Downwind sailing

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Postby Guest » Mon Nov 12, 2001 8:36 pm


Okay, I am not sailing my boat right downwind. SO far I seem to do better in light wind (less than 10 kts where the boat does not plane) by easing the tack line and rolling to weather. In heavy wind (planing conditions), what's the best angle to sail at? When its really blowing (greater than 20) We can go really deep and still go fast. I am struggling in the mid zone. If I keep the wind on the beam I end up sailing all over the bay and never get to the mark. The books all say 135 degrees true, but without instruments all I can see is apparent wind. Whats a good rule of thumb for relative wind? Should I keep it at 90 degrees and gybe more often?

Bob Stephenson

Postby Guest » Tue Nov 13, 2001 4:31 am

Hallo Bob,

You are touching on my favorite subject. Downwind sailing in heavy air. I attache you an article from NZ sportsboat association which will cover most of you questions.

Let me just summaries a few issues:

There is a big difference in displacement sailing which you appear to master quite well and plaining downwind.

The main issues are:

1. Do not try to sail you boat at a particular angle. The key is the pressure in the spin sheets (see article for details). In the beginning just head up till the pressure on the sheet are building and the boat start to load up you can feel some wheaterhelm and the boat start to heel more and more. If the crew starts to look worried at you you know you are on the right track. Now you bear away gentle and the spin and main trimmer ease the sheets. As the pressure eases and the boat FEELS SLUGGISH, start to slowly head up and build pressure.

2. You want to make sure the spin is not overtrimmed. What is Ok on a traditonal kite is slow on a a-kite. You want the luff to curl like the end of a frisby.

3. Work you boat all the time.

4. Do not follow other trational boats, very slow.

5. Keep sailing a zig-sag course accorrding to the pressure.

6. Do not allow the spin or main trimmer to cleat or use winches. You want the boat to be worked all the time. This way you can build you apparent wind and go fast and slow.

7. When overtaking tradional rigged boats ALWAYS go on the windward side. Take them on up to 36 feet. The minute they engage in pushing you up you win they loose. 100% Sure. The more they push you up the faster you go....Good fun. The do not know what hit them. Once you pass their bow, and you will, just bear away and fly away.

8. Team work and communication is essential to go fast.

9. Believe it or not downwind the spin trimmer calls the shots and so you go fast very fast.
(pressure building: helm bear away say 10o main and spin trimmer ease gently, pressure loosing, head up.....

If it looks like a drunken sailor from the back you are doing fine.

10. Consider youself very luck to be able to sail the J/80 in 20 knots of true wind. It like a perforance car, when you turn on the turbo charger. You will discover a new site to the J/80 you probably did not know exists. We go 12-14 knots in flat water no waves.....True sailing heaven...enjoy

Kind regards

Bob von Felten
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