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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #21  
Old 09-09-2013
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Re: Heavy weather sailing

Yes, but it sorta depends on what else was going on at the time. If you were indeed pinching, then headed down a bit (as your instructor suggested) and the boat begins to heel again- if you let the traveller down, the boat will level off as the main is depowered. There are several other controls that may precede that, though- tighten outhaul, and maybe the vang, and possibly backstay tension as well, all before dropping the traveller. We use the traveller as a next to last resort before dumping the main (using mainsheet) in progressively heavier breeze and bigger puffs.

Last edited by Irunbird; 09-09-2013 at 06:44 AM.
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  #22  
Old 09-09-2013
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Re: Heavy weather sailing

I am VERY glad to see Jeff H is extremely consistent, and as always spot on informative.

Yep, you let the boom up going upwind by easing vang, and you're asking for a huge bag of trouble (literally) to slap you down good when you get a gust. Flatten that beast up good with vang, and you can dump the traveler in the oscillations, and dump the mainsheet in the gusts, the vang will keep the boom from skying.

We spent most of yesterday doing JUST this in our local race. We were overpowered for sure, full up main, and 155... 3 aboard... winds were supposed to be 8-16mph but gusts were to 30+ The trick to being the fastest boats was to use sail area for the low speed winds (as they were more often than not) but to quickly depower in the gusts. We used the vang to hold the boom in place upwind so I could remove the mainsail influence when we'd get a +15 dumping the traveler wasn't enough! if that vang wasn't on, we'd have been broaching with each ease of the mainsheet! The trick was to depower as the gusts hit to say on our feet... we'd maintain speed all through the gust... and they stacked up around points and coves, so you'd be hauling/easing/hauling to keep the same speed. It was a flailing fest to stay ahead of the fastest boats.

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  #23  
Old 09-09-2013
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Re: Heavy weather sailing

I have mid boom sheeting on my main so when I'm close hauled I see very little influence of the vang. However off the wind the vang becomes very important.
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  #24  
Old 09-09-2013
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Re: Heavy weather sailing

Lance mid boom or not, if you snug the vang, and you let the mainsheet out, the boom won't rise. If you release the vang, and let the mainsheet out, the boom will rise with however much pressure is in the sail. Think of the vang as a boom lift preventer (as it swivels around the base of the mast, so it doesn't care what angle of attack you are on, it always stops the boom from lifting). The key is to know when you want to keep that boom down, and when (and how much) you would want to let it out to let the boom lift (generally off wind and in lighter air).

Ideally there will always be as much upward force on the boom as downward (spare the flogging better sailors than me I know that's never the case). It's why boomkickers are used (or rigid vangs)... it allows the sailor to always get consistent lift, or drop depending on the setting of the vang (regardless of wind conditions).

Example: In yesterdays race we were off wind, and surfing (defined by me as being well over theoretical hull speed for the boat, with our own wake crashing into our stern, rolling into the cockpit through the scuppers)... on a reach to broad reach. We forgot to ease the vang some after we rounded our windward mark... once we realized it, a competitor who was trailing us (a boat length or 2) had quickly fallen behind when we cracked off on the vang a bit to allow the boom to rise ever so slightly (4-6 inches at the aft end). It provided easily another .2 to .3 knots (which is substantial when you are trying to gain distance on a heavier and faster boat with more waterline in those conditions).
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  #25  
Old 09-09-2013
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Re: Heavy weather sailing

I was out in that same wind SHNOOL, with my family on our Catalina 22. North wind had to be 20 knots gusting to 30 on the river with nasty chop so we eventually came in and called it a day. Uneventful, but not the sail we wanted for sure. We don't have a boom vang, but I plan on installing one for next year. I stupidly did not reef and tried to sail on just the main and she did it but slow with a lot of drama and heeling which my wife didn't like. I think it would have been better to have reefed the main, tightening the sail up some more to depower it and then use the jib.
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  #26  
Old 09-10-2013
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Re: Heavy weather sailing

So much has changed over the past 11 years since this thread was started. But sail trim is still sail trim!!! Some things never change!
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Old 09-10-2013
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Re: Heavy weather sailing

Another consideration is wind speed and sometimes direction can be quite different at different heights. The frictional effect of the waves ( or land if coastal ) is mainly responsible. Flat is fast. Reef early and often is faster and you have less sail in less wind.
Some argue that you may need a fuller sail to "power" of a lee shore as you have less wind in the troughs and more on the peaks when a significant sea is running. Many argue one of the disadvantages of single line reefing or in boom reefing is you get a very flat sail once reefed. So far I haven't found this a problem. My first two reefs are single line but for this reason third reef is double lined.
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