PNW Olson 30 Class Association

How to on the Olson 30

Deck Layout for Bouy Racing

contributed by Alex Krawarik

Though Orcrist is not one of the top PNW boats, we've come a long way in the last few years making the boat more competetive with the better local boats as a yardstick. Because the focus in the Pacific Northwest is primarily on bouy racing and some moderate distance, protected distance racing, deck layouts on local boats are optimized for bouy racing in light to moderate conditions.

The purpose of this article is to introduce some of the basic major concepts behind deck layout for bouy racing. Any benefits gained by an optimized deck layout are realized only with practice, familiarity, quality workmanship, and a good understanding of what you are doing. Ultimately, you and your crew will have to put in many many long hours discovering what works best for you. There is no "right" way to do any of this.

Fundamental Concepts

There are several fundamental concepts that work well for almost all boats we've seen over years. Always keep in mind that any modifications to an existing deck layout are made to make bouy racing easier for the crew and make the boat ultimately faster. The fundamental concepts include:

Make your deck layout clean, clear, and uncluttered

If there is one thing thats annoying as a visiting crewperson on another boat, its a complex, unmarked deck layout. You want to contribute to the team, but when someone says, "blow the genoa halyard!" you can't find it! You have no idea what this line controls, or that line, because they are all run wierd, a cluster, or run inside the boat so you have no idea where anything is.

Make your deck layout clean and unclutterd by getting rid of stuff you do not and will not need to race. For example, when I first bought my boat it had 2 primary winches in the OEM location aft of the genoa tracks, and 4 more small single speed winches on the cabintop, for a total of 6 winches! No one needs this many winches on an Olson 30. In addition,there were camcleats, standard cleats, and Vcleats everywhere. Not everything was well positioned or thought-out. Now, after several years, we have stripped down to the bare essentials: two winches and a few camcleats here and there in critical places.

Make your deck layout clear by marking all your controls with easy and accurate labels. Put labels on your rope clutches, put labels by the camcleats that lets your crew know what the control is. After a few weeks on the boat, the crew will learn the general location for things anyway, but for new crew, visiting crew, and in panic situations labels are important.

Example 1: Lunchbox, owned by Mark Logan, Seattle.

Lunchbox is a great example of a very clean boat. Two primary winches on the cabintop are used both upwind and downwind. The genoa leads are adjustable, but you will notice that Lunchbox has eliminated most of the jib tracks on the deck. This boat sails with a #1 or a #3, and nothing else. Typically in Seattle a #1 will get you through about 80% of the racing all year. There are two large turning blocks aft of the genoa track to turn the genoa sheets to the primary winches (more on this here). The traveller and backstay tensioner are fairly standard. The spinnaker sheet is run in a normal way, through turning blocks all the way aft (you can see one by the yellow horseshoe bouy) and forward again to where they are turned to the primaries on the cabintop. The downhaul is controlled from near the base of the mast, and is attached to some blocks on the front of the mast base. The genoa halyard runs out the starboard rope clutch near the mast base, and the topping lift is right next to it. You will notice no halyards are run aft to the cockpit. All these controls at the mast base make it easier for the foredeck to control things for which they are resonsible: genoa halyard, topping lift, spinnaker halyards, and so on.

Example 2: Enigma, owned by Stuart Burnell, Seattle

Enigma is another great example of a clean layout, with some noticable differences from Lunchbox. You will notice again that there are two primaries, and that much of the genoa track has been stipped from the boat. In this case, the outside track for the #3 has also been removed. This boat will therefore only sail with a #3 closely sheeted, or a #1. Adjustable genoa cars lead to a large turning block that is affixed to the toerail, instead of mounted on the deck. On Orcrist, we use blocks mounted to the deck, but this is personal preference. Notice on Enigma that halyards are led aft. Both Enigma and Lunchbox do a fair bit of Spring distance racing, so this is a personal choice. One thing you will note is that Enigma runs their backstay adjuster through their cockpit drain pipes. Bad Dog does this too. Notice that Enigma has some great webbing hiking straps, and pvc pipe over the toerail to make hiking hard as comfortable as possible.

Make your fordeck and mastman self-sufficient

Its important in bouy racing that the foredeck and mastman control their own desitiny. They will be able to execute mark roundings much easier when they can control the timing of their major sailhanding manouvers, rather than waiting for the pit to respond to verbal or signed commands. The foredeck and mastman execute the following tasks (among others):

  • Jump and hoist genoa at mast
  • Jump and hoist spinnaker at mast
  • Manage spinnaker pole height
  • Douse spinnaker
  • Drop genoa

You will recognise instantly that all these things are pretty key to rounding the bouys. Therefore, don't cripple your crew by making anyone but these two responsible for the controls associated with these tasks. Therefore, the foredeck and mastman must have complete control of

  • The spinnaker halyards
  • The genoa halyard
  • The topping lift

Optinally, they may also be responsible for

  • Adjustments to the outhaul
  • Adjustments to the boom vang
  • Adjustments to the downhaul
  • Adjustments to the cunningham

Thats alot of controls to remember!! Make it easy on them by enabling them to reach all they controls, clutches, and camcleats or Vcleats while standing at the mast. There are many subtle ways to go about doing this, but some generally accepted ways are

Keep upwind weight as high as possible and make trimming efficient

Few competetive boats have not realized the benefits that moving the primaries to the cabintop bring. While the Olson 30 came with primaries mounted aft of the genoa cars, you will find very few of them on racing Olsons in this location today. The benefits are primarily weight related: someone grinding the genoa on a cabintop winch is closer to the center of the boat. After a tack, the weight of that individual is no longer on the low side, rather further to windward. Additionally, the extra leverage a person can get while standing rather than crouching over the winch on the low side is significant. Finally, trimmers can keep their weight centered and forward, key in both light air upwind, and any air downwind. The effect or moving the winches can be more dramatic than you realize!

Moving the winches is easy and takes a day or two of careful preparation. As with anytime you drill holes in your balsa cored deck, you should take extra precautions to make sure the holes do not permit moisture into the boat or core. This is done with epoxy and routering out the old core. Ask if you need more information. Remove the old winch and seal the holes. If the core was rotted underneath the old winch, take some extra time to dry out the core and seal it correctly once the moisture is out.

The winch is removed and the holes cleaned out, dried, and epoxied. Notice the OEM Shaeffer turning block. Its fine in this location, but the core underneath might be wet. Now is a good time to find out and service it if necessary.

Now prepare the cabintop and mount the winch in the new location. The cabintop on my boat was thicker than the original location for the winches, and I was not able to reuse the bolts. Some boats elect to add some nylon backing for the winches in their new location, however I feel that the deck here is strong since it is so close to a corner, and backing shouldnt be required if the core is dry and you prepare your holes correctly. Mount the winches in the new location. Refer to an owners manual to see how the bolt hole pattern should be mounted relative to the direction of the load on the winch. For now, you can use the OEM (Shaeffer) turning blocks or mount some to the toerail (see Enigma). Go sailing and get used to the arrangement.

My Barient 23 self tailer mounted in the new location. You can see places where I have stripped unnecessary deck hardware over the years.

You will find that the trimmers now stay closer to the center of the boat on all points of sail. Upwind, the trimmer trims from the center while the tailer is higher, perhaps even on the rail. Downwind, the trimmers are inboard, behind the bulkhead or even in the companionway. If you are cross-sheeting in light or moderate air, the trimmers can trim from the windward rail. Tacking becomes extremely fast!