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Old 28-08-2016, 18:30   #1
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Methods to decrease heel

This weekend, I went on a great cruise 40 miles from A to B. The wind was perfect so as soon as the main and jib were set we went straight to our destination close-hauled. We were in a 40' Jeanneau Sun Odyssey.

We were probably getting 4.5kts in a 10kt wind so we also motorsailed to 6.2 -6.5kts on average. We had dinner reservations, so we needed to be over 6kts. The wind was coming from the northeast. We were about 40 degrees to the wind. We had about 17-20 degrees of heel. While this wasn't too bad, I wanted to make the new guests more comfortable, especially when eating.

Whenever I let out the main sheet, we lost too much power. What is the best way to reduce heel while still maintaining speed. What about moving the traveller leeward?

The winds must have changed a bit because about an hour after I let out the mainsheet, I tried it again and this time we nicely lost some heel but not speed.

What are some of the best methods to reduce heel without reducing much speed?
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Old 28-08-2016, 18:55   #2
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

20 degrees of heel with 10 knots of wind sounds odd but I have never sailed that boat. Do you have tell-tales on your sails? Sounds like the jib was sheeted in too tight and back-winding the main perhaps? Sails were probably too flat. And 40 degrees may be a little too hard on the wind for 10 knots of breeze. Just not much horsepower there. My first thought is reef the main and keep as big a headsail as you have but 10 knots is pretty early to reef. My boat is one of the most tender out there and I am at 20 degrees at 13-15 knots of breeze close-hauled.
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Old 28-08-2016, 19:09   #3
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

Besides making sure the sails are not over-trimmed, you can really only reduce sail, or get a bigger / deeper keel (not realistically an option)! Sailing with too much sail to windward and too much heel is not a fast way to sail because you go slow and make a lot of leeway. However, 10 knots is not a lot of breeze; I would think you would still be at full sail in that.
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Old 28-08-2016, 19:15   #4
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

Put up a smaller jib, flatten the sail (i.e., tighten the outhaul), and set the traveler to leeward. Since you were motoring, your wind angle was more forward than you would typically experience under sail, which gave you a better pointing angle, so you might then ease the main (i.e., it was sheeted in too tight) and then just watch the telltales. You can also ease the vang.
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Old 28-08-2016, 19:22   #5
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

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Originally Posted by lindabarzini View Post
What are some of the best methods to reduce heel without reducing much speed?
Well, probably not the guest experience you were thinking of but making them into rail meat is an option.
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Old 28-08-2016, 19:27   #6
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

40 degrees to true or apparent wind? Either way that is too close to the wind for the boat, but there is a big difference. If you are motor sailing at that angle just roll in the genoa and motor with the main up.You will get some lift and make the ride smoother.
If you were at a decent angle to sail to your destination on a schedule, and the boat was heeling too much just let out the traveler a little and she will settle down. The boat may sail to 45 degrees apparent effectively.
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Old 28-08-2016, 19:56   #7
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

Your traveler was too high. It was probably about right for speed, but if you just want to flatten the boat dropping it a few inches will set the boat back on her feet.
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Old 28-08-2016, 20:51   #8
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

Buy a Nordhavn.
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Old 28-08-2016, 21:00   #9
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

To give you an idea of what can be done, today's sail was 15 miles to weather in a Wylie 46, with the wind starting at 7 knots true and gradually building to 20. In the beginning, we were underpowered, so the halyards were loosened a bit, the hydraulic backstay was set to low pressure and the running backs were tightened to straighten the mast and put a lot of depth in the main. The crew was put on the windward side to keep the boat flat. the result was 7 knots of boatspeed (GPS) with the apparent wind angle about 28, giving us apparent wind of 13-14k. Heel angle was about 10 degrees.

An hour later the wind freshened to 11-12 knots true, so the hydraulic backstay was tightened, the jib halyard was tightened, and the crew was told to max hike out. The result was 7.2 knots, with the apparent wind angle ranging from 23-24. Heel angle was about 10-15 degrees.

An hour later we were seeing 16-18 knots true. We put on max hydraulic backstay, tightened the jib halyard again, let the running back off to bend the mast, flattten the main, and open the leech, and put more Cunningham on to bring the main draft back forward. The net result was 7.3 knots with an apparent wind angle of 20-22 degrees. Heel angle was about 20 degrees.

The final two miles were with the wind in the 20-22 range. We were overpowered with the big jib up, but it would cost us too much time to change jibs, so we kept going. The running backs were eased a bit more to blade out the main, and the traveler was eased in the puffs. Reefing was not an option with the carbon fiber main (no reef points). Net result was 7 knots boatspeed with an apparent angle of 18-20 degrees, and we were starting to be slowed a bit by the chop. Heel angle was 20-25 degrees, but that would be dependent on boat design--this boat likes to heel over, while other boats slow down when they are past 15-20 degrees.

Nobody was complaining.
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Old 28-08-2016, 21:15   #10
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

This all is making me feel even better about my 54 year old long keel, 22 foot waterline performance!
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Old 28-08-2016, 21:55   #11
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
To give you an idea of what can be done, today's sail was 15 miles to weather in a Wylie 46, with the wind starting at 7 knots true and gradually building to 20. In the beginning, we were underpowered, so the halyards were loosened a bit, the hydraulic backstay was set to low pressure and the running backs were tightened to straighten the mast and put a lot of depth in the main. The crew was put on the windward side to keep the boat flat. the result was 7 knots of boatspeed (GPS) with the apparent wind angle about 28, giving us apparent wind of 13-14k. Heel angle was about 10 degrees.

An hour later the wind freshened to 11-12 knots true, so the hydraulic backstay was tightened, the jib halyard was tightened, and the crew was told to max hike out. The result was 7.2 knots, with the apparent wind angle ranging from 23-24. Heel angle was about 10-15 degrees.

An hour later we were seeing 16-18 knots true. We put on max hydraulic backstay, tightened the jib halyard again, let the running back off to bend the mast, flattten the main, and open the leech, and put more Cunningham on to bring the main draft back forward. The net result was 7.3 knots with an apparent wind angle of 20-22 degrees. Heel angle was about 20 degrees.

The final two miles were with the wind in the 20-22 range. We were overpowered with the big jib up, but it would cost us too much time to change jibs, so we kept going. The running backs were eased a bit more to blade out the main, and the traveler was eased in the puffs. Reefing was not an option with the carbon fiber main (no reef points). Net result was 7 knots boatspeed with an apparent angle of 18-20 degrees, and we were starting to be slowed a bit by the chop. Heel angle was 20-25 degrees, but that would be dependent on boat design--this boat likes to heel over, while other boats slow down when they are past 15-20 degrees.

Nobody was complaining.
You have a hydraulic backstay on a Wylie?!? Is this typical? Send a pic, please! I've never seen a Wylie 46
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Old 28-08-2016, 22:32   #12
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

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40 degrees to true or apparent wind? Either way that is too close to the wind for the boat, but there is a big difference. If you are motor sailing at that angle just roll in the genoa and motor with the main up.You will get some lift and make the ride smoother.
If you were at a decent angle to sail to your destination on a schedule, and the boat was heeling too much just let out the traveler a little and she will settle down. The boat may sail to 45 degrees apparent effectively.
It will be apparent. Too close for the boat

The SO40 sails nicely at 40 and even at 35.

I have no idea what 20 degrees of heel is like as I don't have a gauge for measuring it. In 10 knots true and 40 degrees apparent my yacht sails fairly flat, but in degrees I have no idea my definition of fairly flat is...

I'm quite happy like this on my SO40 (probably 18-20 knots and with full sails)



If you have old baggy sails, that will cause you to heal over more. You could try flattening your sails, halyard tension and outhaul on the main plus sliding the track to leeward and pulling in the sheet. With the genoa, getting the track position correct. But in only 10 knots I feel that these tactics will make speed suffer.

Might be better to get new friends or follow MarkJ's suggestion
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Old 29-08-2016, 00:45   #13
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

4.5 knots of boat speed and 20 degrees (!) of heel in 10 knots of (true?) wind adds up to a serious problem with sail trim.

For comparison, my boat will sail at 7 knots and practically flat -- no more than 3 or 4 degrees of heel) on a close reach in 10 knots true.

The only think I can think of that could cause that much heeling and that slow boat speed is way overtrimmed mainsail. To trim the main -- and this is an oversimplification, but a good starting point --

1. There are two main things to keep in mind about mainsail trim -- (a) angle of attack; and (b) shape.

2. Shape the mainsail with outhaul, mainsheet, and vang. It should be flatter or fatter depending on the wind speed. Light winds want more depth in the shape for more power, and as the wind gets stronger, flatten the main to reduce drag, especially upwind. There is an exception when the winds are so light that the air flow won't stay attached to a deeply shaped mainsail, and you have to flatten it again somewhat.

3. In general, the shape of the foot should match the shape of the leech. But leech tension also determines twist of the mainsail. If the leech is too loose, the sail will twist off at the top and flop uselessly in the upper part. If it's too tight, air won't flow over the top part. Telltales along the leech will tell you when you get this right.

4. Leech tension is controlled by mainsheet as long as the boom is over the traveller. Once the boom is further out than that, then you need the vang, as the vector of pull on the boom by the mainsheet becomes more and more sideways, controlling boom angle more and more and leech tension less and less.

5. Angle of attack is probably the MOST IMPORTANT element of mainsail trim. If the sail is pointed the wrong way, it won't draw. What you experienced is most likely wrong angle of attack -- boom too far in, so that the sail is generating nothing but heeling force and no drive. You have to let the boom out until the air is flowing over both sides, then adjust the shape, then adjust the boom angle again, until air is flowing smoothly. Angle of attack of the mainsail is controlled by the traveler, until you get to the end of the traveler. After that you use the mainsheet to control boom angle, and the vang takes over for controlling leech tension.

6. While the boom is over the traveler, you have very fine control over the boom angle and so the mainsail angle of attack using the traveler. Use it! During this phase, you can set up the mainsail shape and this won't change while you play with the traveler. When we are sailing upwind, we constantly play the traveler, while generally leaving the other controls alone.

7. Sailing upwind is a fight between lift and drag, and this it real art of sailing. A flatter shape gives less lift but less drag. You are after the greatest difference between lift and drag. Experiment.


Mainsail trim is a fairly complex art and this is just the 101 level course. Beyond this there is draft position, halyard tension, and a number of other things, but this is a good start.

A J40 is not a high performance boat, but it should be making at least 6 knots on a close reach in 10 knots of true wind, even with baggy old sails. There should be almost no heel in 10 knots of wind. I expect you need to get the boom out and get air flowing over the sail. It is likely that the headsail was overtrimmed as well.

Good luck.
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Old 29-08-2016, 00:57   #14
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

Following, just cause there is a lot of good information. Seems like I should memorize Dockhead's response. Thanks

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Old 29-08-2016, 01:11   #15
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Re: Methods to decrease heel

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I'm quite happy like this on my SO40 (probably 18-20 knots and with full sails)







Half that heel is coming from the weight of that enormous outboard on the rail. Move it to other side and you'll bring the boat level again. :^)

(I love my Tohatsu.)


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