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Old 30-05-2016, 10:13   #16
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

IMO It's all about speed, can the main alone get you going fast enough to complete the tack from a close/beam reach? How many folks did you have on the boat? Loading the bow heavily will put a damper on things.
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Old 30-05-2016, 10:51   #17
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

First, get those people off the bows before you start your tack. At that windspeed, the further back the better. This will help lift the bows and also make it easier for tbe wind to push the bow around. Dragging the sterns is better than depressing the bows when tacking or jibing.

Make certain you are close hauled, then to firmly turn the wheel. Don't rapidly spin the wheel or thre rudders will actually act as a break. I can spin the wheel on my Lagoon 42 to kill almost all forward speed.

In the middle of the tack, when the mainsail starts to luff, let off enough mainsheet to allow the end of the boom to move about a foot. Once you are underway again, you can bring the mainsheet back in.
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Old 30-05-2016, 12:04   #18
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

What the OP has noticed is that virtually every multi sailor has hit the same problem. Sometimes your boat simply won't do it and other times it will because you have it set up differently or approach it differently. You need to track what makes it work for you. I won't add to the postings which have covered just about every angle but simply suggest that it is great fun getting it right.
Enjoy your cat. Just like the other kind of cat they can usually be persuaded to do what you want in the end.
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Old 30-05-2016, 12:26   #19
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

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Originally Posted by cal40john View Post
For everyone that's saying he should fall off to build speed, he said he's at 55 AWA. This seems to me that he is already on a reach. What's your AWA for close hauled and what is it when you have just borne off just enough to build some speed?
It's a catamaran, not unusual to be beating at 55 APA. :>) Also, I just never felt any weather helm on a cat.

Crack off, get speed and try to get thru the wind is what I can think of. depends if you have enough wind.
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Old 30-05-2016, 12:48   #20
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
It's a catamaran, not unusual to be beating at 55 APA. :>) Also, I just never felt any weather helm on a cat.

Crack off, get speed and try to get thru the wind is what I can think of. depends if you have enough wind.
That's very odd! I can easily do 40 AWA, and even a bit closer, but slow down when I do. At 42 - 44, I am zipping along. I would consider anything more than that to be a close reach. And there is always weather helm. 55 doesn't seem like a beat, at all. I tack without thinking about it from any of those angles, too, whether under full sail, reefed, or under mainsail, alone. Hmmm. Don't know if it's the archer or the arrow! Some of the answers have puzzled me, just a bit.
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Old 30-05-2016, 12:49   #21
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

Sorry that I can't speak to multis, but in monohulls, imho, it has much to do with whether you have a boat that is headsail or main driven. I've had IOR designs with masthead rigs and relatively smallish mains. They have never sailed worth a damn with just a main up. The boat is nearly helpless, esp. when going to weather. When I want to sail easily, I always choose the jib or genoa, and have single handed that way for weeks at time while cruising. Short answer: a lot depends on the design of the boat and what it likes.....
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Old 30-05-2016, 13:39   #22
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

A lot of useful suggestions and I hope that you can get your cat to do what you want. But, some cats will not come through the wind with just the main no matter what. That's one of the things that impressed me the most about the St Francis I used to own. We could tack with just the main in any conditions with speed to spare. Somewhat rare in a cat, my Outremer does not do near as well and I have sailed on some cats that you could not get though the wind with both main and jib unless the jib was back winded. Basically what I am saying is there's a good chance it's the boat, not the way your handling it.


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Old 30-05-2016, 13:47   #23
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

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That's very odd! I can easily do 40 AWA, and even a bit closer, but slow down when I do. At 42 - 44, I am zipping along. I would consider anything more than that to be a close reach. And there is always weather helm. 55 doesn't seem like a beat, at all. I tack without thinking about it from any of those angles, too, whether under full sail, reefed, or under mainsail, alone. Hmmm. Don't know if it's the archer or the arrow! Some of the answers have puzzled me, just a bit.
Yeah, I didn't say you couldn't! But at 40 degrees you aren't moving well at all IME. Every boat's different.
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Old 30-05-2016, 14:23   #24
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

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Originally Posted by Sdwcheney View Post
Most sailors try to turn the boat to fast, I have found that multi-hulls like a nice gentle turn, often about half of what hard over gives you. Most boats have a turn radius that they like, once you find it, tacking gets much easier.
Wow... After all those posts finally one that I agree with. 55 AWA is plenty. It's your rudders that are getting cut too sharp to "track" you through the wind and maintain momentum. Sail my 42' on main all the time. 55 AWA , sheet in as you bring her up in a nice broad arch rudders no more than 2/3rd's, when you hit the eye crank her hard over and let out the sheet. She'll pop her bows through the eye with enough momentum to carry you to 35-40 degrees on you new tack. Straighten your helm as soon as the main fills and slowly..... Sheet in.
Play your swells to go through the eye at the top of the swell.
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Old 30-05-2016, 14:36   #25
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

Speed, speed and see again.
If you have the proper speed, the rudder will be active and you will complete the tack
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Old 30-05-2016, 14:41   #26
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

You can never have too much speed when tacking, but a lot of folks slam over their rudders which acts to break speed, not increase it. Build up speed, then turn the helm to get the bow moving through the tack. And only then once the bow moves, do you smartly move the helm, but not to the point where the rudder will be perpendicular to the line of motion. That can result in a stall as your rudder starts to block the flow of water along its path.

And yes, a bunch of blubber at the bow will not be good for tacking.
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Old 30-05-2016, 14:46   #27
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

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Yeah, I didn't say you couldn't! But at 40 degrees you aren't moving well at all IME. Every boat's different.
At 40 degrees or less, we are definitely slower, no question. But at 42 to 45 we are right up to speed. Racing, when the sails were new, my target AWA upwind was 42 degrees in most conditions. Now it's more like 43 or 44. And yes, we are trucking, but as you say, every boat is different.
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Old 30-05-2016, 18:51   #28
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

Not very different from the Lighting I learned on. Build up speed then tack quickly. It's not rocket science, the faster you go the quicker you can shift headings. But ease the rudder, never slam it over. Once the bow starts to move, wait until you have the desired heading.
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Old 30-05-2016, 19:37   #29
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

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On my boat, in light wind it's very tricky. In more breeze it's a bit easier, but still involves some planning.


Put simply, at low speed, the weather helm overpowers the rudders. So before the tack you need to sail lower and go faster, set up the traveller so the main will be quite well eased on the new tack, then tack way past where you'll be sailing on the new tack, so you recover speed quickly. It's all about getting enough flow over the rudders. Once you're moving fast enough on the new tack you can raise the traveler again.


Too much sheet too soon and you're in irons though.
Exactly, drop the traveler all the way on the new tack, and steer all the way to a beam reach (based on true wind) before heading back up.

I never back the genoa. All that does is stop the boat and eliminate all control. A TERRIBLE way to tack. Instead, let the sheets fly as soon as the genoa breaks and make CERTAIN, you haul it in as soon as it can draw. That will keep the bow off. Again, let the traveler out all the way; you can bring it up in seconds, once you are moving.

And what other said about the rudders. Start with a little less, increasing as the boat slows and starts rotating.

And I don't beat at 55APA. I beat at 45 TWA. That could be the problem. 55APA isn't beating, that's barely close reaching.
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Old 30-05-2016, 21:00   #30
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Re: Tacking under mainsail alone

Although I was talking about tacking under the mainsail only.


When we're tacking with both sails I usually (with the new sails) just leave the traveller centred. We don't backwind the headsail either, in fact we release it as soon as it starts luffing. These square top mains let you get lazy.


We sail at 28' AWA on autopilot these days in flat water. Probably a bit deeper in moderate stuff, bit higher if it's a bit strong and rough.
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