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Main Sheeting


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I seem to be having problems with the way my main sheeting works. I have a cleat, which, when the traveller is right down is correctly positioned ie a small flick down (the cleat faces down) will release.

On the wind though its a different matter. The cleat is so high that it is almost impossible to work. This means that small adjustments are extremely difficult and require all sorts of gynastics and in the end I just have to hold onto the uncleated sheet (which in yesterdays puff became too much).

In my book you sheet in tight in order to point then when you get a gust flick out to release and then retrim (ease, hike trim) but at the moment that's not working.


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I apologise if I am stating what you already know but here are a few thoughts

1 Adjust the cleat angle - you should have 5 to 6 adjustment settings subject to the block used

2 Maybe someone has changed the point where the top block connects to the boom. If to aft of usual then this will have the effect of decreasing the vertical angle of the lower block ie make the cleat point further to the sky. I don't know what the correct distance is from the rear of the boom to the connection point, someone else may know this. It is usually a little aft (guess 150mm) of the rear beam. However, mast rake and old sail stretch can interfer with this so best to set it so when fully on the blocks don't touch. Failing this get a set of low profile blocks.

3 If all else fails, release the sheet with your toes (if possible) by pushing down on the sheet. Do the reverse to cleat the sheet.

4 For what it is worth, I never cleat the mainsheet in strong and gusty winds. Apart from inviting a swim it gives you something to hang on to. Get a good pair of gloves. Also, to my mind letting sheet out and then having to pull it in again is a waste of effort. Better off rounding up fractionally in the gusts and straightening back to course after it passes. If racing, this also can have the advantage of reducing your travelling distance whilst still maintaining boat speed. Also avoids those occasions when you let out too much sheet which kills boat speed and probably direction whilst you are pulling the bloody rope back using both hands while the boat steers itself. I assume you use a continuous rope system for traveller and mainsheet.

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I always thought you should have the cleat face up, to gain a wider arc of movement to free it immediately without having a desperate downwards flick limited by the tramp. On the wind in gusty conditions I used to cleat the main and head up in gusts. When you had the windward hull still rising with no amount of rudder movement slowing it down was time to ease the main or if near the point of no return let everything go. Downwind I had to really convince myself to pull in the main and traveller to reduce the sail area and the force driving the bows down After a couple of pitchpoles I had no trouble remembering.

On a flying beam reach in one race I let the main go completely and still only just managed to keep upright by hiking out with my head level with the keel. The windward hull eventually came back down but I don't know whether I should have sheeted in, steered up or downwind or what.

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Thanks for the comments, I have little time unfortunately to 'survey' boats at the park but I'll have a look next time.

Problem I've got is that my cat has an older triple block where the angle and the position of the cleat is fixed and welded in.

In the interim I found (in a sailbag for a junk Windrush I have) a ratchet block that might make the difference. I have two hangers on the boom so I'll put it on one and a double on the other.

Might sound tightarse but until I learn the boat I'll not make major changes.

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Hi Jimbo,

From my own experiences it's well worth spending whatever you have to (within reason of course) to make the functional controls of your cat simple and easy to operate, as it only adds to your overall enjoyment of the boat.

Once you have things set up and adjusted correctly to suit your style of sailing, it makes any cat a pleasure to sail in most conditions.



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