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Old 01-04-2013
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Lightbulb Beating to windward

Can some sailboats point higher than others? I have heard that the Olympic class Star and Flying Dutchman sailboats can point higher (sail closer to the wind) than most other sailboats. I have also heard that catboats and catamarans usually do not point very well to windward.

Are these statements true? If so, is a boatís pointing ability, or lack thereof, significant? (Is it a matter of just a degree or two, or ten to fifteen degrees?) Does good pointing ability mean good speed to windward, or are some boats faster to windward than others with only average pointing ability?

Can someone explain this to me?

Richard
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Beating to windward

If you spend a lot of time 'beating' to weather then pointing ability is quite important. But 'pointing' isn't the whole story.

Modern race boats can point quite high, they have optimized rigs and state-of-the-art underbody designs that resist leeway, and when properly handled are upwind rocket ships. Certainly there are designs that 'point' better than others, and the actual pointing ability as far as sails go is tied to deck hardware arrangement, rig tension and tuning, and the skill of the sailor among other things. But a boat that can, for example, keep the telltales flying at a close angle to the wind isn't necessarily getting to weather as effectively as one might think. If the underbody won't support that sailing angle the boat often suffers excessive leeway, negating the 'gain' of the the narrow angle. So the same boat may well get to weather more quickly by not sailing quite so 'high', reducing leeway, going faster, covering a bit more 'ground', but in essence would gain more weather distance sooner....

Fat, max beam-forward boats with no provision to sheet sails inboard will necessarily have a wide sheeting angle that will not permit 'pointing'.. whether that boat could be improved with deck arrangements is often debatable. Bluff/wide entry angles of the hull will suffer from wave action, slowing further, etc etc...

I'm no designer and I'm probably explaining this badly, but the simple answer to the question 'do some boats point better' is a resounding YES!
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Beating to windward

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Originally Posted by rlltrash View Post
... If so, is a boat’s pointing ability, or lack thereof, significant?
It depends on the boat's use.

Most racing today is done on short windward-leeward, round-the-buoys courses which emphasize tactics, crew work and boat handling skills, so the shortest course is almost directly upwind half the distance and almost directly downwind half the other distance. Upwind ability is very important since velocity made good upwind will determine how the fleet places on half the distance of the course. Now that racing boats can plane downwind and achieve much greater speed downwind than upwind, however, a fast downwind boat can still overcome a slight disadvantage upwind.

Upwind ability is less important while cruising. Some cruising sailors eschew upwind sailing completely, "Gentlemen don't sail to weather", and will inevitably motor to windward in almost all conditions. If you cruise any significant amount, it is not unusual to go out on a perfect sailing day and see perfectly capable (and usually expensive) boats motoring upwind instead of sailing. (These are the same boats you see running dead downwind with the boom trimmed to the centerline of the boat and the roller-furling jib on the wrong side.) To these sailors, beating upwind is too uncomfortable, difficult, frustrating and slow. Beating upwind requires skill, perseverence, heeling, spray, pounding, trimming in the headsail, scary noises, and attendant discomfort. It is difficult to hold your cocktail upright and maintain a calm demeanor for your guests with your ascot perfectly tied while your boat is pounding into the waves at a 30 degree angle. Plus, your wife may not sleep with you for at least a week if you persist. Nevertheless, on a given desirable cruising course heading with wind from no predominant direction, if you care to sail, you will end up going to weather at least 1/4 of the time (= 90/360 degrees) and downwind 1/4 of the time. So, you will effectively spend half your time beating or running downwind.

Running downwind can be equally scary. Some sailors have balls and some don't. Those without should probably just give up, spare us all the embarrassment, and buy a trawler.

Almost all boats sail well while reaching. The greatest speed differences are achieved upwind or downwind.

Last edited by jameswilson29; 01-04-2013 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Beating to windward

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlltrash View Post
Can some sailboats point higher than others? I have heard that the Olympic class Star and Flying Dutchman sailboats can point higher (sail closer to the wind) than most other sailboats. I have also heard that catboats and catamarans usually do not point very well to windward.

Are these statements true? If so, is a boatís pointing ability, or lack thereof, significant? (Is it a matter of just a degree or two, or ten to fifteen degrees?) Does good pointing ability mean good speed to windward, or are some boats faster to windward than others with only average pointing ability?

Can someone explain this to me?

Richard
Yes it's true.

Usually, lack of pointing ability results in a lower VMG, which results in a longer travel time to your destination (whatever that may be), however in the case of multi-hull boats, they are often fast enough, that their sheer hull speed keeps their VMG high enough to compare or beat monohulls. True, they end up sailing a great number of actual miles, but they sail them faster, and so arrive at their destination sooner than your average, cruising monohull might.

That's sort of an apples-to-oranges comparison though. If you restrict the comparison to mono-vs-mono or multi-vs-multi, then yes- Loss of point can result in more miles sailed, and longer to arrive.

The importance of pointing ability is largely determined by YOU.If you race, then pointing ability is probably very important.
If you're a cruiser who places a priority on sailing vs. motoring, pointing ability will be important, because you want to arrive at your destination before your turn to skeletons.

If you're a day-sailor who's just farting around it's not a huge deal.
If you don't like the upwind motion, and prefer to motor, then it's not going to be important.

Pointing ability between boats can vary as much as 10 degrees. There are a LOT of factors that contribute to this. Design, sail condition, rig tune, etc.

Really, Faster's explaination was pretty good. I'm probably just re-hashing what he said.
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Beating to windward

You want to go to windward. Get a canting keel 20 feet deep with a load of depleted uranium on the bottom, plus a set of serious crisp paper sails which you replace every 6 months.

Dont care about going to windward. Get a fat bottomed bilge keeler with baggy sails.

Trust me you WILL notice a difference.
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Beating to windward

Hey,

I can add some real world numbers to this.

I crew on a well prepared early 80's C&C 34 with all sorts of go fast gear: deep keel, rod rigging, faired bottom that is kept clean, 2 blade folding prop, high tech laminated head sails, hydraulic backstay adjuster, crew of 4 or so sitting on the weather rail (in a good breeze), empty water tanks, no anchor on the foredeck, etc.

My own boat is a 1986 O'day 35 with shoal keel, 3 blade fixed prop, dacron sails (headsail is 4 years old), fixed backstay, dodger up all the time, 30lb anchor on the bow, full water tanks, no crew, etc.

The race boat sails at about 32 degrees apparent wind angle. My boat sails at about 40 degrees apparent wind angle.

I have been working to improve my pointing ability and by making changes to the boat I have improved the pointing by about 5 degrees. This year I am planning on changing the rigging and getting the forestay properly tensioned, and adding a new main. I might be able to sail a little higher but I can't trim the headsail in tighter without it hitting the shrouds.

Barry
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Beating to windward

ACC boats typically could point 30* to the true wind. Aparant wind was something like 20*. Actual tacking angles were 60* or less. That's a HUGE advantage to someone who tacks through a typical 90* tack. Do the trig and decide if it's that important.

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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Beating to windward

I don't know much; but years ago I read how the racers/engineers pared back sizes and weights of stuff till it broke, then went back up one size.....
I figger it's better ta get there in one piece than get there FAST and chance breaking something!
Am I wrong??
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Beating to windward

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlltrash View Post
Can some sailboats point higher than others? I have heard that the Olympic class Star and Flying Dutchman sailboats can point higher (sail closer to the wind) than most other sailboats. I have also heard that catboats and catamarans usually do not point very well to windward.

Are these statements true? If so, is a boatís pointing ability, or lack thereof, significant? (Is it a matter of just a degree or two, or ten to fifteen degrees?) Does good pointing ability mean good speed to windward, or are some boats faster to windward than others with only average pointing ability?

Can someone explain this to me?

Richard
It can vary by the design: some boats that look like tubs point just fine. Others that should be witches to weather are not. But as a general rule....

1. Long, narrow boats with fine entries point better than short, fat ones with bluff bows.

2. Deep hulls point better than flat-sectioned ones.

3. Boats with thin, blade-like appendages generate more lift (resisting leeway) than boats with long-chord keel & rudder.

4. Boats with inboard sheeting (usually fractional rig) point higher than boats with overlapping genoas.

5. Sloops point higher than ketches or yawls; cat(boat) rigs should (theoretically) point higher than sloops, but in practice turbulence behind the mast and lack of a slot effect cancels the benefits.

6. Slow boats point higher than fast boats; going too slow may cause leeway, tho.

7. Stiff boats point higher than tender boats.

Still. It's a package deal, and appearances may deceive. There are long, slender hulls betrayed by poor appendages or inefficient sailplans that don't point like they oughta (see Albin Vega). There are flat-sectioned beamy hulls like the Open60 that point quite high indeed: they ride on their hard chine, have incredibly good sails, deep narrow foils & ballast carried low, and maybe even daggerboards to increase lift. Tho chances are they will sail lower most of the time, just for the extra speed. But they CAN point high at need.

IOR boats are famous for good windward ability, yet they have outboard-sheeting genoas & moderate appendages. Just the ideal balance of righting moment, hull shape, and boat speed. OTOH, multis should point very high indeed (extreme L/B, high initial stability, blade jibs, powerful full-battened mains, etc), yet many struggle to achieve 45 degrees true. That's mostly because they are so fast, traveling up to 2x wind speed; they shift the apparent wind angle right onto the nose, so they have to crack off to keep the sails drawing. Odds are they'll still whup you to the weather mark, even tacking thru 100 degrees.

Finally, a given boat may see its pointing angles vary by 15 degrees due to conditions & the size of its 'groove.' Take our SJ21. Never the most weatherly craft (bluff entry, flat sections, swept keel, short waterline), there is a narrow window (8-11kts true) where that boat will tack thru 80 degrees, if you get the heel angle just so. Less wind, the foils stall and (being a light boat) boat speed is too high a percentage of wind speed, pushing apparent too far forward. More wind, the boat begins making leeway, chop knocks the bows off, and you need to ease sheets to prevent excess heeling. Narrowest groove of any boat I've ever sailed on: outside that ideal windspeed range, we are happy to tack thru 100 degrees & expect substantial leeway.

Etchells is a monster for pointing. Star, as you say, if you have crew that can droop-hike for two hours. Your Meter boats, even though their keels generally suck.
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Old 01-04-2013
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Re: Beating to windward

Quote:
Originally Posted by deltaten View Post
I figger it's better ta get there in one piece than get there FAST and chance breaking something!
Am I wrong??
You are not "wrong" but its a puerile statement. Unless you make good boat speed to weather the leeway will push you backwards so you will never get to where you are going.... Unless, like old sailing ships your turn and go round the world.

Beating to weather in a cruising boat built poorly is hell to take cruising to weather. You don't make anywhere near a 90 degree tack. With waves slowing the boat, leeway, current, unusable gusts, a good cruising boat may be quite lucky to get 110 degrees. A poor boat 130 degrees.

When I say unusable gusts I mean because we are not hand steering we can't take advantage that a helmsman would of gusts, minor variations in direction "lifts" etc. a racing boat going well up wind is using them all. I spose too that every "knock" on a cruising boat on autopilot will slow the boat down more and for longer than hand steering.

In my idea of cruising I try to do the upwind bits in a block. I am not interested in sailing them in day hops, give me the bad stuff and lets get it over with.

Mark
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Last edited by MarkofSeaLife; 01-04-2013 at 12:51 PM.
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