Making it look easy…
When it comes to setting up the sailing boat for any given condition the initial step is to make sure that the power setup is right; that we are not over powered or under powered, of course there are adjustments to be made that are immediate, but the general setting is important. This is especially true on a stayed mast, which in order to alter its shape the sailor has to stop and make the necessary major changes. In this example we will see a 420 class sailing team giving us a good example of having a proper power setting.
The next step is to make sure air flow over the sail is correct, that can be controlled by opening or closing the leech. Bending the mast further will open the leech and flatten the sail, pulling the kicker will close the leech and there are a few more options that we cover during our sail coaching sessions.
The sailors in this video (Team Jimbilla) have a very good power setting and flow over the sails, in order to control the minor wind speed changes that occur constantly they have also managed to create a semi automatic leech, note that helm is hardly moving her main sheet yet the boat is remaining flat and having good speed. Yes it is true the crew keeps adjusting her height to keep the boat flat but the overall effect of the leech is making a huge difference.
This is achieved by having a relatively soft mast at the top above the shrouds which is allowing it to slightly bend when the gust hits, the angle of the sail at that part also equals the angle of the jib, which in turn generates better speed.