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A busy June period drew to a close this weekend; concluding with the ever-popular biennial Sovereign's Cup Regatta – writes Graham Curran of UK Sailmakers Ireland. The weather did not make life easy for competitors over the four-day regatta but it certainly made for interesting sails. A mix of downwind surfing, a mythical sunny lay day, maritime hide and seek, and topped off with a day of glorious Kinsale weather which keeps us coming back year after year.

We had a busy couple of days in the loft with the hum of sewing machines running into the late hours of Wednesday and Friday evenings repairing torn sails to keep our customers, and all competitors, on the water with a full inventory.

XP44 “WOW” romps to Coastal Class Victory

XP44 WOWGeorge Sisk's XP44 Wow. Photo: Robert Bateman

George Sisk’s new WOW showed blistering pace throughout the series to claim overall victory with three wins from three races. Coming off the back of a disappointing end to their Dun Laoghaire to Dingle race the team were fired up and ready to attack the week on Wednesday. The long coastal courses allowed George and his long-standing crew to stretch the boat’s legs upwind and down.

She showed blistering pace at times, particularly on a long return reaching leg into Kinsale on Friday afternoon. WOW is equipped with a bowsprit mounted flying jib on an Ubi Maior furler which she used to great effect on this final leg. Crew member Red Power, commenting on that leg, said “The flying jib was the key on the last reach of the second race. With it we sailed higher and faster than with our zero. WOW had the only flying jib in the fleet and it was noticed.”

Outrajeous Seals Class One Victory

The Murphy/Colwell led J109 “Outrajeous” campaign held their nerve to claim victory in IRC Class One on Saturday. After a dramatic end to Friday’s racing, resulting in a DSQ in race five, the team refocused to win the first windward-leeward race of the day and second in the final race of the series to claim overall victory.

Richard Colwell, ICRA Commodore and owner of Outrajeous, commented “It’s a fantastic win for us, and reward for the hard work put into boat prep, teamwork, and sail development of the last six months. This hard work means we have the speed and ability to compete at the top end of a very competitive class. We are delighted with the progression made by a great team in such a short space of time.”

J109 Outrajeous J109 Outrajeous sailing downwind with her UK Sailmakers branded Matrix Spinnaker. Photo: Bob Bateman

Mark Mansfield, agent for Uk Sailmakers Ireland and tactician on Outrajeous, added “The Outrageous Project has been coming along very well, and we have been working with John and Richard since last winter, trialling and testing shapes. We were very quick at Sovereigns in a range of conditions with our Uni Titanium Main and headsails and in particular, very close winded. It is great to be able to perform so well against 7 other similar J109 class boats as it shows we have a very good fast product, able to win against the best. Our win in the 1720 class shows we are able to perform at a top level in one design fleets, as well as on IRC.

J109 Outrajeous sailingThe Outrajeous team (L to R): Bryan O’Donnell, Richard Colwell, Robert Kerley, David Cotter, John Murphy, Stuart Harris, Neil Spain, Mark Mansfield

Looking forward to the next challenge, as always, Mark continues “On Outrageous, we will be making some small changes again before Dun Laoghaire week, to tweak the sails even further. We are now seriously giving owners a proper choice when they are making a decision on who to go for when choosing their new sails. When we work with a client, it is very much a hands-on situation and we help with rig set up, crew training, helm coaching as well as working with the trimmers on how to set up the sails, and what rig/mode changes are needed in different conditions.”

The team celebrated a deserved win in style on Saturday night with family and friends sharing in the victory. Outrajeous now shifts focus to the upcoming Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta.

Not So “Slack Alice” triumphs in White Sail One

Slack Alice Shane StathamGK34 “Slack Alice” sailing upwind with her Tape Drive Silver Mainsail and No 1 Genoa. Photo: Bob Bateman

Shane Statham and Trudy O’Leary’s GK34 “Slack Alice” claimed victory in White Sail IRC One with four wins from four races this week. Slack Alice is well known in the waters of Cork and is no stranger to victory here either. Shane and his crew opted for the white sails class for competitive racing while also being friendly to the flexible crew roster throughout the four-day series.

Rope Dock Atara Strikes Again; Crowned 1720 European Champions

1720 Rope Dock Atara Ross (helm) and Aoife (bow) McDonald’s Rope Dock Atara – 2019 1720 European Champions. Powered by UK Sailmakers Ireland. Photo: Bob Bateman

Aoife and Ross McDonald’s “Atara” has successfully defended her 1720 European Championship. Incorporated as a three day series within the 2019 Sovereigns Cup the 1720 Europeans produced tight racing throughout the fleet. Atara set the tone early; winning the first race of the series, and only one of the day, on Friday. They continued with another race win on Saturday and three thirds to clinch the European title three points clear.

Hard work Rewards

It is usually this time of year, after the major events of the year that the hard work of our customers – supported by the UK Sailmakers Ireland team – rewards them with the results they strive for. We are very proud of all our customers this week, and we are honoured to be your sailmaker.

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UK Sailmakers Ireland has teamed up with Spinlock to bring sail making to the next level in Ireland for our racing customers writes Barry Hayes.

We have two of Spinlocks new Sail Sense trackers on John Murphy’s J109 Outrajeous on the clew of the J1 Uni- Titanium headsail. And on George Sisk’s XP 44 Wow J 2 Uni -Titanium Headsail So we can bring sail development to the next level.

Photos B Sail-Sense is a revolutionary new sensor which helps you be smarter about your sail management
As UK Sailmakers Ireland is a sail production loft and as we build sails here in Ireland we needed to get the lowdown on what usage our sails get on the water. So we teamed up with Spinlock to get the low down on it.

The tracker system details here brings the sail usage right to my phone in an app so I can refine the development and design of each sail.

The tracker tracks how much UV, tacking, flogging, usage, and mileage is in play so we get an in-depth view on each sail and how much its use is getting on an app on our phones.

Photos C
This data will go directly back into the designs of our Uni- Titanium Racing sails. So we can build the sails even better for you.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland

UK Sailmakers Ireland has had a very successful 2018/2019 season thus far explains Graham Curran – “We’ve had great success over the past year. Success in the sailmaking industry is measured not by sales figures alone but also by the happiness and performance of your customers, and also the ‘vibe’ of the entire sailing community as a whole. If we’re doing well then it indicates a healthiness within the cruiser racer fleets in Ireland – we’re not saying it’s thriving, but it is certainly improved when compared to this time five years ago.”

It’s not possible to be everywhere at once, and with so much sailing happening across the country it is important that we provide a full professional service to all our customers and sailors. To match this renewed demand we are delighted to welcome two more members to our team – Yannick Lemonnier based in Galway – and Andrew Steenson based in Northern Ireland.

“The addition of Yannick and Andrew to the team is a big step for us” says UK's Barry Hayes “It not only gives us a truly countrywide presence but it adds further depth and experience to an already formidable knowledge base. With Graham now based in Dublin full time, Mark Mansfield and I between Cork and Dublin, Yannick in Galway, and Andrew up North, we will be able to provide top class service to sailors on all coasts and inland waterways of the country.”

ANDREW STEENSON – STRANGFORD LOUGH & NORTH

Having come from a family with a strong boating heritage it is no surprise that Andrew has been in and around boats since he was a baby. The family has nearly 800 years of sailing experience in and around the waters of Strangford Lough. Andrew’s great grandfather was a sailmaker who made sails for the 18ft punt class, the River class, and the Dragon class. Andrew is well known in the boat yards around Strangford Lough and further afield.

ANDREW STEENSON Andrew Steenson

His extensive knowledge and experience within the marine industry have helped him determine what yachtsmen want and provide a service and product which satisfies their needs. “I am looking forward to working with all the team at UK Sailmakers Ireland to provide the same great products and services they are renowned for down south to sailors in Northern Ireland.”

Andrew can be contacted at: [email protected]

YANNICK LEMONNIER – GALWAY & WEST

Yannick is well known within sailing circles in Ireland having worked as a sailmaker here since 2011. Hailing from an Island near La Rochelle in France sailing was always going to be in his blood. Yannick’s sailing experience speaks for itself; with over 80,000 miles, mostly single or double handed, 5 Solitaire du Figaro, 2 Transatlantic Double Handed, Round Ireland and Fastnet Double handed to name but a few.

Yannick lemonnierYannick Lemonnier

Yannick’s sailing and sailmaking experience make him an excellent fit for our team. He has the attention to detail required to deliver top class sails to customers and the practical knowledge to advise the best solution for the task at hand.

“I am honoured to be welcomed within UK Sailmakers Ireland team having a good knowledge of their products over years servicing sails with West Sails. I will be bringing mainly offshore expertise gained from many Figaro races, Tour Voile, Round Ireland race, Fastnet and many others. I'm looking forward providing new sails and service for mainly the West coast”

Yannick can be contacted at: [email protected]

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE

Having a countrywide presence is essential for us to provide a service which we demand from ourselves. We continually strive to provide top class service and products to all our customers. We welcome Andrew and Yannick to our team and we look forward to working with all our customers, both old and new, in the coming months of the summer sailing season.

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There is a brand new XC45 yacht on its way to Kinsale, Co Cork writes Barry Hayes of UK Sailmakers Ireland.

Currently lying in the X-Yachts factory yard in Denmark; it will soon be on its way to Irish waters once her sea trials are complete.

UK Sailmakers Ireland specified and designed the sails, they were built in our Hong Kong-based production facility and fitted in the X-Yachts yard by our colleagues as part of our total customer service.

Any new X-Yacht can avail of UK Sailmakers Ireland installation service.

The mainsail and headsail are X-Drive Endure Double Taffeta for ultimate performance cruising and blue water sailing longevity.

Xc 45 mainsail 2The mast on this new yacht is fitted with a 26 mm Harken Switch stack system from UK Sailmakers Ireland. This keeps the mainsail stack low and within easy reach, with the added benefit of less windage with the V boom.

The mainsail is fully battened with a single line reefing system. The Headsail is fitted with vertical battens and integral reefs for ease of use and versatility.

She also sports a top-down furling code zero which has a UV strip on the leech of the sail so it can be left hoisted for extended periods while cruising. This code zero has an Ubi Maior ratchet furler so the sail is fully secure and can be left hoisted for days on end without the worry of unfurling.

XC 45 furlerThe boat will also be equipped with a Code D asymmetric furling Gennaker which has plug-and-play functionality with the Ub Maior furling system

The boat will also be equipped with a Code D asymmetric furling Gennaker which has plug-and-play functionality with the Ub Maior furling system.

The boat will arrive in Ireland in two weeks after its sea trials are finished.

XC 45 genoa

We are very proud to support our X-Yachts customers with a worldwide local service.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Towards the end of the winter period and during the beginning of spring UK Sailmakers Ireland were out and about doing our rounds of the country’s yacht clubs getting sailors hungry and prepared for the busy season ahead. Our EDU talk this year was based around top tips for fast sailing – always popular for sailors of all levels, and tends to bring out the questions! This year we also had a short segment on component-based sailmaking and sail materials – this was after answering many interesting questions from sailors on the subject during the 2018 sailing season.

Being conscious of avoiding a sales pitch we focused on the core materials and components used in modern sailmaking – carbon, technora, aramids, polyester, dyneema etc – and how these components were able to slot in and out of our particular production processes.

This segment was successful beyond our expectations. Being able to see components in their raw forms, discuss the different manufacturing processes and how each component can slot in and out as needed, and then having finished sail and material samples to touch and feel, it became a very interactive and informative segment for the audience.

We were surprised by some misconceptions surrounding modern formed sails, and even more so by how many sailors knew very little about what actually lay “under the hood” of their sails, both old and new. Having answered many questions and deconstructed many processes and products we felt it was worth satisfying the inner sailing-geek of the other sailors throughout the country.

You would be hard pressed to go racing at a major event in Ireland without seeing a black sail so that seems like a good place to start.

UNI-TITANIUM – GRAND PRIX PERFORMANCE

Titanium is UK Sailmakers’ performance sailing product line in which Uni-Titanium is the top level Grand Prix performance product. There are differences between the of our Titanium products – this is where the “component” based aspect of our production processes becomes crucial – the manufacturing process remains constant but the components being used in each individual sail can alter to suit its specification. This provides us with the freedom to explore, test, and evaluate new components and combinations without altering our manufacturing process. It also allows us to continually monitor our process performance and improve its efficiency.

So what is “under the hood” of a Uni-Titanium sail? Watch our video below and find our step by step breakdown below to find out.

Illu Titanium UniFilm

THE FORM

Uni-Titanium, like all Titanum sails, are one-piece sails when they leave production. The first step in the process is to manipulate the form into the concave flying shape of the sail

BOTTOM SKIN

The bottom skin is now laid onto the formed form. This skin consists of robotically cut panels which precisely match the form shaping. The outer side of the skin can be one of several different finishes depending on the sail specification. The inner side of the skin is coated with a co-polymer adhesive.

PRIMARY LOADING

Computer simulation is used to calculate the loading a sail will experience once flying in reality. These simulations are not run for every single sail. They are run for many different sizes, aspect ratios, specific design wind ranges etc. From these simulations come yarn layouts. For performance racing projects these simulations are run repeatedly for each sail until the most effective layout is found.

Once a layout for the sail has been chosen; carbon fibre yarns (or whatever component mix is chosen) are laid along the layout paths. These run continuously from corner to corner without interruption. The yarns are laid dry, without glue to reduce weight, and under a constant tension. They are held in place by the tacky coating on the base skin. Because the sail is still in its flying shape on the form the yarns are laid as they will be when the sail is hoisted. These yarns distribute the primary loading of the sail.

SECONDARY AND TERTIARY LOADING

When your sail is hit by a gust it will flex and distort as its power is harnessed, this is essentially a loss of power for the boat. This is realized by having to increase your halyard tension in higher wind speeds.

Unidirectional carbon sheets are laid throughout a Uni-Titanium sail. This is where the “uni” in Uni-Titanium comes from. The purpose of this additional unidirectional carbon is to absorb the secondary and tertiary loading on the sail – harnessing their power instead of it being lost in flex and distortion.

With a Uni-Titanium sail when a gust hits the sail shape does not change unless the trim is altered – it remains in its flying shape without distortion. The means that the full power of the wind is being transferred to your boat; resulting in more drive and lift in your sailplan.

TOP SKIN

The top skin is now laid with the co-polymer side facing down. This completes the sail structure. This top skin can be the same or a different component than the bottom skin. This allows great versatility when specifying the sail construction.

FORMING INTO A ONE PIECE SAIL

Once the sail structure is complete the sail can now move towards the fusing process to turn it into a truly one-piece sail.

A vacuum bag is applied to the form, still in its flying shape, and the sail is vacuum compressed to 1 bar. This squeezes the layers together under immense pressure and causes the co-polymer coatings on each of the skins to infuse through each layer.

The sail is then fused at 125°C with UV heat and pressure. This chemically locks all the layers together – forming them into one single piece.

Once fused the sail is then allowed to cool and cure before moving on for finishing.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY FINISHING

Once the sail has cured it then moves onto the loft floor for finishing. This is where the detailing of the sail is added. Primary finishing includes patching and reef reinforcements, headboard, clew tack and head attachments, luff tape or hardware installation, batten pockets and tensioning devices, leech and foot lines etc. This is where the sail is transformed from a sail-shaped sheet into a useable sail.

Secondary finishings are also applied in tandem. These include sail numbers, camber stripes, tell tails, class logo, manufacturer logos and other cosmetic details.

ON THE WATER

UK Sailmakers’ Uni-Titanium brings Grand Prix performance to the hands of sailors on racing grounds throughout the country North, South, East and West – look for black sails with the UK Sailmakers logo.

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May is here and summer is finally upon us (don’t quote me on that) – fleets are hitting race courses throughout the country with renewed enthusiasm after the winter break writes Graham Curran of UK Sailmakers Ireland. Although some fleets have had a busy spring season; the beginning of May is the time where putting foot to deck becomes appealing once again.

Last week Howth Yacht Club began their midweek evening series which runs throughout the season – always well attended with the first race being no exception. With it being the first day afloat for many in quite a while, certainly in a competitive context, everyone can be forgiven for being a little rusty.

I spotted many opportunities for improvement both at a fundamental trim level but also at minor tweaking level, but one thing stood out to me – the use of spinnaker tweakers.

WHAT ARE YOUR TWEAKERS FOR?

Fundamentally your tweakers serve the same purpose for your spinnaker as your jib cars do for your headsail, or as the vang does for your mainsail – they control the amount of twist in your spinnaker. They are, of course, not the only twist control – that would be far too easy!

Many of us think of the tweakers as something that needs to be pulled on when gybing our spinnakers, pulled on full on the side that the pole is on, and left off completely on the sheet. Although this is not entirely incorrect; it is far too basic an explanation. Your tweakers deserve more than that. They are the unsung heroes of downwind sail trim.

DEEP DOWNWIND

Deep downwind sailing is where tweakers become essential trim tools – so we’ll start here.

Last week the usual X302 battle between “Maximus” and “Xebec” picked up where it left off. Tit for tat around the racecourse both crews were warming up nicely for their season ahead. From the rib to leeward I immediately noticed the tweaker position on “Xebec” – and a perfect photo opportunity.

X302 Battle
Let’s look at each boat’s setup – focusing on tweaker trim.

Maximus is nicely squared away with her spinnaker projected to windward. Her tweaker is on about 25 (with 0 being the deck and 100 being fully off). Both clews are level. The leech of her spinnaker (attached to the sheet) is nicely closed and of a very similar profile to the luff of the sail (attached to the pole) ie the sail is set symmetrically. If we were to look at Maximus’ spinnaker from directly behind it would be standing broad – its shoulders projecting outwards to maximize its area – and containing all the power it can inside the sail. Think of a boxer in stance with two strong arms (the leech and the luff) ready to strike.

If we now look at Xebec and compare. Her pole is squared back to the same degree (both could come a little further but we’ll forgive that!), pole height is the same. The luff, supported by the pole, is standing broad and proud, nicely projected to windward. Her tweaker however is at 100, completely off. The leech of the sail is twisted open and the clews are not level, with the sheet clew being higher. Xebec is spilling power out of the leech – not maximising the wind available. Back to our boxer analogy – they are the injured opponent with a limp left arm.

This effect of this spilling off the leech is only accentuated as the wind speed increases.

WHAT IS MY INDICATOR OF GOOD TRIM?

The short answer is to ensure the clews of the spinnaker are level. The complicated answer is that good tweaker trim is entirely reliant on the other elements of spinnaker trimming. The tweaker is generally the last in the line of adjustments, which is why it is sometimes forgotten about. Trimming for curl, pole height, and pole fore and aft trim are all set before the tweaker trim can really be determined. The fore and aft pole trim and the tweaker are particularly interrelated as the boat changes angle and point of sail.
In general, though you can’t go far wrong by keeping the clews level.

LEVELS OF ADJUSTMENT

Tweakers are not an all or nothing tool, but they also do not need to be trimmed to the millimetre. I use a system with five stages of trim. 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100.
• 0 or “full on” – tweaker pulled down fully to the deck. If using only two sheets (no lazys) the guy (pole) will always be on full.
• 25 – to the lower guard rail.
• 50 – to the upper guard rail.
• 75 – mid way between the upper guard rail and the boom.
• 100 or “full off” – tweaker blown and loose.

Having these levels makes it very easy to change between settings and keeps everyone on the same page. It is very hard to give concrete setting for each wind speed as it is entirely subjective to each boat and each sail design. Experiment with different levels and keep an eye on your clew heights and you will soon find what works best for you in each band of wind speed.

REACHING

Our tweaker trim completely changes when we move from running to reaching. The theoretical reason for this is that when running we are harnessing and encouraging vertical flow in our spinnakers, from the head down and out the foot of the sail – dragging us downwind. When we move to reaching we are harnessing horizontal flow across the sail, from luff to leech. We want the wind to enter at the luff, produce power to drive us forward as it passes over the sail, and then to exit the leech with as little friction as possible.

X302 Reaching

Maximus, now broad reaching, still has her tweaker pulled on full. Considering the wind strength on the evening it is not a major issue. The tweaker is still doing the same job here – reducing the amount of twist in the spinnaker leech.

If Maximus were to come up on a tight reach, or if the wind speed was to increase to 16-17 knots, she would quickly become slow and overpressed with the tweaker on fully.

When reaching you need twist in the leech of the spinnaker. Eventually, as you sheet harder or the wind increases, the leech will begin to close and stall. Instead of the wind escaping out the leech of the sail it will encounter too much resistance, slowing the boat as a result. A closed leech while reaching will use the power in the wind to heel the boat over, instead of pushing it forward – not fast. The heel will cause weather helm, so more rudder will be needed to keep the boat on course. More rudder means more resistance which means slower boat speed. This can eventually lead to broaching in heavier wind speeds.

So as you transition from running to broad reaching to tight reaching, gradually ease your tweaker off as required to keep the boat pushing forward, not dragging sideways.

GYBING

This is where most of us notice our tweakers – but why?

When we are gybing the spinnaker, for a period of time, is free of the pole – floating. It is attached to the boat at the head and the two clews.

If both our tweakers are off at this stage the spinnaker will tend to rise. This, in essence, twists both the leech and the luff of the sail, making it unstable and liable to move from side to side. By pulling on our tweakers fully we “lock down” the spinnaker to the boat. The clews are not allowed to rise, the luff and leech do not twist as much, and the spinnaker becomes far more stable.

It is particularly obvious when one tweaker is on and the other is off – the spinnaker will roll to the side with the tweaker on as that is where the power is. Because we are gybing the spinnaker will then end up on the wrong side, behind the mainsail, liable to collapse, and will be putting pressure on the bow person who is trying to push out the poll.
This is not as critical in lighter airs when the wind does not have the power to lift the spinnaker high into the air, but in moderate and heavy airs it is critical for a controlled gybe.
Once you have exited the gybe and are settled on your new course you can then gradually ease the tweaker while continuing to trim the sheet.

CONCLUSION

As with many things in sailing; there is far more to tweakers than you might initially think. If you are looking to maximize your downwind performance then they should be given thought but, as always, look for the big trim gains first – then tweak for peak performance.

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Four-time Olympic Helmsman, Sailing Coach and Agent/Consultant for UK Sailmakers Ireland, Mark Mansfield explains how the Helm and Trimmers on larger keelboats and cruisers should be in continual communication to go fast on the race course

Following on from the successful series on Top tips articles dealing with upwind and downwind sailing over the last few months, I am now going to go through how a Helmsman or woman and their trimmers should work together for the best results.

Most helms will likely have at some point raced smaller keelboats or dinghies, where the helm not only steers, but also controls the Mainsheet or the Traveller, or both. This allows the feel and weight on the tiller to be handled by the helm and allows the helm to react quickly and proportionately by adjusting the traveller, mainsheet, or even backstay. On bigger boats, the loads are more substantial, and often a specific mainsheet person controls all of these.

Downwind how deep you steer is also quite tricky to work out and again there is someone else, usually the Spinnaker trimmer very much involved. So for this article, I will break down my thoughts into

  • Upwind—Helm working with the mainsheet trimmer
  • Downwind—Helm working with the spinnaker trimmer

Joker IIAuthor Mark Mansfield is working with John Maybury on J109 Joker II on her way to winning her third straight ICRA Nationals in 2017. Joker 2 will be going for four in a row in 2019 as there were no ICRA nationals in 2018 Photo: Bob Bateman

Upwind—Helm working with the Main Trimmer

The Helm has a substantial advantage in knowing how to trim the sails, as he can feel the amount of weather helm (or lack thereof) in the tiller (or wheel). Often though, this advantage gets lost as:

  • He does not communicate that feel to the mainsheet trimmer
  • When he does, he does not communicate it properly

The Mainsheet Trimmer, in a perfect environment, should be responsible for the set up of the sails upwind (both Headsail and Main) and should be working also on how the Rigging should be adjusted. The Headsail trimmer is essential when setting up the Headsail before the race and should link in with the Main trimmer on this to get a right combination of trimming going. However, once the race starts, usually the Headsail trimmer is needed on the rail, leaving only the Main Trimmer and Helm sitting in. Therefore, the main trimmer also has to look at adjusting the Headsail as well, if needed. An example of this is in tacking. The jib trimmer winds in the headsail to what he/she thinks looks good. However, the boat is just building speed, so apparent wind is not entirely built when he/she hits the weather rail. Also his/her weight when it gets to the weather side, puts further power into the sails, opening the leech. This added to extra apparent windspeed, once the boat gets up to full speed, opens the jib leech even further. It is then the Mainsheet trimmers job to go down and check the jib, and often another wind on the winch is required.

Joker II upwindJoker 2 going upwind. Helm and Mainsheet trimmer getting the cushy jobs. Photo: Bob Bateman

Communication Between Helm & Main Trimmer: Upwind

A Non-communicative Helm is a big problem, as the mainsheet trimmer does not have the advantage of what the helm is feeling. On most boats when I am steering, the helm balance will likely tell me if I need more Power or less power. Typically, if my helm has more than 4 or 5 degrees of weather helm(see my tip on Figuring how much this is)(link to my top 10 tips upwind where I cover this), then my rudder is acting like a brake instead of a lifting foil. Then I will ask my Mainsheet person to either:

  • ease mainsheet
  • drop the traveller
  • Add more backstay

So, which one? Normally, I go:

  1. Traveller down first, to a max of about a foot below centreline—any more and there is too much backwinding
  2. Backstay on further—to a max of when the Main is overbending and wrinkles from the middle of the mast to the end of the boom occur. Remember more backstay will open the main leech, so further mainsheet may then need to be pulled in. What you are trying to do is flatten the whole sail, but keep the leech still tight to aid pointing.
  3. Only when these two options are not enough, would I look at easing the mainsheet.

If the helm tells you he/she has no feel in the helm, then the Mainsheet persons job it to try and add power, generally to the Main, to get more bite in the helm. The opposite of the above is then the way,

  1. Traveller up—to a max of the boom being slightly above the centerline.
  2. Ease the backstay. This will power up the main, by straightening the mast. Always however keep a minimal amount of backstay on, to stop the Forestay pumping, as backstay tension has a significant effect on your forestay sag. Easing the backstay will tighten the main leech so will likely require an ease also on the mainsheet.
  3. Tighten the Mainsheet if above 2 items are still not giving the helm enough feel.

Mark Mansfield Half TonMark Mansfield is communicating with Mike Evans (helm) on Big Picture at the 2016 Half Ton Cup in Falmouth

If the helm cannot work out which of these 3 to do, then the least he/she should say is—"I need more Power", or he/she should say –"I need less power". Then it is up to the Mainsheet person to try one of the 3 changes above. What he/she(helm) must not do is say nothing, and hope the mainsheet person picks up what is wrong. When I am on the main, I am always looking to see how much weather helm, or lack thereof, is evident and if I see too much or too little, I will ask the question of the helm. Watching the speed and wind angle on the clocks is also essential. If everything is good, the boat is fast and high, then the Mainsheet person should say that, as it is an excellent positive statement. If speed and height are not great, then the Mainsheet person should suggest a positive change, like, "let's try a bit more Backstay", or Maybe we might try footing a bit".

If the Mainsheet person, looking at the telltales, is seeing the helm is off the wind, he should immediately say it, as losing height, without much extra speed, is a real negative. On many boats, where I sail as mainsheet, I will regularly point out if I feel we are not sailing at the right angle. High concentration levels from the helmsperson are required all the time to ensure the boat is ideally on the wind and often that concentration can lapse a bit. It is the mainsheet person's job to watch for this and keep the helm concentrating.

Often during a long day, where up to 3 races might be sailed, it is worth looking at the helm handing over for some legs(maybe downwind legs later in the day), to keep concentration levels going on the upwinds. The best Helm/Mainsheet combinations are those that are continually talking together about speed, height and feel.

Communication Downwind

Unlike upwind, downwind is all about communication between the Helm and the Spinnaker trimmer. The Mainsheet person is usually a bit redundant as often, especially on dead downwind legs, the main goes out entirely and is not trimmed much. Downwind, the phrase: 'the Spinnaker Trimmer should be steering the boat downwind', is correct. He/she doesn't hold the helm, but they direct where the boat goes.

Joker II J109 1076John Maybury's Joker 2 running downwind on the way to an overall win in Dun Laoghaire Week Regatta in 2017

The Helm has some feel downwind, but nothing like what is being transmitted back to the spinnaker trimmer from the power coming through the spinnaker sheet. The Spinnaker trimmer must now be the communicative person. A quiet spinnaker trimmer is a slow spinnaker trimmer. He must boss the boat down the runs. He must be continually talking to the helm about depth and speed and calling the helm up and down. So, "up 5" or "down 5" are the sort of things you would expect to be hearing from the spinnaker trimmer every 10 or 20 seconds., meaning up 5 degrees or down 5 degrees. He/she will be doing this as pressure builds and drops on the spinnaker sheet. More pressure allows the boat to go deeper, less pressure, height needs to be the call to keep the speed on. As a general rule, the spinnaker should be steady, and the spinnaker sheet should have decent pressure. If it does not, then the spinnaker is not pulling the boat forward. The spinnaker trimmers job is also to call the trim on the guy(or on Asymmetric) and also the pole height. As a general rule, the pole should be at right angles to the wind, and in that scenario, the spinnaker luff should stand straight up, parallel to the mast, and curl in the middle. If the spinnaker is rolling to weather of the pole, the pole needs to come back. If the spinnaker is falling to leeward of the pole, the pole needs to go forward.

Often I find Spinnaker trimmers just pulling in and out the spinnaker sheet, without communicating where the helm should point the boat, or without trimming the pole backwards and upwards. It is the Spinnaker trimmers job to do all these things.

Fools gold 2Fools Gold, during the IRC Worlds in Aug, VMG running with Mainsail and A2 Spinnaker, both from UK Sailmakers Ireland. Note many of the crew are forward of the mast

Conclusion

The feel upwind (on the wheel or tiller) or downwind (on the Spinnaker sheet )are extremely important and cannot be kept to oneself. Increase the communication levels, and in nearly all cases, the boat will go faster.

So, apart from the helm, if you have one particularly good sailor on the boat, by rights, for best speed, that person should trim the main upwind and the spinnaker sheet downwind. This is not always popular on boats wanting specific positions for the various crew. Also, often the mainsheet person might also be doing/helping with the tactics. When going downwind, calling where to go and where the pressure is, can be very important as well. All decisions to be made on a boat to boat basis.

Fair Sailing

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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West Cork native Barry Hayes took over the UK Sailmakers Ireland loft a year ago From Des McWilliam, having returned to Crosshaven from an international career in sailmaking. Afloat.ie asked him about his own sailing background and the changes he has seen in Irish sailing in his first year home.

Afloat.ie: You worked for Des McWilliam for five years at the Crosshaven loft from 1999 to 2003 before heading overseas. How was that?
Barry Hayes (BH): Well, there is no one better to learn from than Des. He was so well respected and his knowledge was outstanding. McWilliam Sailmakers was at its height in those years, I got a fantastic foundation on how to build sails. Although busy, it was still a small sail loft which gave me the opportunity to learn every aspect of sailmaking from start to finish. From simple tasks like cutting sail numbers (which is crucial for developing your scissors skills!) to joining panels and marking up sails, to putting the finer finishing details to patches and rings. It is often underestimated the time, attention, skill, and detail that goes into building sails - in those days it really was an art. Nowadays there is much more science involved, but the art is ever present, and its importance shouldn't be underestimated! It really couldn’t have been a better place to start my sailmaking career.

Barry HayesBarry Hayes, loft manager of UK Sailmakers Ireland at Crosshaven

Throughout these years I also raced a lot of different boats from the famous Cracklin' Rosie to J24s and everything in between. Spending so much time afloat, while having such a large knowledge base to draw from at the loft, produced a rapid improvement in both my sailing and also sailmaking skills. You relate what you are doing on the floor to what you see in front of you afloat. Why this works better than that. Why we add depth in places and remove it in others, and how this is done by broad seaming and luff curve. Any question of trim, optimisation, or efficiency was answered at Monday morning coffee break - and there were plenty!

Jelik 2The 76ft maxi Jelik

Afloat.ie: You moved to a new job in sailmaking in New York for four years until 2007. What did you do there?

BH: Moving to New York to work for UK NY was a huge step forward in every way. There the very first project I did was work on making traditional hand made sails for Lion's Whelp. It took us three months to make and hand stitch every seam. All the skills I had picked up in Ireland were tested and refined. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire!

Swan 45’s one design racing was big in the US at the time. I start racing on Devocen (pictured top), doing races up and down the east coast of the US, from Newport to Key West. It was non stop action and a great learning experience. Working in the loft all week then heading to Key West for a regatta was fantastic - the truest representation of the sailmaker's lifestyle. While in New York I started working for UK International developing our string sail production process called Ultra. This is where art met science head-on. This taught me the intricacies of how string sails are made and the technology behind them. This was right on the frontier of sailmaking at the time and being involved with it was an amazing experience; which would prove crucial in the future.

Lions WhelpTraditional Schooner Lion's Whelp

Afloat.ie: Then, you worked in Hong Kong for 14 years. Can you describe your role there?

BH: I started my job in UK Hong Kong as a sail designer and selling sails. Although in a familiar role; the culture and pace were intense in comparison to Ireland. I continued with this job for many years, progressing to a managerial role and working on some pretty big projects. Like China Team Americas Cup which was a huge technical learning curve. The loads and performance requirements for the IACC Cup yachts of the time were on a whole other level to anything I had experienced before - developing the technology required to satisfy them was quite a task. I was also heavily involved with Maiden HK which was a 115 Supermaxi. Which had the highest IRC rating in the world at the time. She was a truly one of a kind. I continue much of this work today with ongoing projects like Jelik a 76 ft Maxi and the China Cup which runs a fleet of 30 First 40.7s in One Design configuration.

Madin HK 1Maiden HK a 115–foot Supermaxi

One of the biggest projects I worked on while in Hong Kong was the development of our "Titanium" sail moulding system. It was a 5-year project focused on producing an innovative moulding and manufacturing process to produce high-performance sail membranes. Technically, it was a massive challenge. The experience I had gained from my time in New York and Ireland culminated in the Titanium development project. You can't simply jump into these things, it takes a lot of experience to push beyond what is known. Knowledge of sailing and sail design are crucial - you need to know what the end goal is - but knowledge of the technical processes of moulding, lamination, material interactions, and mechanical engineering was crucial. We were building machines that simply didn't exist. It was, and still is, a very exciting and absorbing project to be involved with. If you had told a teenage Barry Hayes from Schull that he would be developing performance moulded sail technology in Hong Kong in fifteen years time I can honestly say I wouldn't have believed you!

"If you had told a teenage Barry Hayes from Schull that he would be developing performance moulded sail technology in Hong Kong in fifteen years time I can honestly say I wouldn't have believed you!"

ChinaCup12 sg04119China Cup racing

BH: Everything, literally everything, from Ruffians, J70, J80, TP 52, Kerr boats, Mills boats, Maxis, AC45. It was a real mixed bag with a lot of variety.

Afloat.ie: What are the biggest changes you have found since moving back to Ireland after 20 years abroad?

BH: Safety is one of the biggest changes I have noticed since I've come back. People wearing their life jackets and EPIRBs. These little things have really changed our sport and made it much safer here. When I think back to some of the offshore races we did in Ireland twenty year ago it boggles the mind to think about what we were wearing, or more to the point, what we weren't wearing! 

The other main change I have seen is the lack of young people buying boats in the sport. This has to change in Ireland for it to be a sustainable sport going forward. It is certainly not an easy nut to crack. The appearance of many U25 teams in the past few years is a great initiative and more of the same can only benefit the sport.

China Team 1China Team 1

Afloat.ie: In terms of sailmaking technology, what have been the biggest developments in the past few years, and are we seeing them in Ireland?

BH: Moulded sails is an obvious one - we are one of the only sailmakers making truly one-piece moulded sails. That is the entire sail structure formed on the mould, not panels which are formed on a flat surface and then joined on a mould. These performance sails are making their way into Irish waters, with many more on the way for the 2019 season. This, in turn, has improved longevity, stability and shape retention - their lifetime, shape holding over varying wind conditions, and how long that shape remains throughout its lifetime. Light sails that last a season is a thing of the past. In the past, an Americas Cup sail would go through 30 tacks and was then put in the bin. Those days are gone. Jedi, a Dun Laoghaire based J109, purchased a mainsail for their 2017 Fastnet campaign. The sail has seen 2 full seasons of hard offshore racing and particularly arduous Round Ireland and the sail shape is still as good as new.

Warship 36Warship 36

Afloat.ie: And what of the future? What do you see as the future trends for Irish sailing over the next decade?

BH: Technology wise there is a lot happening here. We are continually testing new products in Irish waters which ultimately will develop worldwide. Last year we had a J109 test jib which spent a lot of time afloat both here in Ireland and on the South Coast of the UK. There was a J80 experimental jib which was afloat in Howth, and more recently a 1720 jib used throughout the DBSC Spring Chicken series in Dun Laoghaire. There will be more of the same this year. I will stay tight-lipped for the moment but it'll be hard to miss soon enough. Sail technology is always evolving and improving, you cannot stop it, and there is no point in keeping up - we're at the forefront and are taking Irish sailors there with us.

More generally, I can see one design making coming back. It ebbs and flows over the years but classes like the J80 and 1720 are great learning platforms and provide excellent racing. Boats like this are training ground for young sailors to learn how to sail and get into the sport. This year we have seen in bigger boats coming into the country - which hasn't been the case for some time. Hopefully, this will continue and return the Irish big boat scene back to where it once was.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Recent orders from some of Ireland’s largest racing yachts have made for a busy winter period for the UK Sailmakers Ireland team writes Mark Mansfield. Last year the Farr 43 “WOW” and the new J121 “Jackhammer” were feature boats for UK Sailmakers Ireland; both taking a full suit of Uni-Titanium molded upwind inventory, in addition to Matrix spinnakers and Code Zero and Flying Jib packages. The 2019 season brings further big boat customers to the team. Chief among the new additions is a new “WOW” – an XP44. She will be the latest addition to a long list of previous yachts of the same name. Based out the Royal Irish Yacht Club, the team are awaiting the imminent arrival of their new project and are very excited for the sailing season ahead.

“We are delighted to be involved with such a motivated and passionate team” - explains UK Sailmakers Ireland’s Barry Hayes – “these guys just love sailing. Whether it’s at the bar, on the dock, or out on the water, they give 100% all the time. Fun and just the right amount of seriousness. The most important thing is for the crew to enjoy the time afloat while going fast – that’s where we come in.”

The new XP44 will sport a Uni-Titanium moulded upwind inventory and Matrix downwind spinnakers off an extended fixed bowsprit. She will also carry furling masthead Code Zero and Uni-Titanium Flying Jib packages to improve her offshore and coastal racing prowess.

sydney 43Sydney 43 "Christopher Dragon" with her Flying Jib deployed outside her J1

Also joining the UK Sailmakers Ireland team are the Dun Laoghaire based Beneteau 44.7 “Lively Lady” and Beneteau First 50 “Mermaid IV”.  Lively Lady will fly an X-Drive Carbon upwind sail inventory. She will also carry a Code Zero package using an Ubi Maior top-down furler. Mermaid IV – winner of the 2017 Turkey Shoot – is kicking up a gear for her racing 2019 season. She has opted for a Titanium moulded mainsail and all-purpose furling jib. Her team has been extremely busy over the previous two months maintaining and upgrading her systems for the upcoming sailing season. Her energetic and social crew are counting the days until her rig is re-stepped and her new upwind package is put through its paces around Dublin Bay.

Mermaid Beneteau 50Mermaid IV returning from a trip around the Muglins during the 2018 Turkey Shoot series

Down South in Kinsale – the Salona 45 “Meridian” has ordered a new X-Drive Carbon mainsail to accompany his X-Drive Carbon J3. Staying in Kinsale; the Beneteau 44.7 “White Tiger” has also opted for a X-Drive Carbon upwind inventory for his 2019 season.

White Tiger and Lively lady, both near identical Beneteau 44.7s have opted for a non-overlapping headsail setup in order to optimise their IRC ratings. This setup has been used to great effect on similar models such as 2017 RORC Yacht of the Year “Lisa”, skippered by Dun Laoghaire’s Michael Boyd.

Fig 4Beneteau 44.7 "Lisa" with her non-overlapping headsail configuration

As recently reported by Afloat.ie, Ireland’s newest addition to the J109 fleet, Richard Colwell and John Murphy’s, has also chosen to join the UK Sailmakers team. Outrajeous will also sport a Uni-Titanium upwind sail inventory and Matrix downwind sails. UK Sailmakers Ireland has run an extensive development programme with the Outrajeous team over the past four months. This programme will culminate in the delivery of her inventory in early April – after which the entire team will test, tweak, and refine settings to ensure she is at peak performance for the 2019 season. The entire UK Sailmakers team has been busy over the winter months. 2019 marks the second full year of operation since Barry and Graham took over the sailmaking dynasty from Des McWilliam.“We are delighted with the new additions to our growing customer base” - says Barry Hayes, commenting on recent developments - “The ‘sails’ market is a very competitive environment and we are attracting some of the best boats around to join our team and represent our brand. Our product range is both affordable and versatile to match the needs of all sailors, and our wealth of experience at all levels of sailing enables us to fulfil our customers’ requirements with pinpoint accuracy.”

Fig 5L-R The UK Sailmakers Ireland team of Mark Mansfield, Graham Curran, and Barry Hayes aboard "Outrajeous" during December testing

“Having Mark Mansfield as part of the team is plus for our customers” – comments Graham Curran - “as an Olympian, Mark’s knowledge of performance racing is unquestionable. This is of huge benefit to our customers for getting their boats and sails to absolute peak performance. Sharing this knowledge with sailors throughout the country is very important to us as a company. Our educational and instructional article shared through Afloat.ie have been very well received and will be available to sailors for years to come. "We have a busy season ahead of us looking after our customers, both old and new. Our job is to ensure they are enjoying their sailing to the fullest. The time we get to spend afloat these days is short – you need to make the most of it. We provide an unparalleled professional service backed up by operational manufacturing and servicing sail loft and an experienced passionate team.”

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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The headsail trimmer is a crucial member of a boat’s “speed loop” along with the mainsheet trimmer and the helm. But often headsail trim is overlooked and is reduced to “pull it in and hike” mentality. Without good headsail trim, you will be going very slow, or simply not as fast as you could be. In this article, Graham Curran of UK Sailmakers Ireland takes us through his top 5 tips for headsail trimmers.

For this top tips article, we are going to focus on the headsail trimmer on a keelboat with a non-overlapping jib setup.

I recently had the chance to back over the footage of Fools Gold’s IRC European Championship and IRC/ORC World Championship campaign during the 2018 season, skippered by Robert McConnell of WHSC. My primary role aboard the boat was primary trimmer (T1 / Trim 1) – headsail trim upwind and spinnaker trim downwind. Pressure events like European and World Championships are all about the small details – good hoists and flawless tacks were not racecourse gains in these fleets, they are the minimum requirement to be on the pace.

I’ve trawled through our footage to find examples of the crucial big picture and little tweaks needed to be an effective trim one. We won’t go too deep into the technicalities of sail setup for different conditions, rig tune, car positions, or twist control. We’re looking for the simple things that lead to big gains. To help you do your part to improve the overall performance of the boat. This article is by no means exhaustive – see below my top five tips for headsail trimmers.

TIP ONE – INHAULERS DURING PRE-START

When you are manoeuvring during the pre-start make sure your inhaulers are fully off. 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 on your jib will twist open when the sheet is eased, but the inhauler will hold the clew inboard, leaving the bottom of the sail over trimmed. Leave those inhaulers off and increase the reaching power of your headsail. Pull them back on to your marked upwind setting on your final approach to the line.

TIP TWO – WATCH THOSE TELL TAILS!

... but not the ones you may think. The headsail luff tell tails are a great indication of where the sail is in terms of power and car position, but the leech tell tails are absolutely crucial as they show how close you are to max trim when sailing upwind. 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 tell tails are the best indicator of this.

Generally, your top leech tell tail will stall first. Trim the sail in using your sheet until the top tell tail starts to fall in behind the leeward side of the sail. It is actually 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 tell tail flowing again. 95% flying with a 5% stall is a good indicator that the jib is fully trimmed in average conditions.

If the conditions allow it, stay to leeward and check this constantly. If the breeze drops the sail will stall and the sheet will need an ease. If a puff hits the sail may become under trimmed and will need a squeeze on the sheet, always looking for that little bit of stall.

TIP THREE – HELP YOUR HELM, BACK THE JIB

In light airs tacking is expensive. Reducing the pain as much as possible is key. This is why we roll the boat and try to use as little rudder as possible. Do your part by holding the headsail on the windward wise for 2-3 seconds after the boat has passed through the wind. The sail will fill on the windward side and help the bow come around. Release quickly and snap it in on the new side. This will give instant power to the helm coming out on the new tack.

It is important to discuss this with the helm and be consistent. The helm will become used to having the small back of the jib to help him, he will use less rudder to turn the boat as he knows the jib will help, and the boat will lose less speed as a result. If you suddenly decide to not back the jib he will then overcompensate with more rudder – and likely give you an earful.

It is also helpful to count into your release for your second trimmer, so they can quickly snap in the jib on the new side. Entering a tack is usually say “small back” or “big back” and count “2 … 1 …” as the jib fills on the weather side.

TIP FOUR – 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.

This can also be done with the jib halyard jib by having a scale on the deck in front of the halyard clutch. Put a white whipping on the halyard at the middle of the scale when the sail is hoisted hand tight. Set the sail to good halyard tension (looking at the draft position of the sail) and mark the scale with the sail’s corresponding colour. The sails luff lengths, particularly the J3, could be different so keep this in mind when laying out your scale.

These will give you a solid and consistent baseline to work from for each sail, which can be tweaked for the conditions of the day. Update each of these as your find good settings and as your sails, halyards, ropes change.

This will also make your skipper very happy as the day you cannot make it for sailing doesn’t mean that the headsail trim falls apart. Anyone can step in and use our basic settings as an immediate guide for good trim.

TIP FIVE – DON’T OVER EASE ON THE SPINNAKER HOIST

Your last job at the top mark before switch to spinnaker trim is to ease the jib for the bear away. This is extremely important and has roll on consequences for the entire crew.

Do not over ease the jib sheet. The sail needs to be eased just enough for the top to twist open and depower the boat so the helm can bear away. Usually 8/9 inches of sheet is enough. If too much is eased there will be a large space between the leech of the jib and the back of the main. The wind will blow through this gap and suck the spinnaker, now being hoisted, into it, filling it prematurely. This will make your mast man and pit person very angry.

By having the jib trimmed in a little it also sucks the spinnaker onto the back of the sail, allowing it to go up the back of the jib and not fill prematurely. Once you get used to this smaller ease you will be able to move straight to your spinnaker sheet and be ready for the fill once the jib is on deck. It also has the added advantage of making life on the point end a little easier as the jib will be less likely to go over the leeward rail.

If on a spreader leg or in bigger breeze it is ok to ease the jib to allow the boat to bear away and be at max speed for the leg (don’t forget to ease those inhaulers) but trim is back in a bit before the hoist to close the gap. Remember you are in no rush to get to your spinnaker sheet, it isn’t going to fill until the halyard is up fully and the jib is coming down, provided you’ve done your job right!

CONCLUSION

Doing the simple stuff right makes a big difference across the race course. Take these tip aboard and put them into practice next time you are on the water.

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