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post #6 of Old 05-18-2012
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Re: optimum heeling angle

I agree with Jeff that some heel in light air is good, but I also move crew weight forward, near the shrouds, in light air. Heeling the boat to leeward reduces wetted surface, and orienting the boat slightly bow-down, when sailing to windward in light air, lifts the boat's fat stern out of the water slightly, which reduces wetted surface even more. Finally, if the boat is upright in light air, the sails will hang limp, instead of taking the curved, aerodynamic shape that generates driving force. If you can cause the boat to heel to leeward, gravity will cause the sails to hang in that aerodynamic shape, so that any air that moves across the surface of the sails, however slight, will nevertheless drive the boat.
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