If you were following the project you'd be forgiven for thinking that it had a died a few months ago. Rest assured, that is far from the case, it did hit some rough patches this summer though.
In mid June, shortly after a start in ~8 knots of wind the T fitting on my starboard shroud failed, dropping the mast into the lake, and in the process destroyed a spreader, a staymaster, and ripped a portion of the sail track off of the carbon mast. I'm probably lucky the spar itself remained largely intact (aside from rivets ripping out at the base) but it was still quite a setback to locate all the parts and get it vertical again.
With some help from Willie Crear I was able to locate the discontinued spreader parts, I then just needed to have new shrouds made, re-epoxy & wrap the base of the mast with carbon fiber, and hammer the hell out of the bent mast step before finally getting things vertical again in late august.
...Just in time for our national regatta in Green Lake, WI. Unfortunately the wind leading up to the regatta at our home lake was nonexistent, so we headed to the regatta without having sailed since early June, never a great idea. I bought some new sails in the hopes we could enhance our boat speed by a few percent, but in reality I think what happened was we didn't really have the sails "figured out" by the time we got there and were likely more of a hindrance than a help, although it wasn't the fault of the sails.
The first race of the regatta on Friday we did not sail well. Our boat speed was poor and I made poor tactical decisions which led to (I think) a 12th place. For the 2nd race I settled down a little bit and actually used Gibbs to calculate VMG and I think I made better tactical decisions due to that, netting us a 4th place finish. Still, the boat was not performing well and boats were still sailing away from us upwind, so we continued to tinker with tune and trim.
I felt that our starts were all good, but not great. We were typically 1 boat back from the line at the gun, but with speed that let us blow through and get clear air so I was happy. That bad news was that our months off and lack of tune continued to hurt us, boats continued to sail by us upwind on Saturday. We played with settings all day long before finally getting it to where we could "hang" and the last race of the day in extremely light wind we finished with a 7th. Finally on Sunday for the final race we finished with a 6th.
We showed improvement over the course of the regatta, which I was happy about, but at the same time I'm kicking myself for all the weekends I didn't sail in July in August that would have led to better tune and tactics at the beginning of the regatta rather than at the end. This is no surprise to anybody who sails (or anybody who does any competitive sport for that matter), practice makes perfect. That being said, the combination of broken mast and changing to a new job certainly made it hard this year.
I would say that there was a discernible differences in results in races where I used Gibbs to help drive tactical decisions, that we finished better. At the same time, it's obviously no replacement for time in the boat. A crew that's got things 90% figured out might get a few % better by using Gibbs, but to a crew that's still figuring out basic boat handling it remains a distraction. There may be things I can do to help with that, but the fact is that the 90% scenario has really been the objective all along.
After reading (or TL;DR; skipping) my sailing rambling I'm sure you're wondering what's up with Gibbs and what's next. The answer is I've got 3-4 more blog posts in the works, and some great new functionality centered around actually analyzing the data that Gibbs is generating. Stay tuned, more to come.