Raingutter Boat Racing - How To Make A Fast Regatta Boat

Blow Your Boat

You can make a fine regatta boat, but "blow it" by not blowing well. Practice blowing to increase your skill. With practice, you will learn to steer your boat so it remains in the center of the raingutter. You will also learn to blow through your boat's center of mass. Here are five "S" words to help you remember the basics of blowing well.

Blow Me Down!

Stream Blow a thin stream of wind rather than a dispersed puff.
Sideways Bend your head low and sideways so your ear is nearly in the water.
Straight Look straight ahead at the bottom of your sail. By blowing lower on the sail you can move the center of force on the sail down but still keep it aimed straight ahead. By shifting your air stream to the right or left, you can steer your boat in the opposite direction, giving you more control! If your boat hits the gutter lip, you will find it useful to aim your air stream toward the same side of the sail.
Strong Blow hard, but not so hard that the bow of your boat dips under the water. Your boat's nose angle limits how fast it can go.
Steady Increase the time you can maintain a constant stream of air. Your boat's course and speed are very sensitive to changes in your breath speed and direction.

Some contestants have used soda straws to help concentrate their breath on the sail. Unless it has a wide diameter, maybe half an inch or more, a soda straw will not allow enough wind to get to your sail in a race, so don't plan on using one. Check your race rules beforehand.

What to Watch Out for Between Breaths

Your boat is most prone to being blown over when it is touching the gutter lip at the beginning of a new breath. Though you try to blow a narrow stream as long as you can, and at a high speed, you are also excited. Because you need to take breaths periodically, the boat has a chance to relax back to its floating position and may rock back and forth if you created waves.

It takes less than a second to blow your boat to its top speed. This is great because the average breath length in regatta boat blowing is about one second! On the other hand, a couple of seconds pass before it stops dead in the water with no breath! That gives you a little time to breathe. Unfortunately, most of the slowing happens almost immediately after the breath stops.

Of course, you don't want to waist valuable time breathing. But you can pass out by taking breaths too quickly for too long a time. Breathe as quickly as you can the few times that you need to in a race.

If your boat rocks forward, an exploding puff of air could send it over. Your new stream of air should begin slower to keep this from happening. Practice is your ally.

Buddy Blowing - A Team Effort

Buddy blowing is the practice of two clubbers blowing one boat. If both blow on the same side of the raingutter, one naturally cuts in front of the other and only his breath ends up pushing the boat. Ideally, one should be on one side of the raingutter and the other on the other side.

A good practice for either case is for you and your buddy to alternate blowing. A good controlled blow can last more than two seconds. In that time the boat moves at least a foot. That's plenty of time for your buddy to step forward to be in position to blow when your breath is gone.

Alternating is more difficult on the same side of the gutter. With practice, even that shouldn't make much difference. The result should be breath on the boat at all times, keeping it at its top speed.

When you and your buddy blow on the boat at the same time from opposite sides of the gutter, this causes greater recoil when both breaths end. Avoid this by staggering breaths with your buddy and practice so that there is never a "dead" time. If you and your buddy are successful in doubling the force on the sail, the boat's speed limit can be designed to double also. Set the weight for a higher nose angle!

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Raingutter Boat Racing - How To Make A Fast Regatta Boat
Copyright © 1997, 2000, 2001, 2004 by Michael Lastufka, All rights reserved worldwide.