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Old 26-02-2010, 12:23   #1
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Finer Points of Sail Trim for the Cruiser...

Reading Robin Knox-Johnston's A World of My Own, his memoir of the first successful non-stop single-handed circumnavigation, 1968-69. An interesting quote for perspective:

"Now I am not an expert yachtsman. ... I've sat in yacht clubs listening to people arguing in detail about how to get the most efficient 'slot' and things like that, and frankly I do not understand half of it."
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Old 26-02-2010, 12:54   #2
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I can relate to that.

I never spent a lot of time fiddling with my three sails on a long passage. I find it fussy and boring. I would set them the best I could and go with it, making changes only if the helm got out of balance or a sail began luffing. I have a sailing friend, though who is a non-stop sail tweaker. When he saw this photo of our boat, he sent me an email with a full analysis of my sail trim (or lack thereof).

The Belle of Virginia approaching Bequia
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Old 26-02-2010, 13:03   #3
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I can relate to that.

I never spent a lot of time fiddling with my three sails on a long passage. I find it fussy and boring. I would set them the best I could and go with it, making changes only if the helm got out of balance or a sail began luffing. I have a sailing friend, though who is a non-stop sail tweaker. When he saw this photo of our boat, he sent me an email with a full analysis of my sail trim (or lack thereof).

The Belle of Virginia approaching Bequia
Yeah, too much twist in that genny!
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Old 26-02-2010, 13:07   #4
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Well, it was gusty. And we were doing hull speed anyway. And I'm basically lazy.

If I'd known the photographer was going to show up, I'd have prettied things up a bit.
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Old 26-02-2010, 13:13   #5
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I was making my way through a narrow passage being followed by a friend feeling quite content that I was pointed much higher then him and making a better line and time. Seeing as I'm quite inexperienced and he is very experienced I was feeling pretty good. When we got back he commented on it but then added I had to much balloon in my genny or I could have pointed higher! Oh well, I had my moment :-)
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Old 26-02-2010, 13:19   #6
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If your not racing it really doesn't matter. Enjoy your time on the water but if you want to learn sail trim sign up to race Wed Night beer can races.
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Old 26-02-2010, 13:26   #7
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I spent a week on the water at the JWorld school in Key West this January (no this is not spam), and I enjoyed learning many fine points of sail trim. I'll be happy if I can remember 20% of it by the time I splash my boat this season. But I was delighted to have the sailing time.
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Old 26-02-2010, 14:00   #8
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Good sail trim results in longer equipment life.
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Old 26-02-2010, 14:09   #9
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If your not racing it really doesn't matter.
I'm just a newbie but I thought that any time there were two boats out on the water heading in the same direction, they were racing!



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Old 26-02-2010, 14:44   #10
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mikeandrebecca,

that is true - when we are cruising, we just race slower.
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Old 26-02-2010, 14:50   #11
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I hear you!

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Old 27-02-2010, 07:34   #12
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I race too and also value good sail trim - especially in the light air of a Chesapeake summer. If you're lazy then, you just motor - which I hate. I was just throwing the quote out there for fun.
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Old 27-02-2010, 07:51   #13
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People who say 'trim does not matter' are people who do not know how to trim. It is OK not to know.

People who say 'oh, but it does matter!' will be those who know how to trim. It is OK to know.

When I see a seriously 'un-trimmed' boat I know to keep my distance off because I know the owner may also not know other things - the COLREGS, e.g..

Sailing an un-trimmed boat is like driving a car using only one gear - it is OK, but it is not the only, nor the best way to drive.

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Old 27-02-2010, 08:43   #14
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I doubt that Robin K-J was talking about sailing with "seriously un-trimmed" sails, barny. It's the incessant "tweaking" to get the Perfect Sailshape for an extra 1/4 knot that some of us find unprofitable.
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Old 27-02-2010, 09:21   #15
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Good sail trim results in longer equipment life.
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I couldn't agree more. I was on a boat recently that blew out the foot of their genny because of poor sail trim. The cars were way back and the trimmer was trying to flatten the sail.

I don't know much about sail trim except to say that the draft should be about 40% back from the luff, flatter is better in heavy wind, and to play the traveller when you get too much weather helm. I don't really understand the twist thing too much. Although watching the wing sail in the AC this year kind of clarified it a bit for me.

It does seem strange though that the people who know the most about sail trim are the ones sailing short distances.
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