A couple quick thoughts here, yesterday there were a lot of vertical gusts, cold air dropping down through a comparatively slower moving warm air layer. This is tough conditions to sail in for a variety of reasons. For one since the gust is vertical, it fans out as it hits the water and so depending on where you are relative to where the gust hits the water, it can mean a very big wind shift relative to the prevailing wind, but also there is a big difference between the gust and the ambient wind speed.
While feathering up towards the wind is usually the fastest tactic in gusty conditions, in vertical gusts, heading up does not help as much and so you need to be prepared to decrease the angle of attack of the mainsail. Ideally this is done with the traveller since easing the mainsheet will power up the sail just when you want it at its flatest.
If you are not close reaching or beating (and perhaps even if you are pointing if you think you will be easing your main sheet) your vang should be set very tightly to prevent the boom from rising and the sail from powering up in the gusts and adding to your heel angle.
If you are on a beam reach or broad reach, you often cannot ease the sails enough to prevent a knockdown, and so you can often turn closer to downwind to deal with a gust, picking up speed in the process rather than heel.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay and part-time purveyor of marine supplies
Last edited by Jeff_H; 03-26-2010 at 09:36 AM.