Rich H has got it.
Get a rigger to look at your rig tension. Or by a gauge and figure it out. Amazing that most non racers don't think rig tension is important and just "deal" with the problems. You need to be able to tighten the forestay, either from a backstay adjuster or a turnbuckle before you set out.
How much rake is in the mast? The more rake the more weather helm. Any prebend?
What is the purchase on your backstay adjuster? On my 25 footer it's 24:1 and it works well. My friend has a hunter 30 or 31 w/ an 8:1 (maybe) adjuster. On a 30 footer, no amount of wheaties in the morning is going to bend that rig w/o serious mechanical advantage.
At the dock w/ no sail up, crank on the backstay as much as you think you can w/o breaking something. Then go forward to the mast and site up the sail track or the front of the mast. Check to make sure it's straight and that the tip looks like it's bending straight aft. Use youre newly purchased gauge to check the tension.
BLOW THE VANG!!! I don't care what your ASA instructor said, go racing in breeze w/ a chute up and get overpowered ONCE. That's all it take to hear someone yell BLOW THE VANG. This twists off the leech of the sail spilling air / power. For example, take away the traveler, take away the vang. In a dingy sailor where all you have is a mainsheet, how do you keep the boat flat in a puff? EASE the mainsheet. This twists off the leech and spills power. During light air sailing the mainsheet is eased to help keep flow attached to the sail, lessen the angle of attack, and adjust for wind gradient aloft. In heavy air attachment is not an issue. There's MUCH less gradient. Vangs are used going downwind to keep the boat powered up. Or when vang sheeting upwind to control twist.
What was your outhaul position? Max? 1/2 of max? Do you adjust it?
As stated above, halyard tension is more important than what most think. It controls the depth and draft (power) of both sails. Problem is, most cruisers don't have the hardware to adjust a halyard under load (most just have a cleat at the mast).
ps - how close were the racers when you adjusted your course? We tend to get within inches if we don't think we'll make contact. Just earlier this week we missed a leeward boat by less than an inch. No contact, no foul.
Merit 25 # 764 "Audrey"
Last edited by zz4gta; 07-23-2010 at 02:00 PM.