When the wind is up around 10 to 15 knots, I have trouble tacking on my 28-foot O'Day when I'm sailing with just the jib. I start the tack, but when the bow is dead into the wind and I am ready to switch the sail to port, the boat falls off to starboard. Is this because I don't have enough boat speed, or is it because I am sailing with just the jib?
Dan Dickison responds:
Thanks for the question. One of the interesting things about sailboats is that all designs behave in their own unique way. Sure every boat harnesses the wind, but some are more close-winded than others and some are better at tacking than others. If you've ever watched beach catamarans tacking in moderate winds, you'll know that the sailors aboard these boats need to backwind the headsail on nearly every tack, particularly if there are any waves to deal with.
Now as I recall, the O'Day 28 is a moderate displacement boat, weighing at somewhere around 7,300 pounds. Because of this considerable weight, you're not going to have an easy time of sailing the boat upwind under headsail alone and the problems you've been experiencing while tacking most likely stem from this. I wouldn't worry though because most designs aren't that accomplished at sailing upwind with just their headsail drawing. The designer of the O'Day, in this case Raymond Hunt, probably never intended your boat to go upwind well under headsail alone, even in 15 knots of breeze.
So, to answer your question more directly, yes, you're not able to complete your tacks because you don't have sufficient boat speed, and that's because you only have one of the two sails working that were designed to power the boat upwind.
Good luck to you and fair winds.