Just how close can you sheet the headsail? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 02-12-2012
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Just how close can you sheet the headsail?

I was recently talking with a Formosa 46 owner who sailed her to Fiji and New Zeland and back to the West Coast by way of Easter Island. He was saying that he managed to make his boat perform much better to weather by adding a staysail stay, and sheeting the staysail inside the shrouds.

Currently on his boat, as on mine, the sheeting angle of the headsail is limited by our shrouds, which go to the edge of the hull. In my case 12'2" beam. I know racers often have shrounds in the middle of the side decks and even though they're in the way, the boat is supposed to be more weatherly because they can sheet in closer.

I plan on adding a soilent stay and a staysail to my boat as well before going off and was wondering about his idea of sheeting inside the shrouds. I strongly believe in keeping my side decks clear, so I was thinking of installing my track, or turning block to the deckhouse. My question though, is how close is too close for sheeting the headsail? I'm sure there would be a point where I was so close to the main that I was choking off the slot. How do I know how close is good, and how close is too much?

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Old 02-12-2012
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What you are thinking is a relatively common practice, the advantage of having more sailplan flexibility can be a big help in both light and heavy air. If you snug up your inner tracks to the house/deck joint, you still have relatively unobstructed catwalks, and a better sheeting angle than installing the tracks on the house itself.
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Old 02-12-2012
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You are right to be concerned about choking off the slot. A lot depends on the cut of the sails, and whether they're set up to work together. The amount of wind will make a difference. A rough sea will not help maintain airflow over the foils either. A careful balance of sail size, shape, and windspeed may provide great results, but it may take some trail and error to determine what works best.
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Old 02-12-2012
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Often there's a concern about sheeting in to improve your minimum apparent wind angle to a point where the underbody of the design will cease to resist leeway, at which point you're not really gaining anything but a better looking windex indication.. your VMG to windward may indeed suffer.

This is particularly true of taking a typical 70/80s design and adding inboard tracks to try to point with a Melges 32... How this idea would ultimately affect a boat like yours would be interesting to find out. You don't really have any underwater 'foils', leeway resistance is probably primarily from lateral plane.

I think you'd have to be vigilant about watching the 'slot' and be ready to bear off and ease if you find your boatspeed suffering despite the 'better angle' and flying telltales.
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Old 02-13-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
Often there's a concern about sheeting in to improve your minimum apparent wind angle to a point where the underbody of the design will cease to resist leeway, at which point you're not really gaining anything but a better looking windex indication.. your VMG to windward may indeed suffer.
Ummm.... This sounds smart, but I don't entirely follow. Care to expand and perhaps dumb it down a little for me? Do you mean that if I sail to close to the wind that there will be a point where my hull shape will fail to resist leeway and even though I'll "point" more towards where I want to go, the boat will actually crab more and I'll loose out in the end?

I've had many a high-aspect-toting sloop sailor tell me that ketches can't go to weather for crap. Since I'm at the disadvantage of having a ketch, surely I won't end up (with an inside jib track) pointing better than my full-keeled sloop cousins will I?

On a separate note, I was thinking that using the staysail halyard while going to windward would be better also because it would provide more overlap (for a given size of headsail) with the mainsail, much like today's high-aspect rigs. Is this logic correct?

Please, tell me more. For reference, here is a look at my boat's underside. (consider yourself lucky, I don't let just anyone peek under the waterline)



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Last edited by MedSailor; 02-13-2012 at 12:37 AM.
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Old 02-13-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MedSailor View Post
Ummm.. I don't entirely follow. Care to expand and perhaps dumb it down a little for me? Do you mean that if I sail to close to the wind that there will be a point where my hull shape will fail to resist leeway and even though I'll "point" more towards where I want to go, the boat will actually crab more and I'll loose out in the end?
I don't need to dumb it down at all.. you got it in one. However that concept, if I understand it correctly (not a guarantee.. we really need one of the "H"s (Jeff or Rich) to lay this out in a way that makes sense..)... anyhow that idea applies to using the foil shape of a fin keel to build lift to resist leeway.

I went on to say that I'm not sure how that concept (ie improving 'sheeting angle') will transfer to a full keeled vessel like yours. Unlike the potential 'lift' to weather from a foil shape, I believe a full keeled vessel primarily resists leeway by virtue of it's underwater profile's resistance to sideways motion (kinda like trying to drag a piece of plywood sideways in the water) so the risk of stalling the foil wouldn't apply. So I'd guess it would be more of how much you can maintain the drive of the sailplan while bringing the sails in closer to midships.. You may be tempted to over trim the main to compensate and that likely won't help matters either.
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Old 02-13-2012
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There are a gazillion double headsail ketches out there. I'd check out the details of the rigging of some of the known well performing ones. As per Faster's comments, I'd stick to long keeled designs - maybe not strictly as full keeled as yours but certainly I'd ignore high performance fin type bottoms.

If you truly want separate tracks, my gut inclination would be to set the staysail track where the flying foresails would evenly split the slot. I'd imagine that would be near or alongside your cabin trunk.

For what you want to do, my own preference would be to use a club boom and sheet the staysail to a traveller or "horse". It would be self tacking that way and you already have plenty to do tacking a ketch, even if it IS slow in stays.

Lastly, a question: since you sail around here, why do you want to bother? I'd be more inclined to get the biggest genoa I could reasonably fly, in a weight recommended by a local sailmaker familiar with your boat and our light local conditions. I think that sail would get a lot more use here than a staysail.
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Old 02-13-2012
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It is much better to use a bigger genova and the mizzen sail instead of the main to have better vmg for a ketch. Insted of trying to have a narrower angle, you will have better vmg.
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Old 02-13-2012
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A sweet spot on more modern boats is around 10-12*. For a Ketch, with a full keel, I wouldn't even bother.
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Old 02-13-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zz4gta View Post
A sweet spot on more modern boats is around 10-12*. ..........
I've seen this quoted more than once, and have a 110 and smaller HS tracks set up accordingly. Not sure about the full keel ketch part.

I also agree with sloopbj, get the biggest lightest cloth genoa you can handle for the light days around here. BUT, if you are talking off shore in windier conditions.....that is another issue.

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