North Sails NEWS

Story Contributors: Tim Healy, Will Welles
Images © Chris Howell


Key Tuning and Trimming Points from Savasana’s Trimmer Tim Healy

Event one of the J/70 Winter Series at Davis Island was a great success for North Sails clients. With an approaching frontal system, teams were psyched to sail in big breeze that was forecasted. Seven races were completed in the highly competitive 53-boat fleet. It was tight racing throughout of the fleet but Brian Keane’s Savasana deemed to be the fastest of them all, taking first place with a 22-point lead from the rest of the pack. Two bullets and only one race out of the top five was an impressive way to end the regatta.

We caught up with Savasana’s trimmer, Tim Healy, to see what he had to say about tuning and trimming points that helped them win the regatta. Tim provided the team’s top three tips that kept their boat sailing fast.

Congratulations to our clients on starting the series off with a bang, sailing very well with outstanding results in some unpredictable frontal conditions. The North XCS-1 main, J-6 jib and AP-1 spinnaker were the most popular sails in the top 10. Boats powered by North finished 1,3,5,6,7,8*,9,10 and won 6 out the 7 races.

Tim’s Top Tips for sailing in big breeze:

Get the rig tune tight enough.

We ended up at 28 on the uppers and 30 on the lowers. This allowed us to use a lot of backstay before we would get inversion wrinkles in the main. A lot of backstay tension, with a tight rig, translates into a tight headstay. A tight headstay keeps the jib from getting too deep which can overpower easily and drag the bow down in the puffs making the boat hard to control.

If the rig is not tight enough, the mast will bend too easily when the backstay is applied resulting in inversion wrinkles in the main too early and the headstay never getting tight enough.

Move jib leads back 1-2 holes and play/ease weather sheet in puffs.

Moving the leads aft make the bottom of the jib flatter and the top twist off easier. When the top of the jib can twist in the big puffs, it dumps some of the excess power and allows the boat to be sailed flatter. The weather sheet should also be eased in the big puffs to open the slot, flattening the bottom of the jib more and adding more twist to the upper leech. In these big puffs it proved to be very fast, as the skipper would feather slightly in the sharp increase of pressure. If the jib had too much weather sheet or if the lead was too far forward, the boat would heel over too much. The main would need to be eased/luffed and the bow would be dragged down because the balance of the boat is thrown off. When the puff is over, the weather sheet can be pulled back on adding upper leech tension as well as depth to the bottom of the sail. Playing the weather sheet can all be done from the crew hiking on the weather rail without much movement. A steady crew that is sitting still and hiking is important for the mainsheet trimmer and helmsman to get in sync to balance out the helm and trim.

Downwind – Leave backstay on if in overpowering windy conditions.

This will not only keep the main flatter, but it will pull the luff of the spinnaker tighter as well. A tighter luff will flatten the overall shape of the spinnaker by moving the draft forward, making the leech of the spinnaker twist. Easing the traveler down all the way will make pumping more effective, and give the main trimmer more control of the main leech. When the traveler is all the way to leeward and the trimmer pumps the main, the boom not only comes in to weather but it also is being trimmed more effectively down. This acts like pulling the mainsheet and vang on at the same time. When the big puff hits, a quick ease of the main will open up the leech allowing the boat to stay under control and ripping with very little vang tension.

Need to step up your game? Contact your local North Sails expert today for the latest products to get you up to speed for the winter sailing circuit.

J/70 2017-18 US Winter Series – Event 1
1 Savasana / Brian Keane
3 Stampede / Bruno Pasquinelli
5 NINE / Oivind Lorentzen
6 Tea Dance Snake / Todd Jenner
7 Scamp / Will Welles
8* Flojito 3 JT / Jack Franco
9 Rimmette / John Brim
10 Polar / Doug Clark
* Denotes Partial North Sails Inventory

Full Results

Story Contributors

J/70 US Winter Series Opener: Big Breeze Tips headshot
Tim Healy

Global Head of Sales — Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Tim has won 18 major titles, including three World Championships. A three-time All-American Sailor at St. Mary’s College in Maryland, Healy also won a Gold Medal at the 2003 Pan American Games. His success in the J/70 class includes North...

J/70 US Winter Series Opener: Big Breeze Tips headshot
Will Welles

One Design Expert, Sail Expert — Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Will Welles has been a member of the North Sails Rhode Island team since January of 2007, although in total he sports more than 22 years of experience in the sailmaking industry, including a six-year apprenticeship at the North Sails...

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