Thursday, April 7, 2011


This is old stuf, recently written, but worth thinking about.

The WOW or words of wisdom as long as I had three wins on Sunday. Topics, so you can judge if interested at all--- 1. Windward heel--- 2. Roll tacks --- 3. By the lee sail trim.

Rob was sailing with windward heel whenever he could manage it, and making it pay off—speed and less leeway. The little lee helm that it requires bothered him, but not enough for him to think that it wasn’t working. I have done that before. The results are not spectacular, but a little better speed and height never hurts unless you are going in the wrong direction.

With the windward heel, the upwind side of the boat that is in the water gets rounder and downwind side in the water gets straighter. Now that is the same as the sail, but working in the opposite direction. A foil in the water working upwind and one in the wind pulling forward.

My 80 year old roll tacks are working better and I thought I was picking up a little on each. It may have been the wind shifts, but…. Turn up slowly into the wind and burn off your speed going in the upwind direction trimming in the sail and roll the boat hard to the new leeside as you turn to the new close-hauled heading or just past it. Ease out some sail, so when you rock the boat back up, you can pull in some sail to pump you forward. You should be putting half the side deck under water when you roll. As soon as you are back up level check the tell tales for fast up wind sailing. With a good roll I think you can take advantage of small shifts and avoid the lay line, till late.

If you think you need better roll tacks, then practice some. Buddy Melges STARTS his practice sessions with 50 tacks. If you can’t come to sail other days than race days, come early or stay late and do some extra practice. If you are practicing before the race be sure to hang near the starting line so you don’t miss the races.

Downwind I got away from Rob several times with careful sail trim by the lee. When you are by the lee, the mast keeps the trailing edge of the wind over the sail straight and makes it faster in light wind and more under control in heavier wind.

Now to trim the sail, get a little vang on but not enough to take all the twist out of the sail. Trim the sail in so that the bottom of the leach flutters a little. Hopefully the full sail at the twisted top will keep the thing from gybing. This is a little like the curl in the windward edge of the spinnaker when you are trimming it, or the luff in the jib when you ease it a little. Now ease the sheet a little so it won’t gybe with a little wind shift and then ease again to be sure you are right on the edge. Rob and Alejandro sail with the sail far out and maybe stalled part of the time. Do that is an airplane and you will fall out of the sky. Then don’t sail dead downwind. Off on some kind of broad reach. Tacking downwind or when the folks one the coast are working waves, I think they just do transitions from by the lee to broad reach and then back again to catch the next wave.

Then in that third race Rob and Patrick went around the leeward mark together with me close behind (a three boat race). They were covering each other and let me go off to the left alone and the three of us came together at the finish. The RC gave me second place, but it could have been anybody. I tried to shoot the line, but don’t know if that helped. It can give you and extra foot or so. (Finish at the downwind end of the line and go head to wind just before crossing the line.)

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