SailNet Community

SailNet Community (
-   Learning to Sail (
-   -   Heavy weather sailing (

sailorfrank 05-15-2002 09:32 AM

Heavy weather sailing
I''m a new sailor. I took sailing lessons, have read a couple of books and this fact of life was never mentioned... maybe the action was too basic! It makes perfect sense when you see the sails in action. I saw this tip in one of the sailing forums. It was news to me and I thought I''d share it with you. It works!!!
The boom is normally level- which is good for normal winds. However if the winds raise to 20 mph and the heel is starting to worry your wife, besides leting the sail out, you can tilt the boom up by loosing the boom vane and tightening the topping lift to help the sail spill the wind, giving you more control of your boat. It''s so easy.
Like-wise on very calm days you can lower the boom to help the sail leech catch more wind.
Try it, you will like it.
Happy sailing!

Jeff_H 05-15-2002 06:03 PM

Heavy weather sailing
With all due respect, that is actually a pretty poor suggestion. When you ease the vang and pull up on the topping lift you put a lot of twist into the sail, and power it up. That is exactly what you don''t want in high winds because that means that part of the sail will be overtrimmed and part of the sail is undertrimmed. The overtrimmed and powered up portion of the sail induces a lot of heel without producing much drive and the under trimmed portion of the sail is free to flog which really takes a toll on the life span of the sail. A much better stategy that actually does work in real heavy conditions is to tension the halyard, outhaul, mainsheet and vang to really flatten the sail. Then lower the traveller close to its stops to adjust the sail to a small angle of attack. This will reduce heeling and weather helm.


Jeff_H 05-16-2002 03:01 AM

Heavy weather sailing
I just spotted the end of your post, in lighter air you don''t want to tighten the leach. In lighter winds, gradiant wind effects typically require a lot of twist in your sails. This means slightly loosening the vang, halyards, outhaul and mainsheet and bringing the traveller car well to windward. The idea is to get the air flowing across the sail so that the leech teletales on the mainsail are flying most of the time.

The reason that you did not see these suggestions in books are that they are exactly backwards of proper sail trim. The heavy weather advise does have a historic precident. Before boom vangs, adjustable travellers and low stretch sail materials, sails were often twisted open in heavy air and it was sometimes called a ''fisherman''s reef'', but as mentioned above this is a relatively poor way to reduce heeling and balance the helm, especially when cracked off a little.


MaryBeth 05-17-2002 07:43 PM

Heavy weather sailing

Amen Jeff.

Basically, you want to mess with the level of the boom as a very last and very temporary action. It is a way to "spill" the wind in an extreme emergency only - i.e. a sudden squall. If it is worrying the wife, perhaps you should take a few sailing courses together. Maybe you are assuming too much and she knows it and is worried. You should shorten your sail or adjust your tack. If she doesn''t like being heeled in so many knots of wind, not mph, then perhaps you need a powerboat. In layman''s term''s, what you are describing puts way too much pressure on your standing rigging and your sail, with the end result being major failure at some point. Perhaps that is why you have never read of it being a solution. Basic physics, my man, will win out.

NOT a new sailor - over 38,000 sea miles (not including Canal, lake and ICW miles).

Please take note and good winds to you,

Sailormon6 05-18-2002 09:26 AM

Heavy weather sailing
There are all kinds of sailing lessons. Some include only classroom instruction and perhaps a few hours of sailing on a Sunfish. In other sailing courses, a considerable amount of time will be spent sailing a sloop-rigged boat. (i.e., a boat with two sails; a mainsail and a jib.) You need sailing lessons on the general type of sailboat that you plan to sail.

If you have had any kind of sailing lessons, you have undoubtedly studied the fundamental principles of sail trim, but reading about them in a book and actually putting them to use on a boat are quite different things. It would be very helpful to you if you will volunteer to crew for an experienced sailor, and ask him/her to explain how to trim sails, while you are underway. Principles of sail trim make more sense when you can see them in actual use. Hang in there! It was all a mystery to us when we were first learning to sail.

sailorfrank 05-20-2002 09:02 AM

Heavy weather sailing
It''s probably not worth my time. I''ll not post another idea. First of all, the heel that that troubles my wife is anything over 20 degree. We''ll sail all day at 20 degrees. At 35 degrees waters coming in the windows and I like to avoid that. Makes a mess.
The next thing for all you highly skilled sailors worrying about my main sail lufting and added strain on the mast. The degree of up-angle I''m talking about is very slight. Using a carpenters level, take the bubble just to the other side of the high line. Only a couple of degrees. The sail will stay full with no lufting or wrinkles. And I''m using it with my second reef inplace. Yes, the wind is pretty heavy. No, it''s not for beginners, thank you very much.

Jeff_H 05-20-2002 02:03 PM

Heavy weather sailing
Here''s the point, in heavy air, you want to be blading out your mainsail, in other words, making it as flat as possible and then reducing its angle of attack. This reduces weather helm and reduces heel. To do this requires tensioning all of the controls on the mainsail (outhaul, halyard, vang, and mainsheet, and backstay- if you have an adjustble backstay) and dropping the traveler to leeward.

When you ease the vang and tension the topping lift, as you had originally suggested you are powering up the sail and twisting the sail, which increases weather helm and heeling, and reduces drive. Since this is a forum titled "Learning to Sail", I think that it was important to explain that your advice was not the best solution in heavy conditions.

If you took my comments as a personal attack, I am truly sorry. My comments were not meant as one.


MaryBeth 05-21-2002 04:12 PM

Heavy weather sailing

Sorry, sailorfrank, if you took advice from those more experienced as an attack. But, if you are so smart and wanting to defend your stance, pray tell why you have any portholes open for water to come through? Although you are, perhaps, day sailors with little experience, I would hope that closing the "windows" would be common sense. You''ve obviously never seen water through your portlights. Thinking like yours will lead to disaster. I am beginning to think that your initial post was a joke. If not, do yourself and your wife a favor and buy a nice little cabin cruiser.


EscapeArtist 05-30-2002 10:51 AM

Heavy weather sailing
I may be bad advice, but it''s in all the sailing books: Chapman, Sailing Handbook, etc. Twist the sails to spill air off the leech and reduce heel.

It seems to me that this bit of wisdom is intended as a *temporary* measure to depower a sail. Once you have the sails properly shortened and the boat back in balance, then you can blade out, tighten up, all that stuff.

Jeff_H 05-30-2002 07:01 PM

Heavy weather sailing
If you are going to do a temporary measure, it would make a lot more sense to drop the traveller and pull in the mainsheet or vang than it does to tension the topping lift and ease the vang, both from an improvement in sailing comfort and ease and speed standpoint.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 03:43 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.1.0 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
(c) LLC 2000-2012

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome