Since its inception in 2005, the Alerion Express 38 has been quietly placing or winning multiple East Coast regattas. Dubbed as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” the AE38 has had its fair share of winnings in 2011 alone. With first or second standings in Charleston Race Week, The Back Asswords Regatta, PHRF New Englands, The Vineyard Cup, and most recently the Classic Boat regatta in Marblehead, there is no shortage of performance and of course capability from their owners. A few of these owners were kind enough to share their secrets on sailing fast on their 38’s.
Bernie Cignavitch (hull#1) had this to say about navigating a starting line:
“…I am always aggressive at the start. For example, if the start favors the committee boat, I will position the boat on that heading. If a leeward boat tries to take me up, I head up to luff- depower the boat. As soon as the other boat passes my bow I power up and head leeward of him and take him up into the committee boat. Now you are in a perfect position for the start, your powered up, no one else can take up and you can protest the boat next to you because he’s not going to head up into the committee boat. The only reason you can do this is because you practiced the maneuver and the Alerion 38 will slow down, turn on a dime and power back up quicker than most boats!”
Craig Speck (hull#2) had this to say about sail trim:
“Because of the very large roach mainsail and the relatively small jib, upwind trim of the sails is critical. The main requires more sheet tension than many would expect as the top third of the main will wash out easily without higher sheet tension. Our basic trim is the traveler above centerline with high tension on the sheet. We ease the traveler rather than the mainsheet as wind velocity changes to keep the boat at correct heel angles and speed.
The jib is so small that many think it is along for the ride and don’t trim it as frequently as they should. Upwind we set the jib boom just inside the attachment point of the pole sheet to the top of the cabin. We continually trim the jib with the outhaul rather than moving the pole. In tacks and during starting sequences we ease the outhaul to put more power in the jib to rebuild speed and trim in as speed builds. The jib boom is adjusted generally only with significant course changes.
Final comment, the Alerion Express 38 is wickedly fast upwind when heeled and sails are trimmed correctly.”