Terry’s Tip: Faster Leeward-Mark Exit

At the leeward mark DORADO came barreling in, dropped their chute within two lengths, rounded tight to the Tower and pulled away. You may have heard someone say, “you can win or lose it in the corners” but seeing how it should be done makes that point very clearly. From Sailing World, Terry Hutchinson on rounding the leeward mark.

Photo by  Keith Brash/Quantum Racing      The telltales of a clean leeward mark rounding: a good upwind exit angle, crew on the rail, no ghosts on the foredeck.

Photo by Keith Brash/Quantum Racing
The telltales of a clean leeward mark rounding: a good upwind exit angle, crew on the rail, no ghosts on the foredeck.

A clean exit around the leeward mark requires a few consistent parts: a timely douse, good sail trim, proper rudder load, and a smooth, consistent rate of turn. In any competitive fleet a good rounding can be a make or break part of the race.

Timely douse Good timing on the spinnaker douse is critical. As I continue to learn time and again, early is better then late. The biggest criticism of my own game would my habit of pushing too far into the mark, at the risk of losing because of an untidy douse, which is greater than the potential gain. As soon as the boat is on the edge of the three-length zone, get rid of the spinnaker. In windier conditions make it happen even earlier, prioritizing a clean foredeck and weight on the rail as the boat turns onto the breeze.

Sail trim This is where a bad turn gets amplified. A flapping mainsail kills the momentum of the turn and keeps the front of the boat loaded more than the rudder. The ideal turn is when the mainsail is trimmed slightly harder, or ahead of the turn, keeping enough (but not too much load) on the rudder, helping the boat onto an upwind angle. The jib trim should be just behind the mainsail, but if the trimmer errs, it’s better to have the sail slightly under trimmed than over trimmed. This will again make it easier for the helmsman to hit the upwind angle.

 

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