Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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First of all, these boats never were very good at going to weather, even when compared to other boats of that same era and certainly as compared to cruiser-racers that came after it. That said, if indeed you are tacking at 60 degrees either side of the wind, then there is something very wrong here.
As a benchmark, I suggest that you look at your compass for a while on one tack so that you get a sense of the average course on that tack and write down that average course before you tack. Then tack over and do the same on the other tack. After a while you will get a sense of the angles between tacks. In a moderate breeze, I would expect the angle to be somewhere between 90 to 95 degrees.
But onto the other probable causes. First of all, the rig geometry of boats like the Columbia 29 preclude sheeting of the genoa inboard the shrouds. On some boats of this era, we would use the genoa track on the rail but skirt the genoa inboard when going to weather. (I can't recall if we were able to do that on the Columbia.) It was not pretty since the foot of the genoa laid against the lifelines. As a first step you can try that. It will recquire someone skirting the sail on each tack. We actually rigged a second set of sheets outboard of the lifelines which were used when reaching.
Then there is the shape of the sails. Most of these older boats that I see either still have original sails, or some poorly cut sail that was bought cheaply from a bargain loft, or else one which was bought used, substituting one blown out sun rotted sail for a blown out sail that was not sun rotted.
Boats like these benefit from well cut sail even more than easier driven designs but rarely get well cut, well made sails because they cost such a large percentage of the overalll value of the boat. Few things hurt pointing ability as much as blown out sails.
Then there is sheet lead. With all due respect to Valiente, most of whose advice is very good, these boats were built to be sailed and raced with 170 % genoas. Most of these boats that I see are sailing around on all-purpose 135 to 145% genoas and so the sheet lead will be well forward of the aft end of the track.
As XTR suggests, you should have three sets of teletales (one a quareter way down from the head one roughly halfway up the luff and about a quarter way up from the tack), arrayed along your luff set roughly 16-18" back from the luff of the sail. By watching how these teletales 'break' you can see if your lead is correct. If the upper windward teletale breaks first then your jib lead is too far foward and if your lower windward teletale breaks first then your lead is too far aft.
Barberhaulers won't help with your genoa on these boats since the real limit on sail trim is the wide spreaders and shroud base and the real limit on pointing also comes from the poor by modern standards hull and keel design.
Once you have played with Jib lead and halyard tension, as well as mainsail halyard and outhaul tension, I would go back and check your tacking angles to see how you made out.