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Old 23rd December 2008, 04:53 AM   #8
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Hi Carlos,

I do not know your level, experience etc. but you wrote that you sail Formula for two years only, it is not a very long time...

To be able to control a 10+ meter sail in over 20kts - the right sail trim is a must. If it is under-downhauled then to control the sail is impossible - the moment you sheet in, it wants to catapult you, and when you sheet out, it wants to either shake you off or push down to the water...
So with a under-downhauled sail you might end out sailing slow, sheeted out and with the the nose of the board trying to fly up and the board's tail walking...

I think you should first experiment with the downhaul, make marks on the downhaul rope to keep the settings. Myself I use one 'regular' downhaul setting for an average wind ( for the sail size ) then maybe 2-3 cm more downhaul rope out for higher wind and a 'emergency low wind setting' with 2-3 cm less downhaul. I measure the downhaul on the rope, not on the hook. I have to use a winch ( crank ) - as at these forces I can barely pull it by hand and that with a big risk of back injury. With the right downhaul the sail stays neutral when let free and increases the pull gradually, as I sheet-in ( so no rapid on-off ). I also want to see the top to release a lot of air. The trimming videos on Neil Pryde site are quite useful - I am usually doing a first dry check of a newly rigged sail, laid down on the ground - by supporting the boom on a piece of wood/whatever at hand, around 15-20 cm above the ground, then asking a heavy person to stand on the mastfoot and then I push the mast top to the ground - I want to see the sail not tightening the leech before the top touches the ground. If I downhaul "by eye" then that test usually shows it's not enough and the leech closes too early. I do that with medium outhaul ( only a few cm outhauled from neutral ).

With a good downhaul, when sailing in strong wind, you should be able to gradually sheet-in and apply the right amount of mastfoot pressure to keep the board steady at speed. On downwind I need to keep pulling the nose up and I lean back a bit more. I also try to keep the body lower, bent knees, to be able to lean out or move in when needed - to counterbalance the gusts/lulls without much change in sail trim and fin load. For me all that starts with the right downhaul - without it there is no way I can control the sail...


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