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Old 17-01-2014, 21:01   #1
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Sail combinations

Hello Cruisers,

We have a cutter rigged sloop, and I am slowly learning what this means in terms of sailing characteristics.

But I am not sure about sail combinations.

For instance, we have a genoa which is probably around 130%. We have a yankee, which for the lack of any real understanding, I will call 100%, but I could be wrong there, and would appreciate any tips on how to estimate that particular metric.

Finally, we have a staysail, which, I guess you could call 60%, but again, not sure how the metric is applied.

(Oh yes, we have a main, of course, and an MPS, but they are not my problem at the moment.)

My problem is this...

Tomorrow I plan to make a trip of about 15 miles, heading due South, and we have a 10 - 15 knot South Easterly forecast. That's VERY light wind for our boat, so I am trying to get a good sail combo for what I fear will be a pinching close hauled dawdle.

A simple, more is better approach tells me that the genoa, the staysail and the main are the way to go, but I have been observing what I suspect is some kind of backwind pressure by the genoa on the leading edge of the main when we are close hauled and I also feel that the staysail is not drawing properly when the genoa is up.

Maybe I am better with the smaller yankee and the staysail, or am I likely to be better off with the genoa in such conditions?

Of course, I am not averse to experimenting, but so far I have not got a feel for this particular mix of conditions and I would appreciate advice on what to look for to judge the effectiveness of each combination, aside from the obvious observations of SOG and VMG, which in such light conditions are difficult with our boat. (For instance, we might be trolling along at 4 knots and one good wave will knock that down to 1.5 knots, taking another 10 minutes to build up speed. It makes it very hard to compare sail settings in such conditions.)

What is the accepted wisdom, and what should I look for to best observe the effectiveness of each combination?

Matt

P.S. I am certainly not averse to changing sails to try stuff out, that's all part of the fun for me. And one thing positive I can say about a Swanson 42 is that changing sails is pretty stress free thanks to the large uncluttered foredeck.
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Old 17-01-2014, 21:19   #2
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Re: Sail combinations

I'd try yankee + staysail if close hauled. Generally, you need to be a bit off the wind for a genoa + staysail to work well together.
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Old 17-01-2014, 21:30   #3
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Re: Sail combinations

I tried to find the specs on your boat, not much out there. Depending on sea state and wind you may be better off heading down a few degrees. Use the vmg function on your GPS to see. Pointing ability depends on hull, rig, sail conditions and the helmsman. And will change for the worse in waves. The keel and rudder need water flow to create lift. The faster the flow the more lift. This is why footing off will sometimes give better vmg.
Sail combo, if you think you can use the 130 in the wind speeds you will have that's the one to use. Getting all three sail to pull on a close(pinched) course is not easy. You will get a little bubble in the main
. If you have all day and it is nice, play with the sail combinations write down the results. Then you can go over them for later reference.
Have a good sail, the water around here is a little cold and hard.
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Old 17-01-2014, 21:42   #4
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Re: Sail combinations

I've found that the sail shape in the light wind is a significant factor, not just the sail size. Spend time making sure the foil shapes are parallel all the way up by adjusting the car location and downward, backward pull on the sail by the sheet... Main, staysail and which ever jib you decide on.

If you have difficulty making good time in light wind, don't be hesitant to motorsail at low rpms. Sometimes all it takes is enough thrust from the prop to make 1 knot or so, to get the sails to generate enough lift to increase your speed by 2 knots.
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Old 17-01-2014, 21:42   #5
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Re: Sail combinations

I would go with the main and genoa, more total area. Once you get a sense of how fast you are going try hoisting the staysail, but I don't think it'll add anything and may hurt. I would be happy if it helps. Let us know.

As far as bubbling the front of the main when the main and genoa are sheeted in hard, it's not a problem. When I used to race with one of the local rock stars we did that regularly going upwind, gave the best velocity made good so we did it.

The trick is not oversheeting the main. We used telltales on the leech of the main. Before hoisting the main tape some yarns to the trailing edge. When sailing sheet genoa in hard, not on the spreaders, but out a touch. Then point up until the genoa telltales near the luff stream properly. Then sheet the main in until the telltales on the leech stream properly. For leach telltales you want the telltales to stream back pointing aft. Play around with this and see how it works for you. If some stream and others stall then you may need to play with the twist of the sail by adjusting boom vang, topping lift etc.
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Old 17-01-2014, 21:43   #6
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Re: Sail combinations

Maybe just try main and genoa no staysail? I found that balance is quite important for efficient beating, but off the wind, many sail combinations (even unbalanced onces) become possible and convenient (have traveled hundreds of miles on only main adjusting reefs as needed) which is quite unbalanced but it doesn't matter when I am going hull speed the direction I want to.
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Old 17-01-2014, 21:51   #7
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Re: Sail combinations

Are all your sails new? all old? If all were new, I would probably do as Adelie. Play with your sail control lines on both sails to get a nice full shape. If the genoa is blown out, you are probably better off with the yankee and staysail. Better yet, keep the yankee and staysail, sell the genoa, and use the money to buy a drifter. Use the drifter in apparent winds < 15 and switch to the Yankee and staysail in winds > 15.
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Old 17-01-2014, 21:59   #8
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Re: Sail combinations

Quote:
Originally Posted by RainDog View Post
Are all your sails new? all old? If all were new, I would probably do as Adelie. Play with your sail control lines on both sails to get a nice full shape. If the genoa is blown out, you are probably better off with the yankee and staysail. Better yet, keep the yankee and staysail, sell the genoa, and use the money to buy a drifter. Use the drifter in apparent winds < 15 and switch to the Yankee and staysail in winds > 15.
+1 on evaluating the sails before use. I thought of that while writing my post but forgot by the time I got to the end. Getting old sucks.

Long term I would agree with RainDog about trading the genoa for a drifter. Tomorrow you will have to work with what you have.
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Old 17-01-2014, 22:38   #9
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Re: Sail combinations

I've never seen a cutter that could point as high with Yankee and staysail. If your 130 is in good shape I'd go with it and main of course. If the wind allows you to fall off to 50-60 degrees then your double head sail rig can sometimes be faster.
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Old 18-01-2014, 00:00   #10
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Re: Sail combinations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
...The trick is not oversheeting the main. We used telltales on the leech of the main. Before hoisting the main tape some yarns to the trailing edge. When sailing sheet genoa in hard, not on the spreaders, but out a touch. Then point up until the genoa telltales near the luff stream properly. Then sheet the main in until the telltales on the leech stream properly. For leach telltales you want the telltales to stream back pointing aft. Play around with this and see how it works for you. If some stream and others stall then you may need to play with the twist of the sail by adjusting boom vang, topping lift etc.
Hey this is terrific, thank you. I'll try this, packing some light wool (yarn for you darn Yankees) now.
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Old 18-01-2014, 00:54   #11
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Re: Sail combinations

If tell tales are new to you best to use them to position the sheet fair lead positions first. Sheet the sail in until its about 10" off the spreader. Then bring the boat up to close hauled and pinch up until the tell tales rise. If the top tell tale rises first move the sheet fair leads forward, if the bottom breaks first move the lead aft. You want all the tell tales to break or rise up at the same time and then you know your fair lead is proper.
On your main sail, sheet it in until the top batten is parallel with the boom (put your head under the boom and look up to the top batten) If your looking at tell tales you want all the of them streaming back except for the very top one and it can be breaking and streaming about half and half.
There is way more to sail trim that what I have covered but this will get you going and allow you to point high and fast....have fun!
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Old 18-01-2014, 00:56   #12
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Re: Sail combinations

Forgot to mention that tell tales should be on both sides of the jib and my comments were for the inside tell tales.
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Old 18-01-2014, 02:04   #13
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Re: Sail combinations

I am no expert on sail trim but I have picked up a few things along the way and offer a few suggestions in good faith.

The poster is looking at tips for sailing hard into the wind so don't think the drifter is going to help him much there not that I have ever used one. Good sail to have for off the wind though.

+ 1 on assessing the condition of sails if the genoa is in good condition I would try it out first in the winds you are expecting. The yankee looses a lot of power with the cutaway in the lower part although it leaves lots of headroom on your fordeck for getting around and dinghy storage etc.

Do not pinch in light winds sail a few degrees off to get speed up and wind flow over you sails.

+ one on motor sailing at lower winds if sails are not drawing well. If the jib won't set motor sailing in light air pull it down and motor sail on main only. Motor sailing with the wind forward of the beam is going to be a lot more comfortable than motoring without sails and faster... see my last comment.

Forget the staysail for sailing into the wind, they usually will only work off the wind and reaching in my experience. Staysails are awesome when the wind gets big you furl your foresail and use the smaller staysail with a reefed main to get a more balanced sail plan in heavy conditions.

Back winding on the main is not usually experienced in lighter airs but can be fast in heavier wind.

Watch your tell tails get them streaming especially on the leach of the main and the outside of the sails, if the inside ones flick up occasionally that is ok. Make sure all telltales are streaming top to bottom use the jib cars for the foresail, probably move them slightly forward to get a slightly deeper draft but no where near where you would have them for reaching which would be well forward for deep draft - what Robert Sailor said. The deepest part of the draft should probably be about one third to one quarter back from the luff in main and jib. Use you traveller, mainsheet, cunningham and halyard for main trim - the vang is for downwind to keep the boom down and should not be needed into the wind if you have a traveller. If you don't have a cunningham just use the halyard for luff tension. Once you get your sails set up keep an eye on your tell tales and adjust your course slightly to keep them streaming.

The boom of the main could be at center or possibly slightly higher than center in very light air. Sometimes on the race boat they even try some twist in the main to get air flowing in light air.

Don't let people hang out in the slot between the main and the jib cause it will create disturbed air flow.

Experiment with halyard tension easing them in lighter breeze to get slight horizontal wrinkles aka speed wrinkles.

To punch through chop and swells deeper sail draft is usually the way to go motor sailing can help keep your momentum too.

Watch for any weather helm (slow) ease the traveller down if you have any. Be smooth on the helm, if the rudder is not straight you are creating drag (slow), anticipate the motion with swells and steer appropriately. Don't bash straight into a big wave if you can ease off a bit.

Steer up in gusts and down in lulls. Watch for lifts and knocks.

If your sails are blown out you will not get good windward performance.

Do not pinch and watch you vmg, speed through water and sog to access trim.

Every boat is different experiment and asses what works for your boat.

Get on a race boat crew with knowledgeable people and learn all you can.

I just crewed on a boat where the skipper is relatively new to sailing and self taught, he sure had some crazy ideas and it was very frustrating sailing sometimes.
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Old 18-01-2014, 03:30   #14
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Re: Sail combinations

Lots of good instructions about how to trim a jib, use telltales, trim main etc on a sloop. Pity that's not what the OP asked.

I'd still try the 100% yankee plus 60% staysail over the 130% genoa as a first try, especially if, as you say, you have found in the past that the genoa backwinds the main close hauled in light winds. You might not point quite so high, but you can trim all three sails for maximum efficiency.
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Old 18-01-2014, 04:19   #15
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Re: Sail combinations

You are right StuM he is asking about what sail combination to use specifically "pinching close wind".

The poster mentions loosing speed after hitting a big wave... well trimming sails with deeper draft gives the boat more power to punch through that stuff and steering off a little helps too, so while he didn't ask about sail trim.... He didn't ask about steering either...

Helpful Cf ers have offered advise on sail trim because they have understood that the poster wants to learn more about sailing into the wind and on top of sail choice most posters seem to believe a bit of advice on sail trim might be handy to know.

In my experience a staysail will not fly very successfully hard on the wind, especially light wind, but by all means give it a try.

He seems pretty happy with the sail trim advice (from Adelie) he got so thought he might appreciate some more sail trim advice.

I am very enthusiastic about sail trim.
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