a few more hours on the water and a better installation of the electronics.
The Beast and I will probably become good friends in the coming seasons. It just needs to learn who’s the boss.
We’ll get to it all next week.