Adjusting your lowers, to point higher, to sail faster, and run deeper!
This past weekend in the light conditions of the Lorin Weiss regatta; we were sailing Patches with a loose rig and lots of jibstay sag. We had no tension on the lowers, we had them set so when sailing upwind with the sails trimmed and sighting up the mast we had about a 1/2 column of sag at the spreaders.
The goal was to induce Jibstay sag, so to power up the rig, to help us accelerate thru the lulls and to sail lower and faster when in a puff while sailing down wind.
The mast on a Harbor 20 is a fractional rig, the mainsheet tensions the leech of the main, which in turn pulls the mast tip back, at the same time the force of the jibstay is trying to pull the mast forward, one force is pulling back the other is pulling forward, one is at the top of the mast the other is several feet down, the only thing keeping the mast from bending are the lowers, so the lowers control how much the mast bends and how much power you can put into the rig. They also control how far forward your mast can go down wind.
Your mast is like a bow and arrow, what controls the bow are the lowers, the tighter the lowers are the straighter the mast, the firmer your bow, it takes more mainsheet, backstay and boom vang to bend the mast and induce jibstay sag, as you literally have to make the mast shorter to get what you need!
When the mast is locked on at the old mast tune number of 27/20 you were really limited with what you can do with controlling the mast and the camber of the sails.
Since we often sail from puff to puff, you want to set your boat up for the lulls, so you can be sailing as hi and as fast as possible at all times. You want your boat to accelerate quickly and to be able to change the shape and camber of your sails as you accelerate thru a puff.
Its like finding a few new gears in your boats transmission, would you rather ride a 15 speed bike or a single gear mountain bike with fat tires?
The lowers control jibstay sag as they make the mast firmer – the softer the mast is the more it moves in the boat, the more control you have over the amount of jibstay sag you can induce, the more you can control your sail plan with just the mainsheet.
Ease the main and the jib takes over pulling the mast forward, allowing the mast to straighten and the jibstay to sag. Tighten the main, the mast comes back, you reduce the amount of jibstay sag as the mast rocks back and begins to bend.
Jibstay sag gives you power, point and acceleration –
Who doesn’t want to point higher, sail faster and be able to drive lower in a puff down-wind?
We all do, we are all looking to sail better, smarter and faster. But like everything it takes practice, you have to react to the conditions and shift gears. What is fast on one tack may differ in the next or from tack to tack. What matters most is sailing fast, connecting from puff to puff and working to sail the fastest course from mark to mark. As in sailing, often the fastest course is not the shortest distance, as everything we do has to be managed by the wind, current and obstructions we sail by and thru.
Note: What you want in in terms of power and control in light air, is different at the upper end when you need your mast under control, the jibstay flat and your mast bent to flatten the main.
Here is a sample of how I sail from puff to puff.
First I start the day looking at the tide, current, race venue, course location and competition.
I then set up Patches to the conditions I expect. My base tune is 12 on the upper and 6 on the lowers. If its light I go off a full turn on the uppers and a ½ turn on the lowers.
If I think its going to be windy and puffy, I go up a turn, last week I learned that if its going to blow 15 to go up three turns on the uppers and three to four turn on the lowers to set my rig and jibstay sag.
I believe you cant get enough rake on Harbor 20’s, so I set my rake by hoisting my measuring tape up the mast till it reads 28 feet when measured at the counsel and then going back to the transom; their your rake should measure 30’6” max to minimum of 30’4”. Mine is set at 30’4”.
I always double check to make sure my mast is in the middle of the boat, I do this by setting the main halyard so I can touch the combing and measure from side to side to get a feel that my mast is in the middle of the boat.
Now that my rig is set, I set my jib, I set it low enough on the jibstay so that I can max the outhaul in the biggest puff of the day, from their I sent the downhaul on the snug side of what I like, as I have learned with a small narrow jib works better draft forward with a flat exit, as I control the draft and camber with Jibstay sag.
Sailing upwind, fast is main eased, rig forward, 6-8 inches of jibstay sag, boat is powered up, as I heal, I trim the main harder and harder, this flattens the jib, makes the jibstay straight, main starts to flatten and I go into point mode.
Boat slows down, I lean on the jib, what I mean by this is that I bear off till the outside telltales are lifting, I east the main, power up the rig, get the jib to sag, as the jib sags I am able to sail in hi fast point mode with the tell tails lifting.
The goal is to be going as fast if not faster then the boats around, if I am slow, I work back thru the loop to be sailing faster. Its better to ease and sail fast then the luff, pinch and sail in bad air!
Most people under stack, they go from hi point to hi point mode, they, don’t east their mains in the tack and tack into the jibstay sag. You want to go from hi point mode to fast powered up mode, main eased, 6-8 inches of jibstay sag, outside telltales lifting, in full powered up mode.
The key here is to get the mast to move forward, to get use to sailing with a floppy jibstay. The goal is to get the jib out in front of the boat, to connect with the puffs and to sail low and fast. This takes practice, I have found that its really hard to trim the jib if it gets too far out in front of the boat, so the driver has to work with the jib trimmer, by working the backstay to keep the boat powered up.
There is nothing like connecting with a puff, having your rig forward, your jib powered and be sailing lower and faster then the boats around you.
It’s a lot of work, but when you master it there nothing like the feeling of speed, as indeed speed does bread brilliants
Patches H20 – 389