Cruising

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How to find the favored end of the line

Determining which end of a starting line is favored can be tricky. At a recent J/World racing clinic, North Sails sailmaker and J/World instructor Geoff Moore provided three useful methods for determining a line’s favored end. It’s important to test the line before the warning gun is fired so as not to interfere with another start; you’ll need to monitor windshifts to make sure your chosen end is still favored for your start.

Luff and look The simplest method for finding the favored end is to maneuver into the middle of the line, lower your headsail (boat depending), and turn head to wind until your mainsail is completely luffing. If your bow is pointing closer to the committee boat, that’s the favored end, and vice versa.

Compass bearing Again, lower your headsail, maneuver into the center of the line, and head into the wind; take a compass bearing when your bow is pointed exactly into the wind. Next, bear off and run the line several times, noting your headings. The end with the more acute angle to the wind is favored.

You can combine these two methods, killing two seagulls with one stone. Simply take a compass bearing and visually check the angle of your bow relative to the line when your bow is pointed straight into the wind.

Sheet and cleat Start by lowering your headsail and sailing parallel to the line in one direction, making sure your mainsail is perfectly trimmed. Then cleat off your mainsheet, tack or gybe, and sail a reciprocal course (compass bearings are useful for this). Look up at your sail to see what the telltales are doing. Do you need to fall off? If so, the other end of the line is favored. Do you need to head up? If so, the side of the line toward which you are sailing is favored.


Special thanks to Geoff Moore and J/World. Stay tuned for an upcoming review of J/World’s Advanced Racing class.

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