You might think.....what were they teaching you on this RYA 1 and 2 course? That would be grossly unfair - the course was brilliant - I'd never sailed a boat before and all of a sudden I was - safely! I understood the basics of sailing - tacking, gybing, reaching, running, points of sail, lee shores, leaving and returning to beaches etc etc....but setting THREE sails for best performance......oh what a science.......and thank heavens for John and the team. Until recently I could only get about 2 - 3 knots out of Arwen irrespective of wind speed. After advice and offerings from the team.......I got 6 knots............sooooooooooooo fast - wonderful! So what have the guys and John taught me which I'm now applying?
- up to 10 knots wind - sheet the mizzen in really hard so there is a slight pull on the tiller
- 10 - 15 knots - ease the mizzen a little; ease the main slightly (with the caveat that if in exposed seas for a longer time - think about reefing the main)
- 15 knots plus ease the main; ease the mizzen and if it's going to blow like that for a bit reef the main or go to jib and mizzen only
- tiller helm pressure is the clue to whether the boat is over pressed and needs sail reduction.......oh i wish I'd known that earlier!!!!!!!! If the tiller pulls hard, ease the mizzen; if the tiller seems overlight, sheet it in a little more........um!
- when using all three sails - trim the jib and main for best angle of attack and get all telltales streaming aft......'doh' - sounds so obvious to those in the know!
- then trim the mizzen to get a few degrees of weather helm, if pointing.........took me a bit of time to work that out as well!
- I didn't realise there was a running order in sail trimming........another homer simpson 'doh!' moment - in winds up to 12 knots, when close hauling, sheet the mizzen hard first; then sheet main until its setting nicely with the mizzen; and finally sheet the jib until its right with main and mizzen and 'drawing' properly. Oh! - I suddenly got it - it's the mizzen that sets the sheeting angle for the other two sails; and sets the pointing angle of the boat........I'd been starting from the jib end first!!!
- when reaching and running - set the jib angle first; then main and finally mizzen!
- the outing with 'notelet' taught me sail for speed not angle of closeness to the wind....Arwen doesn't point as close as other boats...so easing the sails a fraction, as wind speed increases.......seems to be the key