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Winter series session 1: Shifting Gears Upwind

Five of us enjoyed a virtual night on the boat yesterday evening (in the basement with fireplace on) to work through the notions of clear air and shifting gears.  A summary table doesn’t do justice to the thoughtful discussion, but here it is nonetheless:


Starting/ Footing Go-gear Pointing Low Leeway
Sail Trim Goals Windward Telltale 45˚ 90˚
Boom Wide Just below Midline Midline Wide
Mast Bend Minimal Moderate Increased Marked
Main Twist Marked Minimal Very little Moderate
Main Draft Full Moderate Decreased Moderate
Draft position Forward Aft Aft Foreward
Controls (relative to go-gear) Backstay Eased Moderate Harder Hardest
Traveler Lower As needed Lower Lowest
Mainsheet Eased As needed Harder Eased
Jib Car Forward Breaking evenly Aft Aft
Jib sheet Eased As needed Harder Moderate
Outhaul Eased As needed Hard Hard
Cunningham Tighter Moderate Eased Tighter

I think the big aha was that we have been sailing 2018 in a sail trim that can best be described as “trimmed for pointing, steering as if we are footing”.  As a result we almost certainly sacrificed speed, pointing and leeway. In 2019,  for clear air we should be using go-gear settings that are slightly more relaxed and a steering angle that lifts the leeward tell-tale a bit.  From there the table summarizes what we need to do to each control to shift into footing mode or pointing mode.  In light wind, heavy air, or a heap of traffic, we should shift to low-leeway mode.

I’m sure we’ll need to come back to this table many times to remember it all!

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