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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
JeffH (and others),

Quite a while ago you gave me some sage advice on mainsail trim to reduce weather helm. I found your descriptions extremely helpful and would like to have you chime in once again if possible. I’ve beat up on this subject pretty good on another forum but still value your perspective.

Cutter rig, steel hull
Displacement 40,000#
Full keel, barn door rudder
LOD 44’
LWL 37‘
LOA 49’
Draft 6-1/2’
Beam 13-1/2’
Slack bilges
Shrouds are attached to the hull at the toe rail

The Yankee is slightly overlapping and of very heavy cloth. It hangs like a drape under 7knots but by 12 I need to reef it significantly.

The other day I was on a beam reach with the main and stay sail flying, I was making about 4 knots in 15 knots with confused 2 to 3 foot seas, multiple wave sets.

At this point the helm is light, the boat balanced. I want some more speed so I roll out some Yankee. How much? About 1/2 the wraps or maybe 30% of the sail area. The boat picks up a good turn of speed to 6+ BUT I now have about 10° of weatherhelm and 10°-15° of heel. It kinda feels like the sail is driving the bow down and heeling the boat.

Last year I got caught in a sudden 30 knot gust with all sails up and it pinned the boat down, I released the main and she stayed down until I pulled the headsail in. Not a good thing. At the time I didn’t have the headsail trimmed well, but I’ve cleaned my act up on that front significantly. I’m pretty sure of my headsail trim now.

A few days later I exchanged the Yankee for this weird sail that came with the boat. I’ve never flown this sail before. The luff is about 8’ shy of full length, so I set it low and put a pendant high to keep the Profurl roller at the top. The tack is waaaay up there. I have figured out a way to sheet this thing inside the shrouds fairly well, jury rig but it’s adequate.

I haven’t yet had much chance to play with this sail but I can tell it is a very different experience from the Yankee. I’m in Jolly Harbor, Antigua and we have had a long stretch of robust and gusty winds making fooling around in any consistent wind conditions a challenge but I can tell this.

Flying the weird headsail, staysail and main she points far higher. With just the headsail and staysail in about 15k broad reach I’m getting some lee helm. With 25 knots and all sails it is well over canvassed. I think it’s close to balanced at 15 knots with headsail, staysail and main but need to fool around more in some consistent winds to be more sure of myself.

At this point I’m fairly confident that the Yankee just isn’t working as it should. Today I talked to a fellow who has a rig that looks much like mine, his head stays angle out about as much as mine do, less vertical than most boats. His experience with the Yankee is very much different than mine.

My question is that with this information are you able to hazard a guess about what might be going on with my Yankee? Is it possible that it’s partially rolled shape is so bad as to cause these problems? Or that it is bagged out and causing heel?

I’m not anxious to put the old headsail back on but will if necessary to sort this out. Its very heavy, I can pick it up if well bagged. It probably weighs at least 80 pounds.

I’m heading south to Guadeloupe Friday and then later down to Dominique.

My many thanks,

Howard
 

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JeffH (and others),

The Yankee is slightly overlapping and of very heavy cloth. It hangs like a drape under 7knots but by 12 I need to reef it significantly.

The other day I was on a beam reach with the main and stay sail flying, I was making about 4 knots in 15 knots with confused 2 to 3 foot seas, multiple wave sets.


Howard
Why are you only making 4 knots in 15 (apparent or true)???? This seems too slow for your LWL.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well I only had the staysail and main flying and I’m 40,000# and the sea state wasn’t great.

But yes, I’m trying to improve my speed without having to tolerate excessive weather helm.

BTW I’ve only ever sail in 2 boats, and I still own both of them. And I don’t have this problem on my other boat (33’er).
 

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Your descriptions are a bit confusing. You say you have weather helm, yet you say it feels like the bow is being "pulled down" which sounds like lee helm.

Typically not having enough sail area forward will manifest itself as weather helm, and having too much sail area forward will result in lee helm. It doesnt make sense to me that the boat is balanced with main and stay sail, and then when you pull out the Genoa you suddenly have weather helm.

Weather helm can also be caused by excessive heel angles. How much heel is excessive really depends on hull design but 10-15 degrees isn't too crazy. Flatter is usually better. 10 degrees of weather helm is also not too bad, but more than ideal.

You have referenced the weight of the sail cloth a few times. That weight is not really the issue other than not flying well in light wind.

The shape of the sail is important. A partially furled sail will never have good shape because the foil shape is cut into the whole sail, and having it partially furled ruins that shape. Also, if the sail is old and worn the sail is likely much too full and the draft too far aft. The result would be that much more of the power generated by the sail would be to leeward rather than forward causing the boat to heel more.

It sounds like you are flying the staysail and a partially furled genoa at the same time? Perhaps you could try furling the staysail and unfurling the Genoa completely. That should move the center of effort of your sailplan forward. That may balance the helm better. Don't be shy with the halyard tension. If the sail is as old as it sounds the draft is probably pretty far aft and luff tension will help pull it forward.

There may also be rig tuning issues at play as well. If your mast is raked too far aft it will cause weather helm, and forward rake will cause lee helm.

Next time you are out sailing, take lots of picture of your sails, preferably close hauled, and from the bottom of the sail looking up. That will help assess the shape of your sails and sail trim.

Sent from my SM-G960W using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Your descriptions are a bit confusing. You say you have weather helm, yet you say it feels like the bow is being "pulled down" which sounds like lee helm
Being pulled down into the water, depressed. NOT being pulled downwind.

It doesnt make sense to me that the boat is balanced with main and stay sail, and then when you pull out the Genoa you suddenly have weather helm.
I completely agree. Yet that is what it is.

10 degrees of weather helm is also not too bad, but more than ideal.
Unfortunately it’s more than the AP can deal with. I’ve sailed this boat quite a few miles and dealt with the weather helm and agree with your comments above. And I have a larger over lapping sail that works better, but is far too big for the Caribbean conditions where we frequently see 20+ knots. In fact I bought the bigger sail because I was dissatisfied with the Yankee. It is a lightly used sail of lighter cloth I bought used. Even though not cut for this boat it works better. But it’s not for here.
 

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Shiva has ab LWL of 29'+...

look at the instrument display... speed thru water is 6.6 (increasing).... SOG is 7.1 (some fair current of .5kts.

True wind speed is about 10 kts and apparent wind is about 14 kts. We're sailing close hauled... it looks like small waves (expected at 10kts of wind speed.) Ideal sailing conditions.

Heel is under 15°.... helm is balanced... slight weather helm

What would your boat do in these conditions?
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Shiva has ab LWL of 29'+...

look at the instrument display... speed thru water is 6.6 (increasing).... SOG is 7.1 (some fair current of .5kts.

True wind speed is about 10 kts and apparent wind is about 14 kts. We're sailing close hauled... it looks like small waves (expected at 10kts of wind speed.) Ideal sailing conditions.

Heel is under 15°.... helm is balanced... slight weather helm

What would your boat do in these conditions?
My boat with the YANKEE would be about as below.

Much slower, probably can’t carry full Genoa. I would have the stay sail up. Hard heel.

With the weird (smaller) Genoa I believe I would be making more way with less heel. But I’ve so little experience with that sail it’s a bit of a guess. With 15 knots of true she had some heel and some weather helm but was doing 6 knots. It was a brief experience. I might have done better if I had some time to fool with it, I could likely have eased the main a bit.

Frankly I haven’t seen those conditions you report above in 4 years. In December we had a week at almost no wind, the rest of the time it’s been 15-25.
 

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My boat with the YANKEE would be about as below.

Much slower, probably can’t carry full Genoa. I would have the stay sail up. Hard heel.

With the weird (smaller) Genoa I believe I would be making more way with less heel. But I’ve so little experience with that sail it’s a bit of a guess. With 15 knots of true she had some heel and some weather helm but was doing 6 knots. It was a brief experience. I might have done better if I had some time to fool with it, I could likely have eased the main a bit.

Frankly I haven’t seen those conditions you report above in 4 years. In December we had a week at almost no wind, the rest of the time it’s been 15-25.
Shiva is a fractional rig... deep fin and skegged rudder. 15 true upwind it's approaching reefing time. But even at those wind speeds... I don't let the boat heel more than 15°... max 20°. More heel you make more leeway... not good. Waves make a big difference of course.... above 2 feet high and you bet slowed by waves.

My guess is your "problem" is from the large genny and smallish main... mast head rig. Try a smaller sail set on the inner forestay.... that should perhaps help with your weather helm (turning into weather).

You don't want to "drag" your rudder.... which you do when you have a lot of weather helm,

I don't know much about masthead rigs... someone else can help you balance your sail plan, reduce weather helm and get more speeed.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Sander,

As noted above I have changed to a smaller headsail and am awaiting conditions (tomorrow) when I can check it out better.

We have been running 15-25 with 6’ to 9’ seas for a good bit.
 

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The more jib the more heel. The main is NOT the problem.
Don't be too quick to discount the possibility that the mainsail might be the problem.

A heavy helm isn't caused by just a problem with the jib. It's caused by an imbalance between the jib and mainsail. The pivot point on a sailboat is the center of lateral resistance (CLR). The jib creates pressure forward of the CLR, and the mainsail creates pressure aft of the CLR. By balancing those pressures, you create a balanced helm, assuming the rig is properly tuned. Too much pressure forward of the CLR causes the boat to want to bear off the wind, and too much pressure aft causes it to want to come up to windward. In either case, you have to use the rudder to correct it, and that not only makes you arm-weary, it also costs you boat speed. I should add that excess pressure on a barn door rudder can cause the rudder to fail. I've seen it happen.

On a masthead-rigged boat, as the wind increases, I generally depower the mainsail first by flattening it's shape and easing the traveler, and using all the adjustments that the boat has to depower the mainsail. If it increases further, then I tuck in a reef. At the same time I generally depower the jib by flattening it's shape a bit and adjusting the genoa car. If the wind increases further, then I reduce the size of the jib.

Excessive heeling can result from either too much jib or too much mainsail, but the mainsail is usually the more likely culprit than the jib for excessive heeling.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Sailor man,

I’m sailing along on a broad reach with main and staysail @ 4knots. Balanced helm not much heel. I roll out a bit of Genoa and get 15°-20° of heel and 10° of weatherhelm.

How does the main do that?
 

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I'd guess you have too much pressure aft of the CLR. That suggests you have too much mainsail area, or your mainsail is over-trimmed, or both. Try flattening the mainsail, easing the traveler, and, at some point you have to think about tucking in a reef.

edit: I see you were on a broad reach. That changes things a bit, but the principles are the same. On a broad reach, the pressure on a big mainsail tends to push the transom to leeward, but you don't notice it much because the keel and rudder resist it. If you roll out a big jib and over-trim it, the over-trimmed jib tends to pull the bow to windward. An over-trimmed jib also causes weather helm. The solution is to balance the pressures on the main and jib. In this case, I'd suggest you ease the jibsheet a bit. You might also need to ease the mainsail as well. Balance them.

As the wind increases, you'll have to reef the mainsail to achieve a balance.
 

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Sander,

As noted above I have changed to a smaller headsail and am awaiting conditions (tomorrow) when I can check it out better.

We have been running 15-25 with 6’ to 9’ seas for a good bit.
Those are tough conditions on the wind... see how the smaller head sail does.
 

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Every boat is an individual . As you learn yours experiment with different combos.

On Haleakula , a mastheader , we first drop the centerboard. Usually that straightens her back to less than 15% heel until we get to 22 knots. Our boar works best to next furl the jib to 110 and flatten the main. Next is reef mr main.

Gusty or large waves can change this formula. Experiment with the techniques everyone has said as your boat has its own idiosyncracys .
 

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Sailor man,



I’m sailing along on a broad reach with main and staysail @ 4knots. Balanced helm not much heel. I roll out a bit of Genoa and get 15°-20° of heel and 10° of weatherhelm.



How does the main do that?
What we are trying to tell you is that helm balance is a combination of factors and you need to look at the whole picture. You can't ignore the mainsail. Indeed, if you are experiencing too much weather helm it is the main that needs to be depowered first. Flatten the main as much as you can and drop the traveller, and if that doesn't do it, put more twist in it.

Also, if you are already flying a staysail your CE is already a bit aft, but the imbalance is not going to manifest so much if you are under powered. Once you pull out the Genoa you are adding a lot more power. If you furl the staysail and use just the genoa and main that CE should move forward.

It is a bit strange that you are reporting excessive weather helm on a broad reach. How is the weather helm when you harden up to a close reach or close hauled?

Sent from my SM-G960W using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
It is a bit strange that you are reporting excessive weather helm on a broad reach. How is the weather helm when you harden up to a close reach or close hauled?
It will increase. So say I’m in a broad reach, under AP, the wind picks up a bit, she will turn to weather and if I don’t catch it quick will round up.

If that answers your question.

It’s not that I’m reporting excessive weather helm on a broad reach. It what happens when I put out a small bit of job, the weatherhelm increases. Everything I read says putting out some job should decrease the weatherhelm.

And believe me, I’ve let the main right off without significant effect. It’s. NOT the main. And it’s not a small main.
 
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