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Old 25-04-2013, 00:48   #46
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Re: Excessive Weather Helm Even on Reach

Jedi has stated the proper answers and solutions.

Our Caliber 40, designed in 1988 as a cruiser, and we purchased hull 72 in early 1995, had terrible weather helm when sailed in gusty winds. At the time we bought our boat I had extensive experience racing and skippering several serious and competitive race boats so I really pushed the factory and sail manufacturer to deal with the problem.

Several sail makers spent a lot of time on our boat in winds up to 45 knots. The genoa was recut twice and the main once. Eventually consensus was reached on close hauled down to close reach sail trim in heavy wind or gusty conditions.

- manage the main to keep steady helm at 7 degrees or less:
by using the newly installed cunningham - flatten that luff
reefing early
being delicate with the traveller adjustment - no fixed rule here - play with it
most importantly do not oversheet
a fishermans reef (bubbly luff) if perfectly acceptable because, as I promised my wife, we are not racing

- if the helm needed to maintain heading in gusts is more than 10 degrees
ease the traveller
ease the main
reef some more

- keep the heel between 10 and 18 degrees to minimize the effect of gusts and to maximize VMG
reef the main
furl the genny some more and if more than 22 knots apparent
completely furl the genny and use a staysail (or that sail on the inner forestay if I can't call it a staysail)
on our boat - more than 18 degrees heel just generates leeway but does nothing for VMG

BUT - the real problem was the stitching in the main - the 3rd sail maker convinced me that it was not the mainsail material that was stretching - it was the thread between the panels that was stretching. After putting in lots of tell-tales and vertical marking stripes we were able to verify that in gusts the draft was becoming 30% - 50% deeper and moved at least three feet aft.

I ordered a very flat Spectra main with full length battens. IT SOLVED ALL THE PROBLEMS!

The draft stays where I put it in the gusts and I can shape the much stiffer material to put the weather helm at exactly where I want it. On our boat that is 6 to 7 degrees.

I can still induce weather helm by over trimming and we still have to reef sooner than I expect, even after 13 years, but the uncontrollable weather helm in the gusts or very heavy weather is gone.
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Old 25-04-2013, 07:16   #47
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Re: Excessive Weather Helm Even on Reach

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Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
I ordered a very flat Spectra main with full length battens. IT SOLVED ALL THE PROBLEMS!


Exactly. Now it's you who gets to deal with the naysayers that have in-mast furling
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Old 25-04-2013, 08:44   #48
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Re: Excessive weather helm even on reach

Quote:
Originally Posted by foolishsailor View Post
Many cruising boats dont have a cunningham so increasing halyard tension is used instead. Both tools in effect tighten the luff.
Sure, but it's really not hard to add a Cunningham.
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Old 25-04-2013, 09:12   #49
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Re: Excessive weather helm even on reach

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
Sure, but it's really not hard to add a Cunningham.

I agree, I use it always: it's the same line at the leech that we use for reefing. Just a bowline around the boom, up and through the Cunningham- or reef-grommet and down the other side to the mast winch.

The Cunningham is reef 0 and takes the bag out of the main effectively.
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Old 25-04-2013, 09:44   #50
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Re: Excessive Weather Helm Even on Reach

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Most weather helm is caused by an asymmetric hull shape for the submerged part of the hull. For otherwise straight hulls, this is caused by heel.

Try to confirm that weather helm is indeed linear with heel. Then minimize heel. Baggy sails cause drag and thus excessive heel and thus weather helm.

Set the auto-pilot, note the average rudder position, then start the engine, put in slow forward and completely furl the genoa. The engine will compensate so you don't stall. Check the rudder position now. The rudder position is a very good indicator of trim. However, a center position normally does not give optimum performance so you need to find the best position by experimenting with trim, checking VMG on the instruments. At optimum trim, note rudder position and remember that as an easy check on trim.
This is very true with some boats. I hope not so with the OP's boat. The first boat I built from a hull and deck took me 2+ years and 2100 hours to complete. It was a Joe Trumbley designed Seawind 31. Beamy with broad aft sections, deep keel with skeg and rather sharp hull below the water in front of the keel. The hull had terrrible weather helm in some conditions and couldnt be corrected with sail placement or shape. What a disappointment after all that work. On a close reach in a 15-20 knot breeze you could not turn the boat down! I actually parted the (new) steering cable attachment trying.... the boat would just drag the huge rudder through the water. arghhhh
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Old 25-04-2013, 09:50   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post

Sure, but it's really not hard to add a Cunningham.
You're dead right. In fact it is not hard to add all the controls that allow a skipper to maximise their ability to efficiently and easily get the best trim from their sails.

But most cruisers couldnt be arsed.

I for one love the sailing part of cruising above all else, and even though actual sailing can be the least of the things one does while cruising i really enjoy having the ability from my cockpit to easily adjust every aspect of sail trim.

I can pass a whole day at sea just sitting in the cockpit looking at the wildlife, clouds, sea and sails and actively trim to the conditions until the sun sets.

Diff strokes diff folks...
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