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Tacking in heavy air
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Author:  83Turbo [ Sat Jul 11, 2015 7:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Tacking in heavy air

Tacking in heavy air...couldn't do it. Just couldn't do it today. It was a good 20mph, maybe a little higher in the gusts, and it looked like I had never sailed before.

Every time I would come in to the eye of the wind, I would just stop dead in my tracks. I have a good "feel" for tacking the 14 in light/medium air, but my usual technique was not working, not even close.

I tried more rudder throw, less rudder throw, staying forward, middle, back, staying on the windward hull to try to get it to pivot over, letting out more sheet, less sheet, traveler adjustment, no luck.

As a bonus, I was almost blown over backwards during one of the blown tacks when I came head to wind.

I started going out it heavier air for the first time this summer, I didn't feel confident in the big stuff until recently. The day wasn't a total loss, I probably executed at least 20-30 heavy air gybes...got those down pat.

Ok folks, how do I tack this thing in heavy air?

Author:  flatlander [ Sun Jul 12, 2015 5:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tacking in heavy air

Big air on a 14 is a tacking challenge indeed.

Move the rudders smoothly to 45 degrees (don't jam them over or they'll stall!) and hold there, as the boat comes head to wind let out A LOT of main (like 3 feet)
As you move from the rear corner to the new side (towards front crossbar) put your shoulder into the boom pushing it towards the wind, this will keep flow on the main (just an extra second or so) and help finish the turn. Your weight moving forward will get the bows down to help start the new course. Straighten rudders and sheet in SLLOOOWWWLLYYY.

There's a fine line between success and failure, especially on a lake with big waves to slow you down during the turn.
The bailout move is called the Y tack (think of a Y upside down), all the same as above, but if the boat stalls simply push rudders and boom away from you, boat backs up and is now pointed in new tack direction.
Get weight forward, straighten rudders and sheet in SLLOOOWWWLLYYY.

Pushing the boom is much easier if you let out A LOT of mainsheet (like 3 feet)

Author:  83Turbo [ Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tacking in heavy air

I think most of the difficulty came from the chop, there are some huge cigarette boats on a narrow lake (not to mention wakeboard boats).

Every tack was stopped by the "hobby horse" effect. The times that I was closest to completing the tack I actually sat on the very end of the windward corner or hiked out, but still had to complete the tack with the back wind 3-point turn.

I'm wondering if I may be better off sailing anything over 20 in the choppy stuff just accepting the fact that I will not be able to complete the tack, and planning on the back wind 3-point turn?

I had plenty of speed, had the water been flat I probably could have made it work.

I usually start with about 20 degrees of rudder throw, make a big, sweeping arc and let out a ton of sheet when I come head to wind.

In the light stuff I stay on the old windward side until the bows have swung around to close reach on the new tack.

Then, I move forward and sheet in, steering back up...sometimes it even looks smooth, like I know what I'm doing.

Author:  flatlander [ Tue Jul 14, 2015 5:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Tacking in heavy air

Your last three sentences are right on the money!
Key being you want to make that smooth, arcing turn to carry the speed
Only critique is try pushing the rudders closer to 45 degrees during the turn

I'm wondering if I may be better off sailing anything over 20 in the choppy stuff just accepting the fact that I will not be able to complete the tack, and planning on the back wind 3-point turn?

That's what I meant by the "fine line". At some point it's just too much for the little boat to handle.
I've still had a ball sailing in BIG air all afternoon and never completing a "proper" tack

Author:  srm [ Wed Jul 15, 2015 11:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tacking in heavy air

I don't have a lot of H14 experience, but I did sail one several times in preparation for last year's NAC and got a few days of practice in sailing on our windy, choppy Barnegat Bay. I was having a very difficult time getting the boat to tack going from wire to wire until I discovered one trick that seemed to really increase my success rate. I turned off the ratchet on my main block. The problem I realized was that the mainsail would not let out quickly enough after reaching head-to-wind and releasing the sheet. This would cause the boat to weather vane. By turning off the ratchet, I could easily dump several feet of sheet which would allow the boat to continue to pivot through the turn. If the boat is weather vaning, you need to be letting out more sheet. Also, don't be too quick to sheet back in on the new tack or the boat will turn right up.

Anyway, it's something that might be worth trying, especially if you use a large diameter mainsheet.


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