SAILING A TRITON TO WIN- by former National Triton Champion, Ridgley
Melvin, Chesapeake Bay Triton Fleet.

In general, I like to think of a boat as an athlete, say a miler in track, and the skipper and crew as a combination coaching and training staff. In order to win races, the first requisite is that the athlete be in tip-top physical condition. In a boat this means the following:

1. A clean, smooth bottom. Without it any boat is like a miler with clogged cleats. Before every race I always cleaned JEM's bottom. A section of a discarded life cushion wrapped with a towel or burlap and attached to a board on the end of a long pole makes a dandy scrubber from the dock if you can't persuade your crew to go overboard.

2. Good sails. I had four sails--main, genoa, spinnaker (all Murphy & Nye), and working jib (Ratsey). The main and genoa were cut fairly flat, excellent for heavy air to windward and, with easily controllable outhaul and ;uff adjustments, highly satisfactory even in light going. I know many disagree, but I think it's easier to increase draft in a flat cut sail than to take it out of a full cut sail.

3. Equipment that WORKS. A traveller that "travels"; sail slides that slide; jam cleats that jam (for pole lift and foreguy leading to cockpit)) blocks that turn and are big enough; easily seen compass for detecting small wind shifts; snap shackles that snap; outhauls that "haul, etc.

4. Properly tuned mast. This results largely from trial and error, but I found the following produced satisfactory results for Triton #27 with her 7/8th rig.

(a) Mast - no rake aft; if anything, a slight forward rake. This seemed to reduce weather helm.

(b) Jumpers - very tight. Turn buckles at the lower ends of the jumpers are easier to adjust than the V struts.

(c) Head and back stays - very tight. I was never able to produce a taut enough head stay without also putting a slight curve in the mast, but the curve was a smooth curve and I thought the taut headstay more important than a perfectly straight mast.

(d) Upper shrouds - about same as backstay.

(e) Lower shrouds (I did not have forward lowers)-I found that these had to be very loose (floppy) in order to produce a straight mast athwartships under sail. Here I think straightness IS important, other- wise the slot effect is seriously affected, and the main's efficiency is markedly decreased. To get straightness, I set up the shrouds fairly tight at the dock and, underway in a good breeze, backed off the lowers until perfect straightness (sighting along the sail track, not the forward side of mast) was achieved. Once adjusted, I rarely had to touch thenm the rest of the season.

5. No unnecessary weight. Why carry two cases of beer, when one is enough; or 50 Ibs. of ice when 25 is plenty; or 10 gallons of gas when 5 is enough to meet any emergency; or 15 gals, of water when 2 is more than enough (especially with the beer aboard); or why carry a week's supply of heavy canned goods for a 15 mile race? As with the miler athlete, extra weight is excess baggage and does nothing but slow you down.

Weight distribution. Consistent with any rating or class rule, keep as much weight as you can low in the boat and out of the ends. Put the beer and cokes in the bilge, not the forepeak. While racing to wind- ward, put your crew on the rail amidships and, better yet, (if you can get away with it!) put one below on the windward bunk in the main cabin.

Human weight is by far the greatest and most mobile. When gear is all stowed, in calm water, check how your Triton floats with crew at normal stations, including a substitute for yourself. The waterline will tell you whether or not she is on her lines. For racing, this is important.

On a run in a breeze, especially with spinnaker, thesail aloft presses the bow dorm, and the boat balances with more weight aft than she does at rest or beating and reaching. So, move your crew aft when running downwind.

Under power, the engine thrusts bow up, and more weight forward makes her cruise under power quieter as Hell as faster.

Another Observation: Several hundred pounds of ballast forward of the mast reduces the weather helm and aids in heavy weather and foul seas.

Having gotten your athlete in tip-top shape to race, as head coach you then tell him how to use his physical attributes to best advantage to get around the course faster than anyone else. In a boat this means doing the right thing at the right time with the sails and the tiller. (You didn't ask me about tactics!)

Sail Control. I got best results by regarding the genoa as the primary source of power. Fine trim the genoa first and use the main chiefly to produce a good helm (i.e., slight weather helm). Tell-tales on the genoa (about 8" back from the luff), I found most helpful, parti- cularly on reaches. In light air the genoa luff should be slack and the main downhaul and outhaul loose. These three controls should be adjusted with every change in wind strength and sai7ins angle. The main sheet traveller I found most helpful in controlling the leach and reducing excess windward helm without losing much drive.

Tiller Control. In light breezes (5 - 10 m.p.h.) I got best results by steering so as to keep the sails as full as possible -- even by sacri- ficing distance to windward if necessary. In stronger breezes, I found that by trimming the genoa very flat, with a slight luff to the main, boat speed stayed up with no loss in distance to windward and very little weather helm. Here I think the important thing is to keep the boat on her feet, feathering up to windward if necessary (except in very rough seas). By so doing I found little loss of boat speed and considerable gain in distance to windward. Speaking of gain to windward, a Triton cannot be slammed about like a dinghy without losing both speed and dis- tance. Sail her around whenever traffic conditions permit.

Finally - After reading the above, I realize I have not really said anything new or startling, but perhaps that's because the Triton is such a great boat to race and cruise. It does what it's supposed to do! To those who have not yet been bitten by the racing bug, I hope it helps. To them my best advice is, "Try it, you'll like it." As an added incen- tive to those with an eye to the future, I found that by racing regularly I kept the boat and gear in better all around shape than otherwise. This made for peace of mind, more enjoyable cruising.





Recommended for use in moderate and heavier breezes is the BOOM VANG. This is standard on racers and modern cruisers. The function is explained in most good sailing books (such as Bavier's Sailing to Win) and repeat- edly shown and described in the various magazines.

Alan Campbell (NETA) made up a dual vang from "Blockit" parts. He put a double thimble block on a strap on the boom and then snapped fiddle blocks to stanchion bases on either side of the boat. 3/8" lines, run aft to cleats at the cockpit, give easy control.




Traveler for main sheet accomplishes most, but not all, of the same ad- vantages as the VANG. By pushing the slider more to leeward as the wind rises, you keep the main sheet leading down, preserving the shape of the sail, instead of allowing the boom to lift and distort the sail as the boom is let out. Thus, for example, if you are trimmed right on a beat for 15K breeze and a puff comes to 18K or more, push the traveler from part way down to the entire way down, leaving the mainsheet as is--unless the puff overpowers you, in which case you temporarily let the sheet go, of course, and recover it again as soon as order is restored.


After the fleet has passed the first mark, the positions in the race seldom change, except for occasional swap of places by adjacent competitors. The prime opportunity to do well, then, lies in the relatively short part of the race preceding the first rounding. Indeed, the first part of the first leg is crucial.

Psychologically, the start and first leg are unquestionably the most difficult to handle. The crew, interested in gawking and gabbing with neighboring boats milling around the starting area, needs constant reminders that the purpose of the day is to do well in the imminent race. The attention of the skipper easily wanders from the list of little details yet undone, to wondering whether he's brought enough lunch to please the winch grinders, to the start of the preceding class. Before realizing it, less than ten minutes remain to the gun, the crew finally focuses on readying the boat, and then the maneuvering for the start begins. The gun sounds, and away we go, on some tack, at some point on the line. Then, finally, with the structure of the race itself taking hold, the skipper begins his methodical analysis of the conditions. Too late... for the wind is already shifting, the current acting, the fleet, perhaps tacking.

The opportunity to do well on the first leg most probably is already jeopardized by one or more of the following factors:

Poor boat speed - In the last minute rush, details of setting up the boat have escaped. Unless the wind velocity changes after the preparatory gun, no adjustments should be necessary during the initial moments of the race itself.

Poor strategic position - Early analysis of the first leg should lead to a decision about whether to play one side or tack on shifts up the middle. Failure to take this factor into account before the start in all likelihood leads to a competitor blocking the way, by preventing an early tack, or forcing you about to clear your air.

Poor tactical position - If you elect to play shifts, being right on the first couple off the line is usually all important. The boat that uses them correctly enjoys clear air and freedom to tack properly on future shifts. Your position on the line may deter- mine whether you can take advantage of these first, crucial moments.

Poor starting position - Leaving the line with good headway and without interference from the backwind or blanket of adjacent boats requires concentration during the final few minutes before the gun. The crew must not distract the skipper from his vigil by questions about the set up of the boat or strategical and tactical factors.

One solution to this problem is for the skipper to provide a suitable structure for decision making before the start. A one page planning form or check sheet can accomplish this very comfortably. (See page 6). As the skipper and crew fill in each entry or check off the items, two things happen:

1) The entire crew focuses on the race from the beginning of the sailing day, but not in an overbearing fashion.

2) The skipper has confidence that all factors have been con- sidered, that the boat is set up for a fast breakaway from the line, and that the crew is in agreement with the initial strategy.

Notice that the check sheet begins with writing down the weather report. If the skipper does this before the crew arrives, he condi- tions himself to early methodical observations and decision making. One member of the crew can then be assigned to complete the form, beginning with the dockside items. This crewman helps keep the strategy development on the right timetable by seeking the necessary items on the sheet before the warning gun, certainly before the preparatory.

On the way to the starting line, most of the items relating to the boat can be done and checked off. Those remaining will usually have to do with exact settings of various control lines, such as the main outhaul.

Once in the starting area, observations on wind, current, and weather should be filled in rapidly. Set the jib and note compass headings on each tack. Sail long enough to note the full range of headings and the approximate time between oscillations, if any. This data This data should also be written down in the cockpit for quick reference throughout the race. This procedure helps you figure where the wind is in its cycle as you cross the line, leading you to an early tack, if headed, or a delayed one, if lifted. By taking these readings several times before the start, you may be able to pick up a persistent shift and integrate its dominating effect into your first leg strategy.

As soon as the Race Committee boat makes the course signal, the crewman assigned to the check list should note all the marks in proper sequence with compass headings. He should then review his work with the skipper and entire crew. This procedure usually leads to discussion about which sails will probably be set on each leg. Having the crew thus prepared can save many headaches for the skipper when rounding marks in heavy traffic. But more importantly, for the start and the first leg, the crew begins to pull together, focusing on the race, before the warning gun.

All that remains, then, is for the skipper to make more decisions: the strategy for the first leg, where to start on the line, and what sail to set initially. As he dictates these decisions to the request- ing check list recorder, he does them in the right order for maximum benefit on the first leg. A major strategic advantage to one side of the course usually far outweighs any advantage of a slightly cocked starting line. Postponing sail selection to the end allows you to take advantage of last minute shifts of wind velocity or strength without sacrificing your ability to arrive at other decisions because of the inevitable confusion surrounding a headsail change. The other decisions should already be written down.

With all of this done before the warning gun, the skipper and crew can relax knowing that the boat is ready and the strategy in hand. Observations supporting or counter to the earliest thinking should be routinely relayed to the skipper, who now must deal only with changes in plan, not entirely new ones.

During the last five minutes then, the only talking needs to be the steady count of the time keeper, an occasional observation from the crew, and orders from the skipper. This structure insures proper attention to a good start, and to making the proper moves just following and during those crucial first few moments of the first leg.


Traveller's regular crew (Tom Jayne, foredeck, Steve Jent and Norman Weisman,cockpit) have devised a technique for setting the spinnaker with a minimum of activity on the foredeck, yet just as fast as most conventional ways. Limiting movement of the crew when approaching marks is very important in the light to medium wind conditions prevailing on the Chesapeake. Walking about or unnecessary weight on the foredeck will noticeably slow a Triton, even with a moderate breeze blowing.

The basic idea for this technique involves hoisting the spinnaker out of the forward hatch with sheet and guy set up on the proper side before the start. For most races, you can figure out when you will first need the spinnaker as soon as the race committee signals the course. It is usually the first leg that is more than 90 degrees off the wind direction.

Prepare the spinnaker as usual by stuffing it into a large sailbag or turtle, being careful to put the foot in first and then the remainder such that the two iuffs or edges are kept on opposite sides of the bag without becoming crossed. Leave the three corners about two feet out of the top of the bag. You next attach the turtle to the door between the head and the forward cabin. Make sure that the bottom of the bag is fastened (say to a loop of the line tied through a small hole drilled in the door) so that the bag cannot be raised above the height of the hatch. Next, take the three corners of the sail and place them outside the hatch itself. Close the forward hatch over the three corners.

You are now ready to lead the sheet and guy. From its turning block on the windward transom (as determined by examining course and wind direction), lead the guy forward, outside of everything, around the headstay, and back down the foredeck to one tack of the spinnaker. Similarly, lead the sheet from the leeward transom turning block forward, around the shrouds, over the life lines, under the genoa sheet, and attach to the other tack. The head of the sail is left free. It receives the halyard just before the actual set.

You can now preset the pole by placing it on the expected windward side. Snap the guy into the outer end, and attach the foreguy or downhaul, being careful to keep it under the sheet and guy now lying on the deck. Attach the topping lift, leading it under the genoa sheet to pen~nit tacking and jibing. Catch the topping lift under a cleat at the base of the mast, or tape it there to keep it from tangling accidentally with the genoa while maneuvering before the start and on legs of the course before the spinnaker is needed. Set up the spinnaker halyard on the expected leeward side of the head stay. All presetting is now done. The remaining steps are designed to be executed on the last two or three tacks as you approach the windward mark when the next leg calls for the spinnaker.

If the mark is to be left to port, the most likely setting is with pole to starboard. On the last port tack of your approach, have your foredeck crew attach the spinnaker halyard by taking it off the mast and snapping it onto the head of the sail. Have him lightly tape the halyard to the lifeline about halfway toward the bow from the mast. This prevents the genoa from fouling the spinnaker halyard on the final tack.

Near the mark on your final starboard tack, the foredeck crew guides the pole up as the topping lift is raised by one of the cockpit crew. (All spinnaker control lines should be led aft to the cockpit - a cruising boon as well as a racing advantage). The foredeck crew raises the for- ward hatch and eases the tack of the spinnaker toward the pole as the after guy is pulled taut. It is very' important that the tack be pulled all the way to the pole to help keep the spinnaker outboard and in front of the genoa at hoisting.

The boat is now completely set for the raising of the spinnaker. The foredeck crew has only been in front to the mast to tape the halyard to the lifeline. All the rest of his duties since the race began have been done at or alongside the base of the mast. He now comes aft to stand by the halyard, which he raises smartly as the bow is abreast of the mark, the cockpit crew immediately adjusts the sheet and guy to fill the sail. The foredeck man then lowers the genoa promptly.

This technique substantially reduces movement of the crew at the windward mark by presetting the guy, sheet, and pole with its control lines. It also involves the whole crew in planning the legs of the course before the start, a key ingredient to successful decision making and communication among the crew about and during the race.



If you buy a new genoa, consider having a foot or two cut off the "dead" foot and leach of the old one. This makes the finest cruising sail you could own. It has more drive and beauty than the working jib, its clew is now high enough so the helmsman can see under it, it doesn't have battens to fool with, and it is a good efficient sail because of its size and because cutting the dead cloth from it has rejuvenated it. The higher, shorter clew makes it a better reaching sail than the original, as far as set is concerned. Finally, you will note that it wings better on the spinnaker pole than the #1 genoa, whidh is too long and wings poorly. As you can gather, we consider our re-cut genoa our prettiest and most useful cruising sail.

The old working jib is then used only in exceptionally hard winds or for reaching with the wind almost on the beam, when the worker is the only sail that will wing out to windward and stand.

#2 GENOA - Reid A. Dunn

The #2 Genoa is under-rated. We did most of our racing under the old CCA rule and did fairly well. We had a very full, light, tl Genoa with a stretchy luff, good for anything under about 8 or 10 knots apparent wind. Then we had the #2 - about 85% or 90% full size, cut flat and of cloth of about the same weight as the mainsail. It was a winner for many years, no Triton ever passed us to windward; pointed as high or footed as well in any kind of breeze when this sail was set.

Drifters - a new point of view - Ted Kirchner (NETA)

A Triton performs quite well in light air conditions as a direct result of its significant sail area. This performance can be enhanced considerably with light air specialty sails. If you do not have or plan a spinnaker for off the wind sailing, a large 180% or more drifter made with a 1.5 oz. Dynac is probably what you should get. This sail would afford considerable area while reaching and running while still providing reasonable windward performance.

On the other hand, if you are looking for maximum performance there is still no substitute for a large (500 to 550 square feet) tri-radial head spinnaker for running or broad reaching. However, for windward sailing in light air, the thinking on drifters has changed considerably over the last five years. Hood recommends that our drifters be built with an overlap of about 1302. Under true drifting conditions you are asking the wind to support the weight of a clew and the further aft, and up, this clew is positioned, the less likely the sail is to fill properly. Hood found that the 130% overlap is about the most effective and has the potential to move the boat as well if not better than a 150% or 1602 genoa that may have been built years ago. This sail would be constructed using 1.5 oz. Dynac cloth with a wire luff and would have two or three hanks to attach to the forestay.

Storm Sails 

Skippers who want to extend their sailing capability into the heavier wind velocities will be interested in the following layouts for storm jib and storm trisail. This plan was drawn to scale for SOBRAON, Triton U125, in 1964. The small sails were those for Dorwin Teague's OLE', #8, before his famous family cruise to Bermuda. Dorwin reported that the jib was so small that it lacked sufficient drive for anything but a whole gale. The larger sails were designed for another Triton. For SOBRAON, we selected the larger jib and the smaller trisail We have used the two together on a few occasions for day sails on brilliant NW days of about 30-40K, and had a marvelous time. Further,·we have used the storm jib alone, with full or reefed main, on many occasions each year. This storm jib is large enough to give good handling characteristics and easy jib sheet tending in breezes of 20-30K with full or reefed main. (See Plate 1)

When planning your sail inventory, put a storm jib in your long-range plans. About 55 sq. ft. is a good compromise size for the Triton. We use ours with the full mainsail sometimes on a windy day. If the main is kept good and flat with traveller and vang and a tight downhaul, the weather helm is not too bad, despite the small size of this storm jib, and handling the boat is greatly simplified. The storm jib just flits over when you come about, whereas even a working jib thunders and sometimes fouls and is a real handful in a strong breeze.

Finally, if you plan to sail occasionally in winds of 35K and over, a storm trisail makes a lamb of the Triton. A storm trisail of 75 sq. ft. works out fine. The trisail is led like a jib, with one sheet to each spinnaker block on the quarter. Thus, when the wind is howling, the boom menace is out of action, and as a matter of fact, a fixed boom makes a good overhead hand rail when you stand up in the cockpit during rough sailing. With trisail up, jibing, coming about, etc., are without terrors. A jib with a trisail in 35K wind is tame and simple. It just flits over onto the other sheet.

Most owners do not need a storm trisail. All would find a storm jib a joy, I think. Furthermore, they are so small that stowage is no problem.

If you are going to order sails, now is the time, before the sailmakers get jammed up with Spring deliveries. Any good sailmaker knows how to cut storm sails, and they all have the Triton sail plan from which to design. He cuts the jib to lead to the working jib leads. However, use single jib sheets, as the double ones furnished with working jibs tend to snarl terribly in coming about in a strong breeze. Also, the blocks are a menace to one's head and face under such conditions. We use those sheets and blocks for other purposes around the boat. With the genoa winches, you don't need double jib sheets. If the winch isn't strong enough for one person to handle, you've got too much sail up.


The trisail is sheeted like a jib, led to the quarter blocks normally used for spinnaker sheets. The trisail head is set to the main halyard. The trisail tack is attached by spare line to the gooseneck. The sailmaker cuts the jib to sheet to the normal working jib leads. The sailmaker attaches wire pendants to jib head and tack permanently, so that your normal jib halyard hoists the jib to design position with normal position of your jib halyard.

Tritons are known as capable heavy weather boats. Storm sails add to their capability and fun, as well as readiness for the worst should you purposely plan to risk such sailing conditions.




Reducing Sail on a Triton


As all experienced Triton sailors know, the Triton is an excellent heavy weather boat, strongly constructed and rigged for safe operation by a competent skipper and crew in winds at least up to 50K. This is not to recommend that a skipper should try his luck under such conditions without thorough practice and experience. However, the boat can take it, if sailed properly, and it is not necessary with a Triton to head for a snug harbor the minute white caps appear on your favorite sailing water. Indeed, some of our most enjoyable sailing has been experienced with winds in the 20-30K range and even higher gusts.

To enjoy sailing under these stronger wind conditions, a Triton skipper should know and practice the basic steps in shortening sail. He will develop his own formula depending on the capabilities of his crew, his objectives (racing, cruising, or just day-sailing) and his auxiliary equipment.

In an effort to be helpful to the "average" Triton skipper, we are here- with recording an outline of the procedures followed by two experienced skippers, Lee Moore (7/8 rig) in Eastern waters, and Dick Marshall (mast- head rig) in Pacific Northwest waters.

From Lee Moore: When cruising in freshening breezes, I frequently go direct to the storm jib (55 sq. ft.) and keep full mainsail. Both are almost self-tending, and I then know that I won't have to go to the fore- deck again. Weather helm is kept reasonable by flattening the main with 15-to-1 vang and traveler all the way down, and luffing in the gusts. For making more speed and distance, I first switch down to the working jib.

On a long run downwind in rough sea, a storm trisail sheeted to spinnaker leads is a great ally. It eliminates jibing worries, reduces yaw, eases steering, yet retains maneuverability. One or 2 jibs can be set, one normally and the other wung on the pole, hoisted on spinnaker halyard, and tacked to stem head (but not hanked).

How soon to reef the mainsail depends on several questions: How experienced are you and crew? Do you have a traveler and claw gear for vanging after reefing? The more negative the answers, the earlier and deeper you should reef. If it is blowing 3OK we usually start out cruising with storm jib and storm trisail, adding sail later if warranted.

In racing, in increasing winds, I normally carry full sail regardless, on day race, but would reef before switching from the II genoa. (On 7/8 rig reef main peak to around the jib stay tang to keep even strain on rig.) It takes good crew to handle a full genoa in 18-25K to windward, but it wins on puffy round-the-buoy races. In distance races sail reduction or changing is more practical. The 7/8 rig Triton is fully competitive in fresh and strong breezes -- a real winner. Some new gold plate ocean racers are adopting 7/8-type rigs for improved heavy weather handling.

From Dick Marshall: (On 7/8 rig, Our sail inventory consists of a main, II genoa, working jib, large spinnaker (555 sq. ft.), and small spinnaker (360 sq. ft.).

The following tables will provide a general guide to the sail combinations we use at various wind strengths.

First, going to windward:

Sail Combination

Wind Strength

A. Full main and genoa


B. Full main and working jib


C. First Batten reefed main and working jib


D. Second Batten reefed main and working jib


In A. the boom vang and traveler are used to flatten the main more as the wind strengthens. They are used as much as possible in 8. In C. and D. we have no vang, but this does not bother us as the main has most of the draft rolled out of it on the first or second turn.

With a masthead rig, we generally avoid the temptation to use a reefed main and %1 genoa, because this combination places severe strains on the mast- head rig. Several masts have been lost by various masthead types in our area due to spreader failure in this configuration.

Second, going downwind:

Sail Combination

Wind Strength

A. Full main and big 3/4 oz spinnaker


B. Full main and big 1.5 oz spinnaker


C. Full main and small spinnaker


D. Full main and genoa (on pole or reaching)


E. Full main and working jib


F. Full main only - no headsail


In downwind work, our sail combinations are less definite as they depend on sea conditions and wind, as well aS the boat's course -- dead down- wind or reaching. When in B. or C. we lead both sheet and guy through match blocks on the forward end of the (long) genoa tracks (near shrouds) to dampen out roll. Also we ease the pole forward and carry the spinnaker more behind the mainsai1 for the same reason. The boat requires a lot of helmwork in B. and C. and can broach any type craft if allowed to "get away" from the helmsman inexperienced in such wild driving. In config- uration E· when dead downwind, the working jib tends to collapse and refill as the boat rolls. This is hard on the sail, often breaks the battens, and we use the pole to eliminate the problem.

The masthead Triton appears to be very competitive downwind from 0-25 and can actually hold its own with many larger boats.

We have had several long downwind runs under full main alone in heavy winds. The boat handles very well and is relatively easy on the helm. It will surf in winds of 3OK plus and is not difficult to handle while surfing. We have reached speeds of 8 knots surfing under main alone and 8.6 knots surfing with main and small spinnaker.


Builder Ev Pearson told an NETA meeting that a Triton should be reefed when it starts to heel over 18 degrees. When you heel in excess, you are not only hard on the crew, you are losing ground! You make excessive leeway and can actually lose speed against a properly trimmed boat. Dave Sykes, "TALISMAN", #561, suggests "Reef Early and Often.

There are a number of systems for "Jiffy Reefing" a foot or so off the main. Leigh Abell developed a good system which was modified and written up by Paul Brent of TODSF and published in the December '78 "Trumpet. Here is a system for heavier reefing from a cruising sailor.

Reefing - From Reid Dunn, Richmond VA

For cruising, there are times when a Triton is most comfortable with a deeper reef than that used in racing. This means that the reefing line has to go to a cringle some four or five feet above the boom. A permanent line flaps and chafes if left in place and it's a tough job to thread it through the cringle under way.

The solution for "CA IRA" has been to develop a hook of stainless steel. The hook is about 3" long with a closed eye at one end and an open hook at the other. Mine was home-made, using a vice and a pair of vice-grip pliers and a hamner. A similar fitting known as an "S-Hook" is now commercially available in supply catalogues. These fittings are similar to mine except that they do not have the important 90 degree twist between the eye and the hook.

We use one such hook at the tack and one at the clew. Under full sail, the reefing line is pulled taut along the boom. The line has been permanently woven through the eye of the hook which hangs at the outer end of the boom. The hook at the tack is regularly used for the Cunningham downhaul.

On reefing, the topping lift is set, the main halyard and Cunningham are slacked. The Cunningham hook is transferred to the reefing tack and the Cunningham tackle is taken up. Slack off the reefing line and hook the clew reefing hook into the cringle. It is important to keep tension on the reefing line, lest the hook fall loose. Back at the mast, you sweat in the reefing line to complete the furl.




Individual sails

7/8-rig sloop(sq ft)

Masthead sloop (sq ft)

Main, full



Main, reefed to Ist batten



Main, reefed to 2nd batten



#1 genoa



Working jib



Storm jib



Storm trisail






Sail combinations


%of Full


%of Full

Full main & #1 genoa





Full main & Working jib





Full main & Storm jib





Main reefed to Ist batten & #1 genoa





Main reefed to Ist batten & Working jib





Main reefed to Ist batten & Storm jib





Main reefed to 2nd batten & #1 genoa





Main reefed to 2nd batten & Working jib





Main reefed to 2nd batten & Storm jib





Storm trisail & Working jib





Storm trisail & Storm jib





Full main & Spinnaker







The most important condition for effective interaction between the two sails is that the foresail should be trimmed in such a way that a substantial increase in air velocity occurs in the slot with- out the mainsail being backwinded. The desired aerodynamic effect will be obtained only when the slot between the foresail and the mainsail is of a suitable shape. If the camber of the foresail is too large or if it is sheeted too hard, excessive convergence of the slot produces a vel- ocity component perpendicular to the surface of the mainsail. It is necessary to have the same general shape at all heights.

The shape of the slot depends upon:

1. Position of the fairleads.

2. Trim of the mainsail and foresail sheets.

3. Sag in the forestay.

4. Shape of the foresail (high cut jib, low cut genoa, hollow luff, hollow leech).

5. Camber of the mainsail and foresail.

One frequently finds that the ineffectiveness of a foresail can be attributed to its having the correct profile near the foot but an excessive camber higher up, causing backwinding of the main. To some extent one can compensate for sag in the forestay by cutting the upper part of the genoa with a hollow luff. If this proves to be insufficient for a large sail in a strong wind, the leech also may be cut with a hollow.

RHYTHMIC ROLL. When running downwind with too much sail up, particularly spinnaker, and particularly with following quartering sea, any yacht may commence rhythmic roll -- sometimes to a frightening extent. The obvious solutions to this problem when cruising are either (1) alter course, or (2) reduce sail. However, if you are racing and wish to continue on course without reducing sail, you can deal with the problem with proper sail handling. Let the spinnaker way forward on both guy and sheet to fly high and ahead, leading her and lifting her by the nose, so to speak. The mainsail should be vanged down hard and trimmed back more than normal for running, to damp the oscillation and to eliminate "twist" at the top of the mainsail beyond 85" to wind. The helmsman must be extremely well braced during these maneuvers, to keep him from falling with the tiller during a wild roll until the vessel can be brought under better control, easing or eliminating the roll.

Ocean racers get this too, from driving too hard, so the hull is exceeding her natural hull speed, tending to bury in her own bow-wave while the canvas above tries to press her under. Getting the mainsail off or heavily reefed is the sweetest solution as the jib being forward will tend to hold her on course, and the reduced amount and height of sail will reduce speed and the pressure from above.


Roller Furl - What Type and Size Frank Alla (NETA)

When I bought the "Northwind" in 1973, it had a Merriman unit sized for around 250 square feet of sail. It was always a problem unit, so when my new sail did not work well with it, off it came.

The replacement for it was a Shaefer #600 drum and X450 upper swivel which have never given a bit of trouble. In talking to other people with roller furl and from my own experience, I offer the following observations:

1. Manufacturers tell you that their #250 unit (up to 250 square feet of sail) will work on a Triton. The fact is that it's marginal in size, especially in a blow.

2. Drum diameter is where you get the power, small drum diameters just don't do the job.

3. Therefore, go one or two sizes over the recommended size on the drum. A bonus here is the increased bearing size which comes with the larger unit (no binding). Remember to attach the unit with a toggle to prevent binding.

4. I prefer an all rope tail on the drum (5/16" Marlow pre-stretch) as my old wire and rope tail always experienced jams on the wire section. The larger drum units have the room to hold line in place of wire.

5. On my particular unit, I do not partly furl my Genoa in heavy The storm jib during a cruise can be left hanked on the forestay bag with the sheets lead to the jib tracks. When the wind comes it's a quick Genoa furl (drop along the lifelines) and raise the jib (all within two minutes).



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