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Old 04-06-2013, 21:54   #1
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Handling puffs/lulls during a reach

I've read that while on a beam reach, one should head down during puffs and head up during lulls. I wish to understand this better. My belief is that this keeps the apparent wind speed fairly constant. However this should constantly change the sail trim versus the apparent wind, correct? And this should be bad?
Also I read you should do the same (head down during puffs, ect) while reaching, which means during close reach and broad reach as well?

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Old 04-06-2013, 22:27   #2
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Depends on your goal. On a reach it is fastest to sail directly at your goal (as adjusted for current, leeway, and such). A race crew will of course trim thru the puffs and lulls. A general rule is to trim for the light air and suffer thru the puffs.

If there is a gybe in your future, because you are sailing high for best downwind speed, or comfort, or something, you can maximize downwind speed by bearing away in the puffs - and likewise heading up a big in the lulls. This can somewhat reduce the need for trim changes, keep the boat steady, and provide some sailing fun. The apparent wind may, or may not, stay put during these course changes as that depends on the boat.
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Old 04-06-2013, 23:16   #3
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Re: Handling puffs/lulls during a reach

Another consideration, particularly if you're not racing:

If you've got too much sail on for the breeze (perhaps because you're sailing into more sheltered waters and would no sooner have reefed than it would be time to shake them out again), you should definitely bear away in anticipation of gusts. During squalls you may have to run dead downwind to avoid heeling, which (with too much sail) would otherwise put you at risk of a broach

A corollary of this is that it pays to leave plenty of room to leeward when sailing into restricted waters in a breeze, as well as leaving room to windward in case of a broach. It's often gusty in the final stages of sailing into shelter, whether than be manmade or natural.
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Old 22-06-2013, 18:23   #4
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Re: Handling puffs/lulls during a reach

Presuming we are discussing reasonable sailing conditions and not heavy weather tactics..

So within that, I am not sure I agree with heading down during the puffs on a close reach at fact I typically do the contrary.

my rationale is as follows..If you are on a close reach, and the wind gusts, you will clearly speed up and increase heel, if you head off the wind and you can certainly accelerate and heel significantly further...if you head up into the wind in a gust, you depower the boat.

One of the reasons that a few degrees of weather helm is a benefit is that a gust will automatically point you more into the wind...and then recover your line when the gust passes...
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