Tuning for Going Downwind

Downwind Sail Settings

Light Winds 

The sail should be fuller than for upwind with some twist. The shape should be fine-tuned on the reach to get as many telltales to fly as often as possible, which shows a smooth and even wind flow over the sail. The order below is how the controls should be adjusted:

Kicker - 3/4 off to give fullness with a flattish run back to the leech and some vertical twist.

Downhaul - Off, or a little tension to remove creases from the luff.

Outhaul - May need easing slightly, so that maximum foot depth is 14-16cm from the boom.

Sheet - Ease whilst rounding the mark so that telltales keep flying. Make sure the boom is out at 90 degrees for the run for maximum projection of the sail area.

Medium Winds

The sail should be very full with plenty of twist. Luff creases don’t matter.

Kicker - The fully-off position is designed to be the automatic medium downwind setting.

Downhaul - Fully off

Outhaul - May need easing so that maximum depth is 18-20cm.

Sheet - Try to lean the boat to windward as you bear away and let the sheet run out freely as you turn to minimise any resistance. Constantly check and retrim on the reach to keep the telltales flying. Aim to run dead downwind or trim to run by the lee to try and encourage a smoother airflow over the sail.

Stronger Winds

The sail should be a little fuller than for upwind but needs twist in the leech to spill wind in the gusts and stop the bows digging into waves. Any fullness should be lower down in the sail.

Kicker – ¼ to 1/3 on

Downhaul - Off but, as winds get stronger, enough tension to pull out luff creases and keep the maximum fullness in a line down from the front of the Challenger symbol. When it’s really strong, lots of tension will flatten the top of the sail and let it spill wind.

Outhaul - Don’t ease. Releasing the downhaul will also slacken the foot and give enough extra fullness for offwind sailing.

Sheet - Constantly adjusted. Keeping speed up is more important than flying the telltales. Ease and bear away in heavy gusts. To avoid damage, ensure the boom cannot go more than 45 degrees forward of the mast.

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