North Sails NEWS

December 14, 2018


North Experts Share Light Air Speed Tips

Greiner Hobbs’ Dark Horse, second place. 📷 Chris Howell

North Sails is proud to sponsor of the 2018-19 Davis Island Winter Series. Our J/70 experts Mike Marshall, Tim Healy and Will Welles offered on-the-water coaching and a post-sailing debrief on the practice day to get the teams up to speed. After the regatta, they put together some key tips from what they learned which can help your team sail faster in the next event of the series.


As simple as it seems, it is critical to keep the boat moving as fast as possible in the last 2 minutes of a light air start. Getting too slow at the start (by aggressive steering, luffing the sails, or being under the fleet in no wind) on your final approach is a high risk maneuver that will more than likely result in a second or third row start.


When steering upwind in light air it’s crucial to not pinch. Keep the telltales mostly straight back with a little lift on the inside telltale. If you pinch too long, the boat loses momentum and the keel loses flow. Once that happens, it will take minutes to get back up to speed again.

Crew Position

Help the person on the helm steer by using your weight, both upwind and downwind. Bodies moving together as one have the biggest impact. In flat water the crew should be all the way forward on the rail if hiking, or all the way forward in the cockpit.

Trimming the Sails

Be careful to not over trim the main or jib. The upper leech telltales should be flowing 100% of the time in light air. To find max trim on either main or jib, sheet in until the upper leech telltales stall, then ease until they start flowing again.

The jib needs to be eased in chop or in lulls to keep its upper leech telltale flowing. We recommend easing with the leeward sheet to make sure the lower part of the sail stays deep for power. If the weather sheet is eased, the bottom gets too flat and the jib loses too much driving force.

The main also needs to have the upper leech telltales flowing in light air. If you need to live in a tight lane, sheeting in tighter and stalling the upper leech telltales is okay temporarily. You will slow down a bit, and the leeward boat will gradually extend.


North powered boats finished 2, 3, 4*, 5, 6*, 7, 9, 10.
Full Results

Learn more about the North J/70 products.

Douglas Strebel’s Black River Racing, third place. 📷 Chris Howell


Doug Clark’s Polar, with Tim Healy on board calling the tactics. 📷 Chris Howell


Beautiful view of the fleet sailing downwind. đź“· Chris Howell
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