Join Date: May 2002
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Re: pointing, pinching, VMG
You didn't say much about how your mainsail was trimmed, except that generally your sails were "trimmed in hard." That suggests that your mainsail was trimmed in to the boat's centerline.
What's the first thing sail instructors teach about trimming the mainsail? Trim it in close and then ease it out until it just begins to lift at the luff. But most racers trim it in to the centerline, so that the sail lays down smoothly from luff to leech.
Maximum speed and efficiency are achieved when the jib and mainsail are in balance. If the mainsail is over-trimmed, the mainsail drives the transom to leeward, and the helmsman must use rudder to counteract that tendency and keep the boat on it's heading. Using the rudder creates drag and slows the boat. If the boat has a tiller, you can feel the tiller pressure, and adjust the mainsheet or traveler to eliminate the tiller pressure. If the boat has a wheel, there isn't much "feel" to help you, and you just have to know that it's happening and trim the mainsail accordingly.
Why did you "feel like it was pinching?" Was it because the mainsail was lifting slightly at the luff? If so, then that means you were probably well-trimmed and steering in the groove.
If the jib telltails are streaming correctly and the mainsail telltails are streaming correctly and the mainsail is lifting very slightly at the luff, your sails are well balanced and rudder drag should be minimal.