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Old 13-01-2014, 08:11   #1
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Active vs. Passive helm?

I understand sailing is dynamic and generalizations and rules for trim are not locked in stone, but somewhere buried in the plethora of books and articles I have read I recall one author's opinion that when beating the helm is very active (falling off and heading up in puffs and lulls) while the trimmers are rather passive (the sails are set)

but when reaching the helm is passive (sails a straight line) while the trimmers are active (trimming the sails as necessary to keep the boat sailing in a straight line).

Does that sound right?
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Old 13-01-2014, 08:31   #2
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

Your right enough! When beating to windward the trimmers will still be active dealing with changes in wind strength as well as changes in course due to motorboat wakes etc.
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Old 13-01-2014, 08:42   #3
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

Yeah I'd agree with that. When the wind is wide you spend a lot of time balancing the sails, which tends to have the greatest impact on keeping a balanced helm.

Weather and lee helm at that point are directly bound to the trim of the sail(s) and not so much the wind speed, so you do a lot to balance it.

With wind narrower than a beam reach the speed itself and the bounce into the waves seems to impact weather helm. The speed is shifting all over the place and the boat is moving because it's dead-on into the waves, so there's more ruddering going on with tighter parameters.
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Old 13-01-2014, 09:04   #4
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

Yes, thats right.

And when on a cruising boat both the helm and trimmers are passive
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Old 13-01-2014, 12:59   #5
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

Trim sails? My crews would have to set their beers down...
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Old 13-01-2014, 13:07   #6
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

Sailing to windward your course is dictated by the wind direction. If the wind shifts you steer to follow it.

Reaching, your course is based on heading toward your destination. So when the wind shifts you trim sails to follow it.
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Old 14-01-2014, 02:14   #7
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

Rebel Heart,

You're right as far as you go with it, but more weatherly vessels will sail more closely to the wind, and helming them lets you make higher courses made good. From experience.

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Old 14-01-2014, 03:09   #8
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

Absolutely right when racing ... the skipper you should beat into the wind like it is a dinghy, taking every lift they can get, as that gets one closer to ones windward mark, and dropping off when you get a (opposite of lift) to keep up boat speed ... and the sails are set for and kept at the best performing angle of sail for the wind strength / boat combination.

But when you are reaching to a mark the skipper sails a direct course (least distance sailed) and the trimmers try to get the most out of the sails for that course.
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Old 14-01-2014, 04:08   #9
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

> (opposite of lift)

knock.
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Old 14-01-2014, 06:06   #10
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six View Post
Trim sails? My crews would have to set their beers down...

Thank goodness you said this. I thought we were doing something wrong!
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Old 14-01-2014, 07:27   #11
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

Falling off and heading up...maybe, if you are "wallying" and trying to make the best speed upwind. Or maybe not, if you're content with "that-a-way".

Then again, If the wind is booming and you're already reefed or trying hard not to be, the helm may simply be used as little as possible while someone is constantly playing the traveler trying to keep the boat level, prevent it from rounding up, and generating the best speed upwind.

So, it comes back to generalizations versus "how long is a piece of string" doesn't it?
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Old 14-01-2014, 08:12   #12
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

If you plan your tacks to maximize the Lee bow effect there will be less need for the crew to put down their beers, or for the skipper to put down that sandwich. Might even be time for the crew to get relief over the Lee rail, if there's no ladies aboard.
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Old 14-01-2014, 08:26   #13
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

yes ... opposite of lift is a knock ... it's been a while since I raced. And, to complete my answer, when you get a knock you either drop down to keep the correct angle of attack to the wind (and thus boat speed)... OR ... you tack, because a knock on a port tack is a lift on starboard tack, and tacking gets you to your marker quicker!
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Old 14-01-2014, 08:28   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jannw View Post
yes ... opposite of lift is a knock ... it's been a while since I raced. And, to complete my answer, when you get a knock you either drop down to keep the correct angle of attack to the wind (and thus boat speed)... OR ... you tack, because a knock on a port tack is a lift on starboard tack, and tacking gets you to your marker quicker!
Opposite of a lift is to be headed

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Old 14-01-2014, 08:46   #15
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Re: Active vs. Passive helm?

Knock is slang for header, Dave is correct
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