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Old Ensigns Shouldn't Die

Published: Thursday, 08 May 2014 16:41 

Old Ensigns Shouldn't Die

by Neil Greenstein

My experience with Ensigns may be of interest and helpful to others. My first Ensign, Jangee, 458, was tuned with tight headstay and uppers, and I successfully raced her with Fleet 9 during the 1964 season and did fairly well in the Nationals. After the season, I moved and sold the boat. I returned to Long Island in 1970, eventually crewed on Ensigns for three years and finally bought No. 40—which I also named Jangee— at the end of 1978. Her recent racing record had not been good, but I felt that with a little work, we could make her go.

During the winter, we completely overhauled her. We took her down and sprayed her completely with polyurethane, installed new sheets, rudder and teak, had the blocks rechromed, etc., etc., etc.—a complete face lifting. When we re-rigged her, we set her up tight—pretty much as outlined in the 1979 Yearbook. One problem was that no matter how far forward we slid the mast at the step, the mast still came through the partners with a forward lean. We redrilled and threaded the base plate to give an additional two inches of forward adjustment. We only pushed the mast forward at the step about an inch, because the headstay would not allow the top of the mast to go any further back. Our mast was also bending under compression and had a slight *S' shape to it.

We could not make her move and were finishing in the back of the fleet during the early part of the 1979 season. We felt new sails were in order and ordered them from Shore Sails; they were delivered the second week in August. We showed a slight improvement, but pointing and boat speed were poor.

At this point we called Pearson, and they suggested checking for water accumulation in the bow. We removed some of the flotation from under the cuddy bunks and drilled into the bottom of the plywood bulkhead.—No Water. Thinking the flotation might be soaking wet we cut a 12" x 12" hole in the bulkhead and checked. Bone Dry.

Having eliminated just about everything, I called "Moose" McClintock (National Champion) at Shore Sails—told him my problems—and he said he'd come down to sail with us on Saturday, September 15th. At that time we had still not been able to stay with the fleet.

When he came down he checked our mast and decided to retune. He maintained we were rigged too tight and that the mast leaned forward too much. We put spacers on the headstay and slid the bottom forward another inch. We loosened everything up and just hand tightened the uppers and forward lowers. The aft lowers were left very loose. Moose said the leeward shrouds should go limp in about 5-8 knots of wind. When he finished, the mast was absolutely straight because of the reduction in compression. The back stay was tightened to produce about 2" bend for the 15-knot winds that day.

Well, off we went with me at the tiller and Moose as one of the crew. He explained how to trim the sails—namely, top batten parallel with the boom and let the main backwind. Well, we pointed beautifully and had so much boat speed that we won the race by a large margin over the 10 other boats. Needless to say, any thoughts of the boat being a clunker were washed out of our minds when Moose showed us that she could move.

The moral of the story is that you should never neglect any aspect that might make your boat move. Evidently a "new face lift", new sails and an experienced Ensign sailor were not enough. I had her tuned wrong and probably trimmed her incorrectly. In any event, it feels fine to be "tuned in" to the "loosen her up" theory when tuning. Hope this helps some of you. Good Sailing.

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