How does the BETH sailing canoe go in mixed fleets and handicap racing?

There are certainly a lot of pages on the net that “say” how well their boat performs.  Sometimes it is hard to get around the imaginings of the designer 🙂  More info about BETH sailing canoe from the designer here.  Regular club racing is one way to separate the walk from the talk.

The designer in this case (me) is quick to point out that traditional rigs bear no big disadvantage if they are set up properly and the lessons of the past 100+ years of racing boat development are not ignored – except for the one bit that should be ignored … the passing off of new much more expensive materials as “innovation”

The real innovations can be applied to anything with significant results.  Whereas expensive materials might add a few percentage points of performance.

The designer needs to focus on providing information to ensure

  1. Accurate foils – rudder and centreboard
  2. Light stiff hull – in dinghies 8 or 10 lbs per foot of length should be easily achievable
  3. Correct sparring (mast, yard etc) to make the sails work automatically to power up and depower as the wind eases or strengthens.

But I received an email from Andrew Barclay who races his BETH sailing canoe in a mixed club fleet on yardstick.

Here are his comments.

Hi Mik,

It’s coming up on a year since I launched my beth sailing canoe and this spring I started racing in a mixed fleet under a portsmouth handicap. I’d be very interested in hearing some of your experience racing your boat (which I think you did a bit of?)

We had discussed ratings previously and you’d recommended going with a laser radial, which is I believe about 96 on our scale (a standard laser is 91.1). I mistakenly went for a standard laser handicap, and after some discussion with my fleet captain ended up with the 92.6 of an enterprise, of which we have a couple.
Beth sailing canoe heading upwind with yachts in the background. A lug rig can point.
You had once said that with your  “better than average skills” you could keep up with a standard laser: do you mean that your skills being better than the laser sailor you could keep up? As in generally the laser is the faster boat? One of these days I’ll borrow a laser to see how I do in comparison.
Lasers shoot above their level because of the excellent sailors they attract and the level of handling development.  The top guys (and gals) are very very good at pushing the boat to the maximum and will totally outclass the normal recreational sailor.  A really big gap in ability.  I think BETH is slower around a course that includes beam reaching in planing conditions because you just can’t develop as much hiking out power to keep the boat flat and planing.  But upwind not too bad and downwind is always competitive and more.
Beth Sailing Canoe moving right along. ARticle on regular club racing of a yawl rigged canoe -
I’m finding that on good days racing at my club I’ll finish around with the Bytes which rate similar to a laser radial, which would make your initial suggestion spot on.
I find that upwind on a good day I’m marginally slower than the Bytes and as long as there is a reasonable wind (5kt) I’m usually slightly faster downwind than the lasers. Of course in a good breeze (10kt+) I’m definitely faster downwind, but unfortunately around here that’s only happened once so far this season (we’ve been racing weekly since the start of April).
That’s much the same as my experience.
Any suggestions for improving speed in light airs? I try to use minimal downhaul to keep the sails as full as possible but find that you need a reasonable amount to keep the boom from slopping around. I’m considering trying the main loose-footed to give me more control. I think it would hurt the bendy spars to spill wind aspect, but considering the overwhelmingly light conditions might be worth it.
Yes .. the bottom third of the mainsail should have reasonable depth – I would aim at a 1 in 10 camber along a line parallel with the foot of the sail but a about 18 inches (450mm) up from the boom.
The loose foot might allow you to achieve this better.  I am not sure if you are using battens, but I tried the boat with and without battens (there is no roach to support) and it was faster without.
If going loose footed you might need a stiffer boom.  It needs to be light so a T section timber or box section timber would make the most sense.
Also where you sit is really important.  In the light stuff if you cram forward and heel the boat about 10 degrees or a bit more it can lift a lot of the windward side of the back end out of the water – because the square sections at the bow don’t really sink as much as a more veed conventional boat.  It takes a bit of playing with.  But once you have reliable speed you should bring it upright and move into the normal upwind position of being over or just behind the butt strap in the bottom.

I’ve attached a photo of me sailing at a good clip. It’s sure a fun boat in a breeze!

Beth sailing canoe heading downwind with little fuss in British Columbia - article on fleet racing BETH.


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2 thoughts on “How does the BETH sailing canoe go in mixed fleets and handicap racing?

  1. […] involved in weekly club racing.  I did an article on my website a couple of weeks ago about how a BETH sailing canoe sails about equal with club level Laser Radials in weekly […]

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