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Sailing Advice, Tips & Tricks

Random Short Tacks

Dave's random thoughts, rants, and discussions are mostly derived from private email threads. We're making them available to a wider audience. Some may be a few years old, but they're still quite relevant.

Using telltales effectively – I guess that should be "Trimming for more speed with telltales"  :)  (December 2009)

Follow-up to the telltales talk (December 2009)

An under-trimmed mainsail (December 2009)

Tips on trimming the chute (January 2007)

Using ratchet blocks for cross sheeting (January 2007)

Random thoughts on boat handling in moderate air (January 2009)

Setting the pole (January 2009)

Tweekers help keep the bow out of the waves (January 2009)

Geographic and persistent shifts (December 2009)

Geographic shifts as wind blows off shore (February 2008)

Tips on trimming the pole and other chute issues (February 2007)

Square lines (April 2008)

Rounding the weather mark (December 2009)

Failing to upshift (December 2009)

Controlling your own destiny (December 2009)

Current in Lake Maumelle (especially when the lake is up) (November 2009)

Playing east winds on Lake Maumelle (November 2009)

"Southish" winds on Lake Maumelle, and a few other thoughts (March 2009)

Handling the jib downwind (February 2009)

Dave's "Strategery" Series

The "Strategery" Series columns have appeared in the GMSC Mainsheet and maybe elsewhere.

Please note that these are in various formats, depending on what was available to us. Some are PDFs , which anyone can read, but many are Word documents . They might be a problem if you don't use Word, although many other word processors can open Word documents.

Sweet vindication of an earlier column on hiking (October 2009)

Jibing to the inside and a few other random thoughts (July 2009)

Just no substitute for hiking on any boat (June 2009)

Get the most out of those tacking arms on your windex (May 2009)

The first of two boat handling columns (January 2009)

Followup to the first boat handling column (March 2009)

Use the tuning guide as a starting point (Summer 2008)

If you don't get neck cramps you're probably not sailing as hard as you can (Summer 2008)

Pack Meat: gregarious sailors in the comfort zone (May 2008)

A few common mistakes sailors often make (April 2008)

Recommended Reading

The Art and Science of Sails, by Tom Whidden and Michael Levitt, St. Martin's Press, NY, 1990.

Whidden's book provides an excellent discussion of how sails actually work. In the process, it puts to rest many of the old myths, such as

  • The slot speeds up the airflow
  • Bernoulli's principle describes how lift is generated
  • The wind flows a greater distance around the leeward side of the sail, forcing it to flow faster so "brother particles" can meet again at the leech.
Whidden completely demolishes that last argument. Amen, Brother Particle! The only quibble is that Whidden's discussion of the vang is completely wrong for most boats. He describes it as a purely vertical adjustment (as is typical on 12 meter boats). But on many small one-designs the pull is more forward than downward, making the vang a great tool for inducing mast bend.

Whidden's book is currently out of print, but used copies abound. You can usually find a copy on Amazon. My own copy from Amazon appears to have been stolen from a library somewhere; it still has the Dewey Decimal System label ("623.862 Whi") on the spine!

Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing, by Dave Perry, United States Sailing Association, current edition.

Perry translates the terse Racing Rules of Sailing into practical descriptions of on-the-water situations that most of us find a lot easier to understand than the rules in the RRS. Too many club racers just don't understand the racing rules well enough. This book will help if you take it seriously. Keep a copy by the head and read a few pages whenever you sit down.

Updated 22 March, 2012

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