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  #1  
Old 04-23-2011
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Excessive weather helm Pearson 32

I have the newest Pearson 32 in the world, hull #113. But I'm a green sailor at about 120 days on the water.

During beercan races in SF Bay last summer I had to use 90 degrees of rudder often when in 24+ kts wind (which is the norm for the majority of most races). Since then I installed a Garhauer traveler and things are better, and I learned to reef and double reef often (which helps ). I had the mast stepped and tuned in Dec. However, in a recent trip double-reefed with 20kts wind gusting briefly to 28 and 30kts I still needed 30 to 45 degrees of rudder to hold course at 45-60 degrees off apparent wind. Boat was under control, but I'm basically braking with the rudder. I'm advised this is Not Normal for a properly tuned boat.

I do my best to keep the outhauls tight, the jib tight and the main raised properly, and ease the main (with traveler and/or sheet) to the point where it just begins luffing.

I've read books and received advice that to depower the main further I need to increase backstay tension. However, there is conflicting advice about whether adjustable backstays help any on masthead rigs like mine.

My jib is cut high, which seems right for conditions here. I estimate it's about a 90%. Is another alternative getting a bigger jib to blow the nose more off the wind? I have tried moving the jib cars all over the place, but that isn't helping so far. Maybe I should loosen the jib sheets and let it fill more? But that would seem to lead to needless heeling.?

Welcome experienced advice on how to get the rudder closer to center when holding course upwind in a good breeze.
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Old 04-24-2011
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How much rake is in the mast? Is it straight up or does it lean back toward the stern?
Yes, an adjustable backstay should be on every boat (except the obvious ones that were designed w/o a backstay at all) it's a cost cutting measure, and a lot of manufacturers think that 'cruising' sailboats don't need them.

How old is your main? Have you applied max outhaul, cunningham, and halyard to keep the max draft forward of the middle of the mainsail? Does the boat heel excessively as well?

You shouldn't have the tiller more than 5* off centerline of the boat, 30-45 is way out of control. When do you put the first reef in? And the second?
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Old 04-24-2011
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Shaw designed Pearson boats are very 'light helmed', even when heeled far over. A shaw designed P32 has an almost symmetric hull and if correctly set up can heel over all the way over onto her beam ends .... and have no significant increase in helm pressure!!!!!!

How OLD is your mainsail? Is it a common woven dacron Mainsail with a 'boltrope' at the luff?
How much backstay tension .... that which tensions the Forestay?

From your brief description you probably have two problems going on simultaneously ....
1. Too loose forestay which causes the boat to skid to leeward when going upwind .... and whose symptom is 'apparent' massive weather helm (but isnt).
Next time out go onto a hard beat in heavy air and carefully analyse the wake coming off the stern. If the wake is not coming off the stern in an almost straight line, then the boat is skidding off to leeward. Since this happened all the way up to being double reefed .... It would suggest that this is the primary cause = forestay is toooooooo loose and is sagging well off to leeward when the jib is heavily windloaded !!!!!!!!
If the forestay is too loose adding excess jibsheet winch pressure only makes the problem WORSE. If you have gorillas overtensioning the jibsheets and do not make corrections to the backstay (forestay) tension, the problem gets WORSE .... take it easy on the jib sheet tension as too much sheet tension is a BAD thing as it make the forestay 'sag off' even more !!!!!!!
Here's the 'fix': http://i1086.photobucket.com/albums/...LuffHollow.gif .... for sagging forestay issues causing 'skids to leeward' and erroneously felt as 'weather helm'.

2. incorrectly raised mainsail (and/or shrunken boltrope). "fix" = How to properly RAISE a woven dacron mainsail - SailboatOwners.com ... for mainsail 'SHAPING issues' causing so-called 'weather helm'

hope this helps.

Let us know the results.

Last edited by RichH; 04-24-2011 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 04-25-2011
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Partial response to suggestions

First, thanks. Second, I'll try some of this on Wed when I go out. Third, here are answers/explanations to questions asked:
1. How OLD is your mainsail?
Came with boat. Must be 6 years old or older.
2. Is it a common woven dacron Mainsail with a 'boltrope' at the luff?
Dunno how to tell material, but it has slugs in the mast, not a boltrope.
3. How much backstay tension .... that which tensions the Forestay?
The backstay is not "hard", it has some play, but I don't know how to measure the tension. As I just had the mast stepped & rig tuned, I assumed they knew what they were doing, but...
4. Have you applied max outhaul, cunningham, and halyard to keep the max draft forward of the middle of the mainsail?
I THINK I've applied max outhaul (reefing outhauls have no winches), and halyard (I watch for vertical stretch marks in luff). There is no cunningham on this sail.

Thanks for reminding me about max draft location, which I'll check again. However in a real blow, when I've let the mainsail start to flap, it's clear the sail pressure is well aft of middle, but I"m not clear how much pressure that is. I think the jib is the more likely culprit. But I'll check draft location, esp. going to windward.

5. Does the boat heel excessively as well?
As I used to windsurf and drive fast cars, it's unclear what "excessively" is, as that's part of the fun. I have seen the lee rail buried in water, but mostly it seems about 30* when I'm fighting it. I have had 45* days however. I am aware that heeling is just spilling wind and sailing on the wrong part of the hull, so I am aiming for a flatter response.

6. When do you put the first reef in? And the second?
Last year we sailed an entire race in 24kts+ unreefed, because we didn't want to put in a reef as we turned to the closing upwind leg. We need sail going downwind. However, in cruising of late I single reef when expecting about 17 kts, and double reef if expecting 23 or more. As I'm usually singlehanded without a working autopilot (which will be another post), I tend to persist with what I have, though adding sail seems easier than reefing when I've done it.

7. How much rake is in the mast? Is it straight up or does it lean back toward the stern?
The mast does rake/curve to the stern. How much? - I don't know how to quantify.
I looked at the forestay today and I don't see how to adjust it, because the roller furler is all over it. However, I'll risk 3 turns on the backstay, one at a time, and watch what happens. I will also watch the boat wake, because I like the jib theory, and I'll either partly furl or ease jib sheets and see how that behaves.
I'll update the post with results and hope for more insight...
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Old 04-25-2011
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Is there any plastic coating (calendaring) left on your main? Odds are there isn't, and it is getting ready or past due for replacement. And in the SF Bay area, it shouldn't be hard for you to call a couple of lofts and find someone who'll come out to the races with you, or at least stop by to look at the boat, and give you an expert opinion on whether the sails are blown out, and how the trim needs to be adjusted. Whether that is mast rake, or something else. With "used" boats it is possible that the stays are the wrong length, that the mast or boom was replaced with something 'close enough' that isn't, or just that the sails are blown out. Or, again, were bought used and the wrong size.

Fastest way to find out? Someone from a loft will come out, free of charge, if you can schedule it. That's just one way a local loft can offer you something no mail order house can, and it often does result in a sale for them. Right now I expect things will be getting busy for the season--so call fast, see what they can do.

I spent a lot of time on a P32 and it was a very nicely balanced boat. Odds are that yours just needs a little housebreaking. :-)
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Old 04-25-2011
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You adjust forestay tension by adjusting the backstay.
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