Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: New England
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I have heard a few different strategies of close haul tacking. One approach is, if you have two deck hands, one frees the soon to be lazy sheet and the oother grinds in the working sheet. Also, the soon-to-be working sheet needs to have three wraps on the winch BEFORE the turn is initiated. Also, if you put the winch handle in AFTER you get your three wraps on so that the handle is oriented over as as close to the self-tailing arm and BEFORE the turn is started, you can lean a little into the handle after you have pulled in as much as you can by hand, pass the sheet from one hand to the other under the handle over the st lever and into the slot. Once it is anchored, you can immediately start to grind.
A trick that I have seen some helmsman do for a tacking (close-haul to closehaul) maneuver is to let the boat coast midway through the turn directly into the wind for about a boat length just as the headsail comes across. This does two things 1) The boat has enough speed to go a little further upwind and gain distance and 2) if grinder/trimmer of the new/soon-to be working sheet is on the ball, they can effectively pull all the necessary slack in while the sail is very lightly load or unloaded so that when the helmsman completes the tack turn, just a small amount of trim is necessary instead of 4 or 5 seconds of frantic grindering while the sail is fully loaded. The key to this is timing, if the helmsman waits too long, they lose momentum to finish the turn, if the don't turn just enough, there is a risk of the sails backfilling on the wrong side. One boat length is roughly 4 seconds at 5 knots on a 35 ft boat.
The above tactic is harder in light air, because you need to maintain momentum which is more difficult in lighter air.