@Tareua: I think most of us have been the wet cushion guy ;-) I wish I could say that was the worst that happened to me, but I've had much more water
than just wet cushions!
@roverhi: let's say I don't think you are right... would you be willing to do a little experiment
? If so, next time the wind pipes up, fall off a bit to a beam reach and completely furl away the genoa
. Feel the boat and next drop the main and unfurl the genoa. If you try I am convinced that you will find a relation between heel and course stability which is much more defined than between the change in sail plans and course stability. The trouble is that less sail usually means less heel and there is some effect of the sail plan too so it can get very confusing... but if you concentrate on the heel angle and it's effect on the tendency to round up or not, it will make things clear.
Most people think that more jib means the bow gets pushed away from the wind. So, that can be tested too: furl the genoa halfway in and reef the main a bit. Now sail a steady course around a beam reach. Get a feel for the boat or better, read the rudder
angle. Now, let someone unfurl the genoa. I bet ya that the boat will need more counter rudder
instead of less, the simple reason being that the boat heels more with the full genoa.
You could find the same thing during a calm. Lower all sails and go slowly on the engine. Put the engine in neutral to eliminate any prop effects and lock the rudder so that you go straight. Now, move all people aboard to the toe-rail on one side and see if you go straight or not. You will most likely make a turn towards the high side of the boat. If not, you need more people or you have the ultimate hull
sailors learn this quickly because hanging over the side or getting into the trapeze makes the boat suddenly fall off and shoot away in full plane. They need to be level to go into plane (to get the flat surface on the water) which exaggerates the effect. When they heel excessively just before that moment, the boat is completely out of steering
control and will round up no matter what you do. I once broke my tiller (I sailed a Laser) trying to fall off during a gust. Also, a competition-grade gybe is always preceded by a negative heel (heeling the wrong way) This steers the stern through the wind and gets the end of the boom up so that it comes over quicker and prevents the sheet from wrapping around the stern. You learn this quickly when sailing a dinghy
because you can't sail it with 20+ knots of wind when you don't know it. That is why dinghy sailors become great yacht sailors later on ;-))
But I am serious... the bigger the boat, the less effect but it is still there and it gets very noticeable when the wind pipes up. This is also related to the many sailors who prefer the old full keel
designs over modern designs, claiming the old designs sail better because of their full keel
. That isn't true... they sail better because these boats are much narrower than most modern designs. A narrow beam-to-length ratio brings the hull
shape closer to that of a floating pipe with closed & pointed ends which is the only hull that doesn't change it's shape of the underwater part under heel. A narrow boat also keeps the rudder in the water better. So yes, these boats sail better than the beamy modern designs but it is their better balanced hull shape.
I just got the urge to delete this message and replace it with just one short paragraph... but I'll just add it here:
Considering that the architects and builders put the mast
in the correct position and created a balanced sail plan for your boat, the whole balance while underway is defined by the underwater hull shape. The more symmetrical that is, the more balanced. As all boats' underwater hull shapes are symmetrical when upright and become more and more asymmetric
when heel increases, limiting heel is the single
most important thing to do when the boat starts to round up. Changing fore/aft sail ratio's is more like fine tuning.