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Yacht Racing - Setting And Taking In Light Sails

( Originally Published 1911 )

WHEN the setting and taking in of light sails is done or handled in a clever, quick way, it is a matter of great satisfaction to the captain and crew, and sometimes is worth minutes to all concerned.

Say, for instance, the spinnaker is set instantly on rounding, the next boat is a few feet astern and is slow in getting her kite set; with the added sail you quickly draw away, as a spinnaker is a tremendous help off the wind. You can sometimes establish a lead that will be difficult to overcome. This is not so true of the balloon jib, as on a reach it simply takes the place of the working sail and the added area is not tremendous.

It is always a good idea to get your light sails out of their bags and neatly coiled up below with the head up so that when you need them they are ready and clear for you without delay. In the smaller classes where the spinnaker booms are under fifteen feet long, it is unnecessary to have your sail set up in stops for hoisting and breaking out, as usually the thread is too strong, there is a twist in the sail, or something else happens to delay getting it spread to the wind ; whereas if you hoist it flying, even if there is a twist in it, it will free itself, and there is at least some of the sail drawing from the start.

When setting the spinnaker, if stopped up the sail is hoisted, hooked on to the end of the boom, boom pushed out and hauled aft by the guy, cleated, and then broken out. If the spinnaker is set flying, hoist the sail more or less under the lee of the mainsail, cleat halliard, snap the tack on to the boom end, push your pole out without trimming the sheet, get it aft, and then trim the sheet. Be sure the pole is well up the mast so that the outer end shall point slightly downward. This will prevent the sail skying upward when it first fills away.

The best method of taking the sail in, when the sail and sheet are allowed to go forward of the head stay, is to let go the guy completely, the sail coming forward, take pole off mast, unhook tack from end of pole and let it go ; the sail then released goes in under the lee of the other sails and is lowered away and hauled in simultaneously by the sheet under the jib, and is easily smothered.

To take in the balloon jib, having already set the working sail to windward of it, start the halliard, slightly unhook the tack from the stem and let it go, then lower away and haul sail in by the sheet to leeward.

If the spinnaker cannot be carried forward of the headstay (and a great many rules re-strict this) let go your spinnaker guy, taking the pole off the mast at the same time, unhook tack off end of pole and lower away, being careful not to get the sail caught in the jib snap hooks when lowering, and thus necessitate lowering the jib to free it. Be sure to smother the sail with your arms and legs, so it shall not get overboard. There are many patent devices for setting and taking in the light sails, but I have found by experience that the best way in general is the manner here outlined.

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