Downwind Dance

Racers know that moving the genoa fairlead outboard on a reach improves boatspeed, but many cruisers overlook this and wind up sailing longer passages as a result. Whenever the wind is abeam or farther aft, it is best to open up the slot between the genoa and mainsail. When a boat bears away from a close-hauled course and its mainsail is eased, the mainsail boom moves away from the
Author:
Updated:
Original:
downwinddance

Racers know that moving the genoa fairlead outboard on a reach improves boatspeed, but many cruisers overlook this and wind up sailing longer passages as a result. Whenever the wind is abeam or farther aft, it is best to open up the slot between the genoa and mainsail.

When a boat bears away from a close-hauled course and its mainsail is eased, the mainsail boom moves away from the centerline. If the genoa fairlead stays inboard, the slot between the main and the jib will become restricted, disrupting the airflow over the two sails and diminishing the sails’ lift and drive. Boatspeed will drop.

Ironically, when the genoa fairlead is moved forward as the wind moves aft—which helps keep the top of the sail pulling correctly—slot constriction is made worse, because most genoa tracks curve inboard to match the deck configuration. The solution is to use a barber hauler. Usually this involves placing a snatch block on the toerail outboard of the genoa fairlead’s position on the track. To set up the barber hauler, first trim the genoa sheet properly, then run a second sheet from the genoa clew outside the lifelines, if possible, and back through the snatch block to a winch. Trim this line until it takes a load, then ease the genoa sheet. When the barber hauler takes the load of the sail, the clew will move outboard of the genoa track, opening up the slot.

If the wind comes forward of abeam, the genoa sheet’s lead will now be too far outboard. Ease the barber-hauler line and take up on the genoa sheet. This will pull the clew in to somewhere between the inboard and outboard positions, wherever the sail works best.

If the boat has a reaching strut, you can set it up on the leeward side of the mast and sheet the genoa through the jaw at the outboard end of the pole. This will get the jib clew farther outboard than the barber hauler will, opening up the slot even more. Another alternative is to sheet the genoa to the end of the main boom. However you do it, getting the headsail’s sheet lead outboard will improve your offwind performance. Ed Mapes

Related

Waypoint.image.cd

Say No To Waypoints

Ever since they first appeared in my navigational toolbox decades ago I have been wary of waypoints. They certainly do seem helpful, these electronic flags we plant in the ether to guide us to where we want to go. But I noticed early on they also tend to distort our perception. ...read more

Lead-shutterstock_429247

A Cruise up Florida’s St. Johns River

The chart showed 45ft of vertical clearance, and I knew the boat should be able to pass under the bridge. Still, there was that nagging voice in my head that wouldn’t let me be. “What if your air draft calculations were wrong?” it said. “And if you’re just a little too high the ...read more

pic00

Installing a Helm Pod

Our 1987 Pearson project boat came with an elderly but functioning Raymarine chartplotter, located belowdecks at the nav station. Since I usually sail solo or doublehanded, it was of little use down there—it needed to be near the helm. When I decided to update the plotter along ...read more

Panamerican

Pan American Game Success

Team USA’s young sailors went to the quadrennial Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru this summer with high hopes, and returned with a good haul of medals—two Golds, three Silvers, and two Bronze. Gold medals went to Ernesto Rodriguez and Hallie Schiffman (Mixed Snipe) and Riley ...read more

190916-AC75

U.S. Team Launches First America’s Cup Boat

Fast forward to around 2:25 to see the boat in action. First day out and already doing full-foiling gybes: not too shabby! Hard on the heels of the unveiling of New Zealand’s first AC75, the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic team has now launched its first America’s Cup ...read more

GGTobCaysHorseshoeColors

Picking a Charter Destination

Picking a destination should reflect the interests of your group, says People often ask about my favorite charter destination, and invariably, I sidestep the question with one of my own: “Well, what do you want to do on your vacation?” Most often I hear an incredulous, “Why, ...read more

sinking

Waterlines: Chasing Leaks on Boats

Chasing leaks on boats is a time-honored obsession. Rule number one in all galaxies of the nautical universe through all of nautical history has always been the same: keep the water on the outside. When water somehow finds its way inside and you don’t know where it’s coming ...read more

BestBoatNominees2020-Promo

Best Boats Nominees 2020

Bring on the monohulls! In a world increasingly given over to multihull sailing, SAIL magazine’s “Best Boats” class of 2020 brings with it a strong new group of keelboats, including everything from luxury cruisers nipping at the heels of their mega-yacht brethren to a number of ...read more