Skip to main content

Rake and bag

Pat Connolly, of Chatham, Massachusetts, asks: "My 23-foot sloop has weather helm. I replaced the hanked-on jib with a furling headsail, but after the furler was installed I had to tighten the backstay to get the sag out of the furling system even though the new forestay was cut to the same length as the old one. The owner’s manual says there should be a mast rake of about
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Pat Connolly, of Chatham, Massachusetts, asks:

"My 23-foot sloop has weather helm. I replaced the hanked-on jib with a furling headsail, but after the furler was installed I had to tighten the backstay to get the sag out of the furling system even though the new forestay was cut to the same length as the old one. The owner’s manual says there should be a mast rake of about 7 inches, but when I ran a line with a plumb bob from the top of the mast to the deck, I saw that the rake was about 18 inches. What can I do to reduce the weather helm?"

Win Fowler replies:

While many factors affect helm balance, mast rake does play a big role. If the rake is more than it should be, the center of effort of the sailplan will move aft and increase weather helm. One of the best ways to reduce weather helm is to shorten the forestay to bring the mast to a more vertical position. Wire will stretch when it is first put under load, and that might account for some of the sag. Still, if the new forestay is the same length as the old one, I’m sure that sag doesn’t account for the additional 11 inches of rake, which you do need to eliminate. Some furling systems can be adjusted for length; if you can shorten yours, I would start there first.

Next look at your main and jib. If either one, but particularly the mainsail, is full in the midsection with a leech that hooks to windward, that shape can also produce significant weather helm. To check your sails, get on a close-hauled course with your main and jib properly trimmed. Position yourself under the boom, midway along the foot, and look up; do the same thing with the jib. You’ll be able to see where the draft is in the sail and whether the leech is hooking to windward. Better yet, take a photo with the luff on one side of the frame and the leech on the other. Take the photos to your sailmaker, who will be able to confirm whether the shape and trim of your sails is contributing to your weather helm.

Related

thumbnail_Jump-1

The Marblehead-to-Halifax Ocean Race Returns

It’s been four years since racers last sailed the cold North Atlantic in the venerable Marblehead-to-Halifax race—and finally, the wait is over. The Boston Yacht Club and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron have announced the 39th Marblehead-to-Halifax Ocean Race set for this ...read more

Wendy-2048px

Meet Wendy Mitman Clarke, Editor-in-Chief of SAIL magazine

Learn more about how she and the magazine’s team are committed to building on SAIL’s legacy of more than 50 years as an authentic voice about the sport and the sailing life, delivering stories that educate, inspire and inform. ...read more

maintenance-02

Cruising: Old Sailors Never Die

“Old sailors never die, they just get a little dinghy.” It may be a hoary old joke, but one of my problems at age 79 is I can no longer get easily in and out of a little dinghy, and neither can my (several years younger than me) wife. For this, and various other reasons I will ...read more

01-LEAD-DSC_0953

The Mighty Compass

Here’s to the humble magnetic compass, without a doubt the sailor’s most reliable instrument onboard. It’s always there for you and with the rarest of exceptions, always operational. Yes, I love my chartplotter, autopilot, radar, and AIS. They help me be a safer and more ...read more

02-En-route-Jost-Van-D

Chartering: Swan Song in the BVI

Joseph Conrad once wrote, “The sea never changes.” And while this may or not be true, something most definitely not open for debate is the fact we sailors, “wrapped in mystery,” as Conrad put it, are continually changing—whether we like it or not. I found myself thinking these ...read more

220307FP51_1JML0332

Boat Review: Fountaine-Pajot Aura 51

If you can sell more than 150 catamarans off-plan before the resin has even hit the fiberglass, you must be doing something right. Despite costing around $1.1 million once fitted out and on the water, Fountaine-Pajot’s new 51 has done just that. The French yard has been at it ...read more

00LEAD-IMG-9035

Ready to Fly a New Sail

It’s a typical humid, southern Chesapeake Bay summer day when I show up on the doorstep of Latell & Ailsworth Sailmakers in the one-stoplight, one-lane-roadway, rural tidewater town of Deltaville, Virginia. I’m late getting here to work on a new jib for my 29-foot, Bill ...read more

m5702_RACE-AREA-6

Dates for the 2024 America’s Cup Announced

Ever since making the controversial decision to hold the next America’s Cup in Barcelona, Spain, instead of in home waters, Defender Emirates Team New Zealand has been hard at work organizing logistics for the event.  The Racing Area for the Challenger Selection Series and the ...read more