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How to do the Wild Thing ! (with the old rig)

The 'Wild Thing' was developed when the old Olympic Triangle courses were used. It was very effective on the second broad reach of the triangle to the base mark especially if a gybe was not necessary to lay the mark in one tack. It was also effective on the direct downwind legs as used on the windward-leeward courses often used today.

There are many discussions about who developed this particular style of catamaran sailing and many books and articles have been written about this topic.

The first time I was involved in doing the 'Wild Thing 'was in April or May of 1989 when I was sailing with Mitch Booth and we were trying to reduce the drag on the windward hull by trapezing off the leeward side of the boat. The technique seemed quite effective in obtaining greater boat speed due to less friction and enabled the boat to be steered to the same downwind angle as "conventional" downwind sailing yet with greater boat speed.

At the 1989 Tornado World Championship in Houston, Texas, Mitch and I used the 'Wild Thing' with incredible success mainly because of the steady breeze strength of about 12 knots and the sailing angles on the second broad reaching legs of the triangle course at that time.

We found that because the other boats in the series were still sailing 'flat', we would often gain incredible advantages over those particular legs of the course. In some cases we even won heats of the World Championship by up to 3 minutes! Something which is rarely seen today with the shorter and tighter windward-leeward courses.

The normal rule is if you can fully trapeze on the upwind legs, then the 'Wild Thing' works on the downwind legs. This is normally over about 10 knots and in rough seas. It can be done in lighter wind and flatter water however the advantage will not be as great.

To put this technique into practice, place the helmsman towards the middle of the trampoline just inside the inner gunwale and the crew to leeward (preferably on the leeward hull). The crew gets very wet and normally cannot see the jib and whether or not it is sheeted properly. The helmsman will need to keep communicating with the crew about jib trim. The helmsman will also find it difficult to find the lay lines because the boat is often on a heel. The crew will need to play an important role in finding the marks and picking the lay lines for the helmsman.

Sheet jib barber hauler about 30 cm from maximum out and trim very tight. The mainsheet traveller car should be about 35cm from inner edge of the hull. A good guide is at the lower hiking strap.

The leeward centreboard should be down to help the boat 'trip over' itself sideways rather than slip sideways if the board was raised. Mast rotation should be set at about 90° or less. The mainsail foot tension should be about 10cm out off the boom and mainsail luff tension should be loose to give power to the head of the sail. All of this will help the boat heel and allow a lower sailing angle to be achieved.

To start with, the helmsman should steer about 5°-10° higher on the downwind angle and both sails should be sheeted tight to lift the windward hull. Once the hull is in the air, steer away to the normal angle (or lower). The helmsman will be required to let some mainsheet out but the crew should be able to keep the jib sheeted at a similar tension because the apparent wind angle remains about the same because the speed of the boat is increasing dramatically. Yes, it does get very fast and very scary!

If the windward hull is too high then let more mainsheet out and pull away more. Do not point up into the wind to avoid capsizing as it is too far to turn before any saving effect will take place. By the time the boat turns far enough to save from a capsize, it will be too late and you will probably be swimming. To further avoid a capsize, we suggest you remove the mainsheet cleat completely from the boat while practicing.

The helmsman must be very delicate with the steering because if you steer too low the hull will fall back in the water and your speed will drop. If this happens the whole process of easing sheets, pointing up to gain speed again, then sheeting on and pulling away again must be done. To avoid this costly mistake, the helmsman must sheet and steer much more to keep the hull just out of the water. You must also be careful not to sail into the back of a wave as this can be very SLOW. Learn to steer up over the back of waves and pull away down the face of the wave. Again, a lot of sheeting the mainsail in and out must be done.

One final necessity is to sing the following tune (in the key of E) while "going wild": Wild Thing, you make my heart sing, You make everything .. groovy Come on, come on Wild Thing

That's it, when you have both done all the above you have either won the race or you have capsized.

Simple??

Maybe not, but it sure is fun!