Sail trimming in Upwind sailing in Greece is of extreme importance if you want to sail fast and safely in the challenging Greek waters. If you are an experienced sailor you know that sail trimming can be taught, but mostly can be felt; the savvy sailors know that no matter what you see and no matter what you know, the feeling of the sails is what should direct you. And of course, you should always check what your telltales tell you!
Trimming your sails upwind when sailing in Greece
The trend in the past 5 years has been to flatten the entry on the headsails, thus affecting how the sails are trimmed. Because the #1 Genoa is usually 180% and carries quite an overlap on the mainsail, it is important not to over sheet the genoa.
Our general rule of thumb is never sheet the leech closer than 5″ off the spreader. In light, lumpy conditions, when in a heavier boat, you will sail upwind with genoa as much as 12″ to 15″ off the spreader. You can adjust the sail trim quite frequently; if you have a bad set of waves approaching, we ease the sheet and power through. A heavy boat does not accelerate well, so this is a crucial adjustment which needs continual attention.
Most of the genoas on the market today have a wire luff, with a floating tack. We do not use (nor do we have) a winch for the genoa halyard. One of the most common mistakes is to over-tension the halyard. The genoa demands continual adjustment and is played frequently while sailing up-wind, much the same way as the genoa sheet is.
Mainsail Trimming for Upwind Sailing
Your best bet is to never cleat the mainsheet and constantly play it. The leech ticklers make it quite easy to determine how much mainsheet tension is desired when sailing upwind. The top tickler should be flying 20 to 30% of the time. If it flies all the time, you’re not sheeting hard enough.
Vice versa, if it never flies, you’re over sheeting the main. As the wind increases, you can play the mainsheet to take the bite to weather. In a flat spot, you can briefly over-sheet the main, hardening the leech, which allows the boat to point better, then ease quickly to normal trim for boat speed. The trick is to feel if the boat is slowing down to trim for boat speed at that time. Timing is critical.
You should only use the backstay when you feel the boat is over-powered, and adjust it frequently. Do not vang-sheet the mainsail.
If the boat has a large overlapping genoa, if you ease the main with the vang on, you close the slot. With no vang, when you ease the mainsheet, the top spills off first, the bottom of the sail doesn’t move outboard, and you keep the slot open.
Again, in order to keep the slot open, you should not drop the traveler below center. If you effectively play the mainsheet, there is no need to adjust the traveler. In the lightest conditions, keep the traveler approximately 10″ above center.