Join Date: Jul 2009
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As stated above, you are experiencing Weather Helm. This is where the boat wants to turn itself into the wind while sailing/heeling. The opposite is Lee Helm where the boat wants to turn "away" or "down" wind while sailing/heeling. This is a Sail/Mast/Rig Tune Up problem. It may also be a result of your swing keel not being lower properly or all the way down in the keel/centerboard trunk.
1) Make sure your mast is vertical side-to-side. Duct tape a tape measure to your Main Halyard. Hoist the tape and halyard up to the top of the mast. Place the lower end of the tape measure at the base of your side stay/shroud turn buckle on the Starboard side. Make note of the measurement. Do the same on the Port turn buckle. Is the measurement the same? If not, adjust your side stays until the measurements match. Once done, you are confident the mast of vertical side-to-side.
2) Adjust the mast Fore and Aft (front to back). If you are experiencing Weather Helm (where you must put the tiller to windward while sailing in order to keep the boat from rounding up into the wind) you need to tilt the entire mast rig Forward. Experiment until the weather helm stops. This means loosening your backstay(s) and shrouds and tightening the forestay a 1/4 or so at a time until the boat is tuned and the weather helm all but dissapears. What is ideal? When there is just a slight bit of weather helm. Some weather helm is necessary as a safety element; if you really get knocked by a blow, you want the boat to round up into the wind and luff to safety.
3) Also check your swing keel. All of the above is to be done with the swing keel lowered all the way down. If it is stuck, the boat will not sail or perform as designed. If you have clear water, lower the keel and swim under the hull with a dive mask and inspect to make sure the keel is all the way down. Finally, and if you ahave a "kick up" rudder that it remains in the down position while underway. They sometimes tend to lift up at higher speeds. This will greatly effect your Tuned Boat performance. Be sure rudder is locked in the down position.
P.S. These elements of tuning effect what is called Center of Lateral Resistance (CLR). If you want more technical specifics read about CLR in a good sailing book.
A finely tuned boat nearly eliminates skipper fatigue at the helm and is a joy to sail!