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midlife crisis member
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Discussion Starter #1
I am learning to sail on my own. I know that for beating, running the sails close hauled seem to allow for better pointing in general. A few days ago I was sailing in very light winds, and noticed I seemed to do a little better upwind when the main was sheeted out just a little (as in actually making a little headway, whereas making none when close hauled). The winds were 2 or 3 knots.

Is this right?

Eric
 

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Handsome devil
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Relaxed sails (to a point ) power up more then tight ones
 

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Senior Member
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You do want to avoid over-sheeting in light air - it's easy to stall the sail. Raise the traveller and ease the mainsheet, allowing a bit more twist and a more open leech while keeping the boom near center. The mainsail leech telltales are key here. They should be streaming aft.

Ease the jib lead forward some to give a rounder, more powerful shape to the headsail and generally trim it a bit less than you might normally. While you may lose some pointing ability, at least, as you observed, you'll be moving better.
 

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midlife crisis member
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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
15 footer. There is no traveler and fixed jib sheet blocks. I have control over the main sheet, outhaul, and jib sheets. Oh and I guess boom vang too.

Eric
 

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Don't forget halyard tension. In light wind, you want a little less than in stronger winds. Increasing halyard tension will help to flatten the sail in stronger winds. Tension the halyard with the sail luffing.
 

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Telstar 28
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also easing the outhaul a bit helps.
 

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midlife crisis member
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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
No backstay. The mast has a forestay and two sidestays facing rearward slightly. I do have a boom topping lift (which, on another topic, interferes with the mainsail shape as the sail leach and battens "catch" on it with each tack. Sometimes passing past it, sometimes not).

Eric
 

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Telstar 28
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If the topping lift is interfering with mainsail shape and catching the battens, you need to ease it more.
No backstay. The mast has a forestay and two sidestays facing rearward slightly. I do have a boom topping lift (which, on another topic, interferes with the mainsail shape as the sail leach and battens "catch" on it with each tack. Sometimes passing past it, sometimes not).

Eric
 

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midlife crisis member
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Discussion Starter #11
I think it's the sail roach that interferes with the topping lift and no adjustment will allow it to clear completely. I think the PO added the topping lift. In a little bigger winds the roach/battens get pushed past the topping lift, so I have let it alone.

I want a bigger boat....so someday it will be someone elses problem. :)

Eric
 

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For light air sailing to windward, ease the tension on the luff of the jib and mainsails, so that they are smooth, with no perpendicular curl in the luffs. Ease the mainsail outhaul, to give the sail a fairly deep draft, and so that there is no horizontal curl in the foot. Ease the jibsheet slightly (about 2-4 inches more than when close hauled.) Steer off the wind 2-4 degrees more than when close hauled. And, most importantly, position your weight and your crew's weight to leeward and forward, so that the boat heels to leeward, and is sailing bow-down. When you heel the boat to leeward, gravity causes the sails to fall into the curved shape that is necessary to drive the boat. When they hang in that manner, then whatever wind is present will drive the boat. If the mast is bolt upright, the sails will hang limp, straight down, like a sheet on a clothesline, and they won't drive the boat. By sailing the boat bow-down, the stern is raised partly out of the water, and that reduces the boat's wetted surface. Less wetted surface means less drag.
 

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baDumbumbum
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Good advice from Sailormon. Also, part of the problem is your boat. Small craft can move along pretty well in light winds, which is curiously detrimental to pointing ability. Your boat speed is a fairly large percentage of true wind speed. The net effect is a 'header' where apparent wind keeps moving toward your bows and you have to fall off. Then the boat accelerates, and the wind moves forward, forcing you to fall off again.:) Our Buccaneer18 is naughty that way.

As winds increase, the true wind may outpace boatspeed and seem to come more abeam -- a 'lift', which allows you to point higher. But eventually heeling force overpowers the small boat, you have to crack the sheets, and your pointing ability suffers again. In screaming winds, a beam reach may be the best you can do. Our dinghy points best between roughly 8 and 12 kts TWS.
 

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Owner, Green Bay Packers
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I'd just add my reinforcement to what's already been said in advising to hoist your sails not quite all the way so that you have so horizontal wrinkling in them which will add a bit of bagginess to them and cup the wind better.

Also you should not attempt to sheet either sail in hard until you've gained good headway-if you even do. The advise to "let it out" should be foremost in your mind in light air. Play around with this and you'll see that you can sheet in to the point at which you're dead in the water. Easing out the jib just a bit and you'll see her start to draw, adjust it best based on your telltales, and then adjust the main to suit.

We all want a bigger boat sometimes, though it's cheaper, easier, and more pronounced the lessons learned on smaller boats. Or-it's easy to take the small boat knowledge to the big boat, not quite so in reverse.
 

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midlife crisis member
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Discussion Starter #15
One of the things I like best about sailing is it's so complicated! Seems to add to the fun.

As far as halyards go, my main sail uses the bolt rope in the mast so basically the luff tension is fixed right now. I just got my sail slugs in the mail so I will be adding those to the sail soon. This should give me one more option in sail trim (as well as making raising, dousing the sail easier).
 

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midlife crisis member
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Discussion Starter #16
Do all larger boats have travelers? In addition to allowing for more trim options, it seems to me this can be good for preventing damage from accidental, uncontrolled jibes.
 

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Do all larger boats have travelers? In addition to allowing for more trim options, it seems to me this can be good for preventing damage from accidental, uncontrolled jibes.

I don't see how a traveler will prevent a jibe. A preventer is for controlling jibes but that is something else.
All a traveler does is allow the boom to be brought closer to the center of the boat without having to crank down too hard on the main sheet.
In fact without a traveler since their will aways be a little play the boom is unlikely to make it to center.
And as you found out cranking down on the main sheet flattens the sail too much in light wind.
Thus the traveler.
I don't the have the years of experience on hundreds of boats like others do but I'm sure I've seen small boats and dinghy's and large boats with and without travelers.
It's a design issue not size.
There are some sailors that have a traveler on their boat and never use it. They just give up a little speed and or pointing.
 

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Owner, Green Bay Packers
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Even with a bolt rope you can detension the halyard. Just do not make it quite as tight. All of these things being discussed are subtle adjustments, rarely major. gotta run right now, more later.
 

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midlife crisis member
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Discussion Starter #19
Unless I don't understand the use of the traveler, it seems to me that when reaching you could have the traveler way out to leeward, and then have the sail sheet short. An accidental jib would then be limited by the length of the main sheet. Maybe this is not how a traveler works, and I am sure this is not what a traveller is inteded to do, but thought maybe this would be another advantage of the traveler....maybe not.

Eric
 

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Owner, Green Bay Packers
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Generally speaking, you're only seriously worried about a jibe when on a run. When reaching you'll not have the mainsheet fleeted out nearly as much either. The traveler has little effect on a jibe and, in any event, that's not it's function.
 
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