Reefing

Posted by Grant Headifen on December 15, 2008 under Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

After a cold front came through last week we decided to go out sailing – hey it’s Texas we can still sail this time of the year. The wind was up 20-25 knots. The not so great thing about sailing on Lake Travis in Austin however is the high hills and valleys surrounding it tend to create pretty severe gusts. So when the wind is up that high, it’s pretty interesting sailing. But you can see the ripples from the gust across the water so you know when each gust is coming.

Knowing the wind speed from the anemometer we prepared the boat as we motored out of the harbor by reefing the sails. Turns out not enough however. When we go out to the main basin the boat would constantly round up in the winds. That’s pretty frustrating so we reefed again. But the trick is to know in the first place why the boat rounds up.

If you imagine a coke bottle in the water.

Representation of a sailboat in the water

Representation of a sailboat in the water

The arrow represents the action of the wind pushing on the sailboat. You can see that the neck of the coke bottle will round up into the wind. Similarly on a sail boat. If the combined action of the wind is towards the rear of the boat then the boat will round up.

To lessen the effect – you simply move the combined action of the wind forward. Do this by reefing the main sail. You can effectively test this by releasing the mainsail sheet and the boom vang to spill the wind out of the sail.

So we reefed the main sail some more and then as a gust would approach we’d simply let out on the traveller to spill out wind from the main sheet. Then tighten it back up again as the gust passed.

We’re not sure if the boat that was in front of us was racing but they do say two sailboats heading in the same direction = a race. So in using this technique we quickly passed the other boat.

Hope that little tip helped. Contribute to this blog if you’ve got other trimming techniques.


  • Eric Perlinger said,

    What a difficult course. I read and re-read the material 5 times and still failed the test, several times. I finally passed it on my 4th try. I then took it a 5th time to better my score. The clinic is really worthwhile. I feel I have a good base it what powers a sailboat.

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