It doesn't matter if you are a world champion or a total beginner. We can all learn a little more about sail trim. Every Newport to Ensenada Race (N2E) is going to be sailed in light air at some point… so grab a drink of some sort, sit back and soak up a few tips from Ullman Sails that you may find useful this year.
Light Air 2-8 kts
Light air upwind sailing is something that is commonly overlooked in preparation for the N2E. Something that seems unlikely as we all dream about flying spinnakers all night towards Ensenada. The reality is though that a southerly breeze is likely at the beginning of the race and also in the early morning hours. Knowing how to maximize your speed during these times can be the difference between being on the podium and watching from the peanut gallery.
The most important thing to remember is there are no hard and fast rules. Whatever works for you and your boat will not be the same for everyone. The only thing that remains the same is that boat speed makes you look good. We can all point straight up wind and not go anywhere but in light airs the people who move are the people who win.
Sail choice is the hardest part. Do you want your 155% genoa or drifter? Usually if boat speed is over 2kts then you want your Genoa up.
Adjustments should be made gently, the aim is to improve the flow. Not to stop it and start it again once the sail is set.
Keeping crew weight low and forward is the norm in these conditions but try to keep it compacted together as well. Most hull designs will have a lower wetted area with this weight forward approach.
Boat speed makes you look good! We can all point straight up wind and not go anywhere but in light air the people who move are the people who win.
Many helms like to drive from the leeward side in these conditions. Sitting low by the water can mislead you into thinking you are going fast. It can help the driver keep the bow down though and this is a fantastic technique in the N2E.
1.Backstay Eased. This allows the forestay to sag inducing more fullness in the headsail.
2.Luff tension eased allowing the sail to sit as full as possible to its design shape. Typically some small creases may form in the luff. Don't worry, this is fast...
3. Jib car. The relationship between car and sheet is imperative. Moving the car forward makes the sail fuller in the lower section. The sheet tension will control the twist in the leech. In light air you are looking for shape low and twist in the leech to keep air flowing onto the mainsail.
1. Backstay Eased. Mast as straight as possible making the main full.
2.Luff Tension Eased. Again some small creases are nothing to worry about.
3. Outhaul eased, typically you should be able to get your hand easily between the boom and the sail.
4.Leech. The aim is to keep the telltales flying to keep flow across the mainsail and therefore drive. Tensioning the leech will allow you to point but may lead to stalling the main. Keep it on the fast side of too tight is our advice.
If you would like more information on sail trim then please contact your local Ullman Sails loft:
Ullman Sails Newport Beach (714) 432-1860
Ullman Sails Long Beach (562) 598-6441