Enjoying my first season club racing my '82 Hunter 30 (Cherubini design sloop, 5'3" draft with 135 RF genoa, no genoa tracks just blocks snap shackled to the toe rail - but adjustable) and was wondering...
what's the fastest way to sail her to the windward mark?
Do I sheet it all in as tight and close as possible - or - ease her off a few degrees to a close close reach to keep the boat speed up?
I don't have the electronics or a slide rule to do any precise measurements or calculations - just curious if there's some fact based gouge from those sailing this same or similar boat...
Close hauled and in the groove or eased off a few degrees, what's best for a 28 year old H30?
First issue is to be sure that your rig is properly tuned/tensioned .... so that the forestay is stretching to its proper 'sag to leeward curve' and that sag 'matches' the 'hollow' shape that the sailmaker designed/cut into the luff of the genoa. Without proper rig tune and without proper backstay tension (which by reaction tensions the forestay) the 'usual' is that with a too loose forestay the genoa will be 'draft aft', too full and with its leech 'hooking up to weather' .... the boat will aggressively heel over, will be slow and will tend to skid off to leeward and with the helm pressure will be high (and the helmsman erroneously thinking 'weather helm'). You can also be at less than optimum with a too tight forestay.
Pulling in on the jib sheets too tightly can easily 'force' an increased 'sag' in the luff of a genoa; so, if you need to pull the jib sheets in tight you also have to tighten the backstay to keep the forestay and the luff of the genoa at is 'designed' shape. Ignoring the above, if you set your backstay at 15-18% tension in 15kts. of wind strength, you will be 'close' to the correct forestay sag when beating with 'moderate' jib sheet tension.
Summary - if the forestay (backstay) tension isnt correct, all the sail trimming in the world, etc., etc., etc., isnt going result in a boat that is 'fast' nor 'points well'. If you want optimum or 'precision', I can 'detail' this further/later if you desire, lemme know.
Second, is to use a FULL set to telltales at the luff, at the leech. and also to have a row of 'steering tell tales' about 6-8' off the deck on the genoa to help you visually and precisely keep the boat in the 'groove'. The 'benchmark' seminal article for the use of tell tales is found @ ArvelGentry.com
---->magazine articles ----> then a series of 4 articles beginning with "Checking trim while on the wind". A 'simplified' version of these four articles can be found at: Telling tales ...
A good basic article for 'performance sailing upwind' including sail trim, boat handling and helmsmanship: Performance Racing Tactics
.... Id advise this article after you master the 2 issues above.
Third, All the above is accomplished by practice/practice/practice to quickly evolve your skills .... THEN when you master the above, you can start to consider the important VMG function to optimize all the above and to be 'sailing at the proper/precise angles' and in the 'right' direction, etc.
Then, after the above are 'mastered' so your are going the fastest possible and in the 'right direction', then you can further concentrate on racing 'tactics' so that your boat is positioned at the correct location/position the course to take best advantage of wind shifts, errors of other boats, etc. etc. etc. etc. A good basic text for this would be: "Sailing Smart" by Buddy Melges and Charles Mason (probably out of print).
Also, if your main has the 'usual' boltrope at the luff, I can offer (later) some 'tricks' that will allow an almost perfect 'set' or shape to affect better pointing, etc. If your main is made from 'woven dacron' then this becomes quite important.
Without correctly setting up a boat and without proper sail shaping, following a VMG plot is somewhat pointless .... until your ARE fast and ARE pointing at the optimum angles, etc.
hope this helps. ;-)