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Self-Centering Tiller

Postby Lea Foster on Sun May 01, 2005 11:03 pm

Has anyone got any input on whether it is worthwhile to have a go at setting up a self-centering tiller? Being new to Sabres and somewhat new to sailing, I have foud that in heavy weather the tiller sometimes gets away with some unusual and "exciting" results. What do you reckon?
Woohoo 1679
Lea Foster
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:39 pm
Location: Northern Rivers,NSW

Postby Guest on Mon May 02, 2005 9:50 am

Hi Lea,

What do you mean the tiller sometimes "gets away"? In what circumstances are you having trouble? A self-centering tiller sounds awkward and carries the potential for snarl-ups if you ask me! It is also unnecessary because the tiller (tiller extension) should always be in your hand, particularly in heavy weather.

It sounds to me like you are letting go of the tiller for some reason, most likely when you are tacking or gybing. In both cases, you need to learn to steer behind your back. When tacking or gybing, move to the other side of the boat and complete the maneuver without letting go of the mainsheet or the tiller. This means you will end up sitting on the other side of the boat with the tiller and mainsheet in the "wrong" hands and with the tiller behind your back. You can steer and control the boat quite comfortably like this, but it does restrict your ability to hike a bit. When you are ready, use the hand still holding the mainsheet (the rear hand, towards the back of the boat) to hold both the mainsheet and tiller, while you quickly bring your other (front) hand around to take control of the mainsheet again. It takes a bit of practice, but all the top sailors do this.

If you are letting go of the tiller while trying to make an adjustment, the problem may be with how you are holding it. How do you hold the tiller? There are 2 ways - with a "golf stick" type grip (holding the tiller with your thumb pointing along the tiller extension towards the tiller itself so you have to hold the tiller by your side), and "telescope" style (holding the tiller in the same way you would hold a telescope - with your thumb pointing towards the end of the tiller extension so it comes across the front of your body). I prefer the telescope method because you can bring your hands together and use your tiller hand to hold the mainsheet while adjusting things with the other hand. I used to use the golf stick style, but with the tiller down by your side the only place to put the mainsheet if you need to adjust something is in your mouth (I don't believe in cleating the mainsheet), which I stopped doing when I broke at tooth (very painful, not to mention expensive!)

Hope this helps!

Regards,

Alan Riley
1564
Guest
 

Tiller handling

Postby Lea Foster on Mon May 02, 2005 8:18 pm

Thanks Alan,
I think where I was making the mistake was trying to put the extension forward rather around towards the stern which then allows you to keep the original hand on the extension until ready to make the swap, as you suggested. I'll put that into practice the next time I sail. I'm using the Telescope grip quite comfortably and I appreciate the advantage of being able to bring the mainsheet up to the tiller extension hand to take a bigger bite on the mainsheet. I understand the tooth bit as I am a dentist!
If you break any more teeth maybe we can work a deal!!!! Dentistry for coaching? Thanks again!
If it is not taking too much of your time perhaps you could shed some light on this issue? Again in heavy weather, I have read on the forum that the approach is to flatten the sail as much as is possible i.e. vang on cunningham on and foot? Then to sheet in as much as you can handle. Does this mean to sheet in as far as it is possible to keep the boat flat depending on bodyweight? After that it was posted that the luff should be allowed to flap (lift). My question is this. Normally the indicator that you are sailing too close to the wind is a lifting luff. Luffing in a Sabre as a great receipe for going slow as I have found. How then do you determine how high you can sail when the sail is sheeted fairly well off the centerline as described above?
Lea
Lea Foster
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:39 pm
Location: Northern Rivers,NSW

Tiller Handling/Steering in heavy weather

Postby Alan Riley on Tue May 03, 2005 10:12 am

Hi Lea,

Good question! Not really sure how to answer except to say "think fluid" when going up wind in heavy weather. The idea that you flatten the sail, hike out hard, and sheet in as much as you can and luff up to spill whatever power you can't handle is what I would call "thinking rigid". It's also slow, mostly because this technique encourages pinching, which is particularly slow in heavy winds.

You are always sailing in a fluid environment. The wind is never steady. There are always waves - some bigger, some smaller, some from different directions. The fastest and best way to sail is thus very fluid in order to stay in harmony with your environment, not mechanically checking the luff to see that you are not sailing "too high". Heavy wind sailing is no different except that some of your movements need to be a more pronounced to cope with being overpowered. Keep the following ideas in mind in heavy winds:

1. As you stated, set the sail up flat. Keep the centreboard all the way down (in some classes it pays to lift the centreboard a bit in heavy whether - the the Sabre's board is short and flat, so you make too much leeway if you do this on a Sabre). It does sometimes helf balance the boat it you let the board rake back a bit. Another important point is not to sit too far forward. I find it best to sit about 15-30 cm back from the thwart in heavy winds. This helps the bow to lift over waves rather than plough through them.
2. sail for speed, not height. There is still a balancing act between height and speed in heavy winds (you are still looking for the best Velocity Made Good (VMG) to windward), but height comes once you have speed. So make sure you keep the boat moving fast. Sometimes you can actually make the boat plane to windward.
3. you must be continually moving - the mainsheet should be being played for each gust and each wave to keep the boat flat and moving. Usually these are fairly subtle movements of only an inch or two, but a big gust or a big wave can require a big movement of the sheet. The tiller will always be moving too - again subtle movements to point a little higher as you head up into a wave, and a little lower to accelerate down the back of the wave. Synchronised with this, while hiking out you lean back as you head into a wave, and forward again when going down the back of the wave.
4. Concentrate on the feel of the boat - its motion through the water, the power in the rig, and the balance of the boat, rather than the sail. Develop a feel similar to balancing a pole on your hand (think of the mast as the pole!). When you do this, you actually don't look at the sail much at all when sailing upwind!

Two things I would recommend you do is:
1. get a hold of Ben Ainslie's book: The Laser Campaign Manual (about $60). Ben is probably the hottest dinghy sailor on the planet. His book not only describes how to sail dinghy, it also contains a CD showing you how Ben does it. Have a look at how Ben sails to windward - he is very fluid, and a picture is worth a thousand words.
2. practise sailing to windward (particularly in heavier winds) while trying to maintain a steady heel to windward of 10 degrees. You will find you can't do this unless you are watching to windward to locate gusts and waves, and you must sail with a bent sheet arm in order to automatically play the mainsheet correctly and keep the boat's angle of heel steady. It's not easy, but it will help you develop the feel and anticipation you need to sail a boat quickly upwind in all wind ranges.

Most of all, have fun! :D

Regards,

Alan Riley
Sabre 1564
Alan Riley
 

Sail and boat trim

Postby Lea Foster on Tue May 03, 2005 4:43 pm

Many thanks once a again for taking the time to share your experience!!! Thankyou also for the article that you posted on the website about race preparation and congratulations on your recent success at the Nationals.
Regards,
Lea Foster
Lea Foster
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:39 pm
Location: Northern Rivers,NSW


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