Tim’s Quick Tips: Getting Height

Tim Healy shares his top tips for improving your angle when you're having trouble pointing.
north sails
These easy tweaks can help you get more height when pointing becomes a problem. North Sails

There are times where you may find yourself struggling to either keep your upwind lane, or just can’t get that height to pinch off a boat to weather. We all know that speed creates point, so the faster you go the more lift your keel or centerboard will create giving you better height, point and VMG. That said, there are still times when you think you are doing it all correctly and still aren’t matching your competitors. Here are a few “tips” that Tim Healy has picked up sailing a variety of boats through the years that he found has helped him. Try one or more of the following tips on your boat next time you are looking for better pointing.

Check your backstay.

Is it pulled on in light air? If so make sure it is loose. Also, check to see if you may have too much pre-bend in the mast. Prebend helps your mainsail match it’s designed shape in lighter air but a mast that is set with a lot of prebend will make for a sail that may end up too flat for your sailing style. Less prebend will make your mast straighter which will make the main deeper and can help create the power needed to point higher so try a slightly straighter mast to push some depth into your main and create a more powerful shape.

Did you pull your outhaul too tight?

Try easing it some to get some depth in the bottom of the main. A “slightly” looser outhaul will add depth to the lower ⅓ of the main and and create more depth in the back of the sail down low which will add a little “kick” and help with some height. Just be careful not to ease it too much as the sail can get too deep quickly and add a lot of drag. Less than an inch can make a difference..


Where is your traveler set?

Try moving the traveler a little higher on the track and concentrate more on where the end of the boom is and not where the traveler car or block are on the track. Most sloop rigged boats can sail upwind with the boom on centered, or even a few degrees higher, in light to moderate wind without creating too much drag. Setting the traveler so the end of the boom is as much as a “boom width” above centerline can help balance the boat and make it want to sail closer to the wind.

Are your jib leads too far back?

Sometimes we don’t think of the jib lead position as helping to point higher but it certainly can keep you from pointing higher so making certain that the leads are set far enough forward will make for a fuller jib and can help create the power needed, especially in choppy conditions, to increase forward drive and allow you to sail closer to the wind.