Report on switching to open footed main this season - SailNet Community

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Old 05-22-2011
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Report on switching to open footed main this season

After reading quite a bit over the off season about loose footed mains, I talked to my sail guy and rigger about whether or not my clew eyelet was reinforced enough to just pull the sail out of the slot on the boom or not. They gave me the go-ahead, so I did it just before my first sail of the season a couple of weeks ago.

So far it all seems positive. I like the shape of the sail better, and while I'm no great judge of these things, it seems as though she points a little better upwind. I'll keep an eye on everything as the season goes on, but so far I like it.

One other thing, unrelated to going loose footed, since she did this before: on a broad reach today I noticed again her tendency to want to come up into the wind in any wind with a full main and 130 genoa. I mostly singlehand, and so might be guilty of not tending to sail trim as much as I should.

When she did it to me today we were moving pretty good (GPS showed 5.5-6mph over the ground), and out of sheer frustration I just kept letting out the main until the weather helm went away. The boom was over the side pretty far, and the top of the main was resting against the spreaders (but not pressing hard, just lying on them), and the leech was just fine, no flogging or even a sign of it. The telltales on the edge of the main were mostly streaming straight back.

So, judging by the look and behavior of the sail, she was right where she wanted to be. Is that all I should really be concerned with?

One other other thing: the telltales on the main. I can read the jib's, but what should I look for on the main? What does it mean when they curl back around on the other side of the sail, as opposed to streaming straight back? What else can they tell me about the flow of air over it and what I should do?
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Old 05-23-2011
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I single hand a lot w/o an autopilot so I understand where you are coming from. My sails are rarely precisely trimmed unless I have a have others on the boat.

I keep things simple when I'm alone -- I set the outhaul and jib cars before I leave the dock based on predicted wind speed. I set halyard tension when I raise the main. To trim the main I adjust the traveller and the mainsheet; to trim the headsail I adjust the jib sheet. For any given course, I ease each sail's sheet until the sail luffs then sheet it in until it doesn't. Then I look at the telltales and fine tune it. I adjust the jib until its telltales show flow on both sides. I don't often use the main's telltales on the leech, but when I do I look for the telltales to show just a little angle. In lighter air you may need to trim again once you get to speed because your relative wind changes.

No matter how experienced you are at sailing, it's a good idea to to go back and read the basics and then some more advanced stuff every few years. When you have some sailing buddies aboard, you can put it to work. For your reading pleasure, here is US Sailing's Sail Trimming Guide and Gus Farrar's Guide.
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Old 05-23-2011
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When the main tell tales curl around the back of the sail, you are over-trimmed. Ease until they all stream behind the sail except for the very top tell-tale. Trim until that one is playing "peek-a-boo" behind the leech. (just barely trying to hide behind the leech).

Last year, I was told that over-trimming is one of the most common errors and it's true. I'm a chronic over-trimmer and consciously fight doing it.
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Old 05-23-2011
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I got the feeling I was overtrimming when I just let the main way out more than I normally would on Sunday and noticed how the weather helm went away, yet the telltales looked better and the leech was not flogging. I am going to pay a lot closer attention to those in the future.
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Old 05-23-2011
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All boats have their own characteristics and quirks so I'm not sure how this would play out on your boat, but-

You can also play the traveller. If you have a lot of weather helm, but you like the way your tell tales are streaming, let the traveler down. Once you run out of traveler, then start easing the mainsheet.
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Old 05-23-2011
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Getting all the main telltales to stream nicely is not easy. Takes a combination of mainsheet, traveller and vang trim. And yes, overtrimming is VERY common - and a major cause of excessive weather helm.
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Old 05-23-2011
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Weve used our new main now a couple of times, the first loose footed sail I have ever owned. Have played a little with the outhaul on the down wind legs yesterday from Worton Creek to the mouth of the Patapsco and notice a slight speed pickup when I loosened it. Still getting used to seeing daylight under the sail and above the boom, but am liking the advantages of it so far

Dave
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