Join Date: May 2002
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When a sail is fairly well-trimmed, there is a point at which all the wrinkles are out of it, and the telltales are flying fairly well, and any further adjustments don't change the overall appearance of the sail to any appreciable extent, but that doesn't mean that the sail's power or performance can't be affected by slight changes in the controls, especially in light air. The reason why most people find it so difficult to sail in light air is because you have to trim the sails as perfectly as possible. Because the wind is so light, the telltales and woolies and vane don't behave normally, so you don't have the usual indicators to help you trim the sails. You can't afford to waste any of the available wisps of moving air through imperfect sail trim, and you have to try to find that perfect sail trim by trial and error. A good racing skipper might ask for a sheet or outhaul to be eased by an inch to generate a little more power to drive the boat through a slight chop or through a boat wake. The fact that the adjustment is so slight that it doesn't noticeably change the shape of the sail doesn't mean that the adjustment doesn't have any effect.
When you're crewing on another person's boat, always trust that the skipper or sail trimmer knows the boat and sails better than you do, and give him whatever sail trim he requests, whether you agree with it or not. The only way you can change his thinking about sail trim is by demonstrating your knowledge whenever you have an opportunity, and that is only likely to happen after many races with him.