Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Smooth Move

Over the series this year I have been able to work on my tacks and jibes creating a smoother tack and avoiding oversteering, which I had been doing early in the season. I combined several techniques that I have either read about or have been instructed on to arrive at my technique. Not to say it is the best but it does seem to work for me.

One of the key pieces of information that helped me orient myself at the till was to follow these simple guidelines:

  • the helmsman always faces the sails to windward

  • Tacking: move the tiller first then move yourself (to the windward side) after the tack is complete

  • Jibing: move yourself (to the windward side) first then move the tiller to jibe

With these simple general rules the helmsman never has to think about whether they are pushing the tiller away from them to make a turn or pulling the till towards. By following these simple techniques the tiller is always pushed away from the helmsman no matter whether it is a tack or a jibe.

When tacking, ease the helm slowly and smoothly, as the turn progresses push the tiller faster but maintain a smooth sweep. This reduces drag and loss of speed during the tack. When the boat is head to wind start returning the tiller to centreline. The return action should be quicker than the release action but still a smooth motion. The timing on the return takes a little practice but the return timing will determine whether you land on your close-hauled course or not.

When Jibing, follow a smooth continuous speed motion with the tiller (whether in heavy winds or light winds, this action is always the same). The difference in light versus heavy winds is the main sheet. In lighter winds the helmsman can, once crossing the true wind, grab the mainsheet and coax it to the new side and continue the jibe. In heavier winds as you begin the jibe sheet in the main continually to help with the turn and to centreline the main. The main should be sheeted in to centreline as you reach dead downwind, as you cross the wind, ease the main out on the new side to maintain speed.


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