Bailers, what a drag…

Before many regattas, I walk around the boat park seeing sailors polishing boat bottoms with PTFE, etc. to go faster!?

However, these same sailors will open a bailer or both when it’s windy and leave them open all day. (Many of these sailors use a leech tension gauge without measuring how much their sails have shrunk–that’s just funny and I love to bring it up). If you’ve ever caught weed on the rudder while doing some speed burns in training, you know how catastrophic it can be to boat speed. Now, look at the projected area of the bailer while open. It should be easy to visualize the impact. So, why just open it and forget it? On most of my boats, for the last 50 or so years, I’ve attached a line to the bailers to be able to pull them up closed quickly. That still required “going in” to open the bailers again when necessary. Around 1980 something, I saw a lever system in use on Derek Mess’ Vanguard allowing remote control of the bailers from a hiking position. I started rigging up systems for myself since then.

My latest system replaces the plastic grate on the supermax bailers with a machined plastic (UV protected HDPE to be exact), a lever to open and close the bailer. Some people ask if it slows water egress. It does not as the bailer’s gate is only 13/16″ square (remember high-school science class — the smallest part of the funnel restricts flow). One of many things in our tricky sport that makes you say, “umm”.

By Coach D> 7 x Finn NAs champ.


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