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Sailing Skipper Secrets - Pump Power Into Your Headsails With Sheet Block Positioning

By: John N. Jamieson | Apr 3 2010 | 446 words | 2835 hits

Do you want to learn how to sail a boat with more power and speed from your Genoa or jib sail? Get ready to become the sailing skipper who makes the fastest passages or blows the competition out of the water on race day!

If you haven't pre-marked each headsail block position, you're missing out on one of sailing's best kept secrets. Racing sailboat crews not only "play the sheets", but play the blocks too. Headsail shape depends on the right amount of tension on all three sides. Your headsail halyard controls the headsail luff, but each headsail sheet must work overtime to tension the leech and foot.

Three Steps to Find the Neutral Block Position

All sail trim begins from a neutral lead block position. First, locate the halfway point along your headsail luff. Mark this point with bright colored tape. Hoist the headsail to the top of the sailboat mast. With roller furling headsails, unfurl the sail and estimate the halfway point by eye. Follow these three steps for all headsails:

1. Sight up the leeward sheet, from the block, through the clew and up to the luff halfway point.

2. Move the headsail block until you can form an imaginary line to point straight at the luff halfway point.

3. Mark this with a "G" on your Genoa track (or "J" for jib). Make a similar mark on the track on the other side of the boat.

Match the Block Position to the Sailing Winds

* Light Wind Sail Trim (winds 0 to 5 knots)

Put more power into your headsail with more leech tension. Move both blocks one or two holes forward. Take care not to cup the leech. Check your speed after each headsail block change. If your cruising sailboat decelerates, return to the neutral position and try again. Once you have things right, your boat will accelerate with the speed and grace of a thoroughbred.

* Medium Wind Sail Trim (winds 6 to 12 knots)

Most small sailboats begin to sail well at around six knots of wind. Place equal amounts of tension on the leech and foot. Set both headsail blocks at the neutral position. Your small sailboat should turn in her best performance in these sailing winds.

* Heavy Wind Sail Trim (winds 13 knots or more)

As winds increase, you need to flatten the sail to decrease heeling and weather helm. Move both blocks one or two holes aft to place more tension on the foot. When you can steer the boat with fingertip pressure, she's balanced to perfection!

Make headsail sheet block positions a key element in your everyday sail trim. Use these tips to boost your sailing skipper skills to the next level on your small cruising or racing sailboat.


About author:
Captain John Jamieson shows small boat cruising skippers how to reach their sailing dreams today! Get his popular free report "How to Avoid Costly Sailboat Mast Repairs" at http://www.skippertips.com/public/236.cfm
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