Join Date: Apr 2006
Thanked 128 Times in 125 Posts
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Jim, if you can get polars (VPP tables) for your boat, they will show you when to reef or reduce sail because they show graphically when more sail is the slower way to travel. (Usually because you are heeling so much that you are just spilling wind and being blown sideways.)
If I had to guess I'd say that if you are heeled 15 degrees, you need more weight upwind or to reef. If your sail balance is off and you can't steer without putting in more than maybe 5-10 degrees of rudder...you need to trim sails and if that means reef, reef.
And if you've got a GPS on board and you can bring up speed made good to an upwind mark--play with it. See if reefing, slowing the boat down and letting it stand up, allows you to point closer to the target and make better speed towards the mark.
"WHEE!" is nice at times, but it usually isn't the fastest way to get anywhere.