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PDixon 07-02-2004 08:43 AM

Proper use of the Traveler
Could someone give me a brief guide to the proper use of the traveler, I tend to keep mine centered. I know it does something but I don''t really know for sure what it is

aflanigan 07-02-2004 11:37 AM

Proper use of the Traveler
I hang a beer holder from the traveler car and use the traveler to transfer beverages to the other side of the cockpit, so I don''t have to get up or reach over.

Seriously, use the search function of the message board and type in "traveler" or "weather helm" and read through the results.

Allen Flanigan

DirtManly 07-04-2004 05:08 PM

Proper use of the Traveler
I use the traveler quite a bit. When I''m going to windward in light air I cheat the traveler up so as to get the boom over the center of the boat without having to sheet so hard that I lose sail shape. I also use it when falling off the wind a bit. I can keep the main sheeted in and travel down to keep the boom from rising and again help maintain sail shape. This is more important if you don''t have a boom vang.
The traveler simply allows you to keep your sail shape over a wider area than if the main sheet was in a fixed position.
Best of luck

bob_walden 07-05-2004 03:44 PM

Proper use of the Traveler
I think the most common use for a traveller is to use it to dump the main during puffs while sailing close-hauled. As the puff hits and weather helm develops, you ease the traveller down to spill air and reduce weather helm and heel.

This assumes your traveller is rigged with lines and blocks to allow you to move it while the main is under load.


hamiam 07-05-2004 07:00 PM

Proper use of the Traveler
The traveler can be used to spill air during puffs and that certainly is a legit purpose but its real talent is changing the angle on your main sheet and thereby alterting the shape of your mainsail. Bringing it to windward induces twist in your main and powers up the rig. Bring the traveler to leeward tends to flatten the sail and depower it. In very simple terms...

Jeff_H 07-09-2004 04:53 AM

Proper use of the Traveler
The primary purpose of a traveler is in controling the twist in the mainsail. The further that the traveler car is moved to windward the more horizontal the pull and the more twist that is induced into the sail. The closer to being directly under the boom, the more vertical the pull and the greater the download on the sail and so there is greater tension in the leech of the sail and the less twist is experienced by the sail. Controlling twist is a critical part of optomising performance. Some degree of twist is beneficial, especially in light to moderate winds.

To begin with, if you look at a sail in section (cut horizontally through the sail) it is a wing. Even very efficient wings have an 'incident angle'; and 'slip angle'. In other words, a wing (or a sail) needs to be placed at an angle to the wind to work. For any given wind, and any given sail, and any given boat in a given condition, at any given spot on the sail, there is an optimum angle of attack in order to achieve the best performance. What I mean by 'best preformance' is an increase in forward drive while as well as minimizing of drag, and more importantly reducing the amount of sideforce which is responsible for creating heeling and leeway .

What further complicates all of this is that the wind at the top of the sail is actually different than the wind at the bottom of the sail. Called ''gradient effect'', in light to moderate winds the wind speed typically increases the higher you get above the surface of the water.

Visualize gradient effect this way, there is friction between air and water and between air and air. Because of this friction, at the surface of the water there is a (barrier) layer of air that does not move at all relative to the water. Next to this layer of air is another layer of air that moves slowly over this stationary barrier layer. That layer feels the friction of the barrier layer and the friction of the layer above it that is being motavated by the ambient wind. Each higher layer moves a bit more quickly compared to the layer below until at some point up in the air there is a point at which the air moves at the speed of the ambient winds and does not feel the affect of the barrier.

In light air, this gradient affect can be dozens of feet deep. At very much higher wind speeds the whole gradiant effect, from barrier to free flowing wind, is only a couple inches deep. Most of us typically sail in windspeeds where the effect is somewhere in between those extremes but typically taller than the average mast height even in a moderate wind.

In a sailboat, this means that the boat feels more true wind speed at the masthead than it does at the deck. Because of the way that apparent wind works, when close reaching or beating, the higher wind speed at the masthead produces higher apparent winds at the masthead that are also more abeam to the boat than the apparent winds that are felt lower in the sail. Getting back to your question, twist allows the sail to have differing attack angles as you move up the sail, each at a proper angle of attack relative to the apparent wind that it is passing over the sail at that point.

If you eliminated twist in light to moderate conditions, some of the sail will be over trimmed and/or some of the sail will be under trimmed for the conditions. Of course as windspeeds increase, gradient wind effect decreases. As a result as the wind increases in speed, twist should be reduced. This is done by lowering the traveller which should also be used in concert with reduction in camber (depth of the curve in the sail) achieved by increasing halyard, outhaul and sheet tension. In a really strong breeze the sail needs a comparatively flat camber and flaat angle of attack and so the sail should be bladed out. This means maximum halyard tension, outhaul tension, backstay tension, mainsheet tension. To further reduce the angle of attack the traveller is dropped as well. This will decrease weather helm and heeling.

Just for the record, jibs have twist as well. Twist in jibs is controlled by the jib sheet lead angles. Moving the jibsheet car aft tightens the lower sail and increases twist in the sail, moving the track forward pulls down on the leech and so decreases twist. On jibs you increase twist in really light air to open the slot and in really heavy air to reduce heeling.

The clues to the proper amount of twist comes from the teltales. On mainsails the leech teletales at the battens provide the best information. All of the teletales up the leech should be flying when the sail is set properly. When there is inadequate twist the teletale at the head will be stalled and sucked back into the sail. On some if not most mainsails, in moderate winds, some intermitant stalling of the upper teletale is the fastest way upwind.

On jibs, the luff teletales should all be flying and all of the teletales should ''break'' evenly. On small jibs (with battens), leech teletales are very helpful with sail trim as well.

One of the problems with battenless mainsails is that it is much harder to control twist without developing leech flutter. That problem, almost as much as the smaller sail area, is what kills performance in in-mast furling sails in lighter conditions. Sails with sunguards also can have problems with leech flutter and so often require greater leechline tension, which produces a hook in the leech of the sail and some loss in performance as well.


ross99 07-12-2004 02:46 PM

Proper use of the Traveler
Jeff, I have read a lot of different explanations of mailsail trim, but this is one of the most concise and understandable I can recall. Thanks

duckjibe 02-17-2007 10:13 PM

Excellent information Jeff , I"ve been lurking for a while, absorbing all the info.
Jeff, I believe you meant "gradient" not gradiant? or am I mistaken?


Jeff_H 02-18-2007 12:09 PM

Spelling has never been my strong suit. Thanks for the correction and the kind words. I have made the correction to the text.

Kacper 02-25-2007 03:59 AM

Jeff you are the man! I always wondered how to use the traveler to help performance. I'm going to experiment with this on my next trip out.

Also, the information about the jib sheet leads really helped clear things up... So far no one was able to explain it to me in such clarity... It will take out a lot of confusion out of my next sailing day.

So far, I have only been using the traveler to move the boom out of the way when the main sail is down and I want to have a better view and more space to eat lunch in a calm :)


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