Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: New England USA
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upwind Genoa trimming - lighter airs
In general, regardless of sail construction or material, you have two primary controls for a headsail, lead position and luff tension. Newer modern composite materials and shapes just respond to a narrower range of luff adjustments.
Rig a cunningham and lead it back to the cockpit. No cunningham hole in the jib? you are restricted to halyard tension adjustments, which may be limited due to the hoist.
Playing with luff tension is not something to be done during race day. You need to be able to make adjustments and note their affects without having to worry about the competition. You also need to remember that what works for a Light #1 may not work with your other sails and you should try and go out and check each sail in its recommended wind range.
Set you sail, then make an adjustment to the luff tension, go forward and note the draft position. TAKE NOTES! Write down the lead position, luff tension, wind speed and angle, helm, boatspeed, sea conditions, etc.
Now you are armed with the baseline data for that sail.
OK. There are three sea conditions you will have to deal with, swell, chop from stinkpots and glassy smooth. Each requires a different technique. Mastery of them is what separates the "men fom the boys" (Sorry, ladies, it''s just a term coined by the oppresive male dominated sport, but I digress...)
In chop, you will want your draft farther aft, for a fuller, fatter shape. Helping you power through the slop. You don''t want to be trying to point at your highest possible angle either. DON''T PINCH!!!! Full and fat is faster in slop.
In swell, you need your skipper to really be in synch with the waves, taking into account the changes in appearant wind angle as the boat climbs the waves and acceleates down the back side. Draft in its middle position will help average out the changes.
In glassy conditions, draft forward and ultimate concentration are the thing.
In every case, crew movements should be minimized, and in chop, they should be grouped together near the center of the boat. Crew out at the ends or spread out will adverersly affect the boats motion.
Tacking is an artform in the light stuff. Rudder motions should be s-m-o-o-t-h and s-l-o-w, to try and maintain as much boatspeed as possible. In swell, begin your tack at the trough, using the backside to help you accelerate on the new tack. I chop, try to find a flat spot, or at least to avoid hitting chop as you cross the wind. Once on the new tack, NEVER SHEET ALL THE WAY IN. You need to build speed and power FIRST, stay fat and low, and trim in and point higher only as your speed increases.
Also remember that in light air, the dirty air from other boats covers a much greater zone than in fresher breezes. Tack to clear air as soon as you can. Also remember that you will take longer to return to speed, so dont get into a tacking dual, or take too many tacks. Go for speed and clear air, and let the others do battle and slow thamselves down.