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Tell tales 2.0

So a couple weeks ago at the first Winter Series session, we focused on changing gears: how to adjust the sail trim to build speed and power, or to maximize VMG, or to maximize pointing for tactical advantage.

I already summarized the details on how to adjust each control in a previous post.  Today, I’m coming back to the biggest aha — that I’ve been reading the tell-tales wrong!  It came across in the RaceQs podcast (#24: Shifting Gears Upwind), and I summarized it with these diagrams:

The aha comes from the fact that I’ve been steering to always have both tell-tales streaming back (like in the starting/power gear).

I have to admit, I’ve been a bit skeptical about this new learning, until yesterday at the boat show.  Lazy Sheet and I attended a North U seminar on upwind sail trim, and then chatted with the instructor later in the day.  He reinforced the same lesson:

  • For power, or footing, stream them both backwards (and the sails should be deep)
  • For maximum VMG, the windward tell-tale should be lifted (and the sails should be flat)
  • For maximum pointing, the windward tell-tale should be vertical, the front of the jib just starting to luff (and the sails very flat).

This last point he hammered home in the lesson by explaining that stall on the jib starts at the leech and works its way forward.  By the time it has reached the leeward tell-tale, the entire jib is stalling.

Putting this together, I have been steering wrongly:  by trying to keep both of them streaming, there is a 50/50 chance that any bad steering will lead to a stalled jib and loss of speed.  But by steering a slightly higher course, with a bit of windward tell-tale lift, we will get more speed, more pointing, and less risk of stalling.  Love it!

Can’t wait to practice on the course.  Just 100 days until our first practice race 🙂

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