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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 04:45 PM.