Ask SAIL: Different Tacks, Different Performance

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DIFFERENT TACKS, DIFFERENT PERFORMANCE

Q: What may be the reason that my boat exhibits different behavior depending on whether I am sailing on starboard or porttack? It points higher on starboard tack than it does on port. Is my sail trim at fault?
Alejandro Morassutti, Buenos Aires, Argentina

BRIAN HANCOCK REPLIES

I am sure it’s frustrating, but it has nothing to do with your sails and everything to do with your appendages. Since I am not an expert on the bits of the boat below the waterline, I turned to yacht designer Rodger Martin. Here is what he told me: “It’s quite likely that either the keel is not aligned correctly or the keel and/or the rudder are not symmetrical. If the keel is just a degree or two off centerline, it will cause the boat to sail differently on port and starboard. The same will apply to the symmetry of the rudders or the keel. If they are just the smallest bit asymmetrical, the boat will sail differently on different tacks.”

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