Peter Spaulding—Charter Boat Rigging Practice

In England for a week of training, 49er sailors Peter Spaulding and Tim Wadlow get their first case of charter-boat blues.

WEYMOUTH, England–Tim and I arrived in Weymouth on Oct. 4 for a 10-day training session, including two regattas and a week of training with the British Sailing Team. We flew into London, then drove our small rental car to Weymouth, which is located about 150 miles southwest of London. The first regatta was scheduled to start on Saturday, which left us a day and a half to prepare our charter boat for racing.

Preparing a charter boat for world-class racing can be quite a task. We coordinated our charter boat with the British coach, Sparky, during the 49er Worlds in Lake Garda, Italy, in mid-September. We were expecting the owners of the boat, Ian and Harvey, to arrive on Thursday afternoon, but unfortunately they didn’t arrive until 11 a.m. on Friday. When we finally saw the boat we were a bit surprised by its condition. There was a small hole in the bottom, about two feet back from the bow, there were no fittings on the deck (cleats, blocks) and none of the running rigging was rigged. Tim and I had planned on doing a fair amount of boat work to prepare our charter boat, but we immediately felt a little overwhelmed by the project ahead.

We started with the hole in the bottom. Luckily the fiberglass wasn’t too damaged, and we were able to make a reasonably quick repair. We then flipped the boat upright and began to install all the required fittings. At about 2 p.m. our sails and equipment arrived with the British coach. We’d packed our sails and lines in the British coach boat at the Worlds. Once we had our lines we began rigging the boat and the mast to our liking. A mid-afternoon rain began to fall, but thanks to a large shed in the sailing center we were able to continue working without getting too wet.


In the shed, Tim set up the vang and downhaul systems while I replaced the trapeze wires and halyards. It’s important that we use our own systems on the boat to make it more like ours once it’s rigged. When these systems were complete we began working on the centerboard trunk. The centerboard needs to fit snugly into the trunk. To get a good fit we had to remove the existing spacers, and replace them with spacers that fit our centerboard.

By 7 p.m. on Friday, the boat was ready to race. Although it had taken all day to prepare our boat, we were satisfied with the end result.

On Saturday morning the wind was blowing 25 to 30 knots. The race committee postponed for a few hours and then abandoned for the day because the wind wind. Sunday was the same story, too much wind to race. So we’re ready to race, if only the storm will calm down.


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