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Sail trim angle

Printed From: Yachts and Yachting Online
Category: General
Forum Name: Beginner questions
Forum Discription: Advice for those who are new to sailing
Printed Date: 22 Apr 21 at 10:13am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 9.665y -

Topic: Sail trim angle
Posted By: Jumps
Subject: Sail trim angle
Date Posted: 21 Jul 19 at 12:42am
Hi All,

When the sailing in winds I'm guessing 12 Knots+ I often find I'm leaning hard on the tiller to keep on course.
This is hard work on my arm and also make the dinghy feel rather unstable!!

I've been watching Steve Cockerill" rel="nofollow -

If I can set the sail as a 'happy sail'  (and hike when nessesary- {I love hiking}) will I be able to lessen my reliance on the tiller ?

I suspect I also need to learn more about detecting wind direction as I often struggle on parts of our reservevoir where the wind direction gets a bit 'shifty'

Posted By: 423zero
Date Posted: 21 Jul 19 at 9:32am
This is called weather helm, need to know what boat you sail ? They all have various ways to counteract this.

Posted By: Rupert
Date Posted: 21 Jul 19 at 9:37am
Basically, yes. The more flat the boat, the less weight there is on the rudder. Hiking, spilling wind or reefing can all achieve this, depending upon what your sailing aims are.

Firefly 2324, Lightning 130, Puffin 229, Minisail 3446

Posted By: davidyacht
Date Posted: 21 Jul 19 at 11:33am
Depending upon the boat, if it has a rotating centerboard, rake it back a bit, until the helm feels balanced (lighter).  Unjust the kicker and more Cunningham and shelf out the mainsail foot.  Sail flat, but you don’t need to grunt it ... spill wind by easing sheets and you will accelerate rather than broach up into the wind.

Happily living in the past

Posted By: Brass
Date Posted: 21 Jul 19 at 12:12pm
Hang on, if we're having to lean on the tiller, that's lee helm, not weather helm.

Usual causes are board not all the way down and/or jib on and not enough main.

Posted By: davidyacht
Date Posted: 21 Jul 19 at 1:06pm
Fair comment ... would be good to know the type of dinghy

Happily living in the past

Posted By: A2Z
Date Posted: 21 Jul 19 at 4:11pm
Need to understand if “leaning” on the tiller is you having to push it or pull it.  

If you are having to push it that is quite uncommon, especially if it is a high load, and symptomatic of a badly set up boat.  Is it the right rig for the boat?  Is the mast leaning a long way forward?  Is the centreboard down?

It is more common to have to pull hard on the tiller to stay on course and this is usually the result of too much heel to leeward (I.e. not keeping the boat flat enough, hike harder or ease the sails -especially the main), or the rudder not being fully down.  If it the rudder is up only a little (just a few degrees off vertical) it can begin to feel quite heavy. If you have a centreboard rather than a daggerboard raising it slightly can help reduce tiller pull too.

Posted By: Jumps
Date Posted: 21 Jul 19 at 7:43pm
Hi all,

Sorry, mostly learning in a Laser, 
(Club boats - so not always at peak maintenance levels) some of the rudder downhauls are a bit slippy and the rudders rides up - Thanks will keep a closer check on this !

 I feel pretty safe with the 4.7 sail in even up to 20 knots but much prefer the Radial (right for my weight and more fun) - I just need to up my skill a bit to cope with it - so trying to work out what to concentrate on improving next

I'd say its mostly weather helm, 
When I say leaning on the rudder I'm not 100% if I'm pushing or pulling  (I can't remember - too busy trying not to swimLOL ) 
I do know I'm using too much and causing a lot of drag and feel like I'm fighting - hence my question, maybe I'm sheeting in too much and could I be pointing better being more aware of sail angle. 

Posted By: A2Z
Date Posted: 21 Jul 19 at 7:59pm
Ah, if it’s a Laser you’ll be pulling (weather helm) almost certainly as a result of not being flat enough, not having controls pulled on tight enough and/or the rudder not being fully down.  

There are some very comprehensive ‘sail by numbers’ books for the Laser specifically, which are a useful way of learning how to use the controls etc on all points and in all winds. Tim Davison is the author of one I think, but there are others.  Well worth the money. 

Posted By: SoggyBadger
Date Posted: 21 Jul 19 at 8:41pm
You don't say how much you weigh but I suspect most of your problem is down to not having enough kicker on when the wind picks up. The "ideal" is to have the mainsheet traveller/horse/thingy set as tight as possible whilst still allowing allowing the mainsheet block to pass over the tiller and have the aft end of the boom over the edge of the transom. You use the kicker to flatten the sail just enough so that you can keep the boat flat by hiking.

Best wishes from deep in the woods


Posted By: Sam.Spoons
Date Posted: 22 Jul 19 at 4:44pm
Yup, keep the boat flat is the key even if it means spilling wind (the raked rudder on the Laser exaggerates the weather helm when fully down so if it's raked even further 'cos of a slipping rudder downhaul that'll be even worse). All the other stuff matters (kicker, cunningham, traveler etc) but keeping it flat matters even more so sheet out until you can keep it flat.

Spice 346 "Flat Broke"
Blaze 671 "supersonic soap dish"

Posted By: Jumps
Date Posted: 23 Jul 19 at 11:44pm
Thanks All, Some helpful advise here (as usual), book is now on my order list, will try some of your suggestion this evening, current forcast looking at 9mph + 17mph gusts (hope it gets slightly stronger)

Posted By: Brass
Date Posted: 24 Jul 19 at 12:54am
'Heavy' usually means rudder blade not fully down.

'Lots' usually means too much main.

Even a little bit of rudder rake can make a lot of difference.

If these are club boats with dodgy cleats on the rudder downhaul, ask around for tips and tricks to make it work.

Replace tatty lines with new 'meatier' ones,and consider replacing tired old jam cleats with small reliable horn cleats.

Posted By: ColPrice2002
Date Posted: 24 Jul 19 at 8:05am
The other thing you will notice is that heeling the boat to leeward makes it turn upwind: heel to windward and it will turn downwind.

If you're hiking and the wind drops, you're going to him drag in the water, and heel to windward so you'll need to counter the sudden change from weather helm to Lee helm....


Posted By: fab100
Date Posted: 25 Jul 19 at 1:40pm
Here's my tip sheet on setting laser controls" rel="nofollow -

-------------" rel="nofollow - Great book for Club Sailors here

Posted By: Jumps
Date Posted: 25 Jul 19 at 10:35pm
That is a really useful guide FAB100 - tempted to print it and glue on the Laser!

Posted By: fab100
Date Posted: 26 Jul 19 at 9:59am
Thumbs Up

-------------" rel="nofollow - Great book for Club Sailors here

Posted By: fab100
Date Posted: 26 Jul 19 at 10:40am
Oh, and get yourself some hikers with pads that protect the back of your thighs when sitting out. Best go-faster gadget there is.

-------------" rel="nofollow - Great book for Club Sailors here

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