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Improving a vessels upwind performance


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What is the issue?
Upwind sailing is an arduous pounding affair that we all try to avoid. However hard we try to avoid 'the beat', it is inevitable that we all have to go upwind sometime.

When it happens most cruising sailors are completely taken aback by the vessels sudden lack of upwind performance when set against a vessels theoretical pointing capability or one experienced previously when leisure sailing. Whilst cruising the boat seems to defy logic and refuse to point effectively.

The difference is the added equipment weight of the expedition and household equipment that effectively kills off upwind performance. This comes as a surprise to most cruising sailors causing problems when they are forced to go upwind to reach their destination.


Why address this?
An upwind leg will come to most every voyage at some stage. Poor performance in addressing it could add days to a passage or even make a destination unreachable. Poor upwind performance could also place a vessel in jeopardy on a lee shore.

How to address this?
Add a simple improvised inner foresail in figures 1 and 2, plus in figure 3 you can see it presented in action on our vessel. Adding an inner foresail will effectively turbo-charge the upwind sailing capabilities.

Although powerful the sail arrangement is very simple to implement. All that is required in terms of rigging is a heavy duty through-deck U bolt on the fore deck plus a similar simple eye attachment on the mast at the cross trees level. Add to this the dual block rig and wire cable as presented in figure 1 and a small very flat sail plus hanks.

This rig can be tied off when not required or more conveniently stowed away to be shackled in place as required - preferably before setting off on an upwind leg as it does require a visit to the crosstrees.

Once in place the halyard both hosts the sail plus, as it is wrapped around the lower block, tensions the wire stay. We run the sheet through a thimble in the main sheet block and it worked perfectly well for a trim. However a short length of line, what we had described as a barber hauler, can be attached to the mast and tied to the clew of the sail to trim it more tightly. Hence no additional cars or tracks are needed for this simple but very effective sail.

The difference is dramatic. Especially so when you look at figure 3 and see how tired and baggy our genoa had become after sailing three quarters of the world as shown in the photograph.


With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.







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