Gems From the Notebook
Gems From the Notebook
Andy Horton shares a few of his most lucrative tips for optimizing speed in just about any boat. "Boatspeed" from our April 2012 issue.
9. Make sure you can mode
Try to sail in bow-down, fast-forward modes. If you can do this comfortably, the boat is set up well for the conditions. This is good especially when tuning on your own.
10. Never ease the spinnaker clew past the headstay
If you ease the clew too far, the spinnaker will pull the boat to windward and not drive it forward enough. Typically, the right amount of ease is when the clew is just to leeward of the headstay.
11. Vang and spinnaker pole go together
The vang tension and pole height should change in unison. If you bear off, typically you raise the pole and ease the vang. When you head up, do the opposite. In stronger winds, if the boat is rocking too much, tighten the vang and pull in the boom slightly.
12. Sag for power
The mast should sag slightly to leeward, making the sail more powerful, until you are in a full hike. Once you can no longer hold the boat down by hiking, straighten the mast.
13. Pointing problems? Look at two possibilities
Think of the main and jib as one large wing. The front of the jib is the leading edge of the wing, and the main leech is the back edge. If you’re not pointing, the root of the problem is most often found in one of those two areas.
14. As conditions change make multiple adjustments
If you’re well off the pace in the new conditions, don’t make just one large adjustment on one control—such as easing two feet of mainsheet or moving the mast butt three inches. Instead, try a few clicks on the mainsheet, maybe coupled with a small change in the outhaul.
15. Surfing—do up-turns early
The best downwind wave sailors don’t necessarily record the highest speeds; they just maintain a consistent speed longer. One key to doing this when you’re surfing is to turn up before the bow hits the next wave in front of you.
16. Carry the most power in light air
In light air, the first team to power up enough to get weight on the rail is usually the fastest. But be careful: As the wind increases, the next step after that is to stop going for power and hiking and instead focus on making the boat go forward.
17. Move diagonally
In light air, you’re on the leeward side and well forward to get the stern out of the water, reducing wetted surface. As the wind increases and you move to windward to keep the boat balanced, don’t just move straight across. Move diagonally, to windward and aft. The reason for that is, once you move to windward and start hiking, you want to take advantage of a full waterline length. Of course, as the boat gets more powerful and begins planning, move even further aft.
18. Jib trimmer goes in first
When you become underpowered and need to take someone off the rail, send the person in who will make the biggest difference. This connects with tip No. 9. The jib trimmer can see the jib a lot better when on the leeward side and instantly adjust the sail for the changing conditions. By the same token, the jib trimmer should be the last to move to windward.
19. Steer with your weight
This is one of the most basic, but most important, of all the rules. Any time you’re turning the boat to windward, you should lean in, and any time you’re turning down, hike out, regardless of wind speed. It’s very obvious in a dinghy in light air, but even on big boats we delay windward-mark spinnaker hoists all the time to help turn the boat down. This is accomplished by keeping the crew weight on the rail as long as possible. At the leeward mark, get your job done but don’t go right to the windward rail. Instead, lean to leeward as the boat turns up. Then hike out to flatten the boat just before the bow reaches the new course.