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post #1 of Old 07-28-2010 Thread Starter
San Juan 21 MKII
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Location: Madison, WI
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Sailing downwind is much harder than sailing upwind.

Am I the only one who thinks this?

I am at the one-year anniversary of owning my first sailboat, and I have been working hard to learn as much as I can to become a somewhat competent sailor. I've been trying to get 15 to 20 hours a week of sailing in, usually in the form of two 8 to 10 hour days on the water. Since I sail primarily on a relatively small lake with lots of power boaters and crazy, twisty winds, I have been getting a good workout in tacking, gybing and making way on all points of sail.

So, okay, just wanted to get it established that I am a newbie but not totally clueless at this point.

There was a thread somewhere recently ripping on people who motor upwind, as if beating was a huge challenge, and people in general always seem to talk and act as if sailing close to the wind a tough thing to do. I have found it to be the easiest point of sail of all. I crank the jib or genny (I have a working jib and 130 genoa) in as close as it will go, head up until the telltales are looking good, tweak the main (backstay, vang, cunningham), and that's that. After that it is just steering to the wind. Maybe playing the mainsheet a bit if it is gusty. I know I am not ready to run with the racers or anything, but there are 4 or 5 similarly-sized trailerable keelboats on this lake and I tend to pass them on a beat, so I figure I must be at least somewhat getting the hang of it.

I'm kind of drifting off my point, though, which is that when close hauled it seems really simple and obvious to me how to trim the sails and when to head up or fall off on the helm. The telltales and the shape of the sails themselves are dead easy to read and it is simple to understand what controls to use when they don't look like they should.

When broad reaching, it is black magic as far as I can tell. I have several well-recommended books on sail trim and (leaving aside for the moment the facts that they sometimes contradict each other and that they are all written with a mastehead rather than a fractional rig in mind) I understand the theoretical aspects of what I want to do, but I have an amazingly tough time getting enough feedback from the wind, waves and sails to actually make it happen.

Is it just me?
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