By Philippe Galland
I bought Augustine, Romilly n°7, (a Dartington boat built in 1996) from a guy in Saint Malo. I usually sail single handed. I quickly discovered some hurdle in leaving the tiller and jump on the foredeck to fix a pole, even with an autopilot. Anyway, autopilots don’t like broad reach or run situation, particularly in choppy water like the Gironde Estuary where Augustine and me are based. So I decided to change the sail plan for a boom version and ask Ed Burnett for a new sail plan.
As Nigel Irens says in his article about boom, boom sail plan presents a problem on the “bad” (starboard) tack. Without having (by very far) the same technical know how I realised that the sail had a “bad shape” on the starboard tack and was not pleased about it. Looking back to the Nigel Irens original (without boom) sail plan, we see that the tack of the main is fixed precisely at the foot of the mast, reducing to almost zero the “before the mast” part of the sail.
We can also seek advice from the tradition. I have got a small book edited by the “CHASSE-MARÉE”: “GUIDE DE LA MANŒUVRE DES PETITS VOILIERS TRADITIONNELS”. (a very nice little book with plenty of illustrations you can buy on www.chasse-maree.com ). We can see there that a lot of solutions have been used in different countries or times.
When you’ve got some part of the sail before the mast, it’s called a balanced lug. If the tack is at the foot of the mast, it’s a standing lug. Both solution have been used with or without boom. On the balanced lug, «l’usage était de gambeyer sur les longs bords». It means that they use to change the side where the gaff was hauled to avoid the “bad tack situation” («la mauvaise main» in French).
We cannot do that on a Romilly which argues in favor of the standing lug.
Whatever, nobody forbade us to put a boom on a standing lug, or modify the Ed Burnett sail plan by sliding the down haul right at the fore end of the boom.
I finally did that this season.
I’ve not sailed a lot yet with this disposition, but it seems to work beautifully, even if I have to valid it through actual tests. If I encounter any problem anyhow, it’s very easy to go backward: just slide the down haul back.
BOOM ON A RUN
Originally I decided to fix a boom on my Romilly because the use of a pole on a broad reach or a run is practically impossible when single handed.
Then I promptly discovered that a boom in downwind situation was not, at first, such a good solution: as you bear away, the sheet becomes unable to control the vertical position of the boom. The boom raises too much, oscillates dangerously up and down, the sail “closes” and the boat runs sometimes out of control.
I’m sure that all of you encountered this problem, and I’m curious to learn the solutions you’ve found.
In the little book I just talked about, they say that, on the “canot à misaine” going downwind, Briton sailors pulled the tack of the sail windward, seizing it on the gunwale of the canot.
How can we do that on a Romilly?
First and easy things are to release throat parrel and down-haul. These two actions arrange things somehow, allowing the boom to slide windward. The gaff also become more horizontal.
To go further we should arrange a sort of boom-vang to prevent the boom lifting too high.
How can we achieve that with the mast at the bow?
I decided to try something using what we have, and seizing two blocks on the front fairleads with textile shackles. Then we can fix a sort of twin boom-vang, running from the first third of the boom to the two blocks on either side of the mast, and back to the winches (now unused because of the boom situation).
Each side of the twin boom-vang is obviously used on a different tack, the other being released.
With the boom vang in place, the downwind situation is far better. The boom practically horizontal, the sail looks already more like a square sail. The centre of propulsion goes back toward the mast, insuring a more secure movement.
It remains that the port tack is better than the starboard, but the boom-vang has another decisive advantage: it works as a “retenue de bôme” (how you say that in English, I don’t know) which prevents any accidental gybing.
On a reach boom-vang is also useful in limiting the twist of the sail. There also, tests are to be made this summer to see how it works.
The originality of the Nigel Irens design comes from the fact that he translated traditional designs using modern tools. As a consequence he transformed the design itself. I’ve always been struck by the fact that, compared with traditional luggers, the Roxane and Romilly sails appears to have been vertically elongated as reflected by the “funny mirrors” of the amusement park. Carbon mast and spar allow that, plus the cast iron centre board, giving us a far better power output from the sail.
Then the way we use the boats have to be adapted too. All the solutions do not exist yet, and we have to add some. Then we’ll obviously make mistakes and have to be corrected by our experience or the one of others. That’s why this blog is such a great idea.
I hope that the solutions described here will be rapidly outdated (if they’re are not already) by better ones. And I’m very curious to see how.