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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #11  
Old 10-23-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenuki View Post
Cunningham is the easiest sail control to rig usually, all you need is about 6+ feet of line and the ability to cleat it off.
I think that depends on how much canvas you're carrying and the conditions under which you're trying to use it. For example: On the J36 upon which we crewed at the tail-end of the summer series the Cunningham was a small tackle system with, IIRC, 6:1 purchase. That boat carries one heckuva big mainsail.

I wonder, though: If the halyard is good and tight, why a Cunningham actually does anything?

Jim
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  #12  
Old 10-23-2007
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I was thinking of a hand held windspeed indicator - cheap and accurate enough to help you judge broadly what the conditions are. They are essentially a venturi tube with a ball in it - not suitable for constant monitoring more for setting up.
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  #13  
Old 10-23-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post
I wonder, though: If the halyard is good and tight, why a Cunningham actually does anything?

Jim
By using the halyard, you can increase the tension on the luff of the sail, just the same as by using a cunningham. But, if you want to change the tension on the luff, it's usually quicker and easier to increase it or decrease it by using the cunningham than by using the halyard. In other words, the cunningham is usually easier to adjust than the halyard.
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  #14  
Old 10-23-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailormon6 View Post
By using the halyard, you can increase the tension on the luff of the sail, just the same as by using a cunningham. But, if you want to change the tension on the luff, it's usually quicker and easier to increase it or decrease it by using the cunningham than by using the halyard. In other words, the cunningham is usually easier to adjust than the halyard.
An in addition to that, if the halyard is up to the "black stripe" then the only way to further increase luff tension is to pull down with the sly pig. A 6:1 tackle is pretty much the minimum for an effective cunningham on anything 30 feet and up.

the last racing main we bought for our former 24 footer called for the main to be hoisted to the sheave, and all tension was applied by the cunningham from there.
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  #15  
Old 10-23-2007
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cunningham's purpose is totally different than the halyard. the halyard is only luff tension, the cunningham is aft of the luff and actually controls the draft position, moving the sail draft forward.

Try it, you'll like it.
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  #16  
Old 10-23-2007
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Being as MY boat was the one tenuki was on. We also were reefed. BUT, the way my main comes down, the first luff reef is above the boom a bit, vs the rest being level. So we attached a line to the 2nd reef grommet, pulled it down, and the luff was straighted out. We also had the halyard up as tight as it would go. We did a make shift cunningham if you will. It worked well vs 2 wks ago with slightly stronger winds, no cunningham, and a worst reefing job too. I had a lot less weather helm sunday than 2 weeks ago.

Marty
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  #17  
Old 10-23-2007
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Inboard Tracks

Quote:
Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post
Replying to everybody in one go...

....We have two jib car tracks, both mounted on the toe rail: The one to aft is longer. I left the cars on that and moved them all the way forward. Even all the way forward, that car was way aft of the clew.
Sounds like you do not have an inboard jib track. Is that correct? If so, install an inboard track (close to the cabin side) - being able to trim inboard versus to the rail gives you a free pointing improvement of perhaps 5 degrees, worth more than any of the other changes you could make, and works with any jib. I would not think a P30 could perform close to its rating without inboard tracks. It would be a real conundrum for a PO to buy racing sails but not use inboard sheeting...
You should ensure you know how to determine proper jib block positioning, there have been a few threads on this subject in the past month.
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  #18  
Old 10-23-2007
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I congratulate and commend you for going out and racing last weekend! You have turned a corner. Not only did you go out in snotty conditions that previously would have kept you tied up at the dock, but you are now looking for techniques to improve your skill set rather than writing off the whole experience as an exercise in survival. Bravo for you!

There has been a fair amount of good advice on this thread and certainly there have been numerous books written on the subject of sail trim. What follows are some thoughts and ideas that works for me and my Catalina 34. I sail in S.F. Bay where winds 20-30kts are the norm during much of our sailing season. Others may disagree, but these techniques helped me win my national championship in 2002. Most notably when we adjusted better than the others for higher winds building up during the crucial third race.

Both sails will offer you a better balanced sail plan. Furling one or the other is going to change your center of effort away from CG. You can certainly sail that way, but the boat can behave better if you make it balanced. Think of both of your sails combined as one gigantic wing – trim the whole wing, just don’t chop one part off. Old sails are baggy and will bag even more so in strong winds. I’d replace them if the opportunity presents itself. Arimids and Pentex are stronger and less stretchy with the added benefit of being much lighter (“a pound aloft is worth ten pounds on deck”). Dacron halyards and sheets also stretch. For example, we run T-900 and Spectra instead of Dacron. Don’t worry about not having anemometer, there are plenty of ways that your boat will tell you how strong the wind is and what you should do. Remember that in strong winds, there is more air blowing by your boat than your sails can convert to forward speed so your goal in trimming is to make them as flat as possible, allowing them to shed the portion of wind that is making you heel over on your ear while converting the rest into the best possible boat speed for the conditions.

Sail selection: Some people say that they can carry a 155 in 25kts of true wind. I’m not one of them. I have multiple sails all designed to be optimized at a certain wind speeds. These are your tools. You need to go out and find out which combination works best for you. Generally speaking, a large jib goes best with a large main. Small jibs will work better with a reefed main than a big one. Experiment, try different things. Our rules on sail selection are flexible, but we do have rules.

Working from the bow aft: You want lots of halyard tension (remember that it will creep over the course of the race). Over tension is when you see a vertical wrinkle along the luff. Once this is set, you can fine tune the tension using your draft stripe(s). Normally you want power, but today you want to bleed it off. Move the fair leads aft. This twists off the head and bleeds air. Normally you want the jib sheeted in closest to the boat’s centerline. But if you absolutely need to open up the slot between the jib and main (best for reaches, not so good for beating). Move the jib sheet to the outside track. We will clip in the spinnaker guy to the jib and trim that as the sheet rather than physically moving the jib sheet around. Think of both sails as one gigantic wing. Trim for the aft portion of the main. Don’t stress if you see a “bubble” develop in the luff region that is just excess air in the slot compressing on the main. The “lifting” air off the outside of the jib is “connecting” with the air on the back of the main which is giving you the lift. On our mast head boats, the backstay tensioner really doesn’t bend the mast back. It is really there for taking the “sag” out of the headstay. In strong winds the helmsman will notice that the headstay will bow out or “sag” to leeward in relation to the straight mast. Use the tensioner to move it back. Fix your tensioner if it currently doesn’t do its job.

Like the jib, for the main, you want lots of tension on both the halyard and outhaul. Same wrinkle and draft stripe rules apply. Note that the main halyard is more effective in keeping the top part of the sail tensioned and flat (lots of friction on those sail slugs!) The Cunningham is used to put tension on the lower luff and because it is offset, it will also flatten the bottom better. A flattener (a cringle like the Cunningham on the leech) will flatten the lower aft portion of the sail. These controls go away once the first reef is set. After reefing, you still want maximum tension on the luff and you want the new toe and clew to be on the boom. A clew lifting off of the boom puts belly in the main so I use a piece of spectra webbing (with Velcro) to help hold the clew on the boom. I use “maximum” mainsheet tension and adjust the angle of attack with my traveler. Use maximum vang tension too, so if you “blow” the mainsheet, the boom will stay low and the sail flat. Moving the traveler to leeward will twist off the top of the main and will relieve the heel. My other indicator is I don’t want any more than 5-10 degrees of weather helm. Speaking of which, if you have done all these adjustments, there shouldn’t bee much weather helm to speak of.

Driving: When in a beat, feather! That is steer up in puffs and down in lulls. A gust will move the apparent wind aft so take advantage of it! If the rudder is loaded up with weather helm, the driver doesn’t have the opportunity to “drive up” in puffs. So racing in heavy wind is at cross purposes. You want to power up the sails so you can accelerate and go fast, but heeling over on your ear is way slow. Find some rail crew! It is amazing what even one or two people will do on the rail. Once we’re set on a course, I have all but one person go to the rail. That remaining person does all my fine tune trim adjustments. Even I, as helmsman, will sit and drive from the high side (40 inch destroyer wheel has its advantages!) One of the “rail crew” has the responsibility of blowing the traveler if we get knocked with a really big gust. In fact, Freya is set up for cross sheeting so when we’re double handing, everybody can sit on the high side!

All of a sudden, this is starting to look too complicated like a golf swing (and I probably forgot a half dozen things too!) Don’t worry about not getting everything all at once. Keep working at it and before too long you’ll bee looking forward to windier races as you will be the one with all the tricks up your sleeve.
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  #19  
Old 10-23-2007
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Hmm... Maybe you guys were just pinching a bit too much. If the rail dips in the water a bit it should not be a big problem while going upwind in a race, what is the heel angle on your boat when the rail touches the water? I'd say maybe 30 degrees? Of course you will need to round up if the wind gusts; (and/or ease the traveler). One thing you also need to realize is that helming the boat involves bearing off a bit to get the boat moving and then once she is up to speed you can point higher and keep the speed while reducing heel. It's kind of like riding a bike; there is a controlled stability and if you can't achieve the balance you won't be able to go at optimal speed. Also, when you reach hull speed the wake should create a small pocket that the boat sinks into and the water along the rail will flow along the curvature of the hull. You might actually be heeled more than when the rail dips in and you have lower boat speed.

I think you need a little more time practicing and learning what makes your boat sail fast before trying to put it all together to be competetive on the race course. It never hurts to beercan while learning but don't put too much emphasis on getting optimal performance yet. "You know enough to be dangerous"; so and keep it safe by sailing conservatively and don't T-bone anyone at the start (stay out of the way if in doubt about right-of-way)! It's your first year of ownership; start next year by getting some good daysailing practice before you hit the race course.
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  #20  
Old 10-23-2007
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Jim-

Most halyards stretch based on the amount of load on them. In heavy winds, the main halyard may stretch 3-5%, and the cunningham will allow you to flatten the sail to de-power it again, without having to deal with the main halyard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post
I think that depends on how much canvas you're carrying and the conditions under which you're trying to use it. For example: On the J36 upon which we crewed at the tail-end of the summer series the Cunningham was a small tackle system with, IIRC, 6:1 purchase. That boat carries one heckuva big mainsail.

I wonder, though: If the halyard is good and tight, why a Cunningham actually does anything?

Jim
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