Blackmagick sails
The Down Hill Run
Perhaps the only time you want your leech to really stand up is on the down hill runs,
running before the wind if your leech falls of to far on the mainsail you will loose drive
and speed. This is where the skill of the sailmaker can come into play, just how do you
get the leech to fall of, or twist away on the windward beats and still have it stand up on
the runs, well there are two ways to do it and one is to have a mainsail made correctly in
the first place and to be fair to me I'm not going to tell you how I do that, just buy one of
my sails. The other way is a trick I learnt by accident when experimenting with mast
bends and luff curves in sails. You need to be able to bend your mast for this to work, if
your rig is to stiff and won't bend much, or your sail has very little shape or curve in the
luff you're out of luck here! By bending your mast aft you are in effect flatting the sail
and reducing the distance from the head board of your sail to the clew, in a straight line.
It's not quite that simple but you get the idea. As your sail is eased out all the way for a
down hill run the distance from head-board to clew is once again back to normal as your
mast cannot turn with the sail as it goes out. This then tightens the leech and makes the
sail more powerfull, the only thing to watch here is it can stop the mainsail from going
all the way out freely in light weather, but then you should not have to worry so much in
the lighter breezes as the leech will not fall off so easly as in the higher wind pressures
anyway. So what am I saying, if you boat seems to lack down hill speed it could well be
your leech is falling away to far, usually in the upper sections of your mainsail, how you
fix it is up to you and the setup of your boat, but at least now you possibly know the
reason for it. Perhaps you just have too much twist alround, take a little out and see how
you go. To much can almost be as bad as not enough!
Here's a nice study of the jib-slot almost parallel all the way up the mast, note the sails are
set quite flat so the gap does not have to be as great as other wise might be.
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