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Sailing Fast


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So, Saturday we were racing in NW I'd say about 12 gusting 20 (Southern Lake Macquarie, observations are Norah Head, a bit further to the WSW but on the East coast). There was a small wind swell, possibly about 2ft going with the wind.

On the second reach (olympic triangle) I was honking along on Stbd.

So a gust hits, these are not slamming gusts just a large increase in pressure, possibly I sailed into the band of higher pressure. Go faster, bear off, watch for the leeward hull.

So, what happens, if I charge into the wave in front I'm likely to keep going down am I not? Or should I go even faster to get through the back of the wave as fast as possible, quicker the better to get the more bouyant centre of the boat working.

Do I bear up slightly to go across the swell or bear off more to bring the windward hull into the wave to increase bouyancy.

If I really pull the sail in I'd fly the hull, does this simply increase pressure on the leeward bow or does it generate faster forward momentum to get through the waves faster). I can see the benefits of flying the hull because sitting at the back makes for pretty big splashups right into my face.

I know you're meant to bear off in the gusts and back up in the lulls but if you bear off doesn't it just make going down the mine that much quicker?

I suppose I don't mind going 'all the way' and causing it to capsize but the lake isn't deep and last week I spent about 15mins righting because the mast stuck in the nasty black slime at the bottom. That would have meant last place (rather than second last!!).

BTW I did ask people but there's limited time after racing and often 'natural' or 'naturalised' sailers do this stuff automatically and have trouble describing what to do. In these forums people have time to think and respond (and edit if necessary).

Thanks in advance.


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So to summarise what you asked. Basically you want to know what to do in heavy weather while reaching.

My theory and this is how i sail:

Bear down prior to a gust (watch the pressure line and time it so you bear down about 1-2secs before the gust) and point higher out of it...

Mind you there is always an exception to the rule. You have to watch the leeward nose, a slight jab of the tiller to windward should give you a quick 2inches of height at the nose.

As for flying a hull, less wetted surface area means it will go faster, though keep it on a 15degree angle as soon as your gunwale is getting submerged mid hull your way to heeled and it will slow the boat down. Same steering principles apply while flying a hull. The whole idea is to decrease you apparent wind angle and increase your true wind angle ie. running deeper at the same speed.

If you ever get the chance to sail an Asymmetric Spinnaker cat you'll understand this concept full.

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but Darc, that'll mean that everyone else knows the same !!!! there's competitive advantage to be had in these corners of the internet !!

seriously though, you, Brenton et al are absolute treasures, I'd happily sail all day and every day with you guys. being a salaryman (with a boring job) means I have time during every day to make this type of enquiry and then mull the responses (before stuffing it all up on the only day I get to actually go sailing!!).

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