Join Date: May 2002
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First, when the tension on the jibsheet is so great that you can't release it and flip it off the winch, wait until the boat has started into the turn before you release the jibsheet. As the boat turns, the tension on the jibsheet will abate. When the jib has that much tension on it, that means the sail is still driving the boat, so, if you release the jib too soon, you are wasting some of that driving force.
Next, I'm not an advocate of backwinding the jib during a tack. When you tack, the jib handler ( or "tailer" if you prefer) only has a very limited amount of time between the release of the working jibsheet until the time when the jib loads up on the new tack in which to accomplish a lot of tasks. By backwinding the jib, you pull the bow over onto the new tack more quickly, reducing that already minimal amount of time.
If the jib or jibsheet is snagging on the rigging as you tack, you can reduce that likelihood by making some changes in your jibsheet attachment, or by installing rollers on the shrouds. If I have crew, I'll send a crewmember to the foredeck to throw the jib across the rigging by hand, when necessary, which is usually only in light air.
I also do not agree with the idea of over-turning through the tack. When you do that, the jib is first loaded and begins to drive the boat, as I understand your description, 10-20 degrees to leeward of your intended course. As a result, the boat begins to sail in the wrong direction until the jib handler is able to trim the jib up to a closehauled course. That will quickly work your crew to exhaustion. The better approach is for the helmsman to stop the turn when the jib is streaming aft approximately along the gunwale of the boat. While the jib is still unloaded, the tailer can then haul in all but the last little bit of the jibsheet by hand, without having to use the winch handle, and that's when the helmsman should bear off a couple of degrees and load up the jib. On most small to medium sized boats, if the helmsman and tailer are coordinated, the tailer should be able to haul in most of the jibsheet by hand, without using the winch handle, and should only need the winch handle for the final trim of the sail. Most of us know that the helmsman should bear off slightly after a tack, to help the boat accelerate up to speed, but most people take that principle much too far. If the helmsman and jib handler do it right, the small amount of final trimming that the jib handler needs to do should be just about the right amount to let the boat accelerate efficiently.
Even a totally inexperienced newbie can be very helpful to you in handling a boat. In such case, I have the newbie steer the boat while I handle the jib during the tack. I give the newbie very clear, simple directions that anyone can understand. If the boat is tiller-steered, I'll tell him or her to "push it away from you," or "pull it toward you," or "center it." If it's wheel-steered, I'll tell him to "turn right," or "turn left," or "center the wheel." In that way, I can direct him to stop the turn at just the right point and to turn it at just the right rate, as if I was steering it myself. If you give a newbie directions that are so clear that he can understand, and give him a task that he is capable of doing under your direction, he can be very helpful.
Last edited by Sailormon6; 04-17-2009 at 10:00 AM.