I had a lot of opinions on this subject before I crossed the Gulf from Key West
to Galveston last month. Two Northers later, big waves, big wind and a compass
that rocked so wildly it did everything but spin upside down. I now have a much more enlightened opinion.
Big seas and big winds require that you sail flatter. Amazingly our VMG during the trip went up when we were flatter and our ETE dropped. It occured to me during a night watch as I noticed these things that really a passage
isn't any different than racing. The whole point in BOTH cases is to get there as fast as possible. It's just that with a passage
you have the added benefit of seeing the results of your sail trim over a longer period of time.
I used to push my boat as hard as I could to heel, to a point. The GPS
told me I was going faster. Because of the limited amount of time involved with that approach in terms of the length of the sail it seemed to make sense. However, with a good 6 day passage you really start looking at those VMG and ETE numbers AND you notice that you can have a slower GPS
COG speed but improve your ETE and your VMG. It's a perspective you don't get for very long when racing around the cans.
This doesn't even begin to talk from the perspective of crew comfort over a longer period of time or address issues like cooking
, eating and sleeping. All of which in the end actually contribute to or detract from the proper operation of the boat which includes sail trim.
Sorry this comes such a long time from the date of the original post. It's taken me a number of years to learn this lesson...... I'm a little slow like that sometimes.