Rig tuning has always felt like a bit of a dark art to me, as was probably abundantly clear from my last post. There are so many variables to consider, and then, when you factor in variations in sailor-performance (sometimes you sail like Pete Burling and sometimes...well, sometimes you don't) - I don't know how anyone figures out what is fast and what is slow.
It's probably why I sail a Laser.
The problems kick in, though, when I do step into a boat that requires a bit of tuning. I have two tactics that I normally use in such circumstances:
- I try to use a boat that has been put together by someone who really knows what they are doing
- I try to have crew that really knows how to set up the boat on the day
Some will call this "passing the buck of responsibility". I call it "delegation". We'll agree to disagree.
The point I'm making is that I really don't have much of a clue about how to tune a boat. I've learned what I need to know for sailing a Laser, but there's not an awful lot of rig tuning in a Laser, and beyond that it is all a little confusing.
Until this week. As I've mentioned, I discovered a gem of a book on rig tuning, but it was actually this video that got me interested in the topic:
Micheal McNamara makes tuning seem so much more simple than it had appeared to me before, and I was actually motivated to experiment with tuning after watching this. Sailmakers in general are much better than they used to be about sharing information with their customers and helping them get the best out of their sails - at least that is how it seems to me anyway.
If you're a bit tuning-phobic (as I was) then I recommend you give this video a go. There's lots of good advice and tips, and you might learn enough to make you want to find out more.
There's loads of interesting bits, but here's some of my favourites:
- Sailing 5° off the wind will result in an extra 75 metres sailed for a half mile beat
- The vital importance of getting the jib tension correct for the conditions
- The reason behind why we should aim to have the windward tell-tale pointing as high as possible whilst still streaming - I knew we should do this, but I had never known why we should do this.
- Why we should be looking at the "schizophrenic" part of the mainsail in a two-handed boat.
- Why it is so important to ease the cunningham as soon as you ease the vang in a two-handed boat
There is, of course, lots more gems in here, but I leave you to find them for yourself.