Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "LEE HELM"
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Thread: "LEE HELM"

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


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Brian Duff

So our new boat, nee Fleetwood Sun, sails with wicked lee helm. our last three westsails have had varing degrees of weather helm, but not this boat. As far as I can tell the rig is the same, although I haven't acutally measured it. It does not have a factory rig, as the boat is a kit that was shipped to england and finished there.
The boat has a battenless mainsaail, but full foot length. The helm is about the same weather we have a small yankee, regular yankee or super yankee up. Only without a sail on the jibstay do we have weather helm, but then we are underpowered.
This may be due to having no engine, so the boat is up in the stern a bit, although we have 300' 3/8" chain and a 60lbs CQR back there, along with two 8d batteries and both water tanks, she still sits with the bow bobstay fitting just underwater.

Anyone else have a battenless mainsail? Have lee helm?



If your boat is floating low in the bow, that will tilt the mast and whole rig forward, effectively shifting the sail's pressure (center of effort) forward. The battenless main has no roach, reducing that extra sail area in the leach, further shifting the center of effort forward.
I would, after trying my best to level the boat on the waterline, even by using additional ballast low in the aft bilge, increase the rake in the mast by letting off tension on the forestays and taking up on the backstay (maybe start with 1/2"). You will also have to let off on the forward lowers and take up on the rear lowers making sure to keep the mast in column. Increasing the rake will also lower your boom, so make sure it still clears the boom gallows.

Brian Duff

I am thinking it has more to do with the hull trim than rig rake ( in that the bow-down boat moves both the depth of keel shallower aft and the rig rake forward). The fact that the lee helm is the same regardless of which headsail is up says that the very small bit of adjustment available in the forestay/backstay turnbuckles will not help anything I think. Seldom does on anyboat.

I think you are on the right track though, more weight aft, and a roached mainsail maybe too...

I was hoping another owner has a battenless sail and can confirm this produces good helm when the boat is on her lines , as in moderate weather helm... as all boats should have.

I guess I need some lead trim ballast !?!

Brian Duff
yacht rigger

Norm Rhines

I am a bit surprised at your questions considering you claim to be a rigger.
The center of effort adjustment is = to about 30% of the mast head movement. i.e. mast tip movement 1 Ft. = center of effort is moved in the same direction 4" (= Makes a difference) granted if you have 200# load on the end of the tiller of weather helm you will need to move the center of effort more than a foot forward to balance the rig. Which is not easy just using the stick rake movement.

Lastly the loading of the vessel does have a great effect on the trim as well, Buoyancy and hydrodynamic centers of effort are moved forward or back depending on the loading. I am loaded mostly on the factory lines but I did have a heavy weather helm of 30#+ measured at the end of tiller with a batten less main. So I cut the foot down by 1 foot to 14'-0" and jacked the mast head forward about 4" and I am now near balanced +/-. and enjoy a 0 to 3# weather helm (My preference) (My wind vane also likes this preference)

Norm Rhines

P.S. I hate to say this, but you and Brian Toss both make me think twice before asking any rigger to do rigging for me. So far this thinking twice, has worked well for me and given me insite to look at what is being said, and not just believe blindly .

Norm Rhines

I am so happy that you understand boat mechanics as well as any. So here is wishing you good luck on your rigging and sailing.

Brian Duff

Thanks for your response to "hoping another owner has a battenless sail and can confirm this produces good helm when the boat is on her lines"

I presumed that my posts made clear I understand boat mechanics as well as any, and that I was searching for specific expirience from an owner of a W32 with a battenless mainsail, before changing mine.

You forgot to mention how much depth of sail also effects balance....? be inclusive when you rant man

Brian Duff
yacht rigger

Terry Shoup

Come on, guys, let's be nice! Life's too short to be snipping at each other.

Brian Duff

yea mon, yagot dat right mon.

This is supposed to be about Happy Times !

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