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Off boom sheeting?


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Tried a few different rigging ideas today. 

First of all, I followed all your advice and lost my vang. Consciously tried to use the traveller more for trimming, keeping the mainsheet pulled on as much as possible to keep the boom down and power in the head of the sail.

First observation with this setup is that sheeting out to depower in a gust is MUCH more effective. Boom lifts, leech opens and spills air very efficiently without having to swing the whole boom and sail out. Not so much sheet to pull back in to get the power back on. I think this is going to be a different, but nicer way to sail.

I'm also trying to focus on keeping a hull up, skimming the water. Coming from monohulls my tendency is to sit as far out as I can to keep the boat level, and only heel once I've run out of hiking. Today was a bit of a breeze (8 - 12 knots) but not overpowering, so I was trying to sit in on the tramp and get a hull flying before thinking about getting out on the strap. Balancing on tip-toe like that I was glad to have better power control with my sheet controlling boom lift than previously with the vang.

Last thing I tried - an idea of got from reading about some of the new things people have been doing in the 20 years I've been away from the sport - was to flip my (6:1) mainsheet upside down. Literally unshackled it from the traveller cart and boom, and reattached it the other way around with the ratchet pulley and cleat up on the boom. Quickly realised I would need to change the angle on my cleat so I'd be able to release.

I only had time for a few tacks like this, but I really really liked it. It feels lighter, more responsive and yet more powerful. I felt better able to play the sheet, even with my currently puny little cyclist arms, and hardly felt the need for a cleat. Better angle, feels like less friction... Just better. Also nice to have some physical separation between the main and traveller sheets rather than having them both coming off the traveller cart (both the same colour, since I'm running an endless sheet).

Does anyone else sheet off the boom?

Is this something you all do and I'm late to the party, or something you've tried and rejected, or just never tried?

Not relevant to me because I don't plan on racing, but is off-boom sheeting allowed in class rules or are we supposed to sheet off the beam?


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What most do it set the traveller for the average wind then use the mainsheet for gust response.

Don’t cleat the mainsheet - always have it in your hand with the ratchet on. Maybe only when pulling in the jib after a tack.

Hull should be skimming not in the air

i have never seen the main sheeted off the boom, you may have discovered something .......... 

I would think that when on a run the main block will be a long way away with lots of extra rope and to adjust it in light or heavy wind it may be awkward and if you happen to drop it, it is a long way to go to get it back. 

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I tried it once but it didn't feel right.

What I did do once on my Careel 18 was chuck the standard 4:1 and replace the traveller with a bridle from side to side with a connector in the centre - sheet was tied off there then went through a spring ratchet block on the boom.

Result was amazing - fast adjustment (only 2:1) and easy to manage because the mainsheet effectively started at the windward end of the bridle.  Won a Nationals with it like that.  Did need the vang though - mine was a 32:1 cascade.

Maricat nationals coming up next week - we'll see!

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I'd love to see a picture of your bridle traveller setup, Jimbo. If it's how I imagine, it sounds like the exact opposite of the no vang, mainsheet controlling boom lift arrangement that seems common on our Maris.

I have tended to cleat the main more than I should. It might be friction in my aged pulleys or an overly stiff sheet, but I do find the main quite heavy to work, and it really tires me out. The cleat was set so that it would pull in to the cleat by default, unless I deliberately kicked the sheet out of the cams (which I try to do so I'm able to depower when I get scared ? ). So I have tended to adjust the main sparingly, steering the boat to control it through gusts.

From the short test I gave it, off the boom sheeting feels like it takes less strength. I guess it is now effectively a 7:1 block (with the last run bypassing the traveller block, but still contributing to the mechanical advantage). So, I'm terms of the amount of rope required for a run... it should still be less than if I'd opted for an 8:1 which I understand has been done by some. I currently have more sheet than I need (took somebody advice and got 8m for an endless main and traveller, and have thought I could easily lose a couple of metres).

Again, since I'm not racing, I don't tend to run square very much. Broad reaches are more fun.

If I drop it, the furthest I have to go is the traveller car which is where the other end of the sheet goes. So, same as conventional sheeting.

I accept your point about skimming the upwind hull rather than flying. Reality is, that's what I'm doing. It rarely comes far out of the water. But it does feel a lot more like walking a tightrope when you stop relying on the stabilising effect of the upwind hull's buoyancy, so sensitive controls are appreciated.



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What size sheet are you using ?

10mm is most common but some people use smaller 9mm or 8mm.

The thinner the easier it will run (both in and out) but is harder to hang onto.

if you have 12 it will tend to bind in the wheels and in the cleat.

how is the main sheet threaded - it needs to be a particular way so is doesn’t bind and so you can get

 it fully on. There is a picture on a previous post or you can find it on the web somewhere - the blocks need to be at right angles to each other. 

I’m no engineer but I would think there would be a mechanical advantage of having the loose end of the mainsheet coming from the fixed point ( the traveller) and not from the load end (boom). When you sheet off the boom the tendency might be to initially just have 1:1 power as you just pull on the boom.

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  • 1 month later...

Pretty sure I'm using 10mm. Crappy rope though - the finest BCF had to offer. The nearest chandlery is 100km from here.

I hadn't known about threading the blocks properly, so I've looked at some instructions and diagrams and worked out a better crossed-block routing. Seems better.

You're right that you get some direct 1:1 effect on the boom until your overcome pulley friction, at which point it starts cranking the boom down as expected. I'd say that's the best of both worlds. You can see it in effect in this little vid from a couple of weeks ago:

My biggest problem is that I can't position my cleat far enough out of the way (that's as far down as it can be adjusted), so it's prone to auto-cleating without meaning to. Haven't found a solution to that one yet.

I swapped back to conventional sheeting for yesterday's session (see my latest addition to the "cartwheel" thread :p), but I think I prefer it off the boom. Might even consider getting rid of the cleat altogether... although sailing sloop solo, it's easy to run out of hands, and a cleat gives some options.

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