Lateral Balance - SailNet Community
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 3 Old 12-23-2003 Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 13
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Lateral Balance

Hi all,

I''d like to hear some of your expert opinions on boat balance for racing, particularly on 30-odd to 40-odd feet cruisers and racers.

All those years ago when I first sailed (dinghies) we learned to sail the boat as flat as possible. My Glenans sailing manual repeats the same advice for larger sailing craft too, and on the face of it, it makes sense - you picture getting the most power from the sails by keeping them upright.

The exception in this approach is when the wind no longer has the strength to keep the sails full, when better speed can be had by heeling the boat to leeward enough for gravity to keep them in shape.

These days I''ve sailed with a couple of crews on boats either side of 40 feet, who send some or all of the crew to the lee side, in lighter winds but well before the point where the sails begin to hang. We''ll be sailing heeled maybe 15 degrees to leeward in seven or eight knots of wind.

I''ve read (on the boards here ?) how some lee heel can add weather-helm feel in lighter winds and I can see the point in that, but at the same time have been part of a crew that even on an unfamiliar boat, made ''lee weight'' calls without reference to the helmsman, explaining that it was intended to decrease the wetted area of the hull. WRT balance, I know that phrase only from balancing forward, upwind.

Did balance theory change while I was looking the other way ?

At what point do you begin to move people off the windward rail ? Can general rules be laid down for types / ages of design, or does lateral balance vary from hull to hull ?

The boats I have recent race experience on are an Adams 12, a Farr 44, and a Jeanneau Sun Kiss 47.


Jock-san is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 3 Old 12-23-2003
Senior Member
paulk's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: CT/ Long Island Sound
Posts: 3,324
Thanks: 4
Thanked 86 Times in 85 Posts
Rep Power: 20
Lateral Balance

The preferred angle of heel will be different for each different boats. It will depend, as you suggest, on the amount of "feel" the helmsman is looking for, the amount of wind, and the size and spacing of waves. Each skipper likely has a set of beliefs (as do we all) about the "groove" his boat sails best in. How much of this is conjecture or "feel", and how much is empirical, is anybody''s guess. Hydrodynamics are a fluid science... there''s so much going on with a boat under sail, it''s hard to be sure of much. If you win, you were right. Otherwise, maybe you were still right but something else made you lose. Figuring this out is part of the fun.
paulk is offline  
post #3 of 3 Old 12-24-2003
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 3,460
Thanks: 12
Thanked 79 Times in 77 Posts
Rep Power: 18
Lateral Balance

When sailing in wind that is so light that it can''t keep your sails full, inducing the boat to heel by moving crew weight onto the lee rail helps keep the boat moving. Gravity causes your sails to hang in the curved shape that drives the boat, instead of hanging limp, like a sheet on a line. Also, moving crew weight forward and to leeward usually reduces the amount of wetted surface. By heeling the boat, the outboard end of the boom is less likely to swing in light air.

It takes a lot of crew weight to heel a big, ballasted boat, but the benefits of heeling more than offset the added weight. If you give the sails a full shape and bear off the wind a bit, you can keep moving when others are losing steerageway.
Sailormon6 is online now  

Quick Reply

By choosing to post the reply above you agree to the rules you agreed to when joining Sailnet.
Click Here to view those rules.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Tiny Palau tries to balance development, environment (The Philadelphia Inquirer) NewsReader News Feeds 0 05-07-2006 05:15 AM
All Is One... may the Balance be restored: When in Rome.... @ Sail Blogs NewsReader News Feeds 0 04-19-2006 05:15 PM
All Is One... may the Balance be restored: A short passage @ Sail Blogs NewsReader News Feeds 0 04-11-2006 11:15 AM
Boat Balance windship Seamanship & Navigation 5 08-26-2004 03:58 PM
Factors influencing boat balance DuaneIsing Seamanship & Navigation 29 02-25-2004 02:17 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome