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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I went out yesterday evening in a 30' Catalina in about 20k's.
I was pretty much alone as the guy I took was a first timer. When I tack I usually let the jib back wind about 3 seconds to make sure the bow is turned well then release and sheet in on the weather side.

Mon and Tues it was on 10 to 12k. Weds it was 15 to 20k. At the higher wind speed there was too much tension on the sheet to flip it off. My only choice was to let it run, which it does more slowly than the flip. Likes to jam also.

I'm thinking that in light wind it is better to back wind then flip and in heavier wind flip before back-winding. I'm assuming I've got enough boat speed to make the tack.
I can make it work either way. What do you think is optimal? Maybe another technique all together.
Any tricks for the helm?
Also in heavier wind I notice the knot on the clew of the jenny likes to catch on the stay. What is the best way to make that not happen?
 

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i have found on my boat that over turning on the tack make the sail come across cleaner, i just have to turn up more when done the tack. ie the clew is less likely to get caught.

for the winch jams cant you take off a turn or two and hold it by hand until the sail back winds then let it slip
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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what i mean is say you are sailing exactly 45 degrees to the wind over the starboard side. so the tack will be turning to starboard about 120 degrees, which is about 30 degrees apparent too far to be at 45 degrees apparent on the port side. then after completing the tack turning back the 30 degrees into the wind to get back to the perfect 45 degree apparent wind angle.

what this does is it back winds the genny so it is closer to 90 degrees to the wind, this puts more belly into the sail. which lets it slip by the shrouds easier. it does make trimming the genny a little harder, but what you can do is.

flip a turn or 2 on the lee winch, start the tack, when the sail backwinds to about 75 degree apparent wind, let the winch slip and pull on the new lee sheet. dont have it in the self tailer if you have one. once you cant pull anymore put in on the tailer, turn back to the proper tack angle of 45 degrees apparent. once on proper apparent wind angle use the winch to trim the genny

this adds time to the tack but in higher winds it can help. it is how i do the tack when single handing, i dont know if this would work on a bigger boat than my 27 footer, because of what it takes to pull the sheet in. heck i dont even know if it is the right way, but it works for me
 

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First, when the tension on the jibsheet is so great that you can't release it and flip it off the winch, wait until the boat has started into the turn before you release the jibsheet. As the boat turns, the tension on the jibsheet will abate. When the jib has that much tension on it, that means the sail is still driving the boat, so, if you release the jib too soon, you are wasting some of that driving force.

Next, I'm not an advocate of backwinding the jib during a tack. When you tack, the jib handler ( or "tailer" if you prefer) only has a very limited amount of time between the release of the working jibsheet until the time when the jib loads up on the new tack in which to accomplish a lot of tasks. By backwinding the jib, you pull the bow over onto the new tack more quickly, reducing that already minimal amount of time.

If the jib or jibsheet is snagging on the rigging as you tack, you can reduce that likelihood by making some changes in your jibsheet attachment, or by installing rollers on the shrouds. If I have crew, I'll send a crewmember to the foredeck to throw the jib across the rigging by hand, when necessary, which is usually only in light air.

I also do not agree with the idea of over-turning through the tack. When you do that, the jib is first loaded and begins to drive the boat, as I understand your description, 10-20 degrees to leeward of your intended course. As a result, the boat begins to sail in the wrong direction until the jib handler is able to trim the jib up to a closehauled course. That will quickly work your crew to exhaustion. The better approach is for the helmsman to stop the turn when the jib is streaming aft approximately along the gunwale of the boat. While the jib is still unloaded, the tailer can then haul in all but the last little bit of the jibsheet by hand, without having to use the winch handle, and that's when the helmsman should bear off a couple of degrees and load up the jib. On most small to medium sized boats, if the helmsman and tailer are coordinated, the tailer should be able to haul in most of the jibsheet by hand, without using the winch handle, and should only need the winch handle for the final trim of the sail. Most of us know that the helmsman should bear off slightly after a tack, to help the boat accelerate up to speed, but most people take that principle much too far. If the helmsman and jib handler do it right, the small amount of final trimming that the jib handler needs to do should be just about the right amount to let the boat accelerate efficiently.

Even a totally inexperienced newbie can be very helpful to you in handling a boat. In such case, I have the newbie steer the boat while I handle the jib during the tack. I give the newbie very clear, simple directions that anyone can understand. If the boat is tiller-steered, I'll tell him or her to "push it away from you," or "pull it toward you," or "center it." If it's wheel-steered, I'll tell him to "turn right," or "turn left," or "center the wheel." In that way, I can direct him to stop the turn at just the right point and to turn it at just the right rate, as if I was steering it myself. If you give a newbie directions that are so clear that he can understand, and give him a task that he is capable of doing under your direction, he can be very helpful.
 

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Backwind

We only backwind the jib in light winds. You don't have much boat speed then going into the tack and the backwinded jib will help bring the bow around.
I agree that the working sheet should not be released until the boat has headed up enought to ease the load on it--you're wasting momentum if you release it sooner.
Although my boat sails nicely at 40 degrees off the wind, we try to tack through 45 degrees, falling off a bit to 45 degrees before the tack to get up a little more speed for control, making a 90 degree turn to complete the tack, then heading back up from 45 to 40 degrees.
As for trimming the jib on the new tack, we get all the slack we can out of the sheet as it's coming across the deck and the sheet is slack.
There's nothing better than crisply short tacking up a narrow channel . . . we'll maybe a few things!
 

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You go backwinding an overlapping jib when you tack the boat in a breeze, and the sail will get caught on a spreader and rip the leech. You may get away with the practice a few times, or for a while, but you will eventually rip your sail.

My advice is to release the working sheet as soon as the sail breaks, and trim hard, with constant pressure on the new sheet. Stop turning the boat when the jib fills on the new tack, then bring the boat up to course as the trimmer brings the sheet in. If you want to give the trimmer a break, take the tack slowly so he/she can trim the sheet most of the way in before the sail loads up and they have to start cranking. Do the tack slowly enough and they wont have to crank at all.
 

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I try to avoid backwinding the jib on a tack as much as possible. I had the same problem as the OP -- clew hanging up on shrouds until I realized I had to release the working sheet a few degrees earlier. Also I'm a budget sailor and chafe is my enemy... I hate the sound of canvas scraping on SS shrouds.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you all gentleman. I'll give it all a try.
 

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If you have an autopilot, use the auto-tack function to drive the boat. That leaves you free to concentrate on the sheets. But get them in fast because the auto-tack will put you hard on the wind straight away.
 

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Depending on conditions, you can "slow-tack" as well, a method I use when alone. I build up top speed on a reach, and then point high until starting to luff, then I quickly speed up my turn and release the former weather sheet and start hauling in the new weather sheet, which is pre-wrapped on the winch. Assuming I'm going from close reach to close reach, say, I slow the turn past the point of close hauled, as I sheet in. You can always tighten the sheets in a good breeze, but it is harder to slack off in a controlled fashion, I find.

The "slow tack" isn't really slow at all, but instread of putting the helm over and turning relatively quickly, the helming is "slow turn, faster turn, slow turn". Don't worry about ending in irons if you are doing five or six knots.

The above operation is made easier because I am doing the tack with a tiller between my knees. It's another situation where wheels can impede effective sailing...just my view and I don't know if you have a tiller or not. Hope this helps.
 

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All the years I've raced, our common practice in really anything over 12-15kts is to blow the sheet when the boat stands up right in irons. First off, you should already have enough boat speed for the turn (unless you tacked on a header). Secondly, you won't get an "over-ride" and you won't thrash the sail. If the lazy sheet is properly loaded on the soon to be active winch, trim will be very very easy, and you'll look good too. Back winding can work in very light winds, but generally you'd want the jib on the new tack to get boat speed back up, so if you do that at all, make it super quick.

Watch any racing boat and you'll see what I mean.
 

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Some of the CCA boats would splice eyes in the jib sheets then lash to the clew. Some others would seize an eye in the middle of a continuous jib sheet then lash.

Also, when unloading the weather winch, pull straight up on the sheet instead of trying to unwind it.
 
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