Twist can lower and reduce your sail plan.

Vang Sheeting is a term that describes a method, on windier days, of controlling the up and down movement of your boom (mainsail twist) by setting the boom vang and then controlling the in and out movement via the main sheet – big puff = ease the main sheet.  The alternative, traveler sheeting, uses the mainsheet to control twist and the traveler to control in and out motion – big puff = lower the traveler. Which is better?  As with most sail trim questions, the answer is “it depends”.  Here are some questions about the boat you sail that need to be answered before you can decide:

How effective/powerful is your boom vang?

How effective is your traveler?  How long is it and how easy is it to move when under load?

Does your boat have a backstay?

Ok, let’s look at some scenarios:  If your boat’s vang is not powerful then it makes no sense to rely on it on a windy day.  You won’t be able to get the leech tension you need on the main, so use the mainsheet to set leech tension and the traveler/backstay to power up/down.  If your traveler is very short and you can’t lower it far enough to depower effectively on a windy day then consider vang sheeting.  Same applies if your traveler is hard to move on a windy day. If this is the case, set the vang and play the mainsheet in the puffs.  If you don’t have a backstay (think smaller boats), then you’ll probably have to use vang sheeting as the vang tension will also keep the forestay tight.

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