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Old 25-06-2020, 12:48   #1
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Unable to make progress upwind

I live and cruise on a 1998 Hunter 410, and am becoming increasingly frustrated that I can't figure out how to get it to beat to windward... It seems that any closer than 45 deg off of the apparent wind I start pinching and lose a lot of speed. But when pointing 45 off the wind, I make so much leeway that my course made good is more like 60 degrees off the wind. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect race level performance out of my cruiser, but I'd at least like to do better than a square rigger!

Anyway, if anyone has experience with this or similar hulls, and has figured out how to beat successfully, I would love to hear. Meantime I'll just motor upwind for 4 hours despite perfect sailing conditions because otherwise it'll take me 3 full days to cover the same distance.
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Old 25-06-2020, 12:53   #2
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

What keel?
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Old 25-06-2020, 12:55   #3
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

It's the 5.5 ft keel. Obviously not going to be as good as the 6ft version on this hull, but it sure was nice in the icw
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Old 25-06-2020, 14:07   #4
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

New sails may help a lot....and choosing destinations within the boat's sailing capabilities.
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Old 25-06-2020, 14:22   #5
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

if you have the original 20 year old sails then yes .. you should look into getting new sails
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Old 25-06-2020, 14:35   #6
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

There are SOOOOO many pieces that have to work together to make a boat go well to windward, it is impossible to diagnose by text. We could start with asking if your bottom is clean, and end up asking if your rigging is tuned properly. Some things just aren't suited to learning by iterative questions.

I would strongly suggest you find somebody who knows sailboats, and sails a LOT and have them aboard to help you. Pay them if you have to, it will be worth it. When I worked for a sailing school we did this a lot: helping people learn their boats.
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Old 25-06-2020, 14:50   #7
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

In my older monohull, I was often barely making 1mph vmg.

Straight upwind requires tight, I mean tight sails, close hauled, all the way.

You are going to pinch, you have to choose half speed right direction, or double speed wrong direction.

Fast tacks, if you fumble you are going to lose ground to windward.

The more keel the better, you just found a disadvantage to the shoal keel.

I also found even engines at idle allowed much closer to the wind.

Sometimes there is no shame in motorsailing.
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Old 25-06-2020, 14:53   #8
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

Quote:
Originally Posted by JebLostInSpace View Post
I live and cruise on a 1998 Hunter 410, and am becoming increasingly frustrated that I can't figure out how to get it to beat to windward... It seems that any closer than 45 deg off of the apparent wind I start pinching and lose a lot of speed. But when pointing 45 off the wind, I make so much leeway that my course made good is more like 60 degrees off the wind. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect race level performance out of my cruiser, but I'd at least like to do better than a square rigger!

Anyway, if anyone has experience with this or similar hulls, and has figured out how to beat successfully, I would love to hear. Meantime I'll just motor upwind for 4 hours despite perfect sailing conditions because otherwise it'll take me 3 full days to cover the same distance.
The specs show a reasonably light boat with decent sail area to displacement. I would expect the 5.5' keel, which I believe is a winged keel, to provide decent windward ability. I would expect 5 knots boat speed in 12 knots of true wind speed and a apparent wind angle of about 35-40degrees or better.

This would give you a VMG to your upwind destination of about 3.5 knots.

Some similar Hunters have done very well racing in our area so I think your boat is capable.

In choppy seas you will not make this progress, the waves will slow you down. You'll have to ease the sheets and sail lower, which will reduce your VMG.

If you cannot hit these kinds of numbers then you need to examine some other factors:
  • Do you have reasonably sized and flat sails? (Baggy won't cut it, and by the way, when you say "pinching" at 45 deg apparent that sounds to me like the jib is too baggy or not all the way in)
  • Are you sheeting the sails all the way in? (main and jib)
  • Is your bottom clean?
  • Do you have a big, fixed, propeller?
Take a good look at your sails, and maybe get a sailmaker or experienced racer to go sailing with you and let them take a look.
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Old 25-06-2020, 15:04   #9
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

Quote:
Originally Posted by JebLostInSpace View Post
I live and cruise on a 1998 Hunter 410, and am becoming increasingly frustrated that I can't figure out how to get it to beat to windward... It seems that any closer than 45 deg off of the apparent wind I start pinching and lose a lot of speed. But when pointing 45 off the wind, I make so much leeway that my course made good is more like 60 degrees off the wind. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect race level performance out of my cruiser, but I'd at least like to do better than a square rigger!

Anyway, if anyone has experience with this or similar hulls, and has figured out how to beat successfully, I would love to hear. Meantime I'll just motor upwind for 4 hours despite perfect sailing conditions because otherwise it'll take me 3 full days to cover the same distance.
If you can get any where near 45 you are doing great. Some of my cruising boats would barely get to 60 degrees.
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Old 25-06-2020, 15:16   #10
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

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If you can get any where near 45 you are doing great. Some of my cruising boats would barely get to 60 degrees.
The OP does not have a "cruising boat". He has a reasonably well designed production sloop with fin keel and spade rudder.

For his boat 45 degrees apparent is not OK. He should be able to get closer to 34 degrees apparent, and well under 40.
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Old 25-06-2020, 15:18   #11
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

Thanks all for the suggestions so far! A couple follow-up questions:

People suggesting newer sails would help. Is this because newer sails are made of a better material, new sails could be cut shallower to focus on upwind performance, old sails lose their shape over time, or something else I haven't thought about? I am still using the original 20-yr old sails so it sounds like this is a likely factor?

I am using a ~120% Genoa, rather than a jib. Am I correct in thinking the Genoa is probably deeper cut and therefore harder to flatten out for upwind sailing?

I do in fact have a pretty big fixed propeller. I imagined this would have some small impact on speed, but didn't think that would hurt my ability to point up. Am I missing something there?

Bottom was cleaned a few weeks ago, so that shouldn't be a big deal I think.

I will be in Annapolis in a couple weeks, so that may be a good opportunity to get a racer to come out with me, thanks for that great suggestion!

Keep them coming if anything occurs to anyone. I know it's very tough to guess without seeing it in person, but I'm desperate
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Old 25-06-2020, 15:20   #12
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

Quote:
Originally Posted by JebLostInSpace View Post
I live and cruise on a 1998 Hunter 410, and am becoming increasingly frustrated that I can't figure out how to get it to beat to windward... It seems that any closer than 45 deg off of the apparent wind
Probably about right.

I was used to 30 degrees off the wind when I raced my very high tech beach cats.

Now 45 degrees would be a dream come true for my Bristol 27.....

Learn to deal with it.

If you aren't racing, it's not really a problem

But if you are a total numbers guy and just have to point better, there's mast rake....move it aft, batten selection, (full sail battens that is), mast prebend depending on the wind speed. You'll have to figure that out but it's much easier when you have 10-15 boats of the exact same design as yours to test against on the first upwind leg of a buoy race

Mast rotation also helps but I'm guessing your mast doesn't rotate.

Sheet tension. Traveler position. Clean bottom. Weight distribution. Jib size depending on wind speed
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Old 25-06-2020, 15:23   #13
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

Quote:
Originally Posted by JebLostInSpace View Post
I live and cruise on a 1998 Hunter 410, and am becoming increasingly frustrated that I can't figure out how to get it to beat to windward... It seems that any closer than 45 deg off of the apparent wind I start pinching and lose a lot of speed. But when pointing 45 off the wind, I make so much leeway that my course made good is more like 60 degrees off the wind. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect race level performance out of my cruiser, but I'd at least like to do better than a square rigger!

I have found, with both of my pocket cruisers, that an actual course made good is typically around 60 degrees off the wind. Usually I steer 110 degree turns, so 55 degree TWA. In moderate winds that works out to about 45 degrees apparent (I don't have a wind instrument).



If you look at polars for common cruising boats I think you'll find that's pretty typical.


There are many things that can contribute slight losses of upwind performance and these combine. Many are mentioned upthread. Windage is also a factor that particularly affects liveaboards -- dinghy, SUP, jerry cans, dive gear, anything else on deck contributes particularly when the wind is stronger.
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Old 25-06-2020, 15:23   #14
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

Sails lose shape and it’s possible that they weren’t the highest quality to start with.
I doubt the prop makes and real measurable difference. The bigger headsail doesn’t help.
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Old 25-06-2020, 15:27   #15
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Re: Unable to make progress upwind

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Originally Posted by wingssail View Post
The OP does not have a "cruising boat". He has a reasonably well designed production sloop with fin keel and spade rudder.

For his boat 45 degrees apparent is not OK. He should be able to get closer to 34 degrees apparent, and well under 40.
Yeah, I had no trouble getting to 0 apparent! It was getting to the next anchorage at 0 that was an issue...
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