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Escape Artist,
Most of the advice you have received is correct. However, I would disagree with tightening the backstay. That would only move the center of effort aft, thereby increasing weather helm.
The one additional sail shaping tool you might want to consider is a preventer line from the toe rail forward of the boom attachment up to the boom. By triangulating the boom between the sheet and the preventer you can flatten and stabalize the sail just at the point of luffing. Any puffs that over power you get immediately dumped from the sail yet the boom stays stable. I rig my preventer lines ( I rig port and starboard lines if I am having to tack in through heavy seas) back to the cockpit through snatch blocks attached to strongly backed pad-eyes. It is a simple matter to release the preventer before beginning a tack, and with practice, you will become proficient in cleating off the preventer before trimming the main at just the right place so that when the main is trimmed,the preventer is tight.
A preventer line is a life saver if you are having to jibe your way home. I single-handed a lot, and by controlling the boom with both the mainsheet and preventer, jibing was a nonevent.
Don''t forget to release the topping lift.
Tom S.
 

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I went back to the original message to review the parameters that were set for this question.
If you are above a beam and below a beat, then my guess is that the boom is going to be outside of the sweep of the traveler. Therefore, the effort of the mainsheet is going to pull the boom towards the centerline of the boat and induce twist to the sail. If I remember the sailing characteristics of most Hunters I have sailed, they have a tendency to weather helm. Depowering the headsail while at the same time adding twist to the main is going to unbalance the helm towards weather helm.
If the sailing conditions are as you describe, the boom end will most likely not be outside of the beam. If it strikes the water at that point, well, your day has gotten exciting hasn''t it?
Now with the wind on the beam at 20-25knts, I believe there will be some kind of sea running. In this beam to situation, there is bound to be some rocking and rolling going on. I have one scar on my forehead from a boom, and while it does add character, one is sufficient. When I am cruising, I am way to laid-back to want to worry about ducking a swinging boom.
Anyway, I feel that the great attraction of sailing is the test of each sailor''s ability to solve his/her problems. There are many right answers: Whatever works for you at the time you need it to work- that is the answer.
Tom S.
 
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