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Old 04-12-2010
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Tacking - Loss of Speed

Guys,

I am fairly new to sailing and have been fortunate to land a seat on Rusalka i a Phantom 32 class yacht designed and built by Nick Shein in Sydney in 1988.

Now the racing we do is very cruisy and relaxed but you know a race is a race.

We seem to drop a lot of speed tacking.

I have suggested:
  • bearing away before our mark to build up speed
  • rather than a hard 90 degree a more gradual radius
  • when enoughcrew manually assist the clew around the shrouds (large No1 that some times gets caught up

Anything I might be mssing or should I find a faster boat?

Ken
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Old 04-12-2010
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Single line sheet seized together for smoother tacks. Experiment with backing the jib. Bearing away is probably a good strategy depending on position of other boats.
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Old 04-12-2010
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It's difficult to identify the exact cause here, but it's a matter of timing. The boat will only coast so far when the sails stop driving. The trick is to figure out how to get the boat across the eye of the wind, and get the sails driving again, before the boat loses way. You have to analyze every aspect of the tacking procedure to figure out exactly where you can reduce the amount of time between the sails breaking at the start of the tack and the sails beginning to drive as it comes out of the tack.

If the helmsman is steering hard 90 deg. turns, that's a very likely cause, because it's almost like putting on the brakes, although some boats turn faster than others.

When the helmsman turns too fast, it causes other problems. It reduces the already minimal amount of time the pit has to release the working jib sheet and to tail the jib sheet on the new side. If he can't get it tailed in and trimmed quickly enough, then the sails won't begin to drive again on the new tack, and the boat will continue to lose speed coasting. Making a fast turn doesn't help if the crew can't keep up with it. If the pit can't get it done quickly enough, it might be because he is inefficient in his sail handling techniques, but it could also be because he isn't being given enough time to get it done. If the helmsman gets the boat onto the new tack, and the jib loads up before the pit can get it trimmed, it's much harder to tail and trim an already-loaded-up sail. The helmsman and pit should coordinate their work.

When I'm at the helm, I watch the pit man during the tack to see if he's keeping up with my rate of turn, and, if he needs more time, I'll make the turn slightly broader. I'd much rather make a slightly rounder turn in coordination with the pit man, than a tight turn with him struggling desperately to keep up. Ask yourself this: "What good does it do to make a tight turn, if your crew can't keep up with it?"

Last edited by Sailormon6; 04-12-2010 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 04-12-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenif View Post
Guys,

I am fairly new to sailing and have been fortunate to land a seat on Rusalka i a Phantom 32 class yacht designed and built by Nick Shein in Sydney in 1988.

Now the racing we do is very cruisy and relaxed but you know a race is a race.

We seem to drop a lot of speed tacking.

I have suggested:
  • bearing away before our mark to build up speed
  • rather than a hard 90 degree a more gradual radius
  • when enoughcrew manually assist the clew around the shrouds (large No1 that some times gets caught up

Anything I might be mssing or should I find a faster boat?

Ken
You should definitely take a gradual turn for your tacks. Aside from dinghies where you can roll tack them, you always want a slow smooth turn.

You are also right, that whenever possible you should have someone help the genny through the foretriangle. I would usually have one person assigned to the foredeck. On the windward beats that person starts to walk the genny through the foretriangle. This person should stay with the clew until it is fully trimmed on the other tack, then should move to the high side of the boat (or wherever you need them for balance). By staying with the clew, you can get the sail trimmed in quicker and avoid having it end up on the wrong side of the lifelines.

Also, make sure you have someone with a lot of upper body strength trimming the genny. If they are not quick and strong, they will need to start using the winch to crank the genny in way earlier than otherwise. Cranking a winch handle is way slower than hand over hand. The more you can get in with a rapid hand over hand trim, the faster the genny will be powered up again.

When do you release the genny sheet during the tack? Ideally, you should keep it trimmed right up til the point where the bow is approaching head to wind. Releasing it too soon can cost you some drive going through the tack. As soon as you release it, immediately start trimming on the other side. There should essentially be no gap between release and beginning to trim on the other side.

Lastly, trim for power when you come out of the tack. Think of it in terms of gears. If the boat is slow accelerating after a tack, try powering up the sails immediately after the tack. Ease the backstay, foot off a little to power up, then slowly bring it back up to your ideal pointing angle. Just like downshifting in your car after you exit a sharp turn.

ANd of course, practice, practice, practice. You should have regular practice days which include 50-100 tacks and 50-100 gybes. The more you practice the smoother your boat handling will be. And of course practice is free.
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Old 04-12-2010
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I agree with everything SW329xl says except for his statement that you need "...someone with a lot of upper body strength trimming the genny." Anyone with ordinary strength can tack a genoa quickly if the helmsman does his job well. The pit man only needs upper body strength when the jib is loaded, and he has to grind in the sheet using the winch. As long as the sail and sheet have no load, the sheet is easy to tail. To avoid loading the sheet, the helmsman should stop his turn momentarily when the jib is streaming, unloaded, parallel to the genoa track, thereby giving the pit man a fraction of a second more time to haul in the unloaded jib sheet. As soon as the pit man has taken in all the slack in the jib sheet, the helmsman should then bear off a few degrees and load up the sail.

Most helmsmen turn the boat, and expect the crew to adjust their jib handling so that everything gets done whenever the helmsman completes the turn. The problem with that thinking is that the person handling the jib has so much to do and so little time to do it in, that he has almost no latitude to make such adjustments. The helmsman, however, only has to turn the wheel, and he has a great deal of latitude to adjust his rate of turn. Don't just think about how you do your own job. Give some thought, also, to how you can make adjustments in your procedures that will help the other crew members do their jobs well.
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Old 04-12-2010
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I'd point out that some designs can be helped through the tack by backwinding the jib. This is very common on many catamarans.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailormon6 View Post
I agree with everything SW329xl says except for his statement that you need "...someone with a lot of upper body strength trimming the genny." Anyone with ordinary strength can tack a genoa quickly if the helmsman does his job well. The pit man only needs upper body strength when the jib is loaded, and he has to grind in the sheet using the winch. As long as the sail and sheet have no load, the sheet is easy to tail. To avoid loading the sheet, the helmsman should stop his turn momentarily when the jib is streaming, unloaded, parallel to the genoa track, thereby giving the pit man a fraction of a second more time to haul in the unloaded jib sheet. As soon as the pit man has taken in all the slack in the jib sheet, the helmsman should then bear off a few degrees and load up the sail.

Most helmsmen turn the boat, and expect the crew to adjust their jib handling so that everything gets done whenever the helmsman completes the turn. The problem with that thinking is that the person handling the jib has so much to do and so little time to do it in, that he has almost no latitude to make such adjustments. The helmsman, however, only has to turn the wheel, and he has a great deal of latitude to adjust his rate of turn. Don't just think about how you do your own job. Give some thought, also, to how you can make adjustments in your procedures that will help the other crew members do their jobs well.
Sailormon, I agree that on a daysail or cruise you don't need a ton of upper body strength, but in a race it sure helps. If that strength saves you a second or even half a second on a tack, it will add up to 10 to 20 seconds by the end of the race. Many races are decided by a much smaller margin. You can win races without that strength, but it sure helps to have it.
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Old 04-12-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SW329xl View Post
...
Lastly, trim for power when you come out of the tack. Think of it in terms of gears. If the boat is slow accelerating after a tack, try powering up the sails immediately after the tack. Ease the backstay, foot off a little to power up, then slowly bring it back up to your ideal pointing angle....
Some good suggestions here. I just wanted to elaborate a bit more on the comment above.

There are really two issues here: Losing speed during the tack, and accelerating after coming out of it. You want to minimize the first, and maximize the second.

After coming out of the turn, there is a tendency to over trim the sails by resetting them where they were on the previous tack. But on the previous tack, the sails were released when the boat was at full speed and closest angle of attack to the wind. After coming out of the turn, the boat is at neither of these initially.

After the tack, the boat is usually sailed "fat", i.e. with sheets slightly eased and not extremely close to the wind. This allows the boat to build speed and develop lift in the foils (sails and keel). As speed increases and the foils begin to generate more lift, the apparent wind both increases and moves forward. As this happens, the boat can be steered progressively higher into the wind, and the trim of the sails must be adjusted accordingly.

It's a gradual process, lasting varying amounts of time depending on the type of boat. Ideally, the sail trimmers will gradually bring the sails in to close-hauled, with the trim corresponding closely to the boat's increase in speed and higher point of sail. Eventually the boat returns to full speed and closest angle of attack, the trimmers can go hike out, and then it's up to the helmsman to steer the tell tales.

On the other hand, if you just pull the sails in tight and try to steer closest angle of attack immediately after the tack, the boat will feel anemic and will take much longer to build speed and harden up on the wind.
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Old 04-12-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SW329xl View Post
Sailormon, I agree that on a daysail or cruise you don't need a ton of upper body strength, but in a race it sure helps. If that strength saves you a second or even half a second on a tack, it will add up to 10 to 20 seconds by the end of the race. Many races are decided by a much smaller margin. You can win races without that strength, but it sure helps to have it.
I was talking about racing, not cruising. Upper body strength can make up for a helmsman's lack of skill, but it isn't necessary, and I'd much rather have smart crew, who know all the ways to do their jobs with skill and finesse, than strong crew. Strength isn't a bad thing, but if you need to rely on it every time you tack a masthead genoa in 15 kt winds, something's wrong.
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Old 04-12-2010
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I let you know BUT after this years North-U


WERE sure the helm is turing to fast

HELM is sure we are grinding to SLOW
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