Ask SAIL: Where Should Telltales Go?

Publish date:
Social count:

Q: My crew and I have been debating the location of telltales on our boat, a 30-footer we race only casually. We’ve already got telltales on the luff of the genoa and on the trailing edge of the main. The question is whether it makes sense to have telltales elsewhere, like in the belly of the mainsail.

Margret Price, Waterville, MI


That’s a good question and one that can be answered two ways. Telltales are there to show you how the wind is flowing across your sail, and the two locations where you already have telltales are the most important. You need telltales along the luff of your genoa or jib to show you just how close you can sail to the wind. (Ganted, you will be able to see the sail starting to back if you try and sail too high, but telltales are light and will indicate a stalling sail much sooner than the sail itself.) Similarly, telltales along the leech of your main are important because it’s the back end of that sail that works with the keel to provide lift when sailing to windward. Therefore, it’s critical to have these early warning signals to let you know if your main is set right or starting to stall out, bleeding off power.

Having said that, what harm is there to adding telltales all over the sail? Surely the more you know about the wind flow across your sail the better? However, I don’t think that’s really true, and I think that having too many telltales can be confusing and distract from the two very important sets that have just been described. With that in mind, you may want to add a set along the luff of the mainsail, but that’s about all you need. Less is more, as they say.

July 2016


Landing Page Lead

The Volvo Returns to the Southern Ocean

Since the Volvo Ocean Race’s inception, the Southern Ocean has made it what it is. And no part of the race says “Southern Ocean” like Leg 7 from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajaí, Brazil. The 7,600-mile leg, which starts this Sunday, is not only the longest of the event, but far more


SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comTeak deck paradise  I had a call recently from the man who replaced the deck on my Mason 44 five years ago. He was worried about the way people are wrecking their teak decks trying to get the green off. more


Gear: ATN Multi Awning

THROW SOME SHADEAmong the many virtues of cruising cats is the large expanse of netting between their bows, which is the ideal place to hang out with a cold one after a hard day’s sailing and let the breeze blow your worries away. Only trouble is it can get a bit hot up there more


How to Sail the Med

“After spending so many years sailing the Caribbean, I was frankly astounded at how much more I enjoy the Mediterranean,” says Scott Farquharson of charter brokers Proteus Yacht Charters. “The culture, the history, the food, the weather, friendly people, crystal-clear water—there more


Know-How: Rigging Emergency Rudders

We were 1,100 miles from the nearest land when we received a text message on our Iridium GO: “Rudder gone. Water in bilge. Worried pumps can’t keep up. Please call!”We had been in contact with the owners of Rosinante, a 38ft Island Packet, since they had first announced over the more


Experience: Hard Aground

This is a story of how mistakes are made and judgment is dulled to the point of catastrophe. It is also about how prudent planning, good equipment and a bit of luck can bring you back from the brink.We departed Norfolk, Virginia, on December 15 bound for Jacksonville, Florida, more


Vestas Discusses Fatal Collision, Recovery

Vestas 11th Hour Racing co-captains Mark Towill and Charlie Enright discuss the collision near the end of Leg 4 as well as the efforts the team has made to get back into racing trimJust over a month after 11th Hour Racing’s fatal collision with a commercial fishing vessel shortly more