13 Ways to Make Your Cruiser Faster (and Luckier?)

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The jib tracks and main traveller on this boat are some nice go-fast features, the solar panels and cockpit canvas, not so much. Photos by Blake Jackson/MarbleheadStudios.com

The jib tracks and main traveller on this boat are some nice go-fast features, the solar panels and cockpit canvas, not so much. Photos by Blake Jackson/MarbleheadStudios.com

 A racing spinnaker will help going downwind

A racing spinnaker will help going downwind

  1. Practice: Good sailhandling doesn’t just happen: it takes practice. In preparation for your first big race, take the crew out and throw in a bunch of gybes, tacks and mark roundings. You might be surprised at how quickly you get better. It can also be a lot of fun!
  2. Lose weight/windage: Emptying your water tanks and leaving things like cockpit grills, dodgers and seat cushions on the dock will not only make you faster, but clear the decks for fast crew work.
  3. Telltales: Whether made of yarn or nylon, telltales along the luff of the jib and the leech of the main are vital for effective beating; same thing with some bits of yarn flying from your shrouds on a reach.
  4. Service your deck gear: Winches, blocks, tracks—all need to be adequately lubricated and in good working order. A little excess friction makes sail handling much more difficult, especially in heavy weather.
  5. Tune your rig: No purchase necessary, just adjust the shrouds you already have to ensure your mast stays in column.
  6. Clean your boat’s bottom: Even a little fouling beneath the waterline can make a world of difference.
  7. Windex: Make the invisible visible with this simple but important bit of gear.
  8. Get a whisker pole: Even if you’re only racing jib-and-main, that’s no reason not to go fast downwind.
  9. Cunningham: This small, inexpensive bit of kit is vital to controlling draft in your main.
  10. Add adjustable jib sheet cars: Get the most out of your headsails on any point of sail.
  11. New Halyards: It’s simply impossible to control sail shape if your halyards are stretching, either over time or in the puffs.
  12. Backstay adjuster: So you’ve got your mast in-column; now all you need is a backstay adjuster to eliminate forestay sag on a beat and flatten out your main in heavy weather.
  13. Feathering or folding propeller: Get an extra knot of boatspeed, just like that: best of all, you’ll also improve passage times when cruising.
Adjustable jib sheet cars help

Adjustable jib sheet cars help

A low-drag propeller can add to boatspeed

A low-drag propeller can add to boatspeed

Do You Know Your Racing Signals? Take a Quiz to Test Your Knowledge!

How to Race Your Cruiser

Some Good Races for Beginners

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