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RS 400 Help !

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Printed Date: 28 May 20 at 4:54pm
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Topic: RS 400 Help !
Posted By: headfry
Subject: RS 400 Help !
Date Posted: 18 Oct 04 at 2:32pm

I need your help please

I have been lucky enough to crew (racing) for a very, very experienced and capable gentleman.

My problem is, apart from bucket loads of enthusiasm, i have no experince.

I really dont want to let him down, as this is a dream come true for me, but i some need help please. Does any one know of a book or web site (RS 400 based ) where i can learn the ropes...literally! and the best methods  for crewing the RS400

I know some will say get out there and do it!......I am!  but I wish to contribute to the overall boat speed and not hinder it!!

So please be gracious and offer a novice your views and help 

Posted By: Garry
Date Posted: 18 Oct 04 at 7:08pm
1. Go through the Yachts and Yachting subscribers articles to find general crewing

2. Read crewing to win by Andy Hemmings Fernhurst 1-898660-05-0

3. If you can get the videos: Better sailing and high performance sailing.

Important issue:

1. good communication

2. downwind need to call the pressure on the spinnaker sheet.

3. more communication

4. move round the boat smoothly

5 communication

Get the idea!!! Hope it works out OK


Lark 2252, Contender 298

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 18 Oct 04 at 8:34pm
Here's a couple of tips for light to medium wind speeds.  Don't sit on the thwart it puts your weight to far back and in the really light stuff a good place to put your weight, off wind, is sitting on the foredeck in front of the shrouds, you can play the gennaker from there.  Try tacking facing aft, the sheets are much easier to grab and it keeps your weight forward.

Posted By: headfry
Date Posted: 19 Oct 04 at 9:11am

Thanks folks,

Valuable tips. 

I have the book 'crewing to win,  however my need is great. I need to know what all those bits of string do!   

Here is a BIG ask....

what i really could do with is a diagram of the internal ( ropes, blocks etc) layout of the RS 400.


Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 19 Oct 04 at 2:01pm

I can't find any pictures but I'll try and give you a verbal description.

On top of the thwarts you have the jib sheets and on each gunwhale you have the gennaker sheets.  I hope you know what to do with those, this leaves you only 2 more ropes the look after since things like rig tension, cunninham and kicker go back to the helm.

On the floor each side of the mast and just behind it are 2 ropes.  On the left is the pole outhaul (this is the thicker of the two) - pull on this and the pole shoots out in front of the boat and it cleats automatically.  To the right is the gennaker haliard, so pull on that and the kite goes up - this also self cleats.  Linking these two ropes is a strop made of a bit of thick rope or a bit of webbing, pull on that and both the pole and the spinnaker are uncleated.

So apart from doing all the crewing type jobs like getting your weight in and out, operating the centreboard, telling your helm when the gust is going to hit and triming the jib and spinnaker, your other job is getting the pole out and the spinnaker up (in that order).  Then when it come to dropping, pull on the strop grab the downhaul (just to the left of the mast and behind the block) and pull the kite down.  This pulls the pole in as well. Use big arm movements and when it appears from under the foredeck, grab it and give it another big pull and stuff it back under the foredeck.  Get sitting out with jib trimed properly and then grab the gennaker sheets and pull them into the cockpit and tidy up in rediness for the next hoist.

They are fairly powerful boats so its important to get your weight in the right place and then tidy up, don't wait a bit to tidy and then sit out.  Similarly at the windward mark don't be in a hurry to get in and get hoisting, keep your weight out to assist the bear away, then in for the pole and up with the kite.  Your helm should be running very deep while you are doing that and then when its up he'll head high to "heat up" the boat which means you'll be sitting out hard.  I always found them a very tiring boat since the crew has to sit out hard all the way up the beat and again all the way down to the leeward mark.

During the gybe do not let the spinnaker sheet go loose but pull it in as you come in.  Hit the new windward side at the same time as the helm stops the boom and then pull in on the new sheet.  In this way the kite slips past the luff of the jib and doesn't get in a wineglass.  Don't worry at all about the jib, just leave it losely cleated on either side to keep it from tangling with the gennaker.  The helm can lean forward and sort the jib and he also operates the wing-wangs, you keep your eyes glued to the luff and the spinnaker as eased as possible but never let it collapse.  He should now be telling you when the next gust is going to hit!  If the wind is light keep your weight well forward (perhaps stand up at the base of the mast) and tell the helm when the sheet begins to go light - he should then "heat it up" a bit.

These are fantastic boats to sail and when you think about it they are faster than a Fireball and yet don't have a trapeze.  Only the B14 skiff is faster of all non trapeze boats.  If you have a bit of weight and use it effectively you can plane to windward and yet such a powerful boat can still be handled in a 7 because the rig is so adjustable.

Generally speaking (and I've said it before) you shouldn't sit on the twart its too far back and you should face aft when tacking.  The only time you should face farward during a tack is at the windward mark where as soon as you've tacked you are going to go for a hoist.

Posted By: headfry
Date Posted: 19 Oct 04 at 2:22pm

Wow Redback....... thanks thats great,

I will read and learn.

May I ask what you sail? and Where?

Cheers from a grateful crew

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 19 Oct 04 at 6:50pm

I sailed a 400 for a couple of years when they first came out, then a 800 when they first came out - in both cases as crew.  Now I sail a Laser 4000 and generally helm it.  I sail at Bough Beech SC near Edenbridge in Kent. -

Posted By: headfry
Date Posted: 20 Oct 04 at 10:43am

Hi Redback,

Have had a peep at your sailing clubs web site, what a nice place, and a very nice location too. do you have any web cams there?

Thanks again for all your help


Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 21 Oct 04 at 8:24pm
headfry, tell us how you get on.

Posted By: headfry
Date Posted: 26 Oct 04 at 9:56am

Morning Redback,

Had a fab sail on Sunday in an F5!!

Phew a touch hairy for a novice, but what magic fun.....need more of that please!

That boat can sure get a tramp on with the spinnaker up....bit of a wild thing actually!    

Have now done about 4 hours as crew - still a long way to go but i am lov'in it

Your help was just what i needed, gave me time to think things out during the week.

Thanks agian - 


Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 26 Oct 04 at 11:09am
Sounds good.  I don't know if you capsized but must tell you its a long reach up for the centreboard when you do.

Posted By: headfry
Date Posted: 26 Oct 04 at 11:39am

No, we did not go over, helm is very skilled!

I am a little short in height so centreboard reaching will be - oooooh, stacks of fun...

Helm is tall and strong though

We seem to be havining spinnaker pole won't come inboard properly- it sort of 'binds'  when the tension is taken of the pole as spinnalker comes in ?  help is this matter is also need please. Have tried wet and dry to 'smooth' the hole, it helped but not solved the problem.

Thanks, in anticipation....!!

Posted By: Harry44981!
Date Posted: 26 Oct 04 at 12:44pm

What are the optimum weights for rs400s and 200s

Because im thinking of moving to a 200 after toppers


Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 27 Oct 04 at 6:01pm
I'm no expert but I'd say about 24 stone (153kg) for the 400, perhaps a bit more if you're not fit, and about 20 Stone (127kg) for the 200.  I've hardly ever sailed a 200 but I'm reasonably experienced in the 400 and I can tell you fitness really pays because you sit it out up-wind and down due to the assymetric.

Posted By: Caswell
Date Posted: 28 Oct 04 at 1:29pm
The only help you ever need for the RS Fleet is drinking training! Train long and hard over the winter- you need to be part of the 'Drink the Bar Dry' team at every event...

Posted By: Sunshine
Date Posted: 28 Oct 04 at 2:00pm
I'll second that!

Posted By: Phil eltringham
Date Posted: 28 Oct 04 at 2:09pm
I've seen the RS fleeet drinking and although its not pretty I don't think they could keep up with a University team racing event. 

Shifts Happen

Posted By: headfry
Date Posted: 01 Nov 04 at 9:32am

Now I know what I need to be doing....

less sit up's and more drinking        cheers!!

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 01 Nov 04 at 11:00am

We seem to be havining spinnaker pole won't come inboard properly- it sort of 'binds'  when the tension is taken of the pole as spinnalker comes in ?  help is this matter is also need please. Have tried wet and dry to 'smooth' the hole, it helped but not solved the problem.

I assume your experienced helm is releasing the wing-wangs before you are pulling the spinnaker down?  A bit of lubrication is a good idea around the hole and there is one block on the 400 which wears out before all the others - its right in the bow under the canvas so awkward to get to.

Posted By: headfry
Date Posted: 01 Nov 04 at 11:56am

Morn'in Redback,

Yes wing wang is released, seems that as soon as tension is off - the pole then jams!  have done the lubrication bit too!

trust you had a good weekend, did you sail?

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 01 Nov 04 at 2:03pm
Yes sailed and we beat our rivals in the morning but the wind dropped for the afternoon and they beat us.  Still it keeps their interest up, I suppose.  I'm off to the Medway now until Christmas - big wide open spaces and more wind - can't wait.

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