Sail an A Boat Faster

by Buddy Melges

Set up: Winds 5 12 m.p.h.

1.Mast Rake Hoist tape measure to black band then take to transom corner and measure 428″.

2.Jib Should be set on halyard ball to allow 2″ of scope left when at maximum tension on luff control. Start high on clew board so jib leech will strike lower spreader 9″ in from tip = good idea to place a tape at that point on spreader.

If the main now has too much back wind, lower one or two holes on clew board. If the ram is held aft at this time or the mast is held straight lower 1/3 = release ram control to allow mast to float. Now cleat ram in neutral position so that boom vang may be used and will not induce more low mast been unless desired and if so release ram and allow mast to move forward at deck line, this action will flatten lower 1/3 of main sail and also effect set to lower batten. If low batten (leech) is up, this is flaps down for pointing and slow speeds. The ram forward and outhaul will trip this batten and boat will accelerate.

Mast set up: Winds 15 25 m.p.h.

Release mask rake control while sailing to windward (in winds over 15 m.p.h.) until when trimmed to maximum mainsheet tension the blocks on the main traveler are 8″ top of traveler block to bottom of the boom block.

When raking the mast the jib clew lowers and releases the jib leech opening the slot” between jib leech relationship to spreader should now be 3″ in from spreader tip. If the wind increases into the twenties the jib car can be released outward until leech of jib is at spreader tip or beyond.

Ram should be induced at this time to flatten lower sail camber lock ram when desired flatness of main is achieved so the boom vang may be played aggressively.

Running back stay must be lead to boomkin for best results. Some runner is used in all conditions over 6 m.p.h. When sailing in 20 m.p.h. pull until you can no longer move the fine tune control.

Mast tune (Athwartship)

The column should be straight or a slight sag from deck to tip put intermediate shroud at center of mast, top shroud should be just forward with lower forward of top mast on alllarge section carbon mast.

Aluminum mast and small section carbon masts may have lower in aft mast position of the 3 (but no open holes between shrouds at chain plate). Tension shrouds to be very taut.

Jib traveler should be 21″ off center when sailing 0 15 m.p.h. Winds over 15 m.p.h. try the leads 28″ off center.

Main traveler on center until over powered, then move down or outward to control angle of heel.

Rules when easing main, the sail will camber (get deeper) when dropping traveler outward or down this act will depower. So much for set up by the numbers lets talk about sail handling and crew work, in winds around 10 m.p.h. which is boat speed conditions.

Considering the crew is all on the windward rail and hiking out the following guide lines must be followed.

  1. The lee rail must be wet or just dry. Never have any water on the deck because we will lose the lateral resistance of the bilge boards.
  2. If the outside tickler on the jib begins to flutter or jump and the boat goes flat in the water, the crew has missed the opportunity to move ahead of the wind pressure in order to maintain the perfect heel angle. If the inside tickler of the jib stalls it should be up to the helmsman to pull the bow down to maintain heel angle without crew movement.
  3. The crew and shipper must always present the boat for Mother Nature before she arrives to the boat. In short, if sailing into puff the skipper heads up the crew hikes and the mainsheet person and traveler person must stand ready to act. The jib person would be first to act if the new puff is a lift the jib should be cambered then the bow will start into the wind with little effort from the helmsman. Then the jib is trimmed once the heel angle is stabilized and the track of the hull is to the wind. This act is probably followed by the mainsheet person easing the main and the traveler lowered but only for the duration of the puff.

Most crews do really well on increase wind pressure but the crews that win anticipate the hulls and start the power up procedure before the boat enters the lull. This is the challenge and the crew calling the wind and pressure consistently will probably be the winner.

Bilge boards on the A are large in profile and can be pulled up to 8″ in a breeze to release the “constipation” and windward helm.

Obviously time in the boat is the big winner. A crew of 6 or 7 needs to work as one, with each person doing the job required to win or gain boat speed. Present the boat on every angle to the wind. (This must be practiced).

If the wind shifts up the wind, it certainly does down the wind and must be played aggressively in short learn how to jibe to take advantage.

Handling the asymmetrical spinnaker

  1. Always set up the sheets aft of the tack line.
  2. Tape main halyard, tack line, sheets so they will never release inadvertently.
  3. Stuff in chute bag clew first, tack second the leech and luff next.

Start hoist and when head is between spreaders, call for tack out. Halyard and tack line must always be pulled through cleats so if the sail hits the “piss” it will not fall completely into the “drag mode”. The clew sheets must be eased to facilitate a quick fill without a lot of side load that may capsize the rig.

Crew position as indicator to bilge board position. If 3 or more crew members are sitting to leeward the bilge board must be near to maximum down. If 3 or 4 crew members are on the high side (15 to 25 m.p.h.) the bilge board can now be pulled to 1/2 position. This will let the hull skid, then track to higher speeds under greater control.

Main trim 0 10 m.p.h. when crew is to leeward the sail trim is just beyond a luff (usually seen at the lower spreader). A very large effort by crew to wet the rail to reduce wetted surface. Helmsman scallops to leeward, working pressure to sail deep. The main must be eased, trimmed and played incessantly in these conditions.

15 to 25 m.p.h. with crew on the rail the main must be over trimmed just like ice boating because the wind has been brought forward trimmed to the low transom corner is experience. But watch it when jibing or takedowns, the main must immediately be eased to proper wind angle or capsize is possible.

The Mexican takedown is probably the safest of all takedowns and the simplest when approaching the bottom mark on starboard tack with a port rounding simply stay outside the 2 boat length circle until abeam of the mark to round to port. Step one is drop the starboard, step two is to over trim the kite as the helmsman begins to turn down. As the helmsman is pleased with the clew coming to the lee rail he accelerates the turn and at the same time calls “Monica”. (Blow the halyard) the boat jibes and the kite is against the rig the crew is on the proper high side of the boat as she reaches (not runs) to the mark to round. There can be a reverse Mexican which is jibing to starboard from above the lee mark and then jibe again to round to port or reverse Mexican could be used at the starboard gate (as we said above to round the port gate). The Mexican can be performed from a full plane to within 2 boat lengths of the mark turn.

Forward takedown can be used in winds under 10 m.p.h. This takedown starts by retrieving the lazy sheet by the 2nd crew forward or jib man this will be used to haul in foot as sail reverses. Next the tack line and sprit pole are released simultaneously and the 3 crew members go “zonkers” retrieving the foot the body of the sail as halyard is released dont use this system when crew is necessary on the rail for stability.

Windward takedown simply pull the clew to the port side of the boat when making a port tack approach be aggressive because the foot can catch the water between the tack and the forestay on the starboard side, the sheet tender must trim the windward sheet as the forward hands jump in to help with pulling on this windward sheet. xxx(Clews) keep the foot under tension and you wont shrimp). xxx When the foot of the sail is taut between tack and clew. Monica!