Wind speed was light, over 3 days it fluxed from 4k up to 13k. Did 9 races total. With more breeze it seemed to point a little better, but still not w/ the fleet. Jib leads were set far forward so the tells broke evenly up the luff.
For some reason I thought I was using too little backstay, resulting in a sloppy forestay and hurting my pointing. W/ the adj. backstay setup I have now, I can completely blow the backstay resulting in litterally 0 tension. Not bad for down wind, but I think my "internal gauge" is set up too soft and I need to crank more on going upwind. In light air I usually tighten the backstay just enough to take out any flopping around on the headstay.
Solomon, thank you for your response, but I don't believe this to be a problem of trying to point before top speed. That would mean we just took a long time to get up to speed (switch gears) and then would have been able to point. Even w/ the boat at and above hull speed, the boat still did not point.
Assuming that your keel is fair, your bottom is clean and your sails are of competitive quality, the most likely remaining explanation for your inability to point with other comparable boats, or boats in your class, is that they're trimming their sails better than you. That was the meaning of my last post. Some of your comments confirm that.
You said, " Wind speed was light, over 3 days it fluxed from 4k up to 13k. Did 9 races total. With more breeze it seemed to point a little better, but still not w/ the fleet." That says you weren't sailing well in light air, and that's probably because you weren't trimmed correctly for light air. .
Read any treatise on sail trim, and it'll tell you to unstrap your sails in light air.
You said, "For some reason I thought I was using too little backstay
, resulting in a sloppy forestay
and hurting my pointing." Your thinking in that regard is mistaken. In light air, even when sailing to windward, the backstay adjuster should be eased more than you imply, and the jib halliard should also be eased until the jib luff is nearly scalloped. ( I occasionally crew for a friend who is a consistent winner in a very competitive fleet, and he won his class in Annapolis Race week in light air, and his jib luff was was not just relaxed, it was deeply scalloped. I probably would not have had such pronounced scallops, but it worked for him.)
In light air, you have so little air movement with which to drive the boat that you have to extract the maximum possible power from the little wind that is available. That means, as a general principle, that your sails must have the deepest, fullest shape. You achieve that by easing the backstay adjuster until the headstay has a slight catenary curve, and easing the jib halliard until the luff of the jib is at least on the edge of being scalloped. You also ease the mainsail halliard or the cunningham until the luff of the mainsail is completely relaxed. You also ease the mainsail outhaul until the foot of the mainsail is completely relaxed.
These adjustments aren't always the same in light air. When the wind is it's lightest, your sail shape controls should be their loosest. When the boatspeed exceeds about 2 1/2 kts, I start very gradually adding tension to the sail shape controls, because, as boatspeed increases, the wind can't remain attached to the surfaces of the sails if their draft is too deep.
Helmsmanship is also crucial in light air. When we're trying to get the boat to point high, our natural inclination is to steer it in that direction, just on the edge of luffing, but that's wrong. The expression that I have frequently heard is that you must "foot to point." In other words, pinching always results in the boat losing speed, and that reduces the boat's ability
to point, especially in light air. If you want to sail as close to windward as possible, you have to bear off enough to maximize the boat's speed, and that will enable the boat to point higher. You only bear off slightly, until the speed is maximized, and then you can start steering closer to windward. If the boat's speed drops, then bear off again to regain your speed, and then steer close to windward again. You'll actually be sailing a slightly scalloped course to windward, but your average speed will be higher and your average heading will be closer to windward.
I also believe your pointing ability is being hurt in stronger winds by trimming your sails too tight. Your comments suggest an inclination to harden up all the sail shape controls in an effort to make the boat point, but boat speed and pointing ability go hand-in-hand. Even in 13 kt winds, you need your sail shape to generate as much power as the boat is capable of using efficiently. By flattening your sails too much for the available wind, the boat doesn't have enough power to achieve the speed necessary to point high.