Chris and Jackie Goodfellow – Trophoblast 761 – Burnham

 

“You all do it differently,” Angie remarked (Brian and Angie Tucker of Souvenirs 705), one day when her husband was away. She was of course talking about our short tacking techniques that she was watching from the bank. Little seemed shared but one thing was the same. A technique which puts you a boat length or two back is not so obvious in open water. When short tacking, a loss like this will soon put you way back of the fleet. You must do it well. 

A good technique is one that brings a boat round as quickly as possible, with the minimum of forward energy loss from (a) turning (b) backforce from wind and water and (c) stopping the turn (course correction). 

Different boats with different characteristics turn best in their own ways, sometimes extremely awkwardly. We are very fortunate with the Squib design. She carries way through a sharp turn well and will “turn on a sixpence” with a quick but gentle nudge on the tiller. 

Forget about backing the jib as in a dinghy, slow long keelboat turns, sail flapping upwind and catamaran “chuck rounds”. We have a boat designed to tack easily. Kiss! Keep It Simple Squibber and well practised, that’s our advice! 

Most, but not all, fast tackers keep their “moment of inertia” down. That is they cross midships, avoiding weight near the ends (stern) which takes more turning, and correction. Less rudder is required if you cross midships. If you can combine this with looking forwards as you tack, watching the water, sails and telltales, feeling the wind on your face, the new tacking angle will be just right. 

If the mainsheet traveller is let down going round and heaved up hard near the new tacking angle a forward acceleration plus a touch of windward helm to stop the turn are both generated. This is beneficial immediately to boat speed. It also avoids wasting energy with rudder correction. It is good for the shoulder muscles too! 

Short taking is very hard work for the crew most of all. Judging the jib sheet tension gets more difficult when working very quickly. Over tight tension kills the slot and speed out of the tack very effectively. A mark on each sheet and looser barber haulers is recommended. Fuller sails may help too. 

On the river, exchanging three knots of adverse tide in the middle for 1 knot at the edge, tacking angles are judged differently. Following advice, to bear away a little after tacking to gain speed, may just bring you out into the tide with no speed over the ground - but these are issues for Burnham.