Join Date: May 2002
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Re: Choreography To Walk the Jib around the Rigging
The method described by zz4gta sounds good for a smaller boat, but it would take a very long and strong arm to sweep a #1 masthead genoa, dragging two 60 foot long jibsheets across the foredeck of a 40 footer in that manner, in light air.
If you analyze the effects that backwinding a jib have on the tailer, most of the effects are bad, for not much benefit. The tailer only has the amount of time to tail the jibsheet that it takes for the helmsman to turn the boat from closehauled on one tack to closehauled on the other tack. By delaying the release, part of the tailer's time is stolen from him, but he still has to tail in the same 60' of jibsheet. If he can't get it done in that amount of time, then the helmsman has to bear off farther, to load up the sail and get it driving. That means that, instead of resuming it's drive to windward on the new tack, the boat might be driving farther away from the intended course. To make matters worse, after the jib is loaded, the tailer can now only trim the jibsheet up to closehauled by grinding until he is armweary. I can find alot of bad things that happen when you backwind, but, when you analyze the whole process, its hard to find enough benefit to justify the bad effects.
I don't like backwinding generally, but it is made much worse by the fact that the release person often holds the sail way too long before the release, and they often backwind the jib when the wind is strong enough to blow the sail across, and you don't really need to backwind it. I know that the ultimate solution is to train the release person, but crew members often come and go, and that isn't always done, and it's hard to find skilled crew.
With all the outstanding racing crews in the world, who lay down such beautiful tacks, time-after-time, it's hard to believe that nobody has found a better way, or at least an alternate way, to bring a big jib on a big masthead sloop across the eye of the wind in light air than by backwinding it.