Please select your home edition
Edition
Dubarry 728x90 1

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!

Dubarry 2016 660x82 1Henri Lloyd 50 YearsZhik ZKG 660x82

Related Articles

Super Series Sailing Spectacular
News arrived of at least one Australian outfit going for a new build 52. Someone had to entertain Beau Geste and SMB During the week, news arrived of at least one Australian outfit going for a new build 52. Someone had to keep Beau Geste and SMB entertained at the sharp end of the 52 bracket. Two other camps were linked to other former 52 Super Series craft, Phoenix and Spookie, but the one touted as going after Phoenix has denied it, saying that Hasso (SAP) Plattner of Germany has bought her.
Posted today at 1:00 am
More marina space and exciting firsts for GC Boat Show and Marine Expo
More marina space and exciting additions to an impressive Fleet of Firsts have set scene for a colossal marine showcase More marina space and even more exciting additions to an already impressive Fleet of Firsts have set the scene for a colossal marine showcase both on water and on land on Queensland’s Gold Coast from 17-19 March.
Posted on 17 Feb
Tenth blog from on board Perie Banou II
The irrepressible, charismatic and yarn-spinning record-breaker known as Jon Sanders is back sailing the oceans The sailor who cannot garden; the irrepressible, charismatic and yarn-spinning record-breaker known as Jon Sanders is back sailing the oceans he knows so well. After his ribs episode on the quay in Cape Town, and making more friends everywhere he goes, Jon is now making for St Helena. So here, in his typical rapid-fire style are his latest exploits...
Posted on 17 Feb
B&G adds enhanced Navionic functionality to Zeus and Vulcan range
B&G® announces the latest updates will bring PredictWind weather services direct to Zeus and Vulcan chartplotter range. B&G®, the world’s leading sailing navigation and instrument specialist, is pleased to announce the latest in its software updates will bring PredictWind weather services direct to its Zeus and Vulcan chartplotter range.
Posted on 16 Feb
Beneteau Open Day at Cruising Yacht Club of Australia
The Beneteau Team will be exhibiting three new Beneteau models at the CYCA this Saturday. The Beneteau Team will be exhibiting three new Beneteau models at the CYCA this Saturday.
Posted on 16 Feb
Lisa Blair enjoys a sunrise crossing of International Date Line
At sea for 20 days, Lisa Blair, 32 reached a key milestone in her attempt to circumnavigate Antarctica solo At sea for 20 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes and 39 seconds, sailor and adventurer Lisa Blair, 32 reached a key milestone in her attempt to circumnavigate Antarctica solo and unassisted crossing the International Dateline at 16:25:39 UTC (05:25:39 local time) on 11 February 2017.
Posted on 11 Feb
Six weeks to go to 2017’s Gold Coast International Boat Show
Come and see over 600 boats for sale on water and on the land as well as engines, accessories and electronics. Come and see over 600 boats for sale on water and on the land as well as engines, accessories and electronics, live entertainment and boating education every 15 minutes across a giant 3km display circuit.
Posted on 10 Feb
On board interview with Lisa Blair - solo Antartica circumnavigation
So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. After the setbacks of a delayed departure due to gremlins in the electronics, we are delighted to have these answers from her on board. She is well and enjoying her time. Climate Action Now, her Hick 50, left Albany in Western Australia on January 22, 2017.
Posted on 8 Feb
Growing Fleet of Firsts for Queensland’s biggest GC Intl Marine Expo
A very impressive Fleet of Firsts is taking shape even more world-leading marine brands/businesses step aboard this week A very impressive Fleet of Firsts is taking shape as even more world-leading marine brands and businesses step aboard this week with first releases at Australia’s first major boat show of 2017 – the Gold Coast International Boat Show and Marine Expo in March.
Posted on 2 Feb
Yachting cartoonist Mike Peyton dies at 96
“The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist” died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. Mike Peyton, dubbed “The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist”, died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. A modest, shy man, he eschewed the spotlight and seemed unaware of the esteem which in sailors all around the world held him.
Posted on 27 Jan