Byte tuning tips
by Zeke Purves-Smith on 5 Jun 2012
Always up all the way - Be sure to tie the halyard off around the mast at the cleat to ensure that the line will not slip thus preventing the sail from coming down.
The Byte sail is a fairly deep sail by design and as such when the breeze freshens do not be afraid to tighten the outhaul significantly even in chop or waves. As a rule of thumb, under fifteen knots a hand width between the boom and the foot of the sail is optimum.
In matters of tuning the Cunningham, the Byte operates in much the same way as a Radial or Laser. In light to medium air where the sailor can sail the boat fully powered, the Cunningham should be tuned to take the mast bend cracks out of the sail. As the breeze builds it is always the Cunningham that should be depowered FIRST and extensively.
In the Byte much as in a Finn or Europe Dinghy, but unlike a Laser or Radial the vang is less an upwind depowering tool than a downwind leetch adjusting tool. While some do use the vang like a Laser, in the Byte the Traveler serves the same purpose and is more effective if used properly. Moreover, the use of the Traveler rather than the vang is better for the maintenance of the spars and fittings there attached. Downwind the preferred sail shape is achieved when the top batten is just breaking (and here I don't mean physically breaking but bending off with the leetch) when the sail is pumped. If the battens are all breaking together it may be slightly too tight, if they are breaking individually and all over the place the vang is likely too loose. As the breeze builds we are always looking for the same sail shape.
Finally, The Traveler:
The Traveler is the best kept secret of the Byte - proper tuning and use of the Traveler played a large role in both the North American Championships and the World Championships in 2001 and in years past - in both cases the victors were those able to play the Traveler better than their competitors. When the breeze is light the Traveler is to remain centered and is not used. However when the breeze builds to the point where the sailor is forced to ease the main in gusts, cleating the main and then uncleating and playing the traveler allows the sailor to play the main sail two-to-one as opposed to the mainsheet, which is four-to-one. As such with minimal effort the sail can be pumped upwind for every wave, this propels the boat efficiently through the water.
Byte specific technical typs:
If there is one comment about the Byte that seems to be widespread it's 'the Byte is Tippy'. Relative to a Laser, this is true. Relative to a 29er, the Byte might-as-well be an oil tanker! As with any boat, the Byte sails best when tuned for the point of sail it is on. In the Byte it is especially crucial to ease the controls to go downwind - preferably before the windward mark as it also increases stability to have the sail powered up with force evenly distributed across the sail. In addition, due to its higher boom and shorter, narrower hull, the Byte demands superior sail trimming skills. The boat will not bear-off without easing the sail, the boat heads up twice as fast if the sail is being trimmed accordingly and downwind unless trimmed properly the boat will death roll. The way to keep the boat stable in windier conditions is to pump the sail aggressively when the boat begins to rock. Of course always remembering to sail within the rules.
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