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Thread: "Advise On Down Wind Sailing"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Advise On Down Wind Sailing

Aaron Norlund


Running with the yankee is fun. Do you have a long whisker or spinnaker pole to work with? That's the only way I know of to run wing on wing without the headsail collapsing. Unless you sail by the lee and let your headsail set to leeward, but that's scary. In average wind, without a spinnaker or genoa, the yankee/main combo just won't perform to my satisfaction going downwind due to such low apparent wind. If I don't set the genoa, I head up to a reach.

Broad reaching is much easier. If going wide (155-170 off), I run a pennant out through a block at the end of my boom and use a taughtline hitch to attach it to the leeward headsail sheet about four or five feet from the clew. The line runs from the block at the end of the boom, along the boom to the reefing winch where it can be adjusted as the acting headsail sheet.

This does two things; first, it lets you get a decent airfoil shape out of your yankee by pulling it way outboard, but still aft. Second, it can nearly eliminate any backwinding the yankee would impose on your mainsail from being rove through the genoa track and thus, being hauled too far inboard.

This same system works real well with a super yankee/genoa. I imagine an asymmetric would cooperate, too, though I've not tried that on my boat.

When this far off with decent wind, you can experiment with sheeting your stays'l further outboard, too. I've clove hitched a block a few feet up my forward lower shroud and rove its sheet through it for an improved shape. I don't make it a habit though as point-loading something holding my mast up seems sketchy. I also have a small, telescoping whisker pole that tames the stays'l on a reach/run. That said, I'd usually have the genoa up (and thus, stays'l struck) when the yankee/stays'l would work sheeted outboard.

I don't have any pictures of these setups, but if it's unclear, let me know and I can sketch something.

Fair leads (seriously)
Aaron N.

Jay Bietz


I have a 300 SF Yankee from Kern and a new main sail with full battens also from Kern.
Now I'd like advise on how to get the best performance when running down wind.

Right now it seems that the high cut Yankee is very diffcult if not impossible to keep inflated either when attempting wing and wing or a very broad reach. It seems that with the high cut the jib sheets just pull the sail in to tight to keep it flying.

I'd like to hear how others run down wind with the jig and main both pulling.

Lee Perry

I'm a lazy cruiser and absolutely hate messing with the downwind pole for the jib. I run a line forward through a snatch block at the end of the bowsprit and back to the staysail boom. I can pull the staysail out as far as I want and run downwind with headsails on oposite sides pulling strong. Of course this makes her roll like a pig and a reefed main sheeted in a little helps or take it down and enjoy the ride. This is old fashioned stuff as most are taking off the staysail boom but its why I keep mine.

Jay Bietz

Thanks Aaron and Lee -- now to setup and test out your suggetstions.

I'm hoping for a whisker pole to assist with the Yankee until we have a cruising spinnaker.

Thanks again

David Wiencke

When sailing wing on wing with the main, and yankee poled out, we have found flying the staysl sheeted to the midline, reduces rolling and helps hold a downwind course.

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