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The art of sail design has come a long way since the days of hand-dawn files and even rudimentary CAD design programmes. Today, UK Sailmakers Ireland uses SAILPACK which, in our opinion, is the best sail design program on the market. SAILPACK has 3-D design tools that allow a designer to create complex arrays of computerised fluid dynamic patterns that articulate both acronymic flow and load paths.

With SAILPACK, the designer first creates a 3D model of your boat replicating the rig, deck layout, etc. that the sail will ultimately have to interface with. From there, they can then design the sails to perfectly match your boat dimensions, sheeting angles, and sailing conditions. This is the best way to design the sails for any boat because it allows you to see the overall picture of how the sails work together and how they fit the boat. You also get to confirm how the sails fit around the spreaders and shrouds (very important details); you can also set the clew height and sheeting angles.

Next time you’re at your sail loft, ask your sail designer to show you these design files so you can see that you’re getting the very best sails for your boat.

Flying Top ViewFlying Jib top view

How we design the sails

When designing sails, the designer looks at the “balance” of the boat and the best way to make the boat drive forward with the least amount of drag. This balance between the keel, rudder, hull and sails is called the “lead.”

When we design the sails, we look carefully at the lead to optimise the driving force between the sails and the boat. For example, adding extra roach to a mainsail will add pressure at the back of the boat, changing the lead and thus causing drag. This extra roach may only add 1% more power but add 3 % more weather helm which is undesirable. To balance this, the designer can add more headsail area as well resulting in a more balanced feel on the rudder. This balance between the main, jib, keel and rudder is critical to the boat working correctly, and that’s why we will never just independently design a mainsail or jib without looking at the overall picture of the boat.

An example of this can be seen in the J 121 design file below. You’ll note that the Flying Jib is set at the middle of the pole. This is to help balance the boat upwind and on a reach. It pushes the bow down more, and you're able to sheet on the mainsail more to provide more power and drive to the boat upwind and reaching. Having the tack out on the very tip would create considerable lee helm on the boat, and this will affect how the boat sails upwind.

Flying Jib SideFlying Jib side view

There are some basic design moulds we work from: one design, Cruising, club racing, racing and high-performance racing. Each of these basic moulds will have different parameters and set up, like twist, depth and camber position.

A

For example, most mainsails are designed to have their maximum camber between 38% and 46% back from the luff. Rarely will the designer design the main outside of these values. You can tweak this parameter to move the centre of effort forward, but you have to ensure that you do not close the slot between the main and the jib. Closing the slot will change the airflow across the sails and will slow the boat down.

How the design tools work

Lift and drag are the two basic factors considered when designing a sail – and the concept is very similar to designing a wing of an aeroplane. In the design editor file below, you can see the tools we have to change the shape of the sail where the designer can adjust the vertical camber bottom profile or horizontal camber top profile of the sail to suit the particular boat and its sailing conditions.

In the top view, you can see the overall shape of the sail at each section. This is “section 82%” or the top of the sail at the yellow dot. In the bottom view, you see the parameters are in the per cent value and not the real value. The designer can move any of the icons with the mouse (the black dots on the screen) up or down to give your sail its optimal shape.

B
Two highly productive tools are the green line at the luff and the leech. By moving these, the designer can adjust the sail’s entry and exit angles, providing a smooth aerodynamic flow. This is a fantastic tool to get the shape of the sail correct.

The relationship between how the mast bend and the slot working together needs to be understood when designing the sail. For example, upwind sailing, with the backstay full on you will design the luff curve to allow the sail to flatten, but not over flatten the sail, so that the sail retains just enough shape to provide power and driving force without closing the slot which causes drag. When sailing downwind, with the backstay off, the static bend will allow the sail to deliver its maximum power to drive the boat forward.

It should be noted that bot mainsails and jibs have become a lot flatter and use tighter sheeting angles over the years due to the invention of moulded sails technology and having stiffer fabric available.

Headsail Design

Headsail design has come a long way and, as noted, non-overlapping jibs are a lot flatter in the leech with more twist (between 60% and 80% of the leech). They have also gone very deep and knuckled, creating a better attack entry angle which both balances the boat and creates a better flow over the headsail. Overlapping genoas haven’t changed much other than their camber shape which has become a lot smoother with a straighter exit. Having 3-D design tools allows the designer to marry the leech to the rig which you can see in the design file below. As you can see in the following image, the leech is very close the spreaders and shrouds, allowing the max headsail area and balance between the sails.

wow uk sails design

Asym Spinnakers

Thanks to design advancements over recent years, asymmetrical spinnakers have become more user-friendly and easier to trim. We now set the clews higher, which helps with the leech twist while improving sheeting angles. Asyms have evolved from reaching sails to tack-up running sails; now we have sails that work for both reaching and running making shifting gears easier. Designs have also added a bungee retractor system into the sails which replace the need to band the sail...helping the environment. The system retracts back into the luff and the foot when the sail is hoisted, so the system is fully reusable every time.

The most interesting recent development in Asym design, however, is the new cruising top-down furling Gennaker. This easy-to-use / easy-to-furl sail has a cable in the luff and will never get a twist in it. This new type of sail has transformed cruising and offshore racing.

Top Down cuising gennakerTop-Down cruising gennaker

The top-down furling Asym is a big development for sailors who push their boat hard offshore or just cruise a lot. Cruisers can leave the sail up overnight, and furl and unfurl when needed. Racers find it’s a great sail to push hard and with the option of just furling the sail when you wipe out.

A new twist in sail design

The twist is an important factor now in sail design and sailing. With stiffer sails now being used, we are putting twist back into the leech of sails, so they open up (depower) quickly and get the laminar flow working again. Getting the airflow to stick to the back of your sail is vital. A handy tip is to put your hand on the leech/clew area of the sail and feel if the airflow is sticking to the sail.

Modern sails have transformed sailmaking and how the sails work. An example is the use of uni-carbon sails which are stiffer and last longer. These sails are structurally designed to disperse aerodynamic loads from head to the clew. They also use uni-carbon to carry the load from luff to leech allowing the sail to hold its shape better.

There continues to be an evolution in the art of sailmaking, and the developments discussed in this article are just the tip of the iceberg. The key, however, is to remember that albeit sail design now is largely computerised, it is the experience, insight, and imagination of the designer that ultimately creates a fast, well-built and durable sail. Speak to your sail designer and see for yourself. 

See for your self in real-time

To use SAILPACK viewer, please download this link here then sign up for it. And once you get the key code, then you can view the design file attached (in the yellow panel below). It’s a 3D Design view of a J121 Flying Jib PPK. Which you can see in real-time. This will give you an idea of sail shape and sail design in real-time. Including the hull, keel, rudder, sails. From this, you can see the relationship between all of the items we talked about and how they work as a team together.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Determining just how much lead is required depends on what type of yacht you have. Here, Barry Hayes from UK Sailmakers Ireland explains what lead is and why it is so important to sailmaking.

In sailmaking terms, the ‘Lead’ is the distance between the sail plan’s Centre of Effort (usually the working sail area which is the main and fore triangle “CE”) and the Centre of Lateral Plane of the hull/foils (CLP). Both the CE and CLP are approximate positions for the centres of pressure for the sail area and the hull underbody, respectively, and are used by yacht designers at the drafting stages to ensure that the keel and rig positions are well balanced. CE is always forward of CLP by a small amount when in equilibrium mode. This is because when the yacht heels, the CLP usually moves forward due to the new heeled hull form until it lies almost under the CE. The result: helm balance.

There is an amount of Lead (pronounced “leed” as opposed to “led”) that is acceptable, but if the design falls outside this area, the boat will have either too much weather helm (‘Lead’ is too short) or too much lee helm (‘Lead’ is too long). Too much weather helm results in drag (and in some cases helm exhaustion) and too much lee helm can result in dangerous situations such as crash gybes or worse, particularly if self-steering or helm issues come into play.

Lead Gfx sailmaking

Determining just how much Lead is required depends on what type of yacht you have. There is a rule of thumb that compares the Lead to the static waterline length. You divide the Lead by the waterline length and the result is ‘Percent of Lead.’ Depending on the methods you are using to work out CLP, the allowable percentage can vary from 4% up to 17% after incorporating a number of factors. Hull shape is a key factor affecting Lead. A wide hull with hard bilges will require more Lead in static mode to compensate for the additional helm generated by the heeled hull shape. A narrow hull needs less Lead. Similarly, a tall rig creates more weather helm than a shorter one so the POL needs adjusting accordingly.

A yacht designer would adjust the lead by either moving the keel fore or aft or moving the CE of the sail plan fore/aft. they would get it perfect on paper (or CAD) so that, when launched, they will know that the boat will be well balanced with no vices from the outset. Interestingly, the reason they look at moving keel first is that this would require a very small change to affect Lead as opposed to moving the rig and resulting sail plan which would require bigger changes to have the same affect. When building a new boat from scratch. Its always best to get extra holes in the keel box so the lead can be easily adjusted.

Mermaid Beneteau 50First 50 Mermaid - well-balanced lead with non-overlapping headsails

If you have a pre-owned yacht that is not well balanced and want to make changes, then the Lead can be corrected simply by adjusting the sail plan, mast rake, sail configuration or set up. Of course, you can also incur the expense of moving the keel, but this is a major refit and should only be looked at once you have looked through all other options above the waterline.

Windsurfers are a good example of how Lead works above the waterline. If you want weather helm, or to go to weather, you tilt mast aft till it is in that upwind groove and going well. When you want to fall off, you tilt the mast forward, thus moving the CE forward until you find yourself going downwind, and again within that sweet groove. Too much tilt aft she tacks; too much forward she gybes. It’s a matter of finding that balance between the direction you are going in relation to the wind.

Waarschip36 Hubo upwindWaarschip 36 Hubo upwind - well-balanced lead

Of course, in most yachts with rudders, the direction the boat will travel is done through steering. If the balance is off, the rudder ends up fighting it and the result is increased drag affecting performance and the loading up of everything attached to the steering such as autopilot and sheaves. How can you change Lead while sailing? You can start by adjusting the shape of the mainsail with halyard or outhaul tension or mast bend. A reef in the main also moves the CE forward thus reducing weather helm. Putting a smaller headsail on will also move CE forward thus reducing helm. Though a reduced main makes a bigger change than does a reduced headsail. It’s all about finding that balance between the two.

If you need your boat assessed or looked at. To get the balance right for you. Then get as much information as possible about the problem and give us a call at UK Sailmakers Ireland. We are happy to help your performance.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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The Winter period is the best time for getting your sails serviced writes Barry Hayes of UK Sailmakers Ireland.

Whether it’s your car, your own health, or your sails, it is no secret that an annual check-up and service is the best way to protect your investment and avoid trouble down the line.

Our sail loft in Crosshaven, Co Cork, has been a sail service centre for over forty years. Thousands of sails have been on our floor and it’s not often we see something we haven’t encountered before. We can spot issues before they emerge as serious problems. This will not only save you money – but also time. No one wants their sails on our floor when they should be on your boat out sailing!

Depending on the type of sailing you are doing an ‘annual service’ can consist of many different things. Some of you may even ask “do I really need to?” The short answer is –yes you do – let me explain why.

"It is no secret that an annual check-up and service is the best way to protect your investment"

Club Racer

If you’re a club racer then you’re the most likely to be asking the “do I really need to?” question. In fact, your sails will likely benefit more than anyone else from a good annual service.

UK Sails

When we receive your sails in our loft we give them a full check over. We check all luff tapes for tears, check common wear spots such as where it interacts with spreaders and stanchions, check for missing tell tails, and identify if there are any unknown causes for the problem which is presenting itself on the floor.

For example; we see many luff tape repairs throughout the season and during winter service. Luff tapes don’t just tear. If they tear then there is a reason why. Sometimes it can be a simple mistake of sheeting on too early or skipping the feeder – but often there is a problem which can be solved on the boat. We discuss potential issues with our customers and present solutions to avoid damage occurring in the future.

While we have your sails we can re-measure them for IRC. This can lead to a nice reduction in your IRC handicap upon your revalidation for the 2020 season.

Our expert staff pick up details which the untrained eye would overlook. Leverage this experience to protect your investment and maximize your time on the water come next spring.

Coastal Cruiser

If cruising or day sailing is your thing then you likely have a UV strip on your headsail and plenty of covers, sprayhoods, dodgers etc.

One of the worst things you can do for your sails is to leave them on your boat for a prolonged period of time – even during the sailing season. If you are not going to be using your boat for a month or more then take down the sails and store them aboard. If you only wear your good flamingo shirt to weddings, and you don’t have one for two months, you aren’t going to leave it hanging on the line!

Exposure to the sun degrades your sails and covers – this is simply a fact of life. The UV light breaks down the fabric and especially the stitching. During an annual check-up, we inspect your entire UV cover and its stitching. A quick run through a sewing machine now is much more cost-effective than having to replace an entire torn UV strip after an Irish winter storm. The same goes for your covers. Deliver them all to us together for a full assessment.

Storage

When you are packing your boat up for the season you should also be thinking about where you are going to store your sails. Definitely take them down, we’ve all seen furled headsails ragged by a winter storm, and take them off the boat and have them stored properly in a cool, dry, rodent-free place – our sail loft for example!

Even if you have your own space to store your sails; get them to the loft first. We see if every spring – ‘best intentions’ of getting your sails to us during the winter were packed away with them. Out of sight out of mind. You then have to join the long line to get your small issue fixed when you could be out enjoying your sailing.

We have a purpose-built storage area in our loft where we can keep your sails comfortable until you need them. We can also store your racing sails rolled – extending their life and keeping them nice and crisp.

Laundry & Re-Proofing

When we have your sails and covers for service we also consider whether they are due a wash. Every year we are asked to replace boom covers and sprayhood when really all that is needed is a good wash, reproofing, and a few stitches here and there.

Sails and covers are washed to remove and green mildew and general grime from the fabric. Covers are then re-waterproofed to give them an entirely new lease of life.

Now is the time!

Our schedule is filling up fast after a busy season on the water. Now is the time to get in contact and arrange your winter service. Let us ensure your sails are in top health and ready for your 2020 sailing season. Contact us at [email protected] or call our service manager Cleo on 021 483 1505.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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A perfect Christmas gift for the sailor in your life - the McWilliam bag is the ideal bag to take on your boat, as it is rugged and water-resistant.

This Black Friday we’re offering 10% off everything in our McWilliams bag shop 

There are a range of bag types available from holdalls of different sizes and colours, to Tote bags, T-shirts and hoodies too! They're the ideal stocking filler! 

Go to the McWilliam Bag site here

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland

The pit or “strings” is a vital role aboard any boat; but not just mechanically, explains Barry Hayes of UK Sailmakers Ireland. A good pit person is involved in everything. Every sail manoeuvre, the start, on the rail, aiding communication and keeping the plan cohesive from front to back. Although often overlooked; it is actually one of the most important roles on the boat.

Many of us over our time sailing have done the pit and experience the pressure points of the role. Here are some tips to make your life easier and help the pit team, and boat, run like clockwork.

1. Main Halyard

Tie the main halyard back on to the clutch. We’ve all seen it. There is a high-pressure drop and in the rush, the wrong clutch is opened. This can easily happen if the halyard isn’t marked and it’s your first time on the boat. Tie it off good and tight so it’s never opened unless its meant to be.

main halyardMain halyard tied off

2. Hatch Halyard Bag

Build a long halyard bags for the jib and spinnaker halyards. Two long pockets with wide openings. Each halyard goes into its own pocket so it never gets messed up / stood on / tangled or knotted. It also keeps the rope out of everyone’s way. I normally make them out of mesh.

Hatch Halyard bagHatch Halyard bag

3. Halyard Organiser

Add a Harken 56 mm crossover block to your pit setup. This allows you to take a halyard across to the opposite side winch and grind it up, under load, without any issues. This handy little tool saves time and space.

4. Hobbles

Use hobbles to your jib sheets. This frees up your genoa winches for bear away sets and drops. You can use the kite sheets on the genoa winch while having the genoa eased on the hobble for a hoist or drop. This gives you loads of time to load a sheet onto the winch. Simply put some spectra lashing through the genoa sheet about 1ft in front of the turning block. Spice a spectra strop about 2 feet longer than that point as per the photo. The jib can be eased out onto the hobble for the bear away, leaving the winch free for the kite sheet.

HobblesJib sheet hobbles

5. Fraculator

This is a simple tool to help the pit to be ready to hoist the jib at a moments notice. A fraculator allows you to keep the jib halyard under load, both pulling the rig forward and keeping the halyard tight to the forestay, removing any chance of the kite wrapping inside it on a gybe. Once you unclip the fraculator the jib is ready to hoist. A fraculator is normally a 1.2 / 1.4 m strop with a snap shackle, tied to the base of the forestay.

FraculatorFraculator

6. Spinnaker Sheets 

If you use your top winches to trim the kite you can find yourself rushing to strip the winch and get the sheet loaded at the windward mark before the spinnaker hoist. Instead, loop the kite sheet loosely around the winch before loading up the genoa halyard for upwind sailing. That way it is ready for action when you drop the jib. The trimmer simply takes up the slack as you drop the genoa halyard off the winch.

spinnker sheet winch

7. Headsail Mark

Instead of having a mark on the jib halyard, put a mark on the headsail foil and a corresponding mark on the luff of the jib. So you can set the halyard to the correct tension no matter which headsail you have up. As the luff length change the so does the marks on your halyard so having a mark on the foil and the headsail maker the luff tension perfect every time.

Outrajeous genoaHeadsail Mark

8. Work With Your Mast Man. Not Against Him

Keep an eye on your mast man at all time. He is the key to your operations. Make sure your arm pulls are the same speed and length as his. You must keep the halyard flow going at a good even speed so the halyard doesn’t get jammed in the block. When hoisting you don’t need a winch to keep up with your mast man. The winch slows down the speed of the hoist. Just pull it from the back side of the clutch.

9. Code Zero

When dropping the code zero the bow man should be bringing it down to windward. Ease the halyard a little when dropping. But just 2 feet. So he can swing the sail over the forestay and get it under control. It makes the drop 100 times easier. Always leave the code zero halyard on the winch. as the clutch is not designed to take the load.

code zero

10. Halyard Drops 

When dropping the kite you need to depower the sail quickly. The best way to do this, when the crew are ready, is to drop ¼ of the halyard. I normally have a blue mark on it so I know the point. Just open the clutch, fire the halyard and close it again when the mark comes to the clutch. I never use a winch to drop the halyard as it slows down the process.

11. Communicate from Start to Finish

Keep the commutation flow in the pit throughout the start sequence and beyond. Call the time for the crew and help with the calls on boats which may not be visible to the helm. Make sure to ping the start boat and pin end with your starting instruments. You’re the key to the team working well and the flow in the boat. The pit is the best link between the back of the boat thinking and the front of the boat reality. You have to play in both fields and keep the communication going. Listen to tactical calls from the back while feeding useful information back from the rail. Relay potential hoists, drops, sail changes etc to the bow team so they can prepare for any eventuality. Be clear and concise. Communicate with the team and do the best you can to help everyone do their jobs.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Tacking is likely the most common manoeuvre we execute on our boats. It is pretty hard to avoid in fact writes Graham Curran of UK Sailmakers Ireland.

Every second lost while tacking is multiplied 3, 4, 5, 6 times when beating, if not more! Having an effective tacking technique is crucial for speed around the race course.

Every boat is different, every crew is different, and every cockpit is different. Creating effective “lanes” within the cockpit when tacking is essential. It should be a finely choreographed dance. There is a lot going on in a usually crowded space. Putting a good system in place where everyone knows their lane will produce consistent, repeatable good tacks.

"Having an effective tacking technique is crucial for speed around the race course"

In general, I like to set up four lanes. The helm furthest aft in the driver’s enclosure. He has the most space as is usually out of the way so no problems there. If there is a cross over issue then the helm takes precedence. Wherever the helm needs to be before, during, and after the tack to ensure the boat moves smoothly is most important.

The mainsheet trimmer comes next, generally in the middle of the cockpit, usually always in the way. He has the traveller to deal with to best to give him some space.
Then come to the two trimmers. How you work together is important here as you are both on the rail before the tack. I assign trim one the task of managing the (one) winch handle, throwing off the loaded sheet, grinding in the new sheet, and finalising the trim of the sail. Trim two is assigned the task of pulling in the new sheet and tailing it while it is being grinded.

The process I use progresses like this:

  1. Helm calls the tack. Begins the “3 … 2 … 1 …” count.
  2. On 3 count; trim 1 comes off the rail and goes to leeward ready to release the loaded sheet. The windward winch is already loaded correctly (clockwise) with the new sheet and has the (one) winch handle in it orientated so it is not in the way when coming off the rail.
  3. On 2 count; trim 2 swings in off the rail and assumes the pulling position on the soon-to-be new sheet. He stays forward in the cockpit where possible.
  4. As the boat passed through the wind trim 1 throws off the loaded sheet and steps between the mainsheet man and trim 2 to the new leeward winch.
  5. As the boat passed through the tack trim 2 snaps the new sheet in, he then makes his way to the windward rail while tailing the jib sheet, he does not stand in the cockpit holding the rope. It is entirely possible to be fully hiked while tailing the new sheet.
  6. Trim 1 grinds the new sheet to 90% trim. He then grabs the sheet and shouts “my sheet” to trim 2. He takes the sheet and puts it in the winch self-tailor (if fitted) or puts an extra wrap on if needed. This short pause allows the helm some time to power the boat up of the partially under trimmed headsail after the tack.
  7. Trim 2 is now hiking his little heart out.
  8. Trim 1 brings the sail to max trim.
  9. Trim 1 ensures the sheet is securely cleated, takes the (one) winch handle and makes his way to windward.
  10. Trim 1 sits on the windward rail first, he then reaches back to load the windward winch with the jib sheet, pulls through any excess slack, and puts the (one) winch handle in, orientated correctly, ready for the next tack.

The above is the system that I like to implement as I believe it provides the most control to the trimmer and consistency to the helm. It is by no means the only system, as we will discuss below, but it works best in my experience.

VARIATIONS

There are many ways to tack a boat. Above I laid out my preferred method but I have sailed on several boats where it simply doesn’t work due to space/crew constraints.
A good example of this is the X302 or Beneteau First 31.7. Having two trimmers passing each other through the cockpit on these boats is just not possible. There is not enough space. As these are also boats primarily sailed with genoas, a mistake or delay can be very costly for boat speed and also the heart of the poor person who has to grind the sail in. The best solution I have seen for this is to have the mainsail trimmer throw off the loaded genoa sheet for the tack. This leaves trim 2 free to pass through the cockpit to tail, and trim 1 can be positioned over the new winch ready to grind as soon as the sail passes the mast, before it loads up.

Another similar example is a J109. Although the space is available on this particular boat, some crews prefer to have the pit person throw off the loaded winch and proceed straight to the rail. The two trimmers can then pull and trim in the jib as above.

It is worth experimenting to find a system that works best for your boat. Once you have found that system, stick to it, and make it second nature. That way when a new crewmember comes aboard, or as crew fluctuates throughout the season, you have a tried and tested procedure to teach, rather than having them figure it out themselves each time.

TIPS AND ADVICE

No matter what system you intend using there are little details that will make life easier. Stick to these and everything will run like clockwork.

Use one winch handle, two just doubles up jobs and causes confusion. If tacks are in short succession trim 2, instead of heading to the rail, or from on the rail if time allows, loads the new jib sheet and takes the winch handle from trim 1 if he is handed it. Trim 1 can also bring the winch handle across with him if under severe pressure.
Get over the winch. Whether you are releasing or grinding, the place to do it is standing directly over the winch. This is assuming your cockpit layout allows this. If you are above the winch you will be able to apply more force to the winch handle, making grinding much easier. Releasing the sheet is also much easier from this position as the sheet generally whips off the top of the drum once the sheet is held above it.

Deciding when to release the sail for it to cross the boat is the most important aspect of a good tack. Too early and the helm will need to use more rudder, slowing the boat. Too late and you’ll leave yourself with a lot of grinding to do. The trick here is practice and consistency. In medium sailing conditions, I tend to release once I see the front of the jib starting to luff/bubble. This indicates that the helm is just about to pass the boat through the wind. The sail is them pulled in on the new side as the boat is passing through head to wind, where there is little or no load on the sheet.

If the wind is lighter I will hold the sheet longer, allow the sail to ‘back’ to assist the bow through the wind. This makes pulling in on the new side a little harder but this is ideal as we do not want to be fully trimmed in in this lighter wind strength, we want to be slightly eased to build speed exiting the tack.
If the wind is heavy I will release slightly sooner. This will allow the boat to deload a little and flatten smoothly through the tack. It also makes it easier to pull in on the new side, which is going to be hard regardless due to the wind strength, and will mean a little less grinding for the primary trimmer.

Discussing and talking to the helm when making this decision is very important. If you’re going to back the jib then tell the helm, and your second trimmer, so they will expect it. If you’re going to do it then do it for every tack. Not one in every five. The helm can then dial in exactly how much rudder is needed to turn the boat with the aid of the jib. If you decide to stop backing the jib suddenly the helm will find himself mid tack and having to make a large correction to compensate to the change in jib trim.
Self-tailing arms and foot holds. The self-tailing arms on most winches can be very obstructive when trying to release a loaded sheet. On most winches it is possible to orientate the arms in different directions. I find having them facing at around 7 o’clock keeps them out of the way for the most part. Quicker release makes pulling in the new loaded sheet that bit easier.

Another big consideration is having a solid foothold on the rail for the trimmer. If you want to get your trimming over the winch then you better make sure they are comfortable standing there. Some yachts have a well-placed stanchion at this point, others have pre-installed wooden wedges. If you don’t have anything it would be well worth taking a look as this small change could transform your tacking.

SO WHAT IS THE POINT?

Ultimately the point of all this is to minimise loss. Tacking is a costly manoeuvre in most boats, but the loss is unavoidable. The more you can reduce the loss, the more options you have, the greater the chance of you winning the race. We do this by maintaining speed, done by using less rudder (jib release timing critical!). By ensuring weight is in the right place as quick as possible (trim 2 getting to the rail asap). And by making the entire manoeuvre a repeatable learnable process. If you do this right and practice it; you will find yourself occasionally giving out about a bad tack, rather than being astonished by a good one!

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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It is approaching the time of year where we make the most of what is left and prepare for the off-season pack up writes Graham Curran of UK Sailmakers Ireland. The Autumn/Winter period is the best time for buying new sails, and for getting your sails serviced. Whether it’s your car, your own health, or your sails, it is no secret that an annual check-up and service is the best way to protect your investment and avoid trouble down the line.

Our sail loft in Crosshaven, Co Cork, has been a sail service centre for over forty years. Thousands of sails have been on our floor and it’s not often we see something we haven’t encountered before. We can spot issues before they emerge as serious problems. This will not only save you money – but also time. No one wants their sails on our floor when they should be on your boat out sailing!

"it is no secret that an annual check-up and service is the best way to protect your investment"

Depending on the type of sailing you are doing an ‘annual service’ can consist of many different things. Some of you may even ask “do I really need to?” The short answer is –yes you do – let me explain why.

Club Racer

If you’re a club racer then you’re the most likely to be asking the “do I really need to?” question. In fact, your sails will likely benefit more than anyone else from a good annual service.

When we receive your sails in our loft we give them a full check over. We check all luff tapes for tears, check common wear spots such as where it interacts with spreaders and stanchions, check for missing tell tails, and identify if there are any unknown causes for the problem which is presenting itself on the floor.

For example; we see many luff tape repairs throughout the season and during winter service. Luff tapes don’t just tear. If they tear then there is a reason why. Sometimes it can be a simple mistake of sheeting on too early or skipping the feeder – but often there is a problem which can be solved on the boat. We discuss potential issues with our customers and present solutions to avoid damage occurring in the future.

While we have your sails we can re-measure them for IRC. This can lead to a nice reduction in your IRC handicap upon your revalidation for the 2020 season.

Our expert staff pick up details which the untrained eye would overlook. Leverage this experience to protect your investment and maximize your time on the water come next spring.

Coastal Cruiser

If cruising or day sailing is your thing then you likely have a UV strip on your headsail and plenty of covers, sprayhoods, dodgers etc.

One of the worst things you can do for your sails is to leave them on your boat for a prolonged period of time – even during the sailing season. If you are not going to be using your boat for a month or more then take down the sails and store them aboard. If you only wear your good flamingo shirt to weddings, and you don’t have one for two months, you aren’t going to leave it hanging on the line!

Exposure to the sun degrades your sails and covers – this is simply a fact of life. The UV light breaks down the fabric and especially the stitching. During an annual check-up, we inspect your entire UV cover and its stitching. A quick run through a sewing machine now is much more cost-effective than having to replace an entire torn UV strip after an Irish winter storm. The same goes for your covers. Deliver them all to us together for a full assessment.

Storage

When you are packing your boat up for the season you should also be thinking about where you are going to store your sails. Definitely take them down, we’ve all seen furled headsails ragged by a winter storm, and take them off the boat and have them stored properly in a cool, dry, rodent-free place – our sail loft for example!

Even if you have your own space to store your sails; get them to the loft first. We see if every spring – ‘best intentions’ of getting your sails to us during the winter were packed away with them. Out of sight out of mind. You then have to join the long line to get your small issue fixed when you could be out enjoying your sailing.

We have a purpose-built storage area in our loft where we can keep your sails comfortable until you need them. We can also store your racing sails rolled – extending their life and keeping them nice and crisp.

Laundry & Re-Proofing

When we have your sails and covers for service we also consider whether they are due a wash. Every year we are asked to replace boom covers and sprayhood when really all that is needed is a good wash, reproofing, and a few stitches here and there.
Sails and covers are washed to remove and green mildew and general grime from the fabric. Covers are then re-waterproofed to give them an entirely new lease of life.

Now is the time!

Our schedule is filling up fast after a busy season on the water. Now is the time to get in contact and arrange your winter service. Let us ensure your sails are in top health and ready for your 2020 sailing season. Contact us at [email protected] or call our service manager Cleo on 021 483 1505.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Although the offshore sailing season is drawing to an end; it is never too early to look to your 2020 sailing season. Offshore racing, both crewed and shorthanded, is one of the biggest growth areas of sailing domestically and internationally.

UK Sailmaker's Yannick Lemonnier is one of the most experienced offshore racers in the country. With over 10 years of experience and more than 80,000 miles under his belt, mostly solo and double-handed, he is full of offshore sailing knowledge. Here gives us some top tips to bring into your 2020 offshore sailing season.

The Mainsail

The main is the one sail that we always have up, no matter the point of sail. Trimming and managing it is crucial to success – so how can you make life a bit easier?

A reefed mainsailA reefed mainsail

  1. Stitch all your battens. This is as simple as using a hand sewing needle to put a quick stitch at the extremity of each batten pocket. This fully secures your battens no matter what weather you encounter. The consequences of losing battens can be dramatic for the integrity of the sail and its performance.
  2. Reefing. Tie the bottom part of your mainsail with small diameter bungee and plastic clips instead of solid rope. Releasing your reef with one tie remaining can seriously damage your sail – and can easily happen when tired or on a dark night.
  3. Glow-in-the-dark draft stripes. These make trimming your sails at night so easy. Each stripe should be marked at the 50% chord length to give a good shape reference. These stripes can be retrofitted to older sails (depending on their age). 
  4. Reef assistant. This is a great option for regular offshore racers. Basically it is an additional pennant set just above your reefing eye at the luff end of your mainsail. It gives you a solid anchor to either pull your reef towards its hook or release pressure to unhook the reef in strong winds.
  5. Tie up the sail, not the boom! This is one we see a lot. When lashing up your reefed sail to not tie it around the boom. Instead, lash it around itself. You should have a tie going from the leeward side, around the loose sail between itself and the boom, and tied securely on the windward side with an easy to release knot.

glow sailsGlow in the dark sails

A reefed mainsail tiedA reefed mainsail tied

Headsails

When sailing upwind or tight reaching, depending on your inventory, you will be using your headsails – quite likely multiple headsails. Keeping on top of them and practising crew manoeuvres with them is critical to a successful offshore race.

  1. Stitch all your battens. This is the same as with your mainsail – but even more so as your headsails are more exposed to flapping as they are hoisted and dropped. Securing the battens is essential. This is a really quick and basic job which can prevent a lot of trouble down the line.
  2. Peels and tack peels. This manoeuvre is a must – and it is not complicated with proper training and the correct setup. Having a second attachment either side of the tack attachment point is recommended. And make sure to keep a close eye on your halyard to ensure no wraps occur. I would recommend to always drop the sail on the inside as dropping outside is risky and can lead to you losing your sail!
  3. Glow-in-the-dark draft stripes. As with the mainsail, these make setting halyard tension, car positions, sheet tension etc much more efficient at night. Glow tell tails on the luff make steering and trimming a doddle on those dark nights. 
  4. Spare sheet and block. This is to clip onto the outside rail, or purpose installed padeye, to outhaul the headsail on a reach. This is essential. Every time your clew moves up and down you are losing power. A well-positioned outboard lead padeye and the hardware to go with it makes a huge difference to off the breeze speed.
  5. Know your inventory. Knowing your sails is critical regarding wind range and angles. Where is your limit between J2 and J3? Between an outhauled genoa and code zero? The only answer is practice and recording. Experiment with different setups and take note of what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t!

Outboard lead 9239957504 oOutboard lead

Spinnakers

We all love sailing downwind when offshore. It can be fast and fun. It can certainly be a lot more comfortable than beating into a gale! But it brings its own challenges.

SpinStopsOnDragonTackSpinnaker stops on sail tack

  1. Choose your colour carefully. White spinnakers are difficult to trim at night. They are like a ghost. I would recommend a dark colour to get more contrast – I also find white harder on your eyes in bright sunshine.
  2. Velcro for control. Heavy spinnakers should be equipped with Velcro banding to keep them deflated while hoisting. They allow you to hoist the sail and stabilize the boat, then pop the sail out when everything is ready.
  3. Repair early. Gets lots of 100mm insignia tape (stick-back dacron) to fix small tears that can become a bigger problem. This tape can also fix other sails along with a bottle of acetone (nail varnish remover) to remove salt and dry the sail surface.
  4. Inspect for chafe. Don’t worry, we’re talking about your halyards! If on a long spinnaker run chafe can become a real issue. Covers can wear on sheaves or deflectors overnight. Ease the halyard a foot and check with the binoculars for visible signs of damage. If you can see it with binoculars it will be a bigger problem sooner rather than later.
  5. Peeling practice. Peeling spinnakers is actually easier than peeling headsails. The most crucial element is good halyard management. Have a spare peeling sheet, with snap shackle, ready and accessible. Think and talk the manoeuvre through – and, as always, practice!

Storm Sails

Whether we like to admit it or not, there is a tendency to see storm sails as a box-ticking exercise. Not many sailors have a clue how to rig them, never mind use them properly! 

StormSailsWave2Storm sails

  1. Firstly they should be stored in a separate dry bag. Piston hanks tend to corrode in an offshore environment unless used regularly – they should be replaced with soft shackles.
  2. The storm jib should have a tack strop of a set length. This should position the sail at a height that lines the clew up nicely with your jib car position.
  3. The trysail should ideally be on a separate track. It should be rigged with spinnaker sheets lead inside the guard rails – as we discovered after training in just under 50 knots!

Summary

A huge part of offshore racing is managing your energy. By making the boat as easy to sail as possible, and removing any potential issues before they occur, you can put 100% of your energy into making the boat go fast. Plan, practice, and enjoy your offshore adventures

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland

In early 2019 the news broke that there was a new “WOW” on the way to Ireland from Lisbon. George Sisk had added a new XP44 to his line of successful racing yachts named “WOW”. Barry Hayes reports on the role of UK Sailmakers Ireland.

Following a competitive bid process; the UK Sailmakers Ireland team was chosen as their sailmaker for the project. We hit the ground running and, having a strong working relationship from the previous WOW campaign, we were able to work closely with George and his team to get as much info about the new boat as possible before her arrival.

Research and Requirements

The first phase of any project is to research the boat you are working with, its behaviour and performance characteristics, and gather the requirements of the owner. This gives us a clear path toward success.

Performance Research

The XP44 is a regular competitor in events throughout Europe, both inshore and offshore. We gathered key IRC data and past race results to give us a picture of where the boat performed best, and what her disadvantages were. We found that reaching, sail handling, and her IRC handicap were key issues which needed to be addressed.
With our polar performance data from other XP44s in hand; we gathered further data from other UK Sailmakers lofts in our network who have raced and made sails for the XP44, and what their overall impression of the boat was. Digesting this experience, and cross-referencing it with our performance analysis data, allowed us to refine our design and optimisation approach for the WOW project.

WOW 2XP44 Maestro with sails by UK Sailmakers Ukraine

Requirements

With a good understanding of the performance characteristics of the new boat, we could focus on compiling the key requirements for the campaign. A major part of this is the events the boat would compete in, who she would be racing, and the prevailing conditions she would be racing in.

These requirements then steer the sail wardrobe development and design as well as the IRC optimisation process.

The main focus for the WOW campaign for 2019 was coastal racing, major offshores, and local DBSC racing. This put usability and straight-line speed at the top of the priority list. It also meant that a significant amount of the off-the-wind sailing the boat would be doing would be tight or broad-reaching as opposed to the deep downwind sailing you would get if the boat was solely focused on inshore windward-leeward course racing.

From our performance analysis, we knew that reaching was one of the boats main weaknesses. This is due to the balance of the boat. When reaching the powerful mainsail needs to be offset by a strong sail force forward of the mast. If this is not done then the boat has a tendency to spin out to windward in gusts rather than accelerating – causing the helm to constantly fight the boat with the rudder. We will talk about our solution to this issue in our sail specification and design later in the article.
We concluded our requirements gather phase with the following initial requirements:

  • Optimize performance for light/medium conditions
  • Balance helm off the wind
  • Maximize usability and simplicity of the sail wardrobe
  • Ensure power is controlled in heavy airs downwind

Bowsprit

Early in our discussions, it was decided to fit a longer bowsprit to the XP44. This additional length would give us a better aspect ratio for the spinnaker designs (STL:SPL). It also gave us more option in the forward sailplan of the boat for keeping the helm in balance, discussed further below.

IRC Optimisation

Graham Curran focused on the IRC rating optimisation process. We knew that the boat performed well in the 8-10 knots wind range based on the polars and weight/wetted surface numbers for the boat. Our goal was to maximize this performance range, achieving the best power to weight ratio possible, while optimising the IRC rating for the required sail area.

A major part of this optimisation was the HSA (headsail area). We shortened the LL of the headsails (luff length) as much as possible while maintaining area by pushing out the LP and girths to the maximum we could fit in the foretriangle. This gives maximum benefit of sail area vs IRC penalty while also maximizing the inhauling effect of the jib leech.
This takes a lot of work and several trial certificates to perfect but we had already done a lot of work on the subject with our J109 development the previous winter. With accurate measurements, 3D modelling, and IRC certificates; we knew exactly what we were looking to achieve performance wise vs the final IRC rating.

Sail Wardrobe and Design

In conjunction with the IRC optimisation, Barry Hayes began specifying and designing the sail plan. The first phase of this is accurately modelling the yacht and her sail plan in our 3D design software. We then refine this model throughout the design and optimisation process.

Sailpack 3XP44 modelled in real-time 3D. This is the base model for the design phase

Reaching Performance

Our performance data clearly showed that there was an issue with the reaching performance of the boat. We had an indication that this was due to the balance of the boat so our first step was to assess the lead of the boat.

MH0MH0 (masthead code zero)

‘Lead’ is the distance between the centre of effort of the sail plan, usually the Working Sail Area which is the main and fore triangle (CE); and the Centre of Lateral Plane of the hull/foils, (CLP). Both the CE and CLP are approximate positions for the centres of pressure for the sail area and the hull underbody and only really used by yacht designers at the design stages to ensure that the keel and rig positions are well balanced.

This assessment reinforced our understanding of the problem; and what our solution would be.

It was clear that we needed to have a MH0 (masthead code zero) in the inventory. This large code zero helps by pushing the bow down, counteracting the mainsail, and keeping the boat in balance on a reach. The MH0 needs to be a little smaller than maximum to ease sail handling and for use while tight reaching/near upwind work in light airs.

Throughout this design process it became clear there was another performance window to be exploited.

The MH0 is simply too much sail area for tight reaching between 50-70° apparent, depending on the wind speed. This would put the boat back on a full mainsail and headsail, with imbalance remerging as a result. The solution to this issue, and a clear performance gain, was a Flying Jib.

This sail is the same area as the maximum IRC headsail area because, as the name suggests, it measures as a headsail rather than a spinnaker like the code zero. The flying jib is set of the end of WOW’s extended bowsprit, giving greater separation from the forestay and allowing a ‘double-headed’ headsail setup with the J3 set on the forestay foil, and the flying jib outside it. It is also a furling sail – functioning like a furling code zero.

flying JibFlying Jib

We virtually analysed the flying jib at the 50-70° angles and found a speed increase of approximately 1.2 knots while also keeping the boat balanced.

As the boat comes off the wind she will swap back to the larger MH0. Filling this gap with the flying jib allowed the MH0 to be increased in size, making it more effective downwind. Combining the two sails in the inventory made each sail better than either could be on their own. WOW now had a full effective reaching range from 50° AWA with her flying jib to 130° AWA with the MH0.

Upwind Package

Given the target HSA from our IRC optimisation; Barry moved on to the design of the upwind sail inventory. The designs were based on the polar performance data from the current sail plan which were then refined to allow additional inhauling with a twisted headsail design – allowing greater pointing without sacrificing speed – while maintaining our target IRC rating.

UpwindUpwind sailing

Handling of the mainsail was a major point of discussion within the team – the mainsail would have to function well both inshore and offshore with usability being paramount. Reef heights, luff tape or slides, full battens or short – all these decisions were influenced by this discussion with the team. We worked off the fact that other XP44s use a luff tape on their mainsail – this proved to be a difficult setup with the external mast track. We spoke with our UK Sailmakers partners who advised us on ideal luff setup and effective reef heights from their experience.

This additional information simplified the decision for the team. The mainsail was specified with two reefs, Antal luff sliders, and short leech battens.

To further optimise the IRC rating we put a small fathead on the mainsail and reduced her P measurement – resulting in a favourable aspect ratio.

Downwind Spinnaker Package

The main concern for the team was boat handling downwind in heavy airs. The XP44 has a bit of a reputation for being a handful when the breeze is up as she doesn’t plane. Solving this issue and getting the best performance from the SPA (spinnaker area) was the last critical step in this design phase.

From running trial certs we found that 190m2 produced the best power to weight ratio with a favourable rating. We worked from this number to determine the size of her working spinnakers.

The A1.5 is a sail made for light air performance. It is designed to work at tight VMG angles in light airs and then rotated once the tack is eased in building pressure. This would be the workhorse of the boat on Dublin Bay.

DownwindDownwind sailing

As the boat would be rated with three spinnakers the last slot was reserved for a heavy air spinnaker. We design a hybrid A3/A4 sail which we have worked with extensively in the past. It is designed to be an A3 (medium air reacher) when flown from the masthead halyard but doubles as an A4 (heavy runner) when flown from the fractional halyard. The smaller area required for an A3 tied in well with our power management requirement for the heavier air A4. The logic for using the fractional halyard for the A4 is purely for boat handling. The boat does not need the additional power in heavy airs and bringing the hoist down makes the boat more stable and easier to handle.

Sail Testing and Performance Analysis

Once WOW arrived in Dun Laoghaire she was immediately weighed and measured for her new IRC certificate – including the new extended bowsprit.

At this stage, the sails were in production and were soon delivered to the boat to be fitted and tested with Barry and Graham.

The code zero was to fly on a padeye on the bow of the boat, just in front of the forestay, while the flying jib is flown from the end of the bowsprit. Load testing these points, the halyards, and the hardware that holds them is extremely important before ever leaving the dock. It is the safest way to load the boat and give the crew the confidence to take the gear offshore without any doubts in their mind. After several full load tests and adjustments of the bobstay, it was time to go sailing.

BobstayAdjusting bobstay tension is when teamwork really shines

One the water we set up all the sails and optimised deck layouts, the run of furling lines, sheets, halyards etc. We then assessed the boats upwind performance by fully loading the Uni-Titanium upwind sails and confirming the rig’s bend characteristics.

Team Approach to Development and Results

We worked closely with the WOW team to bring their concept into reality – it was now time for the new XP44 to go racing. Straight away she was top of the DBSC results pages winning her first Saturday race on the bay. She finishes up her 2019 DBSC season winning the overall Thursday league and, at the time of writing, leading the Overall Saturday series.

Her most notable performance of 2019 was at Kinsale’s Sovereigns cup where she went bow to bow, wave for wave with her bigger sister, the XP50 “Freya”. It was amazing sightseeing these yachts battle off the coast of Cork for the week – with WOW triumphing with three wins from three races.

Sovs

“As soon as Barry and Graham of UK Sailmakers heard about George’s new Xp 44 WOW coming to the bay, they got to work analysing the best sail package for the boat based on what we intended to do with her. Once the new sails arrived, they were available to set them up and work with us to achieve the best outcome from them. Since then, nothing has been too much for them. The UK team has been available at a moment’s notice to provide solutions to all sorts of problems – from damaged sails to broken parts and even the design and supply of a cockpit tent, as well as the set up and trim of the new sails. In my opinion, the collaboration between WOW and UK Sailmakers has been instrumental in the success of our first season with the Xp 44 WOW. We are looking forward to continuing – and growing – our relationship with the UK Sailmakers Ireland team in 2020 and into the future.” – Gavin Stillman, Boat Captain

WOW crew

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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We all know sailing fast in a straight line is very important. That is where, as sailmakers, our products shine and our technical background can be leveraged for your benefit writes Graham Curran. But races are won and lost at the corners. You can be the fastest boat on the water but if your critical manoeuvres are not dialled in then one bad hoist or drop could have your advantage erased immediately.

Let’s take a look at look at leeward mark rounding techniques and present some top tips for perfecting your manoeuvres. With that said; there is a lot going on at the leeward mark with a lot of elements in play, including conditions, spinnaker setup, boat size, course layouts etc, so this list is no means exhaustive, but if you can work on these general points then you will be many steps closer to that elusive perfect leeward mark rounding.

UK Sails 1896A leeward mark at July's Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta Photo: Afloat

We are going to break our tips into light air tips and heavy air tips. As we will see, the wind speed plays a major role in how you should approach your drops.

Light Airs

  1. Keep your spinnaker flying as long as possible. In light airs, it is easy to be over-cautious with your spinnaker drops – dropping the spinnaker early and slowing boat speed significantly. We need to keep the spinnaker driving the boat for as long as possible to get us to the leeward mark at maximum speed. As the wind is light we will have plenty of time to get the sail down as we turn around the mark.
  2. Partially hoist your jib but not so much that it affects the spinnaker. Getting the jib up is good, you’re certainly going to need it, but timing is everything. When the jib is in the air it immediately begins effecting the airflow onto and across the spinnaker with the potential to collapse it early – we’ve all been there and it isn’t fast. Half hoist the jib so the first couple of battens are clear of the guard rails – this keeps the spinnaker clear while also ensuring there are no issues with the jib hoist itself. Once the drop (and the mark) are imminent – hoist the jib fully. Make sure the jib sheet is loose. This will help keep the kite going to the very last second. When rounding trim the jib constantly as the boat turns – do not ram it in early to save yourself some grinding on the other side!
  3. Manage your crew weight. I cannot stress this point enough – especially in light airs. Once the spinnaker is down and not in the water – sit down. Get to leeward if the conditions require it and stop moving. The best drops can be ruined by a bouncy crew on the deck. At this point, it is critical for the boat to build speed and exit the mark as fast as possible. Generally, at this point we are trying to escape the fleet or get to the favoured side – boat speed is of utmost importance. An over-eager bow crew preparing for a windward mark that is 40 minutes away is simply not helpful. Sit down, settle, let the boat accelerate, and then pick your time to do your jobs.
  4. Keep your trimmer focused. There is a lot going on at the leeward mark. Boats approaching, likely plenty of shouting, sails going up and down. It is critical for your spinnaker trimmer to stay 100% focused at this point. As the jib goes up the spinnaker behaviour will change and trim will need to be adjusted to keep it drawing. Active trimming here is worth its weight in gold. As the old saying goes – “if in doubt, leave it out”.
  5. Plan ahead to optimize your crew work. Ideally you want to drop the spinnaker on the side which it will hoisted at the next mark. This is not always possible but it is what we should be aiming for. This results in less work for your bow team and pit crew, which means less running of gear, more weight effectively placed for longer. Know your course and know what drop option will suit you best – then try to make it happen.

Spinnaker Drop 1349A Spinnaker drop at a leeward mark in a Beneteau 211 Photo: Afloat

Heavy Airs

  1. 1. Manage the spinnaker halyard. It should go without saying that the spinnaker halyard should be flaked and ready to run. The pit crew, when the drop is called, should smoke ¼ of the spinnaker halyard to instantly depower the sail and allow the bow crew to get a good handful of the sail into the boat. Once this is done the halyard should then be eased gradually to ensure the sail does not end up in the water. The faster this first portion of the halyard is blown the better – you want to shock the spinnaker into submission!
  2. Get the pole away early. In moderate/heavy airs there is plenty of pressure in the spinnaker to keep it set. The pole can be cleared early to make the drop much cleaner and give you more options for manoeuvring during and after the drop. If flying a symmetric spinnaker use a crew member to “human guy” the spinnaker to help the trimmer maintain control. If flying an asymmetric spinnaker “clearing the pole” is as simple as un-cleating the pole outhaul rope before the drop so that when the spinnaker unloads and is being recovered the pole is automatically pulled in – just keep an eye on your tackline so it doesn’t go under the bow!
  3. Get hiking! Similar to light airs, crew weight management is crucial. Get the weight on the rail as soon as possible. If the kite isn’t at risk of going in the water and the boat is clear to tack then your weight should be hiking – not tidying. There is an entire windward leg to prepare for the next hoist or coil your sheets. Hike first, housekeep later.
  4. Drop early and gain. Much the opposite of the above – push to your limits, not beyond them. An early drop doesn’t hurt boat speed significantly in a heavy air situation – having the spinnaker still in the air as your turn upwind however very much does. Get the spinnaker down early and safely and get the crew to where they need to be as you turn the corner.
  5. Avoid a leeward drop. In heavy airs, leeward drops are just asking for trouble. Sometimes it is unavoidable but if at all possible use any other option.

Put in the time

UK Sails 3792

“Time on the water is king” – there is no denying this. The more you and your crew sails together the better your manoeuvres will be. And its time well worth spending. Put in the practice before racing begins and give yourselves time to learn.

On top of this – know your limits. It is tough, when in the heat of battle, to take a step back and assess the situation. It is crucial to know what you are capable of as a crew. This will allow you to push your drops to the limit, but not beyond them, and by doing so you will gradually improve as the manoeuvre becomes smoother.

Get out on the water and make the most of the upcoming Autumn Series! See you on the water!

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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About boot Düsseldorf: With almost 250,000 visitors, boot Düsseldorf is the world's largest boat and water sports fair and every year in January the “meeting place" for the entire industry. From 18 to 26 January 2020, around 2,000 exhibitors will be presenting their interesting new products, attractive further developments and maritime equipment. This means that the complete market will be on site in Düsseldorf and will be inviting visitors on nine days of the fair to an exciting journey through the entire world of water sports in 17 exhibition halls covering 220,000 square meters. With a focus on boats and yachts, engines and engine technology, equipment and accessories, services, canoes, kayaks, kitesurfing, rowing, diving, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, SUP, fishing, maritime art, marinas, water sports facilities as well as beach resorts and charter, there is something for every water sports enthusiast.

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