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Old 27-01-2012, 01:00   #1
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Sailors Don't Know How to Set Sails ?

Would it be fair to say that most sailors in fact do not know how to set sails correctly? I include myself in this.

Oh, we can get the boat moving under sail and even make sure the sails are on the right side of the boat but when it comes to adjusting car, lines, Cunningham, main sheets, mast bend etc do we really know what we are doing?

We have an idea what they all do but not how to balance them all for the best setting sails we can achieve.

Looking at some sail sets over the last year it surprises me that the boat went anywhere. Then again I wish I really knew just how to set everything correctly.

Would you agree or not?
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Old 27-01-2012, 01:17   #2
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

I'll admit to this deficiency. I understand that the sail gets its power from being a wing and if set into apparent wind should have the greatest lift, but after that I just fumble with trim to see if more speed available. I want to be taught by Laura Dekker.
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Old 27-01-2012, 01:19   #3
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Wouldn't agree p, most sailors in fact think they are the greatest sail trimmer on the planet and in fact slept with Bernoullis daughter

So get get two types the one who constantly fidgets and the other that's tells you he's a cruiser and doesnt bother trimming like those "racing " crowd.

Whether they are effective trimmers, might be a better question Of course then there are boats where there's little to trim , inmast, fixed genoa cars., etc
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Old 27-01-2012, 01:21   #4
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

I agree that sail trim is probably the most undeveloped skill of the great majority of cruisers.

I consider my own sail trim skills to be fairly miserable. Now that I have a boat that actually sails, I have been working hard to improve my skills. Certainly, I am able to use the basic mainsail controls -- mainsheet, traveller, outhaul. And the basic headsail controls -- sheet, car (sheet lead). But it's still a very black art to me and there's a lot more left to learn.

One problem which affect probably 90% of cruisers is that our sails are blown out and thus don't respond very well even to what little we do understand about sail trim. If we had better sails, it would be a different game. I will buy new laminate sails pretty soon for this reason, although my existing woven ones are still better than most in terms of shape.

Another reason why most of us are so poor at sail trim is that few of us make many miles upwind. A gentleman doesn't go to weather, right? Sail trim becomes less important off the wind where you don't have such a big fight between lift and drag as you do going to weather.

Depicted below is one of my better sail trim days. A very fast trip across the Channel hard on the wind. I'm not quite sure how I did it, unfortunately -- I seem to have hit a lucky combination.

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Old 27-01-2012, 01:28   #5
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

I think it is like making love…. Sometimes you do it better than other times…. Depends on the boat, the hard and soft rig, the dress and whether you have other things on your mind.

In my early days I worked more on technique, so all sails were set to optimum and I would compare performance with others in serious match racing.

Nowadays I am more concerned with waking up with the right boat, both of us spooning in the perfect destination....
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Old 27-01-2012, 01:48   #6
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
.....
So get get two types the one who constantly fidgets and the other that's tells you he's a cruiser and doesnt bother trimming like those "racing " crowd.
......
Me - cruiser; my sailing mate - racer. So I watch Mr racer constantly trimming and tweaking and I learn a bit; enough to know that I am probably getting 90 to 95% of best boat speed for the conditions.

Mr Racer watches me (Mr Cruiser) making a couple of adjustments and relaxing and enjoying the ride and after a while he stops the eternal tweaking and starts enjoying the "only" 95% efficiency. - that is until another boat comes along!

But if I go racing with him, well that is another story!
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Old 27-01-2012, 02:10   #7
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
I think it is like making love…. Sometimes you do it better than other times…. Depends on the boat, the hard and soft rig, the dress and whether you have other things on your mind.

In my early days I worked more on technique, so all sails were set to optimum and I would compare performance with others in serious match racing.

Nowadays I am more concerned with waking up with the right boat, both of us spooning in the perfect destination....

I love it!
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Old 27-01-2012, 02:32   #8
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

The thing is , unlesss you have a constant wind from a constant direction it is very difficult to see the minute changes made by a tug here or yank there, if the tell tales look reasonable, why fiddle, just crack open a cold one, relax and enjoy the scenery.
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Old 27-01-2012, 02:58   #9
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

I used to deliberately annoy a racer friend of mine when he came with me. He would say that the sails are not set for maximum performance and i would ask him which way do i have to steer to make them right.

Coops.
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Old 27-01-2012, 03:02   #10
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

I know I'm not a great sail trimmer; and I'm perfectly all right with knowing this!
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Old 27-01-2012, 03:26   #11
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

There are sailors that cruise, and cruisers that sail. The later is the best that i can hope to be.
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Old 27-01-2012, 04:06   #12
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Once the true wind is above 15 knots or so most boats are fully powered and anyone should be able to make the boat go close to hull speed.

Sailing in <15 knots separates sailors from cruisers.

Sailing in less than <10 knots separates sailors from racers.

I am a decent trimmer with oh so much to learn. That's why sailing is great.
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Old 27-01-2012, 05:14   #13
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

Bout as close as I get is having the right sail up for the wind. Then again there are many days where Im perfectly happy to be slugging along at 3 kts with my working jib up without going below to get the lightweight light air sail. Gets more important when things pipe up. Its become very apparent thats its easier to step down in sail size than repair a blown out sail. I carry 4 jibs and two mains so there are a lot of sail changes going on as wind speed goes up and down.
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Old 27-01-2012, 05:29   #14
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

I'll go one further. There are a surprising (to me, at least) number of sailboat owners out there who seem to hardly ever even pull the sails out--they just motor all the time. Never mind the number who haul the sails out and just let them hang there doing little or nothing.

Now, as someone who started sailing in Lasers and Hobie Cats (including some club racing) this just astounds me. It's a sailboat, you've got sails, why not use them? And trimming the sails so that you continue to move well in light air is really not all that hard. Yeah, it takes a bit of study and practice, but then what doesn't?

On the other hand, I am definitely not one of those who feels the need to be constantly tweaking every little thing. Spend a bit of time getting the sails set for the prevailing wind and the course you want, and then relax and enjoy. I understand adjusting for every puff and lull when you are racing, but I haven't been involved in a formal race in years, and that's just too much work.

I guess I'm saying it doesn't have to be one extreme or the other. It is worthwhile to read some of the articles--yes, usually written by racers--about how to trim your sails for maximum effect and then practice some of the techniques. That doesn't mean you have to worry constantly over every detail of sail trim, but it does mean that you'll know how to use your sails well when you want to. The difference is between CHOOSING to trim your sails well, or not, and having no choice because you are ignorant of how to do it.
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Old 27-01-2012, 06:41   #15
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Re: Sailors don't know how to set sails?

I have only sailed in the open ocean and cant sail for shit,

I used my GPS to get the best speed, Depending on the waves of course, I would only go so far, beam on to the waves,

A couple of points to the left or right on the Autopilot, Then check the speed on the GPS, It gave me the best speed, so I would leave it at that and just enjoyed the ride,

For me, slow and steady, I want to get there, So boat speed was between 4 and 8 Knots most of the way,

Coming in to land or up a river or creek, I would motor, also using the GPS,

I must get my daughter to teach me how to sail properly, She races half boats between Melbourne and Hobart,


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