• Easing mainsail outhaul.
• Easing backstay.
• Easing halyards and cunninghams.
• Easing leechlines.
• Keeping main traveller at or above centerline.
• Allow headsail draft to move aft in order to create a narrow angle of attack.
• Keep lower third of sails flat to minimize induced drag.
• Keep the boat footing and minimize rudder use.
Moderate air (8 to 15 knots) - Once the true wind is blowing steadily over 10 knots you can get the boat fully up to speed and the sails trimmed perfectly to match not only the conditions, but whatever it is the helmsman wants to achieve. On racing boats, a constant dialogue and coordination between the helmsman and the sail trimmers is very important. This is when big gains in boat speed can be made. On cruising boats, while you don't need to constantly fiddle with your sheet or other sail controls, paying attention to what your sails are doing can mean the difference between an exhilarating beat and a frustratingly inefficient upwind slog.
As the breeze comes in, one of the first things you will notice is that it will cause the area of maximum draft in the jib and main to migrate aft. The fabric will start to stretch, and on many boats the halyards will begin to stretch as well. There will also be more sag in the headstay, which will hurt your pointing ability. In short, it's time to trim the sails.
You can start by taking up on the backstay and tightening the halyards or cunninghams. As the backstay is ten-sioned one of three things will happen; your mast will bend, your headstay will become more straight, or both. You need to decide how much of each you want to happen. To stop the mast bending so that all the tension can go onto the headstay, you need to take up on the running backstays, if you have them. This will keep the mast from moving, and as the top is pulled aft by the backstay, the headstay will become tighter.
First let's look at the mainsail. Flattening the sail by bending the mast is a good thing as the wind increases, but you can accomplish this in other ways and for the moment you might want to have the full effect of the backstay adjustment go directly onto the headstay. So, start to flatten the main by taking up on the outhaul, applying tension to the foot of the sail until it is at its maximum position, and then taking in on the flattening reef if you have one, bearing in mind that the amount will depend on the amount of heel your boat is exhibiting, along with the weather helm the helmsman is experiencing. For the moment the traveler will remain on centerline and there should be sufficient sheet tension to keep all the telltales flying perfectly. In practice this will mean trimming the sail until the telltales begin to dance around the back of the leech, and then easing it out a fraction, all the while keeping your top batten at or as close to centerline as possible. Your objective at this point is twofold. You want to flatten the sail to reduce camber, which in turn reduces weather helm and heel, but you also want to keep just enough load on the sail so that the helmsman has a good feel for the helm. Remember if you decided to begin to bend the mast that you will also need to tighten the halyard or cunningham to keep the draft where you want it since pulling shape from the front of the sail not only flattens it, but also takes away the camber, leaving the remaining camber further aft.
In terms of the headsail, you should tighten the headstay to flatten this sail as well, but don't forget that this will cause the draft to move aft the same way that bending the mast does to the main, so be sure to tighten the halyard or take up on the cunningham. If the boat still feels overpowered you can move the lead position aft a few notches. This will further flatten the foot of the sail and add more twist to the top of the leech, depowering the sail and reducing heel. At this point you will notice that the top telltale will begin to lift before the rest. But if the boat is nearing the upper range of the sail and is beginning to feel overpowered, having the top of the sail lift early is not a problem since you will be intentionally spilling off power to reduce heel.
Was this article helpful?
If you're wanting to learn about boating. Then this may be the most important letter you'll ever read! You Are Going To Get An In-Depth Look At One Of The Most Remarkable Boating Guides There Is Available On The Market Today. It doesn't matter if you are just for the first time looking into going boating, this boating guide will get you on the right track to a fun filled experience.