Tips from Skip | 10 tips for sail trim

Legendary sailor Skip Dieball joined Doyle Sails last month, offering a fresh face to Chicago and Detroit sailors. Skip’s one of the most accomplished and respected sailors in the US – a true sailing expert offering design, manufacture and sailing expertise to all sailors, from One Design classes and cruising yachts through to Grand Prix race yachts.

To celebrate this legend coming on board, Skip is providing us with some top tips over the coming months. First up – 10 tips for sail trim.

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1. Create your own worksheet with personal rig settings

Every boat and mast has its own intricacies, so it is important to document how your boat/mast has performed in certain conditions. A tuning journal is a good thing to try and develop. Be sure that you document what went fast, but also what wasn’t.

2. Always put your rig back to “base” setting after a race day

One cool way to start the day off right is having the rig set at a base setting. Many top teams will do this before they leave the boat for the evening. This is a good habit to get into and keeps the “to do” list shorted for the next race day.

3. Tune your mast for the lowest wind that you are currently seeing

Often we are asked where we have our rig for a particular race that might have seen a large range of wind. The rule of thumb is to set the rig up for the lowest velocity in that wind range. By doing this, you’ll have the power needed in the soft wind and then have to work to depower in the higher winds. Keep in mind that “powering up” when you have your rig too tight is a tough task!

4. Test your tension gauge

The tension gauges that are currently on the market are pretty good. Occasionally, however, you’ll want to test your gauge against another one to ensure that it is accurate.

5. Understand the “steps” involved in making on-the-water changes

Often you’ll see tuning guides that have “steps”, as in “one step up from base”. These steps are the incremental settings that take you through the wind range. Be sure you fully understand these steps, both in what you need to do (i.e. tighten vs. loosen) but know the next setting up the chart. For example, for 10-12 knots you might have to go +3 turns on your shrouds from base. For 12-15, you might have to go +4 turns. Having the steps memorized or written down will help you make quick decisions on the water.

6. Carry the right tools (and maybe 2 sets of them!)

What tools are required for you to make on-the-water rig changes? Shroud Key? Maybe a screwdriver? Whatever you need to make quick changes, you should be prepared for the worst-case scenario (i.e. they get dropped overboard). Having two sets of “tools” might be necessary to avoid problems!

7. Understand how rig tune affects the sail set up

If you tighten your lower shrouds, what does that do to the Mainsail set up? How about the forestay and headsail? Take a moment and understand what tightening/loosening the rig does to the overall sail plan.

8. Keep it simple

If you simplify your tuning process, it’ll allow you to make quick decisions and will allow the crew to implement the changes faster. Have your tuning chart or journal notes handy.

9. Calibrate!

Sailmakers often will produce a guide that gives you numbers that correlate to pounds of tension. Take the chart of numbers and start to understand how many turns of a turnbuckle it takes to get to the next step. Write these numbers down and correlate them to the number of turns.

10. Ask the good guys

The performance of sails is key to the success of any sailing, be it enjoying a day sail on the lake or a Grand Prix race event. Here at Doyle Sails we are experts in making your sailing as good as it can be, taking pride in showcasing this through our many happy owners and successful campaigns. Skip joins Doyle Sails immediately, he is your new local Doyle Sails expert, facilitating all new sail needs, alongside coordinating any maintenance required for your current Doyle sails.


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