Looking after sails Page 3
Leech flutter in the sails might be mildly annoying to the crew, but when its prolonged it can gradually destroy the sailcloth. The noisy, rapid-fire flutter known as motorboating that often occurs when the headsail is strapped in hard for a beat is especially damaging. Dont be afraid to tension up the leechline to get rid of this horrid noise, but dont forget to ease it when you come off the wind.
There is a lamentable tendency to treat sheet leads as if the cars were bolted in place. Its all too common to see boats blithely sailing along with the bottom half of the genoa trimmed correctly while the upper part of the leech is flogging away, out of the crews sight. This can be avoided by using the sheet leads correctlymoving them forward when the sail is reefed and also when the boat is put onto a reach. If theyre too far forward when youre beating, therell be too much tension on the leech, and if too far aft, the foot will be overtensioned.
When youre tacking, release the lee sheet early enough so the sail doesnt catch against the spreader as the boat comes about, and sheet in quickly to minimize flogging. Dont trim the genoa in so hard it rests against the spreaderfour inches or so off is usually enough when going to windward.
Lastly, dont overtension halyards. They should be just tight enough to get the horizontal wrinkles out of the sail. If vertical creases appear, the luff tension is too high and, if repeated often enough, such abuse can deform the sail. When you leave the boat, ease off the genoa halyard and the mainsail outhaul; leaving tension on them can result in permanent stretch in the boltropes.
Excerpted from Peter Nielsens Sailpower: Trim and Techniques for Cruising Sailors, published by Sheridan House.