Yacht Racing - Running Before The Wind
( Originally Published 1911 )
RUNNING before the wind is the point of sailing that is usually most monotonous. As the boat is traveling with the wind, you cannot feel a draft and it is often very warm. Light sails are carried before the wind, such as spinnaker and balloon jib. The mainsail should be freed out until it touches the shrouds and can go no further. It is sometimes impossible to free it as far as this, if the wind is heavy, as the jaws of the gaff are apt to split on account of the gaff swinging well forward of the mast with the jaw prying against the mast and shrouds.
The spinnaker is set on the opposite side to the mainsail, and, if the wind is dead astern, is guyed well aft; that is, the pole is set perpendicular to the side of the boat, held by the guy attached to its outer end and cleated on the stern of the boat. The spinnaker sheet is carried around the mast and outside the leeward shroud and led aft. This sheet is either freed or hauled down, as the case may be, allowing the spinnaker to balloon up or flatten down. If allowed to flow forward the wind from the leech will spill into the balloon jib and thus you will get some little pull from that sail. If the wind is unsettled, hauling to the quarter and aft again, it is an excellent scheme to have a man on the spinnaker guy to let it out and take it in at a moment's notice, so that the sail will never be lifting but always a hard full.
The boat before the wind is in an upright position and this often means a great bow wave is piling up under the long flat forward overhang and lifting the craft off her ordinary sailing lines. In this case, it is a good idea to carry a man well forward in order to hold her head down and so keep her on her lines. In the "V" shaped section craft, this is usually wrong, as she cuts the water, throwing it to either side, and having the tendency to bury forward when running down hill on a sea. In this case keep your men well aft in order to keep her bow out and the deck clear of solid water forward.
If you are sailing the long flat scow before the wind, keep your crew on the lee rail, in order to heel her as far as possible, especially in light weather, as when upright, the flat form is a great hindrance to speed for many reasons.
It is also a good plan, if your mainsail, when hoisted high for windward work, shows wrinkles, to slack off the peak halliard a trifle, thus smoothing out the sail and getting thereby a more effective surface.
If in a roll of a sea and in light weather the jib is slatting back and forth, knocking against the spinnaker and thus spoiling its wind, always lower the jib and get rid of it as it is doing much more harm than good. It is very essential that the spinnaker and main-sail shall not slacken any more than absolutely necessary.
If the weight of the mainsheet is too great for the boom and sail to hold out, and the sheet drags in the water, place one of the crew on the boom, in by the mast, thus holding it in position, or else unwreathe your mainsheet, excepting one part, thus cutting out the weight of the rope.