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Barry Hayes from UK Sailmakers Ireland gives his top ten sail trim tips for the coming season

1. Know your sails, know your settings

Many boats sailing inshore with non-overlapping headsail setup regularly use up to three headsails. It is vital that you have go-to settings for each sail. I assign a colour to each sail, green for J1, blue for J2, red for J3. I then whip a mark on my jib car adjustment line in each colour, on both sides, so I have a good starting point for each sail. This is particularly helpful if you have been reaching and the car went forward, or if the wrong rope was uncleated at the windward mark, you have a quick reference point in the cockpit go to.

Pre-set markings also should be made on the jib halyard using a scale on the deck in front of the halyard clutch. Set each sail to good halyard tension (looking at the draft position of the sail) and mark the scale with the sail’s corresponding colour.

These will give you baselines to work from for each sail that you can tweak as conditions require and will allow anyone to step into the pit and easily set-up the baselines.

2. What is Twist?

Twist, in its raw form, is the difference in your sails “angle of incidence” when measured at points of increasing height up the sail’s leech. Twist is when the top of the sail opens compared to the lower sections. We increase twist in light winds and take out twist as the wind increases. This also has a lot to do with how the wind is performing at various heights. Friction from the water slows downwind on the lower portions of the sail relative to wind further aloft. The lower, relatively slower wind changes the angle of the different than higher sections, so we need to twist our sails to make sure they are trimmed correctly in up and down the entire sail. This is particularly important in lighter conditions where the wind angles up the sail vary more than in heavier conditions.

It is fundamental to understand that twist gives us the ability to control the lift and drag produced by our sails. As the wind speed increases and the surface friction has less of an effect on the wind angle, there ends up being less difference between the top and bottom of the sail. As such, less twist is needed to trim the sail correctly.

Wow B

3. Watch those telltales…

.. but not the ones you may think. The headsail luff telltales are a great indication of where the sail is in terms of power and car position, but, when sailing upwind, the leech telltales are absolutely crucial as they show how close you are to max trim. Unlike the mainsail, where some stall is good, we want as little stall as possible on the leech of the jib; but we want to be right on the edge, as close to stalling as possible. Our leech telltales are the best indicator of this.

Generally, your top leech telltale will stall first. Trim the sheet until the top telltale starts to fall to leeward. It is being sucked into the leech by the air separating off the leeward side of the sail. Once you have this stall, ease the sheet a touch to get the telltale flowing 95% of the time with a 5% stall. This is a good indicator that the jib is fully trimmed for average conditions.

If the conditions allow it, stay to leeward and check this constantly. If the breeze drops, the sail will stall so ease the sheet. If a puff hits, the sail becomes under-trimmed and, always looking for that little bit of telltale stall, trim the sheet as necessary.

C lively lady

4. Ease your inhaulers during pre-start

If you have a boat with a non-overlapping jib trimmed through inhaulers, this tip is for you! When you are manoeuvring during the pre-start, make sure your inhaulers are fully eased. Inhaulers are a great tool for improved trim, but only when sailing fully upwind. When reaching or bearing away during pre-start, it is important to keep the boat at maximum power and speed (when needed). If you inhaulers are trimmed inboard, your jib will twist open when the sheet is eased, the inhauler will hold the clew inboard, leaving the bottom of the sail over trimmed and sacrificing power. Only trim the inhaulers to your marked upwind setting on your final approach to the line.

5. Keep an eye on the “big” sail

Mainsails on cruising and racing boats have evolved into much bigger sails. On racing boats, the main has grown because of rating advantages, while the mains on cruising boats have grown so that they can be sailed under main alone.

Luckily, methods for trimming the mainsail are virtually identical for all boats, fractional or masthead, racing or cruising. The cunningham, backstay, outhaul and running backstays are all used for the same purposes.

Upwind mainsail trim breaks down into three basic modes: Maximum Point, Cruising Speed, and Fast Forward (I’ll discuss Fast Forward in the following tip and the others in future articles). Cruising speed is used 90 per cent of the time when sailing upwind, while max point and fast forward modes are saved for particular tactical situations. For the following tips, I'm assuming the jib/genoa is trimmed properly.

Sailing upwind is the slowest point of sailing; therefore, small differences in heading and boat speed are significant. For racers, upwind sailing is critical because most races start with the first leg into the wind.

6. Fast Forward

I call the third setting for upwind sailing the Fast Forward mode. This mode is useful in several tactical situations such as when you have over-stood the weather mark, or when you are trying to reach over the top of the fleet in anticipation of the next header. Another condition is if you have come off the starting line and have just a slight advantage over the boats leeward of you and you want to foot down over the top of another boat causing it to tack.
As in all settings, the jib should be set properly for beating with, perhaps its outside telltales lifting slightly applying more pressure on the genoa and generating a few extra tenths of boat speed.

Set the mainsail with the maximum depth it can carry without excessive heel and without stalling the leech. Do this with the cunningham and outhaul while keeping the boom on centreline and ease the main sheet and the vang slightly allowing the boom to lift and twist off the top two battens. If your boat has them, ease the runners to twist the main slightly. Your speed will continue to rise.

D

7. Trim

“If in doubt – ease it out” There is nothing slower than an over trimmed spinnaker. Always ease the sheet so the luff of the sail is showing a slight curl. If the curl becomes too big and is threatening to collapse the spinnaker, trim in to stabilise the sail.

This is the foundation of good spinnaker trim. A slight curl means the sail is producing max power with minimal stall. From there, your sheet should be trimmed in and out a few inches constantly. The spinnaker trimmer has no time to look around and take in the sights downwind, it is a constant job. Always be checking if you are at the point of curl. If the sheet isn’t moving then the spinnaker isn’t being trimmed. Small subtle adjustments to keep you at top speed.

8. Symmetrical Spinnaker Fore & Aft Trim

Once your sheet is eased and spinnaker showing signs of curling, we can now look at our fore/aft spinnaker pole trim. This is adjusted using the guy and foreguy.

spinnaker diagram
The objective is to make the vertical mid seam of your spinnaker parallel to the mast, i.e. vertical. When this seam is vertical your fore/aft pole trim is correct.

If the mid seam is angled to windward, trim your pole aft which will make the seam vertical again.

If the centre seam is angled towards the mast , ease the pole forward until the seam is vertical once again.

The guy should be trimmed about half as much as the sheet with the foreguy adjusted accordingly. The guy trimmer should listen to the sheet trimmer and always work together as too much “unauthorized” pole adjustment will confuse your sheet trimmer.

9. Pole Height

Optimum pole height is determined by where your spinnaker curl begins. Easing the spinnaker sheet should create a curl at the mid-section of the luff that will then spread evenly up and down from this point.

spinnaker pole height

If the curl begins above the middle section (towards the head) then the outboard end of your pole is too low. If the curl begins lower than the middle section (towards the clew) then the pole end is too high. Adjust inboard and outboard pole hight until the curl starts at the middle section.

10. Forces Sailing Downwind

As the breeze freshens, it’s important to understand the forces being generated by your downwind sails – the mainsail force and spinnaker force combine and determine where the boat is going. The goal is to have these combined forces align with your course.

spinnaker force

We have all experienced the unsettling rolling motion when sailing downwind in breeze – in extreme cases, this can result in a broach gybe. This rolling is caused by pole being too far aft. The spinnaker force overpowers the mainsail force – causing the spinnaker to pull the boat to windward. Ease the pole forward which realigns the spinnaker force and brings the boat back into balance.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Busy UK Sailmakers Ireland loft in Cork Harbour is preparing for another hectic season afloat while Loft manager Barry Hayes is also out and about meeting sailors on all four coasts of Ireland.

Last Thursday night, Hayes led a talk at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire that featured a great turn out of members and non-members alike for the hour-long presentation.

This week, UK Sailmakers will give a talk at Kinsale Yacht Club on Thursday, Feb 13th at 7.30 pm. All are welcome.  Hayes will talk on top sailing tips while colleague Harry Lewis - well known for his rigging work and expertise in Harken deck gear - will demonstrate winch servicing.

The next talk is in Foynes YC on the Shannon Estuary on the 26th of Feb at 7.30 pm. Again, all are welcome.

Below sailmakers at the loft prepare a gennaker for furling.

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Following on from the success of talks at Royal Cork Yacht Club, Howth Yacht Club and last night's Royal St George Yacht Club event at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Barry Hayes of UK Sailmakers will give more sailing tips plus a demonstration on how to service Harken deck gear at the National Yacht Club on February 6th. 

The NYC talk is open to the public and it's free to attend. Sign up to at this link here

Hayes moves south to Kinsale Yacht Club for a talk on February 13th and heads west to the Shannon Estuary on February 30th for an evening at Foynes Yacht Club.

Upcoming talks

National Yacht Club
6th of Feb at 7.30 pm. With Barry Hayes

Kinsale Yacht club
With Barry Hayes and Harry Lewis
13th of Feb at 7.30 pm.

Foynes Yacht Club
With Barry Hayes
26th of Feb at 7.30 pm.

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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.

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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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