North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Jackson Benvenutti


Key Tips for Sailing in Heavy Hair

The third regatta of the Viper and VX One Winter Series in Sarasota, Florida delivered excellent weather, friendly competition, and a great onshore atmosphere. After enjoying a Saturday debrief led by our experts, North Sails customers took all but two of the top ten places in both classes. In the Viper, Peter Ill won with North Sails expert Austin Powers on board, while the VX One class was won by Esteban Forrer and Hayden Bennet.

The Viper class also concluded its three regatta winter series, which was won by Jackson Benvenutti with help from Jesse Fielding, Jan Majer, Nick Ward, and Chris Morgan.

Sunday’s 18-22 knots allowed teams to test out their heavy air prowess upwind, while going for top personal speeds downwind. (One VX One posted a 19.2 knot 10 second average). While straight line speed was fun, many Vipers and VX Ones wiped out while jibing. Gybing in big breeze takes lots of practice and crew coordination, but here are some tips to help keep the boat on its feet.

Keep the boat moving into the jibe

Time and time again, I see crews take their attention off going fast when setting up for a jibe. If you slow down before jibing, the boat loads up as the apparent wind increases on the sails and gets knocked over as soon as the boom crosses. Instead, heat up to increase boat speed just before you jibe and minimize the apparent wind. This keeps the boat under a more consistent load, making it much easier to keep the boat underneath the sails. Picking a wave to jibe on always helps as well.

Use a blow-through jibe

When the driver starts the turn, overtrim the sheet until the clew comes back to the shrouds. As soon as the kite backwinds, the driver should slow the turn to allow the trimmer time to pull the new kite sheet through. Once the kite fills, the driver slowly heads up to the final course.

“When you do wipe out”

We’ve all been there. When you do wipe out, blow the spinnaker halyard halfway until the boat is back on its feet again. Overtrim the jib to turn downwind, and then rehoist the kite to get moving again. If the boat stays on its side even after the spinnaker halyard is dropped halfway, try pulling the clew around the headstay to help get the boat pointed downwind and in control again. Then re-hoist the spinnaker.

Next Viper stop:  Gulf Coast Championship in Fairhope, AL. See you there!

Left-right: Viper Winter Series champions on Psycho Tiller! | 2nd Place Winter Series Peter Beardsley on “Great Scott” | 3rd Place Winter Series 3 Peter Ill (winners of event 3)


Story Contributors

Benvenutti Wins Viper 640 Winter Series headshot
Jackson Benvenutti

One Design Expert — Annapolis, Maryland

Jackson actively races in the J/70, Viper, Flying Scot, J/22, Melges 24, amongst many One Design classes. In 2018 Jackson won the J/22 World Championship with team Uncle Fluffy, and in 2019 he won the Viper Worlds and North American...

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