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Sailing a Solo as a Lightweight Sailor

By Steve Cockerill 31st January 2023

I have always thought of myself as a lightweight whilst racing the Solo.  In 2022 I was 74Kg which was not the lightest or heaviest I have been over my 35 years of Solo sailing.    

Actually the Solo is quite forgiving for lightweights, since height to windward is not as compromised in the Solo as it would be in say a Laser or Aero once you start using the vang to de power.  In fact the other advantage is that Solo's don't generally go well in foot mode upwind (bow down).  Height is king in the Solo fleet which makes the shifts drive the tactics around the course.   

The issues for a lightweight is when waves come into play.  Its then that you need a combination of a boat with an optimum distribution of the hull's weight and some waves sailing skills.  I was even keen to reduce the weight of the rig with a lighter weight forestay and carbon battens.   As the boat is in the transition from bow down to bow up (the gap between the waves ) its then that a short stab away from you with the tiller will help lighten the bow, reducing the impact of the crest, which also allows you to enjoy the apparent wind lift lift due to the rig moving slower than the hull.   The rudder in push mode with a little heel sinks the transom to lift the bow. - and when pulled, lifts the transom and stops the bow from taking off the top of the wave.   One really needs to get the bow to stick to the back face of a wave to begin the journey back up the next wave.      Check out these techniques explained in more detail on the Boat Whisperer DVDs - Upwind (digital download version). 

Gear wise:  I liked the Winder Mk1 and the Boatyard at Beer designs after coming second in both of them,  but I have tried a couple of not so hot designs before stepping into the Boon/Ovi/Rooster/Ginger (you know what I mean) which was fast out of the blocks in 2022, however,  yet another second!   

I am a fan of the D+ mast (no sleeve).  Perhaps its behaviour when vang sheeting that makes it so unique and my first choice.  In the past I have let the shrouds go a little, but in 2022 I used the standard set up and was fast upwind and downwind in the light and in the breeze.   

Taxi's HD design was a standard cut sail used on 6001 and behaved flawlessly throughout the range of conditions. 

P.S. 6001 is for sale to a good home.