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post #1 of 22 Old 1 Week Ago Thread Starter
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Question re: sailing downwind leg

Hello All,

This is, I'm sure, a noob question, but I still consider myself a noob particularly with racing. I crew on a friend's 1976 Ranger 26 (Gary Mull design I think) in the Wednesday Night beer can races, JAM fleet. None of us really has raced seriously before. Usually we just copy what the boats in front of us are doing. the past couple races though, we were in the previously unknown to us situation of first place.

so I have a question. On the downwind leg, how do you know when to put the genoa on port (with whisker pole) and the main on starboard, and vice versa? this past Wednesday we initially had the genoa on port and the main on starboard and the wind was pretty much right behind us. Since we were in front we couldn't copy anyone, but when the rest of fleet rounded the mark they all had their genoas whiskered out to starboard and their mains on port. We were pretty far ahead of them, and as it appeared they were gaining ground we switched our sails to match what they were doing. I think our speed improved and we ended up winning by maybe 3 minutes. It was a very light wind race too, we were doing maybe a knot.

Any help is greatly appreciated!!
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post #2 of 22 Old 1 Week Ago
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Re: Question re: sailing downwind leg

If you're going DDW with the boom over the port side technically you'd be considered to be on a starboard tack and therefore have rights. A boat sailing the same course on the opposite gybe would have to give way to you, since they were the 'port tacker'..

That might be enough of an advantage in close quarters to make a difference.. since you were well ahead it's a moot point. However in my experience it's happened more than once when sailing slowly (and perhaps struggling) downwind, gybing can cause an unexpected increase in boat speed, even with a spinnaker.

It's always tricky making the judgement call as to whether to go DDW or sail a bit higher, farther, and hopefully faster enough to make gains. In many cases (and perhaps esp in white sail fleets) DDW will end up getting there first.
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post #3 of 22 Old 1 Week Ago
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Re: Question re: sailing downwind leg

Take care also to not "Sail by the lee" google it, basically if the wind crosses the stern in the side the Main is set you could get an accidental gybe, probably the most dangerous thing on a Boat especially in higher winds. Protect by preventer and or mainsheet trimmer needs to center the boob very quickly and let it back out so it doesn't take your rig off. Basically protect the Main downwind at all costs. This also exposes the Genoa better to the wind, pole it out.
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post #4 of 22 Old 1 Week Ago
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Re: Question re: sailing downwind leg

Other than Faster's starboard point, I believe if I have a choice I'd have the boom on the correct side to round the leeward mark without jibing.
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Re: Question re: sailing downwind leg

Thanks guys! I think you may have answered my question. Thanks for the recommendation about sailing by the lee, Albrazzi. I'll looked into it and might talk to the rest of the "team" about it. It's supposed to be blowing at the upper limit of our boat's comfort level tonight, so we may not try sailing by the lee tonight, but we'll see.
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Re: Question re: sailing downwind leg

Hey,

I don't have lots and lots of experience with the whisker pole but here are some of my thoughts:

If it's windy, it's a lot harder to jibe the main than the genoa. In that case, after rounding the top mark I will put the main on the side it will be on after rounding the lower mark. With the boat like that, when we approach the lower mark we stay wide on approach to the mark, drop the pole, jibe the genoa, round and harden up.

If it's not windy I will start with the main on port. This puts me a starboard tack and makes dealing with other boats a LITTLE easier

Barry
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post #7 of 22 Old 1 Week Ago
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Re: Question re: sailing downwind leg

All good points on the boom, if that's where the speed is then you're good to go. There's probably 20 degrees you can steer safely and not blanketing the genoa DDW and if that's in the "safe "direction then go ahead. If not then the boom might be on the wrong side at the rounding mark. Use lots of vang to keep the strain off the spreaders.
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post #8 of 22 Old 1 Week Ago
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Re: Question re: sailing downwind leg

This is always a topic of discussion when our crew sails beer can races in non-spin class. What we've found is that taking the shortest course to the mark (read dead downwind) almost always is the better solution than reaching back and forth. Two reasons: 1) Reaching back and forth causes you to jibe a lot, which can be a slowdown if you're having to move the whisker pole. 2) It's almost impossible to have enough boatspeed to catch those who sail the shorter course, and even if you did you're sailing extra distance that the others aren't. I race on one of the fastest boats in the fleet and if reaching across on the downwind leg, we can't catch up to boats that went dead downwind.

Whether you're on port or starboard going downwind is very dependent on wind conditions, but I definitely agree with Capta that a jibe rounding of the leeward mark is not preferable! Is your leeward mark typically a gate or just one mark? Performing a jibe rounding when all boats are going around the same leeward mark can get hairy quickly in high winds. A gate helps
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post #9 of 22 Old 1 Week Ago
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Re: Question re: sailing downwind leg

IF you're careful and it's not too windy... I find I can sail by the lee for the main and that keeps the jib full without being poled out. There are times that for a given wind situation this is easier than rigging the pole. Basically if you keep the Windex inside of the tabs on the masthead fly you can get away with it. That said, I'd rather be on a stbd tack if in a crowd, otherwise, whatever tack will set you up for the next leg.
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Re: Question re: sailing downwind leg

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Originally Posted by sailordave View Post
IF you're careful and it's not too windy... I find I can sail by the lee for the main and that keeps the jib full without being poled out. There are times that for a given wind situation this is easier than rigging the pole. Basically if you keep the Windex inside of the tabs on the masthead fly you can get away with it. That said, I'd rather be on a stbd tack if in a crowd, otherwise, whatever tack will set you up for the next leg.
I would agree with sailordave. But only sail by the lee if it takes you in correct direction! I would sail with sails set so that they work together efficiently and don't collapse. If that doesn't take you direct to next mark, be prepared to jibe at least once. Using a preventer/vang or even a crew member to hold the boom out in light to medium winds, can help. At same time position crew so that boat heels to windward. Thls causes boom to tilt upwards and the centre of effort of the sails becomes higher which gives you more speed. At same time jib is less likely to collapse and it hangs out further and away from the disturbance from the main. Heeling boat can also reduced wetted surface of hull and maybe lengthen waterline. All good things!

B the way, I recall racing against Ranger 26s back in the day - quite a fast 26 footer!

No jibs, but this picture of racing Finns shows how heeling boat can help:
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