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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #1  
Old 04-26-2007
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Trimming sails...can you simplify?

I realize there are as many theories and techniques and rigging set-ups for managing sail trim as there are tips on improving your golf swing, but is there a simplifies theory on how to go about improving your trim?

I was told that it's pretty simple. Ease up the sheets till the sail begins to luff, then trim it back in till the luffing stops. This along with flattening your sail will depower it, should be a good place to start, but damn, there is so much more to consider...

Traveller adjustment, Genoa car adjustment, outhaul and cunningham adjustment... It makes ones head want to asplode.

So where does one begin? I was doing ok and this was really no problem at all until I started watching my speed on the GPS. Now I want to make it go faster. I have managed to squeeze 5.1kts out of it using a 130%, how tough will 6kts be?

Where do I start if I want to speed up a bit?
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Old 04-26-2007
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Wait till the wind blows harder?

Seriously, it will depend on how you like to sail, who you are with when sailing, and how your mind works. There are a lot of good books out there on sailing and sail trim. I particularly like Steve Colgate on Sailing. Simple enough to get you going, or detailed enough to make you better. You will find that like anything else, you will learn from your mistakes. You might make what you think is a mistake and you will go faster. You have just learned. You will learn that there is a point of heel that begins to slow the boat, but it just seems faster because the rail is buried. A little of both doesn't hurt either.

Have fun at the process. Just keep trying. As far as all of those parts that seem intimidatig, they may be. Once you learn about them and practice with them they become second nature. However, I also know people that have their own boats and love to sail that have never moved their traveler. Whatever floats your boat I guess.

Now, go back to your question. At what point in your life did you think that you would ever consider 6 kts FAST! The day you bought a sailboat and fell in love.
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Old 04-26-2007
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Tommyt, thanks for indicating those books.

I saw a thread here with valuable primer information.

Jeff
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Old 04-26-2007
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Crewing on a racing boat would probably be the best place to start. Watch, ask questions like, "Why do you do that?", "What would you do if...?" Pay attention, try it out on your own boat, see what works for you.
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Old 04-26-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommyt
At what point in your life did you think that you would ever consider 6 kts FAST! The day you bought a sailboat and fell in love.
lol yeah well, true that. My other hobby involves fairly intense speed...

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Old 04-26-2007
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Scrapiron if you really want to simplify, you get a power boat.

Seriously though, the rule of thumb is to trim from the bow to the stern. If you take pride in your speed, or you need it, you want to use every trim option on the boat and things like a genoa cunningham may be essential yo you.

If you are just out for some fun...you can ignore cunninghams and vangs and cars and just raise the sail then trim it. That's all up to you.

For me it is something like waiting in a diner for the food, and playing "What's wrong with this picture" on the puzzle placemats. I'll look at the sails and say "OK, that wooly isn't flying, what would make it fly right?" or "why are there wrinkles there?" and work my way through.

First couple of sails of the year I'm a disaster, I'll never qualify as a sailmaster.

North Sails used to give away some very nice little trimming guides, a pamphlet that ws #10 envelope sized and maybe 16 pages thick, showing the basics and the sequence to do them in. A lot of lofts and sailmakers should have something similar for you, you read it when you can, trim what you can, and don't worry about getting it perfect--unless you just heard there's only one slip left at the dock where you promised to take someone for dinner.

I would very much NOT suggest asking trim questions while crewing on a racing boat--the guys who are doing the trimming, unless it is a very slow day, don't have time for distractions and won't appreciate it. By all means watch, but competition trimming can take full concentration.

If you really want a compendium on sail trim, see if "The Best of Sail" is still published. It is about 200 pages of sail trimming articles from Sail Magazine, and if you just read one at a time, it gives you bite-sized answers without overwhelming you.

To the guy who borrowed my first copy and disappeared with it...I still remember your name, if karma doesn't get you, I will.

Last edited by hellosailor; 04-26-2007 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 04-26-2007
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oh i don't want to go speedboat fast, I love the moment when I cut the motor and am purely on sails. I was just wondering if there was a preferred method for trimming the sails. Bow to stern is a very goos start.

Unfortunately, my sails do not have tell-tales on them. I am not sure if the once did and they are just gone now or whether they were never there.
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Old 04-26-2007
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Telltales are easy. If you want to "do it right" you find a yarn store and buy two skeins of their best lightweight wool yarn, real wool, one red one green. Otherwise, you pull some cassette tape out of a broken or cheap audio cassette.

Then you take you sail down, lay it out flat, and stick on the woolies (or tape) using silver-dollar sized pieces of duct tape (cheap, not durable), gaffer's tape (much better, about $10/roll) or sail repair tape (marine prices) one piece per wooly. Put the starboard ones an inch lower than the port side ones, so you can still tell them apart even if you are seeing both highlighted by the sun through the sail at the sun time.

Depending on how big your sails are, one set of three set back from the luff, one set forward of the leech, a third set in the middle if the sail is big enough to leave a big gap there.

Clean the sail with some soap and fresh water before you stick the tape on--if there's salt residue, the tape peels too quickly.
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Old 04-26-2007
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Experience.. there is nothing like it. It wasn;t until I started to race boats that sail trim really sunk in. You mentioned something about speed and wanting to attain 6kts. What is youe LWL? Here is a formula for you to find out what your boat should max out at ...and give you something to shoot for. knots = 1.34 X square root of your water line.
I found this book a couple of years ago:
Sail and Rig Tuning (Paperback)
by Ivar Dedekam (Author)
It is quick and easy with great graphics. Good luck
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Old 04-26-2007
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Hull Speed for a Catalina 25 is 6.31 kts, so in all fairness, I am within a knot of that point. I just have a feeling, that eeking out that last knot will be tough. I will try out my 150% this coming weekend, as I have yet to raise that sail.

Last edited by skrap1r0n; 04-26-2007 at 04:35 PM.
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