ROOSTER SAILING COACHING TIPS
Tacking - The Principles - Steve Cockerill
During my early years sailing on an old gravel pit, I learned
the importance of tacking efficiently. Perhaps it was the 12 tacks
to the first mark, using every shift and avoiding the islands
that rammed it home. Later when team racing for Aston University's
BUSA winning team, that it became clear that if you could tack
well, you were a tactical genius!
I think I have probably taught more crews to tack, than I can remember. Team Racing in the Royal Navy with a regular crew meant finding a keen youngster and teaching him/her how to tack, to find that they were back at sea by the time the team work was perfected. To help me and the shell-shocked crew through the difficult settling in period, I found that going back to first principles was the best place to start.
The philosophy of tacking which we would commonly go over would put the basics into perspective. What's amazing is that it works for single handed, double handed and big boats. Watch out, talking to yourself in a single-hander might look a little strange!.
1st Principle: That the speed of the craft prior to the tack should be converted into distance to windward. Commonly I see people trying to get their boat to the other tack as quickly as possible with no consideration for cheating the wind.
2nd principle: The rudder should follow the turn set up by the weight distribution and movement and the sail trim, rather than induce it. Less rudder action means less speed reduction
3rd Principle: That any acceleration induced by the final pull up should be at the optimum rate to give maximum speed.
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· The Luff to Head To Wind
· The Pump to Windward
· The Sail Trim
· The Pull Up
The luff to head to wind.
This part of the tack should not be a push with the rudder. In fact it could be said that the rudder plays no part in the tack at all, but it is probably used to control the rate of turn rather than induce the turn.
It can probably be gained the most in this part of the tack. If the boat is at maximum speed prior to the tack, the feel on the rudder should be neutral.
Now to begin our tack, we must not repeat not push the rudder!!!!!
So how do we get the boat to begin the tack? Simply over trim
the main sheet slightly, under sheet the jib slightly, and if
needed, a tiny, repeat tiny bit of leeward heel. The center of
effort of the sails has moved back behind the hulls pivot point
and the boat now will naturally wants to begin to luff to windward.
As the boat progressively sails closer and closer to the wind,
there are more things to consider:
If the helm and crew are not conscious of the balance of the boat, it will begin to heel to windward very soon, which if not corrected, will be trying to send the boat back away from the wind. This would induce the use of more rudder to keep the turn going, due to the natural shape of the boat trying to turn the boat away from the wind.
When finally you get to head to wind, the jib or luff will back.Phase 2 then starts.
If you followed phase 1 correctly, then the boat will still be almost upright, and the crews weight will be further in the boat than the norm for the conditions, and the main should be still in tight
A quick technical thingy we will consider in this phase of the tack is angular momentum. Without going into the physics of it, just think about how an ice dancer speeds up a turn on the spot by pulling his/her arms into her body (or the center of the point of the turn).
Sorry about that bit but here we are back thinking about stage
2 of the tack. Stage 2 begins when the jib backs, or for single-handed
sailors, when the first third of the sail backs. I really do mean
backs rather than lifts! Now a pump to windward does a number
1. The angular momentum is reduced and so the boat spins around the sailor.
2. The pump to windward at this stage means that only the main or back 2/3rds of the sail pulls in the pump to windward, which again turns the boat effectively. Note, the mainsail should be in tight at this stage to increase leach tension to help this effect.
3. As there is less sail filling in this part of the turn, the pump to windward is made easier, with less effort by the sailors.
Phase 3 is the Move across the boat to pull it back to flat giving it the required acceleration on the new tack.
Now for those of you who are feeling a little vulnerable thinking about the heel to windward and the problems of crossing the boat to get it flat before you fall in, read through this little parable. I heard it first told by Kathy Foster:
I was never sure if this parable is really true, but the concept is, if the boat is heeled then it saves sore knees and bent backs.
To add extra heel to the boat before the sailors move, the sails should be sheeted in. Commonly I used to say top the crew to sheet in the jib on the new tack before we both crossed the boat together. If the boat is pulled up before both sails are set, then all that happens is the main is the only one pulling correctly as the jib is simply blown across the boat.
Sheeting in also helps the extra heel in light winds. I you don't sheet in at this stage the boat will naturally come upright too fast with little or no acceleration.
The movement from the leeward part of the boat to the new windward side, will also help the boat heel yet a little more, good old fashioned action and reaction for those of you who remember your physics lessons.
Remember, we have the boat has been heeled by the combination
of the first pump at the start of the tack, together with the
sails trimmed in and the reaction of the crew moving.
The rate of the turn of the boat will also be reduced by the crew moving back across the boat, (increasing angular momentum, or ice dancer moving her arms out). This should reduce the requirement for the rudder to stop the rate of turn.
Lets consider the new apparent wind on the sails in the pull up. As you can imagine, the new apparent wind will be a large lift on both sails. Commonly I try to ease the sails slightly to help the new apparent wind work effectively on the sails.
This pull up process has an optimum rate, too long and the boat slips sideways, too short and the boat does not have time to accelerate. The easing of the sails and the movement of the crew regulate the speed of the pull up.
The crew have often to move back into the boat to prevent it from coming over on top of them, which results in the rudder being used to keep the boat on course. The heavier the rig is, the more the crew have got to move back into the boat to counteract the weight of the rig continuing over to windward.
Take a look at this video clip 465KB
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For those of you who are keen to look - here are some other videos of Europes tacking - each time facing aft to keep the weight forward. The Europe has a long extension and little room to take it forwards without over tacking, and the back decks are so shallow that if you tack forwards, then water comes in over the deck. Backward facing tacks are used by most of the top girls
Right mouse click to save to disk for playback at your leisure. 271 KB
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Right mouse click to save to disk for playback at your leisure. 652 KB
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