Speed tips?

Some more newbie questions…
1) My boat is equipped for a cutter/staysail (it’s not rigged now) and came with a set of running backstays.  I get they are needed when I rig the staysail but how about without it?  Did the boat originally come with the running backstays and when do you use them?  Is there a way to look at mast bend or backstay pressure and see when you are in the range of needing the backstays?
2) Has anyone shared any go fast tips or tuning experience…any comments about real world vs the polars.
Jim (Sabrina)

Hi Jim,
We have check stays on our boat. These go from the aft corner to about 2/3 the way up the mast. Their function is to stop he mast from ‘pumping’ when going upwind in the chop with the backstay cranked on. In the Pacific Northwest we don’t use them all that much due to lack of wind/chop. It’s easy to watch the mast pump. In 15 knts+ go forward and sight up the front of the mast. Really put your eyeball right on the metal and focus about half way up. Can’t miss it going back and forth. Sort of spooky. A little bit is normal – say an inch or two – but anymore and I’d pull on the check stays. Remember to release them when you tack/gybe! On the check stay we have these EZLock rope clutches that anything but EZ! They defy logic and are a total pain in the ass if you ask me.
2) The polars are pretty close. We don’t seem to be quite that fast upwind but we’re close. The downwind angles seem to be good. My E34 doesn’t like to be pinched upwind. Footing of 5 degrees makes a world of difference to the VMG. That being said, without 5 people on the rail I don’t seem to be able to hang with the more weatherly boats. We do catch them on the downwind leg though…
Controlling weather helm is another big issues. Upwind I have one crew dedicated to working the traveler. In stronger winds the main will often have a large bubble in the luff. Reefing helps but a lot of times I’m just trying to get to the windward mark so I’ll suffer with being overpowered for a bit so I don’t have put in and then take out the reef. Lazy, I know!
The backstay is your friend for flattening the main as the wind picks up. I’m monkeying with mast rake as we speak to find the optimum balance.
Hope this helps
Greg S.
Wailana – Hull #1
Have anything to add? Reply below…

Spinnaker questions

From Jim H. on Sabrina. Please feel free to reply!

Hi…so I’m coming up on my first distance race…47 miles of the St Mary’s Governors Cup. Only flown the chute a couple of times and the previous owner didn’t use it so I didn’t get any pass down.

1. The downhaul for the bridle has two lines that run to both sides of the cockpit. Are both lines attached to the bridle? When reaching it seems like you really need a downhaul at the end of the pole to keep the leech tight…so maybe one of those lines can go to the pole end when reaching? Curious what the original intent was.2. Any experience with end to end vs pole dip jibing.

3. There were no twings provided…if anyone is using them how are they rigged?



From Greg S. on Wailana

Hi Jim,
Sounds like a fun race!
1. On Wailana the two down-haul (foreguy) lines for the spinnaker run through pulleys in the middle of the foredeck and then attach to a block attached to the central point on the pole’s bridle. This is so you can adjust the downhaul from either side of the cockpit. See pics.
2. I tried dip pole jibing once on my boat and found that it was too cumbersome; too many lines and required too many crew who knew what they were doing. It was more complexity than I wanted to deal with. Of course I’m a chickens**t and don’t fly my chute in much over 16 kts. It might be a different story if I was the bowman trying to clip the sheet in 25 kts on a pitching foredeck!
3. I’ve got twings of 3/16″ line that just clip on with small carabineers and are run through small blocks on the rail near the widest point of the beam. They attach to small cam cleats on the cabin top.  I use them when it’s gets breezy to ‘slow my roll’ and help with gybing.
Do you have a reaching strut? It’s sometimes called a jockey pole and comes in handy when hard on the wind with the spinnaker. It holds the afterguy off the stanchion/lifelines.
I’ll post this to the website and see if anyone responds.
Good luck!
Greg S. – Wailana Hull #1

Anybody want my old Martec prop?

For the cost of shipping you can have my old Martec 16″ X 10″ RH folding prop. Fits a 1″ shaft.

It needs to be refurbished by Martec; cost = ~$300. This was the standard equipment I believe and would work well with the standard 18 HP engine. I would not recommend it with a larger engine.


Greg S. – Wailana Hull #1

Is the Express 34 a classic?

Think about this – the Express 34 is thirty years old.
Does that make it a classic? What makes a boat a classic? Speed? Popularity? Longevity?

Whisper in the rainbow

On the short list of fiberglass boats that define a classic plastic from the 1980’s, here’s what I came up with:

  • J-35
  • Express 27 & 37
  • Olson 30, 911s
  • Santa Cruz 27, 50
  • Frers 33
  • Others?

While the Alsberg Brothers produced the 34 in nowhere near the numbers of the more popular 27 and 37, the Express speed, strength and versatility DNA is still deeply embeded. No doubt it’s a better cruising boat than either of her sisters.
Of course I’m biased, but I’m calling the Express 34 a ‘Classic Sleeper’. What do you think?


Greg S. – Wailana – Hull #1


Props to Wailana

So I finally bit the bullet and bought a new prop for Wailana. A folding Martec elliptical 16″ x 12″ RH.

This means that it’s 16″ diameter with a 12″ pitch (the distance traveled forward in one rotation) – right hand turning.

The old one was 16″ x 10″ and when they replaced the engine with a more powerful one they didn’t re-prop so I could never get much past 5.5 kts. I’m now getting 7 kts easily at 3,000 RPM. I couldn’t be happier! Price with tax was about one boat unit = $1,000.

Installation was straight forward.etting the old prop off was the hard part. Luckily the yard had a special tool that looks like a giant ‘C’ clamp and it popped off with a bang.

Martec 16″ X 12″ RH

More from Whisper

More from Tom B., the owner of Whisper out of Monroe Harbor, Chicago IL

“I own hull number 24, Whisper. She races out of Columbia YC located in Monroe Harbor, Chicago IL. PHRF handicap is now 96.
The only changes to the boat are moving the secondary winches to the cabin top, removing two of the halyard winches and replacing the other two with Harken 40 ST winches. The check stays now lead directly (no purchase) to the cabin top winches. We also switched to a MaxProp classic two blade propeller.
The only structural repairs we have made are cutting out the bottom 8 inches of the main bulkhead and scarfing in a G10 panel. This seems to be a common repair to both the 34 and 37.
Whisper has done very well racing. We have won our class once in the Chicago to Mackinac race, we dominate our class in the light air Wednesday evening series, and we do very well on the weekend races as well. We were the Chicago Yachting Association Boat of the Year last year.
Our sail inventory is all North.: Nordic Radian mainsail, 0.6 oz Norlon deep running spinnaker (shape between code 1.5 and 4?) and carbon 3DL genoa. Sail Number is US42934.
The most annoying thing about the boat is the location of the traveller. I have seen two Express 37s with racing cockpits (one originally built that way and one modified) which look great. But I do not have the money to do that with my boat.
The original name of the boat was Taxi Dance. Ownership history is somewhat murky but I believe we are the third owner. There was another Express 34 in the Chicago area in the early 90s, Second Helping USA41362, but I do not know were she is now.”

For now you can check out the Whisper page under the heading, The Boats.