Monday, October 25, 2010


This note stolen from Sailing World (November- December 2010) Steve Hunt “Open Your Bag of Tricks”. He notes 10 tricks and I just stopped with number one. “Sail the boat at the optimum angle of heel”.

I love this picture of Steve Cockerel sailing in wind and waves. He is almost flat. Flat is fastest, but with waves and spray, a little heel encourages the foredeck spray to roll off and not all come into the cockpit. He is rocking back and heading up to go over the next wave. Most importantly with the supervang, he is sheeted out a foot or so past the transom, to keep sailing fast and hold the angle of heel. Don’t let the gusts increase your heel. Sheet out and if you are supervanged the mast doesn’t straighten when you sheet out. Now you are going faster. If you heel, you will be doing more leeway, slower and rudder dragging more, as you try to keep going straight.

In less waves try to keep the boat flatter. You might even be able to sail with windward heel which makes the a asymmetrical hull work to weather. When the wind is very light, then weight forward and big time leeward heel to reduce wetted surface. (When you are going slow and not making any waves, then wetted surface is holding you back.) Going down wind, it is max windward heel to get the sail up into more wind and the center over the boat so you don’t need much rudder.

If planing, move way to the back to get the bow up and boat flat. You will be more stable planing on the flatter surfaces at the stern.

So the optimum heel changes around the course, but if you think more about that and get it screwed into your bottom automatic brain, you will have more time to look around and see what is happening on the course. Now you are sailing faster and keeping your “head out of the boat” and into the rest of the race.

Remember sailing fast makes your tactics look great.

Practice “think heel”, if you don’t already.

Now check out the boats ahead of you.

What are they doing?

What heel?

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