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Crack the jib to point better in high wind!

Geoff from North Sails Toronto gave Lazy Sheet and me a private tutorial on one of our bigger challenges when up against the J35s:  pointing in high wind.

You know the situation:  the wind is strong, we’re flying the #2 or #3 headsail, the gusts are knocking us down, the traveler is low and the mainsail is inside out and water is coming over the rail!

Fun, but not fast.  Especially when a gust catches us by surprise and we round up, stalling out and giving up precious boat lengths.

Meanwhile, Top Gun keeps climbing higher and higher on the ladder rungs, leaving us in their dust.

The solution:  ease the jib!

It’s counter-intuitive, but Geoff explained the logic to us:

  • Pointing comes from the keel
  • To maximize pointing, we need to do two things:
    • keep the boat flat
    • keep the boat moving fast
  • With the jib in too tight:
    • the main is not powering the boat
    • the bow is pressed down into the water
    • the keel is not effectively engaged
    • the boat is slipping sideways — too much leeway
  • With the jib eased:
    • the main (flattened) can contribute power the boat
    • same net power is achieved, but the bow is not pressed down as far
    • the keel is more effectively engaged
    • less leeway -> more pointing

And how to steer?  Pointing mode, and feather in the gusts (ie: turn even further upwind).

So, if pointing is when the windward tell-tale is vertical and the jib is just starting to luff, what does feathering look like?  A luffing jib and a full mainsail!

Aha:  so we are looking to create the opposite situation to what we typically observe in the gusts!

Can’t wait to try it 🙂

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