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Old 15-09-2010, 01:45   #1
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Heavy Weather Downwind Sailing

Last two days were spent sailing in f7 and 8, gusting to 9.
On the downwind leg, I set the staysail only, rolled out to about one third to keep the speed down. However, dead downwind I could not get the sail to set properly, and end up on a series of broad reaches and gybing. I there a way to get the sail to set nicely, or is the broad reaching tactic the way to go.
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Old 15-09-2010, 02:13   #2
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How deep could you sail on each gybe ( 150 or more or less).

I suspect the reason the sail will not set , is it really needs a pole as the sheeting angles for a staysail are probably wrong.
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Old 15-09-2010, 02:39   #3
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About 150 to 160 to get the sail to set properly, with the sea conditions trying to rig a pole was not really an option.
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Old 15-09-2010, 02:46   #4
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In my experience, you did well.
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Old 15-09-2010, 02:56   #5
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The staysail on our boat will not set at all downwind. We roll it up. In 35+ knots of wind when sailing on any point of sail other than a run, we do use the staysail and reefed main, without the yankee, but when heading off onto a run, we put both staysail and mainsail away and break out the yankee, which sets very well on a run, and actually sets better the further rolled in it is.

It's worth noting that large overlapping headsails in general don't set very well on a dead run without a pole and when rolled all the way out. In light wind we typically take a couple of rolls in the yankee to improve the shape, when sailing on a run. As much as we would like to have the extra sail area, the set is just not there (without using a pole, and we still haven't acquired one for this boat).

Since the staysail won't set on a run, we always use the yankee alone when running off in a strong wind, rolled up to whatever degree is needed to regulate the power. I find that having the center of effort forward makes the boat more stable, than sailing with mainsail alone which a lot of people do. Also there is less risk of a jibe, or at least, a jibe doesn't have the same drastic consequences, as it would with your mainsail up.

The downside of using a headsail instead of the mainsail is that headsails don't tolerate sailing by the lee as well as your mainsail. I can sail up to about 15 degrees by the lee (on the wrong tack) with my mainsail (with a stout preventer rigged, of course), which is exactly what makes it possible to sail wing-on-wing in lighter conditions.

We just did a long passage a couple of weeks ago from Bridport in Lyme Bay to Poole on a very windy but sunny day, blowing up to F10. The sea state was somewhat daunting around Portland Bill but otherwise we had a fantastic sail. We had yankee rolled in to the first reef mark and surfed, sailing far beyond hull speed. We saw 13 knots through the water at one point and never felt any tendency to broach.

Every boat is different, but ours is very comfortable in this configuration even in very strong winds (I've sailed like this in 50+). In winds which are already difficult on all other points of sail. Incidentally, this fact means that running off is our primary storm tactic.

I don't know the Beneteau 473, but I chartered a 431 Oceanis in the Aegean one year when the Meltemi was blowing hard, steadily over 40 knots many days. I used the same technique when running, leaving the mainsail down and sailing under reefed genoa headsail alone. This boat had somewhat less directional stability than our current boat does, but nevertheless we were quite comfortable in this configuration and at quite high speeds. We did not feel any need to keep the speed down. There was no tendency to broach, although active helming was neccessary.
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Old 15-09-2010, 03:41   #6
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Since the staysail won't set on a run, we always use the yankee alone when running off in a strong wind, rolled up to whatever degree is needed to regulate the power. I find that having the center of effort forward makes the boat more stable, than sailing with mainsail alone which a lot of people do. Also there is less risk of a jibe, or at least, a jibe doesn't have the same drastic consequences, as it would with your mainsail up.
We do the same for the same reasons. We do not have a yankee, so we roll out a suitable area of our large genoa. For directional stability, we also have mizzen up. The genoa is open only so much that it does not require to be poled out. I really hate gybes on heavy seas and F8+ winds with the pole. Accidental gybes lead to horror moments, however, it just isn't my idea of fun to deal with the pole on such a weather on purpose either.

I furthermore suspect, that on heavy weather, most of us - including ourselves - have way too much canvas up. It is amazing how little sail even a 13 metric ton boat like ours needs to reach 8 knots on force 8 run.
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Old 15-09-2010, 04:09   #7
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We do the same for the same reasons. We do not have a yankee, so we roll out a suitable area of our large genoa. For directional stability, we also have mizzen up. The genoa is open only so much that it does not require to be poled out. I really hate gybes on heavy seas and F8+ winds with the pole. Accidental gybes lead to horror moments, however, it just isn't my idea of fun to deal with the pole on such a weather on purpose either.

I furthermore suspect, that on heavy weather, most of us - including ourselves - have way too much canvas up. It is amazing how little sail even a 13 metric ton boat like ours needs to reach 8 knots on force 8 run.
Indeed. It is hard to comprehend the geometrical way that force increases with wind speed. If you look at this video:



You will see us sailing at very high speed running before a 45 knot wind with our yankee well reefed and no other sails up. You will see that the yankee is set very well although we are on a dead run. The power in the wind is remarkable; only on a run could the boat absorb so much power. You can see the bow wave being thrown up (and the eye point of the video is about 4 meters above the water; we have 2 meters of freeboard at the bow) from the hull being forced through the water at above hull speed. We are making about 12 knots at the moment the video was shot. Hull speed of our boat is less than 9 knots.

We could have kept up a good pace with half the canvas up. But as long as you don't start to flirt with a broach, we find that the faster you go on a run, the more comfortable, because your forward speed reduces apparent wind speed, and reduces the speed differential between you and the waves. Indeed, at these speeds in our boat on a run -- 11, 12 knots -- we start to feel a kind of harmony between the boat's motion and the sea -- it's lovely. The apparent wind speed is down to the low 30's, and there is very little relative motion between the seas and the boat.

P.S. Don't forget when trimming a headsail on a run to play the car ("sheet lead" for Brits). To get the right twist you have to have the right sheeting angle, to get the right amount of downforce on the clew. In the video we have the car (sheet lead) well forward. If you don't have enough downforce on the clew, the foot of the sail becomes a mess and spills the wind. You want the sail to twist just enough so that the head of the sail is perpendicular to the wind.
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Old 15-09-2010, 04:42   #8
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1. preventer
2. speed reducing drogue not to exceed hull sped
3. running backstays if staysail is set
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Old 15-09-2010, 04:44   #9
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1. preventer
2. speed reducing drogue not to exceed hull sped
3. running backstays if staysail is set
1. Well, you don't need a preventer if your mainsail is not up at all.

2. You don't need a drogue if your boat is sailing comfortably, even if it's more than hull speed.

3. Amen on the running backstays. We rig them in heavy weather whether or not the staysail is out, on the advice of our rigger who says that they add a lot of strength to the rig in any case.
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Old 15-09-2010, 05:09   #10
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[QUOTE=Dockhead;521771]1. Well, you don't need a preventer if your mainsail is not up at all.

you don't need a mainsail to have a gybe on F9. one has to fix the boom.
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Old 15-09-2010, 10:35   #11
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[QUOTE=halk;521780]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
1. Well, you don't need a preventer if your mainsail is not up at all.

you don't need a mainsail to have a gybe on F9. one has to fix the boom.
You don't use a preventer in that case because the boom is centered. You harden up the main sheet against the topping lift. You can harden the vang for good measure if you like.
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Old 15-09-2010, 11:07   #12
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Indeed. It is hard to comprehend the geometrical way that force increases with wind speed. If you look at this video:



You will see us sailing at very high speed running before a 45 knot wind with our yankee well reefed and no other sails up. You will see that the yankee is set very well although we are on a dead run. The power in the wind is remarkable; only on a run could the boat absorb so much power. You can see the bow wave being thrown up (and the eye point of the video is about 4 meters above the water; we have 2 meters of freeboard at the bow) from the hull being forced through the water at above hull speed. We are making about 12 knots at the moment the video was shot. Hull speed of our boat is less than 9 knots.

We could have kept up a good pace with half the canvas up. But as long as you don't start to flirt with a broach, we find that the faster you go on a run, the more comfortable, because your forward speed reduces apparent wind speed, and reduces the speed differential between you and the waves. Indeed, at these speeds in our boat on a run -- 11, 12 knots -- we start to feel a kind of harmony between the boat's motion and the sea -- it's lovely. The apparent wind speed is down to the low 30's, and there is very little relative motion between the seas and the boat.

P.S. Don't forget when trimming a headsail on a run to play the car ("sheet lead" for Brits). To get the right twist you have to have the right sheeting angle, to get the right amount of downforce on the clew. In the video we have the car (sheet lead) well forward. If you don't have enough downforce on the clew, the foot of the sail becomes a mess and spills the wind. You want the sail to twist just enough so that the head of the sail is perpendicular to the wind.
Nice video ... and Mahler, my favorite!
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Old 15-09-2010, 11:21   #13
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I use a pole for the genny and furl it as required for the breeze.

In light and consistent winds, I use a (large) snap shackle on the end of the pole in order to have a quick release if needed.

In stronger breezes or if I expect/forecast stronger breeze and I am concerned about having a pole up or gybing etc, I rig up a 3rd sheet. [Thus the real meaning to the saying, 3 sheets to the wind.]

So effectively I have an extra sheet (on each side). The Pole is attached to one of these sheets. If I need to reduce sail/get rid of the pole, I crank on the sheet not attached to the pole, let off the sheet attached (to the pole). There is no pressure on the pole anymore. I hoist it back up the mast, it's sheet still attached if need be.

I could also furl the sail right up to the furler with the pole on it and sort out pole later when safe to do so.

I also am a fan of getting rid of the main in order to keep the CE forward when I dont feel comfortable leaving it up - this may be 25kn or 45kn - obviously previously reefed.
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Old 15-09-2010, 12:51   #14
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Last two days were spent sailing in f7 and 8, gusting to 9.
On the downwind leg, I set the staysail only, rolled out to about one third to keep the speed down. However, dead downwind I could not get the sail to set properly, and end up on a series of broad reaches and gybing. I there a way to get the sail to set nicely, or is the broad reaching tactic the way to go.

Did you try moving the sheeting point out to the toe rail?

When running deep with the staysail we clip on another sheet that is led thru a snatch block on the toe rail (a bit forward of the normal inboard staysail sheet car), and back to a winch. WE tighten up that second sheet (usually just by hand) and the ease the normal sheet until it is slack.

Moving the sheet lead outboard and forward will allow for a better sailing shape when sailing deep.

We often run in quite strong winds (say up to 40 sustained) with what we call 'bat wings' - that is the staysail sheeted as above and about 1/3 the jib rolled out and sheeted to a pole to windward. That is a very balanced (the windvane and autopilot love it) and stable and fast rig. It's also adjustable without much effort - easy to just roll away the jib if the wind rises or roll it out if the wind drops.
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Old 15-09-2010, 12:58   #15
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2. You don't need a drogue if your boat is sailing comfortably, even if it's more than hull speed.
Agree on that one. We have a drogue on board, however, we have never used it. On heavier weather, we quite regularly exceed our hull speed, but this far it has never been uncomfortable. On high and sharp seas, we have used a very long loop of rope to break the waves before they hit us. That works for the waves, and it does slow the boat down by knot or two, but I regard that as a side effect - the aim has only been to break the waves.

I have to admit, that I have never sailed on F11-12 winds. I feel I lack the experience on that respect - I almost feel like a rookie that has never been under hostile fire. However, I assume that I have not missed anything pleasant...
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