Here are some great upwind sailing tips from our friend Capt. John from skippertips.com…
These small pieces of yarn or ribbon can help you learn to sail a boat better, faster, and with more power. Learn a new way to use telltales for close hauled sailing with these three easy secrets!
Genoas and jibs often come from your sailmaker with telltales already in place. Look along the luff in the lower third, halfway point, and upper third of your boat sails.
Racing sailboats use telltales to help beat the competition on race day. Small cruising boats can use them to get to windward destinations faster.
Trim before Going to Windward
Before you use telltales, make sure to trim your sails. In moderate winds, tension the halyard to keep the Genoa draft about 40% aft of the luff; tension the halyard or Cunningham to keep the mainsail draft about 45% aft of the luff.
Set the mainsail boom close to the centerline. Allow the mainsail leech to twist a bit (fall off to leeward). Sight up the leech and ease the mainsheet an inch at a time to induce twist.
Watch the top batten as you ease the mainsheet. In light air, keep the top batten parallel to the boom. In moderate air, keep the top batten open a bit to leeward. This helps the air exit the leech without turbulence.
Trim the Genoa so that it matches the mainsail. The Genoa leech should lie within about 1″ to 2″ of the spreader tips. Now, you are ready to use your luff telltales.
How to Use Genoa Luff Telltales
You want your telltales to stream in a “V” pattern on the windward and leeward side of the Genoa (or headsail) when going to windward or reaching.
This shape indicates that you have an even flow of air on both sides of the sail. But if one side of your sail gets more air flow than the other, one side will stream while the other flutters.
It’s easy to forget which way to turn the boat to get those yarns or ribbons streaming again. In this new method, concentrate only on the windward side telltales.
First, ask yourself what the windward yarns are doing. Compare their action to the telltales on the leeward side. Use the memory keys below to know which way to turn the boat…
1. Windward telltale streaming–Leeward telltale streaming
What does it mean? Perfect sail trim. Good air flow on both windward and leeward side.
2. Windward telltale streaming–Leeward telltale fluttering
What does it mean? Stalling. If most of the wind blows onto the windward side, this blocks the air from the leeward side. This causes that leeward telltale to flutter, fly around in wild circles, or hang down like a limp noodle.
What will happen? Stalling causes the boat to slip sideways more than it should. This reduces your speed.
What action do you take? ”Streaming = Head Upstream”. Streaming means you need to sail “up-stream”–or closer to the wind. Sail toward the wind just enough to get the “V” pattern that indicates perfect sail trim.
3. Windward telltale fluttering–Leeward telltale streaming
What does it mean? Pinching. If most of the wind blows onto the leeward side of the sail, this blocks the air from the windward side.
What will happen? Pinching causes the boat to slow because it’s sailing too close to the wind.
What action do you take? ”Fluttering = Fall Off”. Fluttering means you need to fall off the wind. Turn away from the wind just enough to get the nice “V” pattern that shows perfect trim.
Notice in each action step, you concentrated on the windward telltale to know what action to take. If it streamed by itself, you sailed upstream, or closer to the wind. If it fluttered by itself you fell off, or farther away from the wind.
Captain John’s Sail Trim Secrets Telltales on a Genoa should ‘break even’. That means if one telltale starts to flutter, then all telltales on the sail should flutter at the same time. If they don’t, you’ll need to adjust your Genoa sheet block position.
Make this easy test: Sheet your sails for beating and make a super slow turn toward the wind; pinch just enough until the telltales start to flutter. If all telltales break at the same time from top to bottom, you’re good to go. If not, see the next step…
Top telltales dance first? Move the sheet block toward the bow (Top = Toward). Bottom telltales dance first? Move the sheet block back. (Bottom = Back). These actions apply tension to the leech (toward) or foot (back).
When you move your sheet block, slide it just one or two holes at a time up or down the track. Lock it into position. Repeat the ‘break even’ test. Once you find the perfect block position, duplicate the position with the block on the opposite side of your boat.
With these secrets, you will learn how to sail a boat on close hauled courses with more speed and power. Add these memory keys to your sailing skipper skills today to gain the advantage on the race course or make faster passages to windward when cruising–wherever in the world you choose to sail!