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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What kind of motor do you have in that boat?

My model sail boat does not have a motor. It is completely powered by the wind....and yes, it is amazing how fast it goes!

2. How much do those boats cost, and where do I get one?

Both the V-32 and the Dragon Force classs rules require that you use the boats from the designated manufacturers to participate in competitive events. Our club also abides by those rules.

V-32:  Go to the Victor Model Products website for current prices and color choices.  There are three options:  (1) Completely assembled V-32, with installed radio and servos--just add batteries, (2) Completely assembled V-32 with no radio, servos, and control arms, or (3) unassembled kit (V-32) without radio and servos. If you already have a radio from an RC car and a standard servo, you can save some money by getting the V-32 with no radio. However, you will need to buy the sail servo or use one of your 1/4 scale aircraft servos that provide at least 180 oz-in torque.

Dragon Force:  Dragon force sources can be found on the Links page, and the cost runs from $155 to $185, including the radio, sails, painted & assembled hull, depending on what sale may be running. A warning about prices for Dragon Force boats is shown on the Dragon Force Page.

3, What do you do when the wind stops?

Just wait awhile. It will come back. I had a friend who sailed RC boats and ran powered RC boats. He said, "I have been running both kinds of boats for years and I never had to go out in the pond and get a sailboat."  I also have tugboat that can retrieve a stalled sailboat.  It can push the boat, or it can tow a line to capture a boat with a downed sail.

4. What do you do when the boat gets to the other side of the lake?

Sailboats are not limited to moving only in the general direction of the wind. A sailboat can move in an upwind direction at an angle of about 45 degrees off from directly against the wind. If the boat needs to sail to a location directly upwind, then it must zigzag toward the goal. That's called tacking. The Egyptians and Phoenicians were doing this in their early history. Learn how this is done.

5. What if it tips over?

I would be very surprised! I don't think it can tip over unless the keel falls off. The V-32  has a 3 1/2 pound keel that hangs down underneath about 8 inches. The total weight of the boat is 6 pounds. I have sailed my V-32 in wind that dipped the sail in the water and dug the bow under water...but tip over?.. .never! You could put the boat in the water upside down and it would right itself. I may do that, just to prove it is true. The Dragon Force weighs about two pounds and has a heavy weight at the bottom of a long keel. This boat is even more tip-over proof.  When a very strong gust of wind hits a sailboat it can be pushed over far enough to dip the sail in the water, but it always pops back up.

6. How long can you sail before the batteries die?

V-32:  I have not run out of battery power for the receiver after sailing the boat for 4-1/2 hours in medium wind, using a NiMH 1200 ma, 6v rechargeable battery pack in the boat.  Recharge is usually 200 to 350 ma after a 2 1/2 hour sail day--depending on the wind speed--more wind requires more power to control the sail.

Dragon Force:  The receiver pack in the DF uses AA batteries or you can install rechargeables.  The current draw on the boat is much less than the V-32 and a new set of batteries will last a long time.  I used one set of alkalines for about six sailing sessions, and they still had some power left.

The transmitters take regular AA or rechargeable batteries--some use eight and some use four batteries.  My transmitter has NiMH 2500 ma AA batteries, and draws about 300ma. They should last about 8 hours. The transmitter time has been verified by one of our skippers who forgot to charge the transmitter batteries after two extended sailing adventures. They died on the third day of sailing. Alkaline batteries (non-rechargeable) last about six to eight hours, depending on the transmitter design, which may be good for three or more sail days at our club.

7. Can your sailboat sink?

Yes, that is another aspect of model sail boats that is just like full-size sail boats.  The cause would be due to a collision that puts a hole in the hull, or loss of the hatch that allows water to enter the boat in high winds.

Next inevitable question: WHAT DO YOU DO THEN? Ans: Go fish it out, dry it out, and sail it tomorrow.

8. What happens when you hit something under water?

When I hit a rock, it goes BONK, slows down abruptly, and makes a little with ding in the keel. (No, it doesn't sink--well not yet.) In July, 2006 it appears that my boat hit a fish or vice versa. The boat acted the same as when hitting a rock. The waters swirled about the boat, covering an area on the surface of about 15 feet in diameter. Almost looked like the movies when a sea monster is getting ready to attack, then the swirling waters moved away from the boat. It had to be big whateveritwas.

9. Does the sailboats come with rechargeable batteries?

No.  The boats have no batteries when purchased. The receiver has a battery holder that takes four AA batteries. It will operate on standard AA alkaline batteries--4 in the boat and 4 or 8 in the transmitter, or it can work with rechargeable AA batteries.  We usually install a battery pack in the boat that has 5 rechargeable batteries.

10. Will it hurt the transmitter or receiver to operate them with the lower voltage rechargeable batteries, since rechargeable batteries have less voltage--only 1.2v per cell versus 1.5v per cell in alkalines?

No damage occurs using the lower voltage rechargeables. The receiver will operate a 4-cell alkaline pack (6v), a 4 cell rechargeable pack (4.8v), or a 5- cell rechargeable pack (6v). The Transmitter will operate on 8 alkalines (12v) or 8 rechargeables (9.6v). Newer transmitters use only four cells and rechargeables work okay.  Although the receiver and servos in the boat will operate on 4 rechargeable batteries, it is recommended that a 5 cell rechargeable pack be used in the boat to provide 6 volts so the sail servo has adequate torque.

11. Are you sure there's no motor it It's going awfully fast!

I'm motor.

12. Will you be out here next weekend?

Yes, if the weather is good. I'm a fair weather sailor!

13. If I get a new sailboat, will you help me out the first time?

Anyone in our club would be happy to!  In fact, we will help you all season, until you start beating us to the finish!

14. Why do they call the right and left "starboard" and "port?"

The Short Version: The old boats had a steering oar only on the right side of the boat. "Star" is an English derivation of a Viking term or an old English term for that steering oar. "Board" was the term for the side of a boat. So the right side of the boat was called starboard. The boat was tied up at the port on the side without the steering oar, so that side is called port. You can find the long versions on the Internet.

15. I just want to have fun sailing my boat. Why do I need to understand all those nautical terms?

All activities have terminology that apply to that particular sport or hobby. Most people learn the terms and use them--it's a normal part of participating. I guess a, ah... "boat driver" doesn't have to learn any nautic...ah... "words that apply to wind-powered model water thing parts or the expressions related to making the wind catchers push the thing fast." However, it is fairly important to know a small amount of nautical terms if you want to race. When someone calls "starboard" you need to know what it means and what you need to do to avoid a collision.

16. I have an RC model airplane radio I am not using. Can I install it in a boat?

Not if the model airplane radio is using a model airplane frequency in the 72 MHz band, channel numbers 11 through 60. If you do, you will be violating FCC regulations, and you may cause someone's airplane to crash if they are flying nearby. RC radios used in model cars are FCC legal to use in a model boat. See FCC legal frequencies for RC sailboats. However, 2.4 MHz radios used in airplanes and cars are legal for model boats.

17. Are you going sailing AGAIN!?


18. What's the fastest sailboat I can buy?

That question is awkward to answer, because speed is not normally a consideration when choosing a sailboat. Boats compete in controlled classes, so everyone is racing the same design or at least a design that meets the same set of limitations set by the class rules. You can't buy a faster boat of a special design and race against boats that are built to the rules of a different class. Quite frankly, it doesn't matter how fast a particular class boat is, because everyone in that class has a boat that goes about the same speed. The real advantage comes from how well you trim your sails before you put it in the water, how well you keep the boat on the right course for wind conditions and sail trim, and what tactics you use to insure you cross the finish line first. So the answer is, the fastest boat is the one with the best skipper...and fortunately, that is something you can not buy. That is something you learn.

 19. What kind of servos do you use for the sail control and rudder?

V-32:  There are no restrictions to the servos you install in the V-32, except that you can only use two servos.  A servo with at least 180 oz-in torque is required for V-32 sail control.  HITec HS-755HB, HITec-765HB, and HITec-785HB servos are commonly seen in this boat. Other brands with high toque are also suitable. Some skippers are using digital sail control servos like the Savox SC-0251HS to save weight. 

The Specktrum A7000 aircraft retract servo is very light, costs very little, has adequate torque, and its slow speed is not an issue.  However, the aluminum/brass gear train is not durable enough for this boat's sail control, since the servo was designed for intermittent use in an RC aircraft, instead of the heavy constant use in a sailboat. The aluminum gear creates black gunk that jams the gears and burns out the servo. I burned out three. Fortunately, I was able to retrieve the boat each time the rudder quit before it caused a fire.  See photos of one boat that had a fire--but not from the A7000 servo.

The rudder servo can be a standard 40 oz-in servo or a micro servo with similar torque such as the HITec HS85BB.  If you are competing, you will want to use the lighter, and more costly servos to keep the boat at the minimum 6 lb. weight.

Dragon Force:  Class rules require that the sail control servo is "as supplied by the builder," and unmodified. You can use a different manufacturer's rudder servo if it fits in the servo tray without modification.

20.  How much does the boat weigh?  

V-32 Class rules set the minimum weight at 6 lbs., but you can make it any weight you want if you are not racing other V-32s.  At a contest, underweight boats are brought up to the minimum weight by adding extra ballast.  Overweight boats are left as-is.  It is generally assumed that an overweight boat will be slower.  However, in high winds a little extra weight may be desirable for more stability--and NO, you cannot add weight during a contest when the wind increases.  In normal sailing, it appears that an ounce or two makes very little difference. The real speed difference depends on the skill of the skipper.

The Dragon Force boat weighs 1 lb., 15 ounces with the standard equipment.  A lighter battery as specified in the Dragon Force Restricted Class Rules, may be installed that reduces the weight, but other weight reduction methods are illegal.

21. What can you control on the boat? 

There are two servos in the V-32 and in the Dragon Force, as specified by the class rules. One for the rudder and one for the sails.  The main sail and jib do not have separate controls, but their relative positions can be adjusted manually before the boat is launched.  Some other RC sailboat classes allow more control functions.

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