Table of Contents
At their Annual General Meeting on 15th January 2000, the Wanderer Class Owners Association approved a resolution increasing the maximum power of the kicker from the previous 6: 1 to a more powerful 12:1.
The change was brought in after consultation with the builders, Anglo Marine Services of Essex, sailmakers Dolphin, Hood and MacNamara, spar makers, Selden, and RYA Technical Manager, Ken Kershaw. It is supported by the designers, Proctor Partnership. The move is based on principles of good seamanship and aims to help less experienced and less physically powerful crews. No major technical problems are foreseen, and there are no significant cost implications.
Hopefully the change will enhance the ease of handling for both racing and cruising, without affecting the one-design ethos, and will encourage more sailors to try this safe and stable fourteen footer for cruising, racing or just pottering about. The simplest form of the new kicker is a cascade system cleated at the mast, but existing 3:1 or 6:1 systems can be easily modified. Controls can also be led aft.
There is no need to make any changes at all if you are happy with your existing kicker.
- Convert your existing 6:1 kicker to 12:1 as shown in the upper picture on the back of “The Wanderer” issue 60, or
- Abandon the existing gear and go for the cascade system shown in the lower picture.
- One wire strop 37 inches made up length.
- One extra mast attachment, part No. 057071 (Proctor), to be fitted 2 inches (50 mm) abovethe existing one.
- Appropriate shackles & rivets. For the mast attachment ¼ in. rivets are recommended, which may require a heavy-duty manual rivet gun.
- Two single blocks, HA4178 or similar. (HA indicates Holt Allen parts).
- One single block with becket, HA4093 or similar.
- One double block with jam cleat, HA4165 or similar.
- Extra mast attachment as above.
- Appropriate shackles and rivets.
- 12 feet of 5mm line.
We suggest you abandon the 4:1 and go for the 12:1 cascade. Conversion from your existing 4:1 to 12:1 is possible, but almost as expensive as going for the cascade.
Dolphin, McNamara and Hood have indicated that there is no problem with racing sails, but that in future cruising sails will be slightly strengthened at the clew and at the after reef point. Dolphin have indicated that the marginal cost increase will be in the region of £16 at 1999 prices. They are, however, currently reviewing their overall price list.
The change is not intended to encourage people to pull the kicker on unnecessarily hard, but to give greater ease of control. However if you decide to make the change to 12:1 and you have any concerns about your existing cruising sails, we suggest you consult your sailmaker. All approved Wanderer sailmakers have been advised of the change.
If you have a steel centreboard and your highfield lever is fitted above the kicker attachment point, Anglo Marine advise that you lead the jib halyard through the left hand sheave at the bottom of the mast, rather than the centre one. (i.e. swop over main and jib halyards). This will minimise the slightly unkind lead caused by the addition of a second attachment point.
Leading the control line aft is a good idea, and is permitted in the class rules. It can be done either with a single central control line, or control lines led to either side of the thwart, port and starboard. The latter enables the kicker to be adjusted by the helm or crew without having to come in to the middle of the boat.
The basic idea is to lead the control line(s) to block(s) fitted to the aft end of the mast step, and thence through stainless steel lined deck bush(es) in the forward face of the centreboard case. From there a single control line may be led to a cleat under the after side of the thwart or the after part of the centreboard casing. Dual controls are led to blocks fixed to the floorboards, port and starboard, beneath the thwart close to the centreboard casing. Thence they go to cleats fixed to the after side of the thwart on either side.
A 6:1 kicker with triple blocks is easily led aft if only one central control line is used. To lead this type of kicker aft with port and starboard control lines is slightly more complex.
A 12:1 cascade can more easily be led aft with either a central or port and starboard control lines. The exact requirements will vary depending on your kicker set up, and it is worth getting advice before going ahead. Some methods of leading aft can avoid the necessity of an extra kicker attachment point.
What on Earth is it For?
Across the top of the Wanderers transom is a track on which runs the traveller car to which the mainsheet is attached. Control lines lead from either side of the traveller to cleats on the vertical surface of the side deck. Most of us never touch the traveller, but in certain conditions it can be very helpful. In medium winds it can simply be left amidships. Set it and forget it. But when it blows up, and also when the wind is below force 1, the traveller can be a real help.
In a blow, there comes a point when, going to windward with both helm and crew hiking out hard, there is more power than you can handle. In passing I should mention that when the wind blows it is essential to keep both sails flat and sheeted hard, and to point as close to the wind as you can, even to the point where the inner telltales start to flicker. The closer you point, without losing drive of course, the sooner you will get where you are going. Also, the closer you point the less sideways force the wind exerts on the boat, and the easier it is to keep her upright.
But to get back to the traveller. You will already have pulled the kicker, outhaul and cunningham on hard, removed all but one small chock, and slightly raised your centreboard. But there is still too much power and you are forced to ease the mainsheet. As you ease the sheet, the sail starts to flog, the slot between main and jib is closed, and the boat starts losing speed and control. The downward tension is removed from the end of the boom, allowing it to lift, even with the kicker on hard. This causes the mainsail to lose shape and become fuller the last thing you need in a blow!
However, if you release the traveller control line on both sides and allow the traveller to slide out towards the corner of the transom, you will find you can still sheet in hard, but without pulling the boom amidships. The sail is still nice and flat just the shape you need – and because the end of the boom is off the centreline there is less sideways pressure on the boat. She will be noticeably easier to keep upright and driving. The harder it blows, the further out you should let the traveller. (I have my transom track marked at , , and of the distance from the centre on either side). No need to adjust the traveller controls on tacking, just let it slide from side to side as you tack. The picture shows Mark and myself going to windward in about force 4 at last years Whitstable Open. The traveller has been eased about one third, and the main and jib are sheeted in hard. Note the diagonal crease in the main.
In light airs the situation is reversed. To make the mainsail work well when close-hauled, the air must be able to flow smoothly off the back edge of the sail (the leech), and the upper part of the sail needs to be twisted off. But to achieve this shape, as well as letting the kicker right off, you have to ease the sheet. This lets the boom move outwards, which closes the slot between main and the jib. The jib then also has to be eased, and you can no longer sail close to the wind. This time the answer is to pull the traveller right up to windward. The mainsheet can then be eased, allowing the boom to lift while keeping it close to the centreline of the boat. The slot is restored, the top of the mainsail is twisted off, the jib can be set correctly, and you creep through the fleet in practically no wind to the amazement of all! The snag comes when you need to tack, and in these conditions good roll-tacking technique is essential. The windward traveller control must be released, and as the boat is pulled (gently) upright on the new tack, the traveller is again pulled up to windward.
It is worth noting that the traveller control cleats as supplied in earlier boats are not very easy to adjust. Porter Brothers have corrected this anomaly and have fitted easily adjustable cam cleats. Conversion is not a difficult task. It also helps to lead the lines a few feet further forward. My traveller cleats are positioned just aft of the helmsmans bottom when sitting out.