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Old 25-03-2008, 22:57   #1
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Tacking a Cutter

I've only sailed sloops but have been looking at cutter rigged sloops and and was wondering about the best techniques to tack the head sail, especially a large genoa. Doesn't appear that you can just come about, backwind the headsail, then pop the wraps off the winch and sheet in to the new tack. How do you get the head sail to pass troublefree in front of the staysail?
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Old 25-03-2008, 23:09   #2
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Depending on your rig, that is exactly what you do. At least, that has worked well for my boat. I found my cutter to be one of the faster rigs to tack that I have sailed. I rarely had a problem with the genoa fouling on the inner forestay.
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Old 25-03-2008, 23:10   #3
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It depends on the gap between the staysail stay and the forestay. If it's several feet, it helps. I've sailed 2 cutters. First one had about 5' between stays and bare wire staysail stay. It tacked fairly readily.

Right now I have a bigger boat, bigger gap, and bigger genoa. The staysail is on a furler, and the extra friction makes tacking more of a chore. In light winds, about 50% of the time the genoa takes forever and just sits there stuck. You have to walk it through. In stronger winds it blows through o.k., but it takes 30 seconds. Forget about fast tacks and it means a lot of grinding to get those many feet of genoa sheet in. If I know I'm going to be short tacking now, I partly furl the genoa which helps a lot.

Funny story:
I short tacked up channel that was about 1-2 miles wide, in about 20 knots of wind. Boat is a light 40' cat so it accelerates quickly. So you fall off a bit after a tack, W A I T for the genoa to blow through; it does, but there is a ton of sheet still out and the genoa is acting like a big reacher and you can't head up because the sheet is too far out and the sail will flog. So the boat takes off at 10 knots, on a close reach, with me grinding in the sail. Just as I get the sail all the way in and we're pointing decently - it's time to tack. 16 tacks up this one channel in about 3/4 hr. I was done in at the end of it.
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Old 25-03-2008, 23:16   #4
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Evan, interesting that you feel the rig tacks slower. Sailing Kittiwake without an engine I have had to short tack up the channel to get to my slip many times. I would usually run the yankee when doing this as there was less interference, but in local can races with the 120, she was the fastest boat to tack that I have sailed. (Not counting super light plastic fin keels) I should add that I feel your pain. We had to sail our full keel 40 footer in a couple times. Once head into the wind. It was constant because by the time we brought everything in, we were out of room and had to tack.
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Old 26-03-2008, 06:27   #5
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My cutter rig tacks easily. The only exception is when the wind is light (5-6 kts or so) and the staysail is furled, so the genoa has to pass over cloth vs. the slick metal RF staysail stay, with little force from the wind to help it. The gennie is 110%, with a fairly high-cut foot.

The technique that works for me is to let out a few feet of the jib sheet just after the boat comes across the wind. That allows a "pocket" of sailcloth to baloon into the space between the forestay and the staysail stay. Holding the genoa in that position for a few seconds, until about 15-20 degrees into the opposite tack, allows for some backwinding to bring you over faster. Sheet in rapidly, and you don't have to do much cranking on the winch to trim for a close-hauled course.
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Old 26-03-2008, 13:27   #6
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Thanks. I figured it must be fairly simple as I've never seen a comment about in discussions on the pros and cons of cutters.
I like your quote, I think I read that in Cole's "Heavy Weather Sailing".
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Old 26-03-2008, 14:19   #7
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I would agree with Hud. In light wind it just does not push through the slot. Our last boat was only a 33 ft cutter and the clew would hang up on the inner forestay. I rigged a tacking line from the clew to a block on the bow roller with a down haul. The line was led aft like a roller furling line. It was helpful for pulling the clew off the forestay and the wind did the rest. It saved a few trips to the bow when it wasn't nice out. The down side is it was yet another line that could foul.

Start by just back winding it as best you can so you have the most air pressure pushing it through the slot. For a big Genoa you may have to walk it around in light air.
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Old 26-03-2008, 15:39   #8
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I have never sailed a cutter but now own one and have been reading up on this on different forums. Some people have said that the genoa will go through the slot easier if you have the staysail set and leave it backwinded while tacking the gennie. This seems like it would work, but I'll have to try it when we get the boat in the water. Anyone use this method and if so, does it work for you.

John
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Old 26-03-2008, 15:56   #9
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Quote:
Some people have said that the Genoa will go through the slot easier if you have the staysail set and leave it back-winded while tacking the gennie.
If you are running a staysail you normally would tack the Genoa first though a self tacking staysail would beat you to it. having a staysail up would help prevent the sail from wrapping behind the forestay but ultimately it's the air pressure on the sail area in the slot that has to push it all through.

I never found on either boat that the staysail helped or hurt. Our first boat only had 90 sq ft on the staysail and this boat has more than double. The bigger slot makes a difference as does the size of the Genoa. Bigger sail takes more push. It all is going to be different boat to boat.

Back winding seems to be the common solution when there is good wind. Practice is not to be discounted either. You learn more when you are forced to do so.
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Old 26-03-2008, 19:24   #10
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I have a quick release lever for the staysail stay and a vast majority of the time when I am using my 130 genoa I am not using the staysail so I release the stay and lay it against the mast. The rig on the Searunner is designed for this so the integrity of the rig is not compromised. As this is also a true cutter there is plenty of room between the stays for taking the headsails reguardless of which ones I am using. Releasing the lever just makes it easier and quicker when using the big headsail. Not even an issue with the working headsails. A true cutter has the mast stepped at the midpoint or even a little aft of it. Many "cutters" these days are really twin headsail sloops with the result that the two stays are closer together. I would look into installing a quick release lever.
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Old 25-04-2009, 13:38   #11
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Genoa sheets stuck in standing rigging when tacking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais View Post
If you are running a staysail you normally would tack the Genoa first though a self tacking staysail would beat you to it.

Back winding seems to be the common solution when there is good wind. Practice is not to be discounted either. You learn more when you are forced to do so
.


I run a self-tacking staysail which definitely is the first to tack.

My genoa doesn't get stuck in the inner-stay so much as on the shrouds.

In previous boats, I had narrow diameter plumbing pipes over critical shrouds. They rotated when genoa sheets and knots went around. I am not sure however whether they truly helped.

But could in the end be a question of design? Has somebody invented a clew/sheet/knot complex, more willing to slide over standing rigging, even in lighter winds?

Paolo
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Old 25-04-2009, 21:12   #12
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I'm switching to a Larks Head knot using one piece of rope. It reduces the amount of knot at the clew. What type of genoa do you run? Is it a higher clew 110 or a deck sweeper 155? Most cutters were designed to run the higher clewed Yankee so to minimize sail size. It's not that it can't be bigger but it is the more conventional sail.

If I could, I would have a second Genoa for lighter air. It would I feel be harder to tack, but who tacks all day on purpose in light air? It's fine early in the day but when the daylight is running short and the anchorage closer it's more about getting there.
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Old 26-04-2009, 02:39   #13
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Well...I had to Google for the Larks Head knot, but I understand now why it would slip more easily. I will try and let you know.

I have a high clew Genoa on a furler. Not quite easy to swap sails.

The staysail on self-tacking boom makes sailing short handed quite easy but it has the drawback that the inner forestay cannot be unhitched.

Many thanks!

Paolo Totaro

Lovett Bay in Pittwater, Sydney Australia
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Old 26-04-2009, 06:02   #14
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You also might want to keep a watch on the staysail to see if pulling the jib sheets through between the stays causes chafe on the staysail if and when the staysail is furled. This can happen when you are using just the main and jib and don't need to fly the staysail.
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Old 26-04-2009, 09:41   #15
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I thought "Cutter" was a snake-bite kit…

Paul,

Posting to tell you something I think you don't know feels like trying to teach my grandmother to suck eggs. But I'm such a pedant I can't help myself.

What you have rigged is a "tricing line." Traditionally attached to the bunt (center belly) of the sail and then rove through a block at the stem and then back to the cockpit. When this line is hauled, the center of the sail is pulled forward. leaving the bunched area well forward of the clew. Once past the eye of the wind the line is eased. To trice means "to hoist or tug." Once you have a tricing line set up, you can get that sail over "in a trice" (literally, with one tug).

Your setup, with the tricing line attached to the clew, while ingenious in its simplicity and in its avoidance of setting a grommet in the bunt of the sail, is less efficient, because it's only the clew that is being triced, meaning you have more line to haul and to keep loose sailcloth from flapping around the forestay; if the line were set in the sail, the loose sailcloth would bunch in the bunt, and cause the rear section of the sail to draw forward as a flat sheet and behave much more like a working jib.

But what works, works. I guess one using your setup could consider setting a few hanks in the foot of the sail, maybe running 1/3 of the way forward from the clew and reaving the line through that to achieve a Dutchman effect. But at that point you're setting metal into sailcloth, and might as well rig the true tricing line.

Fair Winds,
Jeff
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