Switching from close reach to beam reach on 20 knot winds - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 25 Old 06-25-2012 Thread Starter
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Switching from close reach to beam reach on 20 knot winds

SO this past weekend, I was out sailing on light winds all day...Decided to head into New Bedford harbor for a bit then started to head out...

Upon getting out to Buzzards Bays, I start realizing the 30 minutes I was away the conditions changed dramatically...went from 5-10 to 15-25 knots...

So we had too much sail up, decided to roll in the genoa a bit and keep going home...Was on a starboard tack and heeling pretty good...but then we needed to turn to head home and the wind would be hitting us on a broad reach, same tack...

So I thought I could just turn the rudder, release sails a bit, and it would be smooth...but, I was having a heck of a time turning and felt like the rudder would break on me trying to switch to broad...I eventually got there but don't think this is normal. Did I do this right or am I missing something?

I should have decided to either reef or just put down the main when I had noticed the whitecaps from a distance leaving the harbor and sail on reduced foresail and mizzen. Next time I will put down the main if I plan to broad reach on heavier winds...

But thoughts on how to switch from close to broad without risking breaking my rudder or is this normal?

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post #2 of 25 Old 06-25-2012
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Re: Switching from close reach to beam reach on 20 knot winds

Were you trying to turn all the way to a broad reach and only THEN ease your sails? You should ease your sails some first, or as you are turning. You should not settle onto the broad reach and THEN ease your sails.
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post #3 of 25 Old 06-25-2012
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Re: Switching from close reach to beam reach on 20 knot winds

Sounds like extreme weather helm.. was the mizzen up too?

In this case you may well have been better off to reef the main/drop mizzen earlier... rolling up some headsail just moves your CE aft and makes the helm situation worse. If the helm is generally heavy anyway you may want to look at retuning the rig.

If the rig is in the right place then this is going to be a) a sail trim issue and/or b) a general characteristic of the boat/rig that you'll need to be aware of.
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post #4 of 25 Old 06-25-2012
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Re: Switching from close reach to beam reach on 20 knot winds

More specifically, if you want to head off, you need to ease your main (and on your boat, maybe the mizzen?) to enable turning the boat down. You may find just easing the main will cause the boat to turn down...not easing the main will inhibit or prevent turning the boat down, as the force on the main sail can overwhelm the turning power of the rudder.

Easing the main is a critical step when bearing off to duck a starboard boat. Many port tack/starboard tack collisions occur because the mainsheet doesn't get released fast enough, and the helmsman's frantic efforts on the filler have little effect in changing course.
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post #5 of 25 Old 06-25-2012
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Re: Switching from close reach to beam reach on 20 knot winds

Ok, I admit to being somewhat ignorant of yawl sailing, but it sounds to me like your center of effort was too far aft, due to the full main, and the mizzen still being raised.

This creates a lot of weather helm, and makes it difficult to fall off of the wind.

I understand that you reduced the jib, which is good, but I would have doused the mizzen, and maybe reefed the main before falling off.

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post #6 of 25 Old 06-25-2012
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Re: Switching from close reach to beam reach on 20 knot winds

Ease main, fall off, done.
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post #7 of 25 Old 06-25-2012
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Re: Switching from close reach to beam reach on 20 knot winds

Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
....
I understand that you reduced the jib, which is good, but I would have doused the mizzen, and maybe reefed the main before falling off.
Actually head down first...better to fall off first and see how the happy the boat is on the new course, as she'll carry more sail the further you go from closehauled. If you reduce sail before heading down, you may find on your new, lower course, you just want to put the sail back on...or more.

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Last edited by sailingfool; 06-25-2012 at 04:31 PM.
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post #8 of 25 Old 06-25-2012
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Re: Switching from close reach to beam reach on 20 knot winds

Freddie,

This article explains the whole enchilada better then I can: Helm Balance – Center of Effort, Lateral Resistance, Centerboard, Mast Rake - Waves Jordan Yacht Brokerage

We often get weather helm on our sloop rigged Tartan 27 when racing. Besides easing the sails for a reach you can also play with your center board to move the center of effort aft or forward, as the linked article explains. With your yawl rigged T27 you have the added bonus of being able to drop the main altogether and sail jib n' jigger. I think you will find that flying only the jib and jigger that your boat will sail much more comfortably in higher winds - flatter, and yes, a bit slower.

You will figure out what combination of sails work best for you depending on the conditions. I'm glad to hear that you are out sailing on your old gal 'Destinada'.

Cheers.

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post #9 of 25 Old 06-25-2012
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Re: Switching from close reach to beam reach on 20 knot winds

When in doubt, let it out.
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post #10 of 25 Old 06-25-2012
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Re: Switching from close reach to beam reach on 20 knot winds

I can drop either main or mizzin (gaff) into lazyjacks before I fall away.If 25 going to 30 it's the main. Just let out sheet until it luffs and let go halyards. Putting in reef is easy then. I've already gone from genni to yankee and Thane self steers (you gotta sea it to believe) so no drama. I'll bet it has something to do with keeping C of E and C of R balanced and if you're heeling much, more to deal with.
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