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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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"Do you sit to windward or leeward when at the helm?"

Yes,, I either sit on the windward side or the leeward side when at the helm. Upwind. I typically sit to leeward when the heel angle is less than 10-12 degrees. From the leeward side I can see the whole luff of the jib, and can play jib sheet in the gusts and lulls. But also a smaller percentage of the horizon is blocked from view by the jib from the lee rail.

I typically sit on the windward rail in a stronger breeze, to be able to see the waves.

Down wind in big waves, I tend to stand behind the wheel.

My GPS/chart plotter is on a swivel so I can see it no matter where I sit. My other instruments are visible anywhere in the cockpit.

Jeff
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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Practically I don't find the wind all that shifty when sailing upwind. Or it is not worth the effort to be constantly making adjustments to trim. In light air I would sit to leeward to trim. But trim of the main can be done from either side.
What is important is to have good visibility when there are boats around. Not all boat's skippers are paying attention because they are on AP.
Downwind I simply to not usually want to sail SSW and risk an accidental jibe. A deep broad reach is not trim critical.. and for my rig, it's the main that is the power not the genny. Close to land the wind can be shifty.
Obviously, you and I have very different sailing styles. When you say , "Practically I don't find the wind all that shifty when sailing upwind" that simply means that you are not paying close enough attention to actually see what is happening. From our past discussions, it should be apparent that one of us is deeply interested in the science of sailing, and in performance, while the other of us is perfectly content not really caring about either. That does not make one or the other of us more inherently right or wrong; but just that we each come to sailing with different points of view, and interests. There is no harm/ no foul in that.

If you were actually paying close attention to the wind, you would have seen that even in steady conditions there are frequent 5-10 degree apparent wind shifts and small increases and decreases in wind speed. If you care about getting the most out of the boat, whether day sailing, cruising, or racing, minimally altering course with those shifts will improve overall performance, as will adjusting sail trim in longer gusts or lulls.

To be clear, I believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with not caring about performance or so therefore deciding that those small shifts are not important to you, And if that is how you enjoy sailing, then there is nothing wrong with setting an autopilot and living with the set your sails, and in doing so live with the resultant performance compromises. With or without the autopilot, I think that may actually be the way most people sail, and it is how I sail when I have a long passage and need to leave the helm for a while.

But for people like me, who value sailing the boat to the best of her ability, then part of the fun is keeping the course and sail trim optimized. Trimming sails and steering to the conditions can make big differences in passage times, and for some people that optimization is a large part of the fun. I grew up with an ethic that valued skippering a well sailed boat. But that does not make a more relaxed approach any more or less a 'proper way to sail' for anyone else.

However you may choose to sail, I do agree with the point that it is important to pay attention to keeping a careful watch for other boats and obstacles. My earlier point is that generally, the jib obscures a much narrower portion of the horizon when seen on edge from the leeward side of the boat than it does when viewed at a more perpendicular angle from the windward side of the boat. But where ever you sit, you need to move around or alter course enough to see what is happening in your blind spots

Jeff
 
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