examined from stem to stern
(this is a re-working of an article I wrote for the Rebel Newsletter and the CWA Yearbook in 1993)
On SHADES, Wayfarer 3854, we have spent much of 1993 outpointing the opposition. I tended to attribute this to being in tune with my sails and my boat, more than anything else, until the weekend of the Clark Lake Invitational Regatta in late September. There, we sailed Tim Dowling’s Rebel #4069 with a very competitive fleet, and once again, people were commenting on how well we were pointing. This caused me to re-examine the whole matter.
As Wayfarer Class Coach, I am reporting my findings to you - for your perusal and possible comments and discussion.
As I see it, there are three aspects that can affect pointing:
1. boat and
I now propose to briefly cover these three topics as they relate to pointing close to the wind to best effect.
1. Set-up: From stem to stern, the following are the essentials – please click on any underlined item to get more detailed information on that item:
The entry should be pretty well as flat as you can get away with. This
is of course a factor controlled by jib halyard tension - the tighter
halyard, the flatter the entry (this assumes a jib luff sleeve that is
not getting tensioned along with the halyard, i.e. that is not fastened
to the luff wire at the tack).
Jib Leech: Using a needle and some real wool, thread a 3 - 4 inch ticker through the folded sailcloth at the very aft edge of the leech, about ¾ of the way up from the clew. Proper use of this essential tool will require a window in the mainsail positioned so that the crew can see this windtuft while sitting out to windward. Alternative: If you cannot see the jib leech ticker, then a good alternative is to have the helm steer according to the dictates of the lowest of your three luff tickers positioned at quarter, half and three-quarter height while the crew sheets in until the upper tickers match the performance of the lowers.
Jib Sheet Lead Position: Base position should be where a straight line from the halfway point on the luff through the clew would meet the jib track. A bit forward from this position gives a fuller foot when the jib is trimmed to best advantage, if you want extra power to punch through waves. And the reverse can be done in very flat water and lots of wind.
Mast: Fore and aft bend controlled such that the mainsail entry is neither so full that it chokes the slot nor so flat that there are large creases from the luff towards the clew of the mainsail which in turn causes a loose leach and lack of pointing ability.
Boom Vang/Kicker: This must be powerful (ours is about 40:1, a lever supplemented by 6:1 purchase on the control lines) and easy to adjust at all times (ours leads to the helm on both sides of the boat).
Bridle: In my opinion, the crucial consideration is not to have a bridle that is too long and thus prevents you from putting the maximum tension that you can get away with on your leech. In my experience, main leech tension = pointing ability (But you must be careful not to overdo the mainleech tension bit either, especially in light winds!)
Mainsail Leech: As on the jib leech, thread a windtuft through the leech, ahout ¾ of the way up from the clew.
Mainsheet Swivel Block: This should
smoothly. On SHADES, it is the single most frequently used piece
of equipment, i.e. the mainsheet (3:1 purchase, ¼” softbraid) is
cleated or uncleated every few seconds throughout the race. It must be
designed and positioned such that it will not cleat itself accidentally!
2. Trim: After all the many items to be dealt with under item 1, Set-Up, the good news is that trim is very straightforward, as it must be. The adjustments are simple but do need constant attention:
Under most circumstances, boat trim is simple: keep the boat flat in
direction. i.e. don’t let it heel enough to cause helm, don’t plow the
bow or drag the transom (for the latter, check wake for excess
which is alleviated by moving crew weight forward).
Jib Trim: We simply sheet in until our leech ticker (= windtuft) starts to get sucked in to leeward of the leech. The further forward our leads are, the looser the sheet will be when this occurs (for any given wind strength).
Trim: We normally only use the mainsheet which we sheet
in until the leech ticker starts to get sucked behind the leech. For
unknown, this ticker sometimes will not fly properly, in which case we
revert to the time-tested method of keeping the top batten roughly
to the centre-line of the boat.
I find that we gain more than at any other time in puffy conditions. I
am convinced that this is because we make extra effort to maximize the
benefits of a puff and minimize the damage from a lull.
from the obvious requirement of being
good at keeping the jib on the edge of a luff with attentive steering,
helming brings with it more subtle requisites if you are to join the
of the successful “pinchers”.
In the end, like most things, nothing helps like practice. See you out there. Happy sailing,
Uncle Al Schönborn (W3854, R4069)