Waves and Forereaching
Here is a great question from a student with our answer below.
Any chance you can email me the barber hauler article direct?
I’m at sea, on a out new-to-us 40′ Leopard Cat on a 1200nm journey and have been really struggling to get the headsail to set right while running downwind. I currently have it barber hauled using the lazy sheet and a midships cleat, but it is far from eloquent.
The issue had been driving me nuts and I’ve really struggled to stop the headsail from back winding. It feels like a velocity header, but it is not. It feels like the headsail is too far out, but I’m sure it’s not. It feels like the headsail wants to gybe, but I’m at 130-140 awa [apparent wind angle]. Admittedly the sea is a factor – 3-5m swell, but it really feels like I’m just doing something basic wrong… But I can work it out.
The problem is when running (150+ twa / 25tws). The only way i can stop it is to come up, but I’m sure i should be able to run!! So frustrating!
Anyway, if you can email me the barber hauler article, I’ll have a read and see what I can see.
I’ve also cc’d my friend Nathan who is a sailing coach based in Auckland.
A Barber Hauler is more for close to beam reaching and helping to shape the gap between the main and the jib. When trying to run from 130 awa and more you’re experiencing shadowing by the main. As you pointed out, as you roll the awa will change vastly because of the velocity of the roll. But also the apparent wind will change as the boat speeds up and slows down with the waves. You can use a pole to get the jib out further and to hold it in place so it does not collapse. But ultimately to keep the sails full and gain the best speed of the boat you will need to fore reach. Fore reaching is sailing the boat to the waves to keep the sails full and the same awa. As you climb a wave the boat slows down, the wind shifts aft so you need to turn up. As you surf the wave and the boat speed picks up you need to bear away. Also as the wave passes you and you slip back off the top of the wave the mast will roll to windward shifting the away forward – turn up. As you go through the trough and the mast rolls downwind the awa shifts backward – turn up.
Surfing a wave or rolling backwards off the top as the wave passes you underneath – turn downwind
Climbing up a wave or rolling forward in the trough as the trough passes you underneath – turn upwind
Ultimately from the boat polar plot that we talk a lot about in the Electronic Navigation course – your best speed to a downwind destination is going to be around 130 degrees awa. In doing this you are keeping the sails full and not shadowed – however again as you point out this is a challenge in waves. Sailing at 150 deg although seems faster because you are heading more directly to your destination, your boat speed is suffering. Also keeping the sails full will make for a more comfortable ride.
Advice is to keep the sails full at around 130 apparent wind angle and to forereach the waves.
I’ll try to put up an animation soon on fore reaching.