Olympic medalist (1976) and Head Sailing Coach 2000 Olympics

I had the opportunity to race a 5O5 in Europe last year (2019) after 43 years since I managed a 5th in the 1977 World 5O5 Championship in La Rochelle.  Here are a few thoughts from that experience.

  1. Be very, very nice to big talented 505 crews (95 to 110kgs and 6 to 6ft 5”) and if your lucky you might race with one!
  2. Remember, even though there is a high degree of adjustment complexity, in my opinion, a lot can be considered to make racing the 505 more comfortable and “reliable” to race well.
  3. What does reliable to race mean?It means both skipper and crew are fully engrossed maintaining easy speed, fleet and weather tactics and minimising possible distractions from what is optimum effort at any time.

  • I raced 4 regattas before realising the tiller length is unrestricted. My borrowed boat had the stainless steel mainsheet loop and a long tiller causing too small a distance for me to “comfortably” gybe through in heavy air while taking care of skipper gybing protocols. A shorter tiller means in very heavy air the extension angle when back of boat trying to survive is a less awkward angle. The loads on a 505 tiller are so small that tiller length is somewhat irrelevant, particularly if you steer with hand aft of body which gives a more powerful action for moderate to fresh conditions.
  • There are so many lines to adjust. I found a few of them that lead to the side decks were not used regularly on the windward legs, or even mark rounding, but got in the way of those that were regularly used in amongst the often log jams of rounding marks. I suggest some majors should not come outboard and left in top of the centre case with swivel pulley one hand width aft of the cleat, to be pulled through the cleat, or eased on the occasion used. (shock cord tail still so doesn’t disappear through the venturi)
  • There is a lot going on with the mast ram for overall fast tune across wind ranges but, once spreader mainsail is set up correctly, is related to mast rake from forestay adjustment. The Ram led to side decks I found unnecessary and problematic in the sometimes scramble for tuning lines at mark rounds and soon after. To build a system connect from mast ram to forestay so they work together for upwind and downwind plus mast rake changes would settle this consistency of tune down. (Am told some of the USA boats have this sorted.)
  • While I liked the idea of being able to adjust the trap wire height at mast for a very occasional wind strength up wind I would definitely go the automatic spi halyard / trap wire system as the manual, once again, can often become problematic at log jammed mark rounding.
  • Make sure your Mainsail brand is set up with the correct spreader measurements for the mast brand used. Consult your sailmaker.
  • Jib sheeting in these boats is so important but easy to get wrong as the mast is raked. Develop great graduations relating to forestay and jib height setting which can easily be reproduced with minimal effort, but always check jib leach up high as the tension the adrenalin filled crews can put on sheet makes a huge difference up high on leech and affects the “spring” in the leech in the gusts and depth of foot along the deck.
  • Remember centreboard up or down, forward or aft is a powerful modification amongst mast being raked so much
  • As well as the correct centreboard orientation, and jib sheeting as mentioned, the side shroud tension can be the difference between high and fast in light moderate conditions, and also just plodding along or flat out planning upwind in a breeze. Make sure your 505 has great easy purchase to adjust this comfortably and is lead outboard so can feel the boat improvement or decline as you are hiking and adjusting. (same goes for Vang and Cunningham)
  • Lastly the outhaul on mainsail foot is often forgotten in amongst all else. Do not forget about its use upwind in various conditions, particularly in powering up condition when mast bend and mainsail are sorted.

Sailing a 5O5 isn’t as complex as it can look.

For Information on Setting up, Tuning & Racing a 5O5 head to  RESOURCES FOR SAILORS on the  Class Website