4th Gear – Overpowered
In medium to heavy airs the main needs be as flat as possible to give the boat the least drag, with a small amount of lift. The outhaul should be fully tensioned so the foot is tight to the boom. The luff should also be tensioned so the draft half way back. If creases at the luff develop to get the draft at 50% then that’s OK. The mast should be fully bent – the backstay should be fully on.
With the sail as flat as possible, set the mainsheet and twist. Trimming the sheet until the top batten is more open than parallel to the boom, and on fractional mainsails, the batten should be a even more twisted. The traveller will be almost fully down the track, and must be played for every gust, whilst not changing the twist.
Now check the telltales, they should all fly.
The helmsman may be struggling now to keep the boat going well, especially in waves, so you must not overpower the rudder at all- better to be more eased than to cause the rudder to be being overworked. Watch the helm as much as the sail, and if more than 10 degrees of helm is being used, ease the traveller down.
Backwinding will be a feature of the main now, and in the gusts it may well be eased so much that the only part of the sail that is powered is the batten area of the leech.
The headsail needs to be set initially with the correct twist and as flat as possible to give the boat the most power it can from the wind. With a heavy genoa or Code 2 or 3 jib up you want to create as much point as possible.
Tension the halyard, and have the draft at 35-40%. Recheck the sheet for the correct twist, so the foot of the sail has no shape, and sits almost with a straight foot. Get the draft at 40%. Watch the telltales, and you will have the top set luff earlier than the bottom – you have more twist which helps keep the boat upright.
Trim the sheet until the leech is fully onto the spreaders is good starting point, but on fractional boat, two thirds of the way along the spreader is a good place for the leech. If you have inhaulers, move the clew out to about 9 degrees, rechecking the spreader/leech position and the telltales for twist.
In waves the twist may have to be more, so the helmsman can steer around the waves to keep speed.