...are you serious that the helm is appropriately balanced, you're in for a world of hurt, right?
Well first of all, this guy in that pic is dragging his boom and clew section through the water, so he's pinned from 'rounding up' and his only 'out' from 'anything' is to bear off and go down ... and then try to keep the boat directly 'under' the mast when he drastically accelerates. :-o
Most times and no matter how far a boat is heeled over (and not skidding off to the lee) if the helm can be held 'easily' to no more than 2-3° off of the centerline to control a straight course; there in no
weather helm nor lee helm - perfect !!!!! The BIG planing hull sailboats do this all the time and as a matter of course - ILYA Scows, the Ozzie skiffs, ... as well as most 'symmetric hulled' boats, etc. You can sail such boats over onto their beam ends --- and usually never feel any change in the rudder pressure ... all depending if the boat and sail 'shaping' and sail trim are set up well !!!!!!!
First, The question of rudder ventilation is important, especially on rudder systems that aren't flooded or totally submerged - such as stern hung rudders. Such a rudder with its top out of the water and held turned at wide angles
against the apparent oncoming flow can easily 'ventilate'; if not held over beyond those few degrees usually wont
ventilate. Have a LOT of adverse helm on such a rudder ... and expect a 'pirouette' when the rudder loses 'bite'.
Obviously in those conditions such a boat should be steered by sail shape as well as by trim (ie. slightly hooking up the leech by aggressive mainsheet pressure, or unloading the mainsheet to 'trip' the leech a bit, etc. etc. etc.) so as to get CORRECT
rudder/helm pressure. What I mean by correct helm pressure is when I completely let go of the helm the boat, the boat VERY SLOWLY
heads up ... and you usually get that when the boat needs no more than 2-3° of rudder offset to hold a dead straight course when on a hard beat.
FWIW - On the newer maxi-boats, etc. its good to see the acceptance of twin submerged rudders ... the big ILYA scows and 'skimming dish' hulls have been doing such for almost 120 years to prevent ventilation. Such however doesnt totally prevent rudder ventilation, just lowers the possibility, .... so does not having large or undue amounts of weather or lee helm which require dragging the rudder through the water sideways to keep a course !!!!!!!
Second. If the mast is properly raked, and the sails are correctly raised
, most weather or lee helm problems will be sail SHAPE problems --- most times weather helm is because the position of where the maximum draft occurs
is all WRONG - too far aft in the sail; or, the leeches are hooked up to weather or are tripped, etc. .... all sail SHAPE problems that lead to dynamic
imbalance ... and should be corrected long before you get down to 'trimming' errors. You change the Position of Max. draft - POMD, fore or aft in a sail by adjusting halyard or cunningham tension ... doing so will change the DYNAMIC CE of the sails.
Additionally, Skidding to leeward problems are usually rig tension (backstay tension) error problems - a skid can 'feel' exactly like a weather helm problem; and, only your stern turbulence wake can tell you the difference between the two.
As far that pic ... that tiller is held certainly along near the centerline by just a very few degrees offset (not much danger of the rudder ventilating, .... yet) which kind of indicates not much in 'helm problems'. The helmsman 'looks comfortable' (but, he really should be using his FINGERTIPS on that tiller instead of his whole hand - Id feel better and know more about his adverse 'helm pressure' if he did have any). Other than being pinned from turning into the wind by that dragging mainsail boom, and forgot to move the fairlead car forward for the jib when he went onto a reach, Id say he's doing a good job for being overcanvassed for the current wind speed .... and as from what I can see as his 'helm balance'.
I think to better clarify 'my' approach to reefing and 'weather helm' is I usually dont care how far the boat goes over ... as long as I dont develop adverse helm pressure in doing so. If I do develop adverse pressure then Im first going to look at the stern wake to look to see if its a skid; and if not, then secondly look for the usual sail SHAPE error thats causing weather helm (and its usually mainsail halyard/cunningham tension OR jib halyard tension or a fairlead error ... or forestay/backstay tension if Im skidding) .... I do prefer to sail symmetric hull forms; my 'sport boats' are ILYA Scows and my crab-crusher is a "Perry boat" ... and they all 'love
' to be sailed over on their 'ears'.
I most humbly think that 'the bulk' of all the weather helm & Lee helm problems is simply because 'sailing books', etc. etc. usually totally avoid or entirely omit how to SHAPE a sail to obtain the best DYNAMIC
combined CE vs. CLR of a boat. That, plus the usage of 'furlers', especially in-mast and in-boom furlers ... where just about all you can do
is make those white triangular things 'bigger or smaller' and which leave one with almost zilch possibility of shape
hope this helps. Sorry for being so long-winded.