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Old 19-06-2017, 07:37   #1
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Weather helm vs. pointing ability (B&R rig)

I have a Hunter 31 with the B&R rig. Originally it had significant mast rake (estimating the top of the mast at least 1 foot behind the base) and I was experiencing strong weather helm in strong seas (25+ knots, waves).

Following the suggestion of a fellow boater, I moved the mast forward and tuned the rig again. Now the boat handles better (at least to me), heels less, seems more responsive and the autopilot seems really happy (it could also be that I installed a gyro but I do feel that it is not struggling as before). However, it seems that I have lost pointing ability. Now I tack over 100 degrees in light winds (10-15 knots) while before I seem to remember that 90 degree tacks were the norm. Logically this seems to make sense (the sail area center was moved forward) but I just wanted to check with the group.

If this is the case, what do people usually do to get the most of both worlds? Is this the situation that people refer to as tuning the boat for racing vs. cruising? Should I be prepared to retune the rig if I expect long upwind passages? Tensioning the backstay could help but on the B&R rig it messes up the entire tuning, so not ideal. Would better sails make a big difference? For example, how many degrees of the tacking angle can I save by getting a newer gib or main?

S/V Pizzazz

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Old 19-06-2017, 07:47   #2
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Re: Weather helm vs. pointing ability (B&R rig)

I know on mine I can mess around with the adjustable backstay, adjust cunnigham/genoa halyard tension and use the outhaul to shift the draft of the sail around.

Does your sail shape look the same as before? You could be missing something on the running rigging adjustments. New sails will help pointing for sure

S/V Gudgeon
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Old 19-06-2017, 08:10   #3
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Re: Weather helm vs. pointing ability (B&R rig)

New sails would definitely help but if you're not racing why worry about it.

Maybe just tension the backstay, put some prebend in the mast (depending on wind strength), tighten the outhaul, downhaul, etc
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Old 19-06-2017, 08:17   #4
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Re: Weather helm vs. pointing ability (B&R rig)

Could be that with less weather helm you're sailing faster. Sailing faster at the same AWA will see you tacking through a greater angle.
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Old 20-06-2017, 09:01   #5
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Re: Weather helm vs. pointing ability (B&R rig)

Complicated question. Full B&R rigs are designed to be used without any backstays, but their are "hybrid" versions that do have and use them. If your boat came without a backstay, don't use one. Mast rake will certainly affect the feel at the helm and pointing ability, but keel and rudder area and location, immersed hull shape as the boat heels and sail area distribution and shape all play a role. Headstay tension is not critical to pointing ability if your sails are designed with a luff curve to match the headstay sag. In fact, in many one-design classes, headstay sag is added to improve pointing ability in various wind ranges. Get your local sailmaker to come aboard and tune your mast and sails if you really want to optimize..
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Old 20-06-2017, 10:10   #6
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Re: Weather helm vs. pointing ability (B&R rig)

speed and pointing to weather are the most important performance measures for me. when you moved your center of pressure forward you hurt the one thing, pointing ability, that will make the biggest difference when it comes to fast passages. sailing well hard on the wind is likely the most technically difficult thing to do in sailing and it would take pages to discuss the issue fully. suffice it to say that many factors other than mast rake such as sail condition, sail trim, weight distribution fore and aft contribute to minimizing drag inducers such as weather helm.
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Old 20-06-2017, 10:27   #7
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Re: Weather helm vs. pointing ability (B&R rig)

As mentioned, it is a complex subject. If you are experiencing strong weather helm in heavy air, the usual first step is to reduce mainsail area by reefing. A little weather helm is a good thing, as the rudder lift reduces leeway.
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Old 20-06-2017, 16:21   #8
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Re: Weather helm vs. pointing ability (B&R rig)

I just remind of a friend that once asked me "what can I do to point more with speed?"
Answer- everybody is trying to figure out a
Way to do that, if you find, please tell me!
Besides that, in the soling class, and others one designs, we adjust mast rake and bend in each wind strenght. So what you have to do, in your case, is weight your cost Benefit. No miracles.
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Old 20-06-2017, 16:54   #9
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Re: Weather helm vs. pointing ability (B&R rig)

Going upwind is all about the jib/genny. Question did you adjust your fairleads after moving the mast? They need another good look. Also try softening the jib halyard and make certain the headstay is not sagging off too much. When you site up the back of the mast do you have a lot of bend? When I raced my Hobie 33 in a breeze it liked a raked mast and lot of bend. My current boat sails better with less rake and is very balance. The boat will sail itself upwind for hours. Need to try some different setups and take notes. Also current can affect pointing BIG TIME.

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