Please select your home edition
Edition
Ensign 728

Five rough weather sailing tips for balance and control

by John Jamieson on 20 Jul 2013
Having your rail in the water might look exciting, but it isn’t fast sailing .. .
Learn to sail with ease by maintaining just the right amount of weather helm on your boat. Too much and you will fight the helm with 'white fisted' effort that will wear you down and slow the boat. Too little weather helm makes the boat feel lifeless. Put the following advice into play for more speed, power and performance.

Keep the rail clear of the water. Friction causes the boat to slow and pivot toward the wind. Follow the five tier strategy below to pump up sail power and performance.

Sail to windward and you will feel the tug on your sailboat wheel or tiller. You want your boat to head toward the wind just a bit--called 'weather helm'--so that it has a feel to the helm.

As the wind increases and the boat begins to heel, the boat will want to 'round up' toward the high side--or windward side. Weather helm increases as heeling increases.

Heeled way over with crews hiked out to windward and the rail in the water may look like fun--and it can be. But, it's not efficient. Flatter boats are faster boats. Dig the leeward rail beneath the waves and you can bet that you will slow down and your weather helm will increase.

Digging the rail into the water increases hull friction and causes the boat to want to pivot toward the wind. This results in a 'two-fister' helm you have to fight to keep on course. Steer like this for a while and even the best helmsman will wear down in no time.

You want to reduce or reef sails early enough to keep the boat sailing with minimum heel. This action will flatten the boat, decrease the amount of steering necessary to keep on a sailing course, and increase sailing performance (forward drive and speed).

Famous sailor and author John Rousmaniere states that about 3° should be the maximum off-center that a wheel or tiller should be held. Use this as a benchmark; some boats may require a bit more than this. But in any event, the helm should feel light and it should be easy to maintain the sailing course with just fingertip pressure. This applies in all weather--from the lightest zephyr to extreme conditions.



Now to the five tips - Fast sail trim with a 5-tier strategy:

Reduce weather helm and heeling with this five tier strategy. Follow the order of the tier or find the best mix to keep your sailboat weather helm right for your boat. Jump over steps of the tier as necessary to meet the conditions at your location.

1. Increase weight to windward.

Depending on what kind of boat you have, move your crew to windward to reduce heeling and flatten the boat. This may be harder with short-handed crews. Go to the next steps.

2. Ease the Mainsheet and Genoa sheets.

Crack off on the mainsheet and Genoa sheets an inch or two. This opens the top of the sail (called 'twist'), to dump high velocity wind up high. As the wind increases, go to the next step.

3. Slide the Mainsheet Car to Leeward.

Use this often-forgotten strategy to de-power the mainsail further. Racing sailors will often keep the mainsheet trimmed, but ease the car along the traveler track as the wind increases. This keeps the leech trimmed and the boat driving.

4. Move Genoa Sheet Blocks Aft.
Tension the foot of the Genoa to twist the top of the Genoa. Slide the block aft to do this. Keep the top of the Genoa open to maintain forward drive. (Note: roller furling raises the clew as you furl. You will need to move the block forward as you furl to keep the leech under control).

5. Reduce Sail Area (reefing; smaller headsail).
We've all heard the 'reef when you first think about it' rule. Not many actions balance a boat faster than reefing. Think of reefing as a balancing tactic, not a heavy weather strategy. Remember that most roller furling sails are not meant to be flown in heavy weather. Work out a system now so that you can hoist a smaller hank-on headsail in high wind conditions.

You will improve your sailing performance when you reduce weather helm and trim your sails to meet the conditions at hand. Sail faster and gain more power when you sail your sailboat flatter--wherever in the world you choose to go sailing!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website at www.skippertips.com. Sign up for the Free, highly popular weekly 'Captain John's Sailing Tip-of-the-Week'. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, and e-Books!

Zhik ZKG 660x82InSunSport - NZNaiad/Oracle Supplier

Related Articles

Auckland On the Water Boat Show - Images from Day3
The Auckland On the Water Boat Show pulled a great crowd again today The Auckland On the Water Boat Show pulled a great crowd again today, with the threatening weather which dogged the last couple of hours of yesterday's Show, being thankfully absent. The Show finished Sunday at 5.00pm - catch some great exhibits - and it is great fun for kids. Don't miss having a look at HMNZS Hawea tied alongside.
Posted today at 1:18 pm
'The best day of my life' - Auckland On the Boat Show - Day 3
Despite the forecast of dicey weather, visitors to the Auckland On the Water Boat Show were rewarded with a good day Despite a less than optimist forecast of more inclement weather, visitors to the Auckland On the Water Boat Show were rewarded with a good day to be at the Show – overcast skies, but no rain and plenty to see and do. Held for the first time in the school holidays, the kids – who get free entry – had a great day.
Posted today at 4:55 am
Auckland on the Water Boat Show - Showers don't deter crowds on Day 2
A tsunami of boating fans of all persuasions swept through the gates of the Auckland On the Water Boat Show this morning A tsunami of boating fans of all persuasions swept through the gates of the Auckland On the Water Boat Show when they opened this morning. Whether it was a result of the morning weather forecast or Friday was just a convenient day - who knows?
Posted on 30 Sep
Auckland On the Water Boat Show opens full of the Joys of Spring
The Auckland On the Water Boat Show enjoyed a beautiful Spring day for its opening. Despite the inclement weather that has been the New Zealand's daily fare for too long, the Auckland On the Water Boat Show enjoyed a beautiful Spring day for its opening. Today was the first of the four-day show and is also the first time that the Show has been held in the school holidays.
Posted on 29 Sep
Knowing Harken takes years and years (Pt.II)
We looked at how Grant Pellew became the MD here in Australia, and how they rigorously go about testing their gear In Part One of getting to know Harken, we looked at how Grant Pellew became the MD here in Australia, and how they rigorously go about testing their gear. We also looked at some of the other brands Harken distributes in Australia and so we move on to the last category.
Posted on 25 Sep
Olympic Gold medalist and Volvo Ocean Race winner up for WS Board
Torben Grael (BRA) is amongst the 15 nominations for one of seven places on the Board of Directors of World Sailing Torben Grael (BRA) is amongst the 15 nominations for one of seven places on the Board of Directors of World Sailing in November. The five times Olympic medalist, Volvo Ocean Race winner and several times America's Cup competitor will bring a much needed sailing edge to the Board of World Sailing if he can navigate the politics of the controlling body of the sport.
Posted on 25 Sep
Amel - Do you fit the bill?
Perhaps it is equally as fascinating as the many features that go into either the Amel 55 or 64 It is certainly an interesting set of criterion. Perhaps it is equally as fascinating as the many features that go into either the Amel 55 or 64 and make them a definitive part of the quintessential bluewater cruiser armada. We’ll come to all of those in due course, but firstly we’ll tackle the hero image and why in so many ways, this explains, so, so much.
Posted on 21 Sep
Knowing Harken takes years and years (Pt.I)
You could imagine that being familiar with all that Harken produces and stands for is a lengthy process. You could imagine that being familiar with all that Harken produces and stands for is a lengthy process. So if you were going to be the person at the top in Australia, it would be best for you to have immersed yourself in sailing from an early age. When you grew up, being one of the technical service team would be more than a handy apprenticeship, as it were.
Posted on 19 Sep
Brookes and Gatehouse Videos with Knut Frostad
Navico, the parent company for Brookes and Gatehouse (B&G), Simrad and Lowrance have prepared some terrific videos Navico, the parent company for Brookes and Gatehouse (B&G), Simrad and Lowrance have prepared some terrific videos with Knut Frostad, the legendary Volvo Ocean Race sailor and former CEO. See him talk about sailing in general, the B&G product choices and placement he made for his own boat, and then why he loves his Outremer 5X.
Posted on 8 Sep
Boat Books of the Month - How to Read Water and False Flags
How to Read Water: Clues, Signs & Patterns from Puddles to Sea & False Flags: Disguised German Raiders of World War II. This month the Boatbooks Australia: Boat Books of the Month are How to Read Water: Clues, Signs & Patterns from Puddles to the Sea and False Flags: Disguised German Raiders of World War II.
Posted on 6 Sep