Light Air Sailing

11/15/2001 by Struan Robertson

Copyright:© 2001 Horizon Hobby, Inc.

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Page 3: Critical Setup
Page 4: Mr Smooth
(continued from previous page)

Your boat setup is critical. All too often I see boats on light air days with everything on far too tight and fittings that are just way too heavy for the job at hand. Try a little experimentation with a leaf out of the late Ben Lexcen's book. 'If it doesn't break. It's too heavy'. Graham Bantock supplies a really nice boxed section for One-Meter booms, but I believe it is for mainsails and not jibs. On a 1-M it is so much overkill on the jib for what? Stiffness? A little spring in the boom will help the jib twist off with gust response in heavier airs, so why not try a 10 mm OD arrow shaft from the local archery shop (find in the Yellow Pages). It's about on third of the weight of the box section and will allow the jib to swing more easily on light air days. Also look at getting extraneous paraphernalia on the boom.

A little thought or a good look at a competitor's boat will most likely reveal a better option. If you must retain a bowsie on the booms for sheet adjustment, then move them as close as possible to the pivot point of that spar to reduce the moment of inertia, and use some elastic to hold them snug to the boom. In light air the weight of the bow is enough to pull them down the sheet and change the entire sheeting angle of that sail.

Another thing I see are boats set up with no easy adjustments on the forestay or jib luff. The ability of easing off the jib luff for light air is, I believe, critical, as well as the ability to ease the forestay to alter mast rake. The mainsheet post is designed as a method of pulling the boom as close to the centerline of the hull without pulling down on the sheet. In other words, the vang is used to control mainsail twist and the mainsheet is used to control the sail's angle to the boat. If the mainsheet post is too far below the boom, then as soon as the main is sheeted hard on it will pull down, thus reducing upper sail twist, which will stall out the top of the sail and reduce speed. There is quite a lot of wind sheer on light days so sails should be loose and twisted off at the top. Install a vertically adjustable mainsheet post.