Boston Harbor Sailing Club...More Time on the Water...

BHSC Soling Racing Guide - 2009
Alan Palevsky
     Alan's Tips as Word Document

Sailing kit contents -

Screw driver, vice grips, pliers, sail tape, knife, duct tape, tell tales, small and large stainless steel shackles, extra piece of 1/4 line, 5-10 feet long, spinnaker halyard extension (see section 17), running lights, pump with long hose, sun glasses, water bottle, sailing gloves, hat, foul weather gear, life jacket, dry marker, stop watch, protest flag, rule book.

Arrival - At least one crewmember should arrive at dock by 5:15 (9:15) to scrub the decks and rig boat. Others should show up no later than 5:30 (9:30) to make 6:00 (10:00) start. Launch service can be slow.

1. Boats that are moored far out may be covered with guano. First pump or dump water on the decks to loosen it up. It takes a few minutes to loosen up. Then use the brush to scrub the deck clean.

2. Pump out all water - on some boats, weight must be moved forward to get the water to flow through the scuppers to the pump intake. The surest way to get the water out is to bring your own pump.

3. Check spinnaker pole ends and traveler for jamming. Use fresh water from bilge to wash out or if dry use salt water to rinse out caked salt. Do not use any WD-40 or equivalent as it only gums it up worse.

4. Tie up skipper hiking straps with rudder ties and when possible, tie up crew straps with mainsail ties.

5. Check for tell tales on outer shrouds, backstay, and jib luff (both sides)

6. Main – First hoist the main all the way to top and then lower until headboard is free of backstay. Be sure to release boom vang and Cunningham. On some boats the vang line is so short that the vang line has to be taken off one turn to get the main all the way up. Connect Cunningham and take slack out of vang after main is up. Make sure all leach lines are loose and furling line is loose and not distorting the luff. Make sure mainsheet runs free. Sometimes a twist develops in the mainsheet blocks from a twist in the mainsheet. This can only be removed by taking the mainsheet out of all the blocks, working out the twists and re-running the sheet, DO NOT COIL the mainsheet during this procedure as coiling puts twist back into the sheet.

7. Jib - With backstay loose, hoist jib. Make sure all leech lines are loose. Adjust jib halyard such that when jib "properly" tensioned, the jib tack is no more than two inches off the deck. The proper tension is wind speed dependent. When going to weather and the backstay properly tensioned (see section 8) the luff tension should be not so loose that there are any horizontal wrinkles from the jib snaps and not so tight that there is a vertical wrinkle along the length of the luff. There is some latitude in between these two conditions. In light air, set closer to the horizontal wrinkle (loose) condition and in heavy air set closer to the vertical wrinkle (tight) condition. The jib leads should be set in the middle of the track in all conditions. The leads should be slightly aft of the blue line one the jib. They never should be placed all the way forward. The jib should be trimmed such that the foot is just on the middle of the toe rail on the deck. Adjust in and out for wind conditions. The difference between too tight and too loose is about four inches of trim. For power in light air, have it slightly looser until the boat gets up to speed and then tighten. The forward crew should work the jib sheets. In light to moderate air the telltales will break evenly up and down the jib. In heavy air the top telltales will break early. While sailing to weather, concentrate on the lower telltales. The jib is normally dropped during the run. To make the re-hoist correct, mark the halyard with some tape or dry mark against a mark on the mast.

8. Backstay tension - Some light backstay tension is required in light conditions to tension the headstay and reduce jib sag. As the wind increases the backstay must be tensioned to de-power the main when going to weather. In the real heavy stuff (25 knots +) the backstay should be so tight that a fold appears across the top third of the main. The backstay should be eased when running. It is extremely important to re-tension the backstay before rounding the leeward mark. Since a lot is going on with the spinnaker being dropped, it is a good idea to re-tension just before dropping the spinnaker. The helmsman should work the backstay.

9. Outhaul tension - The mains are so flat that outhaul tension has very little effect. In most conditions the outhaul should be tight enough so that there are no vertical folds coming from the boom while not so tight that there is a horizontal tension fold parallel to the boom. In heavy air, tighten until there is a horizontal tension fold. The outhaul lines do not all run smoothly. To get a jammed outhaul to move, put a screwdriver through the clue grommet hole and with two hands slide the clue in or out as required. Then set the position with the outhaul line.

10. Cunningham tension - Adjust in similar manner as jib in section 7. In heavier air the Cunningham should be all the way down to the boom. Ease it for the run. Reset the tension at the same time the backstay is set, before the spinnaker drop. The forward crew should trim the Cunningham. The cam cleat on the Cunningham block and tackle faces down. It is quite easy for the line to be pulled out if the tail is left dangling down. Pull the tail partly through and loop up to hold in place.

11. Main trim - The main should be trimmed so that the next to top batten is parallel to centerline of the boat (except in heavy winds). It should never hook in. In moderate conditions, the traveler is centered. As the wind gets lighter, move the traveler to weather and boom to centerline to keep the batten angle correct. As the wind gets heavier, center the traveler and increase Cunningham and backstay to keep the boat from heeling too much. Only when those controls are set to their maximum should the traveler be eased to keep the boat from heeling. The exception in on very puffy days, then ease the traveler on the big puffs instead of adjusting the Cunningham and backstay. The middle crew should work the traveler lines while the helmsman works the mainsheet. Rounding the leeward mark, the middle crew should assist in trimming the main in. In a real blow (25+) the traveler should be left all the way out. If the mainsheet is then strapped in tight the mainsail will be very flat and de-powered. If the mainsheet is eased slightly, all that happens is that boom goes up, the main gets fuller and the boat gets more overpowered. This is backwards to what normally happens when a sheet is eased. The trick in these conditions is when a puff hits, head up slightly while keeping the main trimmed in to de-power. Of course in a real knockdown puff, ease the main a lot to keep from taking on water.

12. Helm - If the sails are adjusted properly the boat should not have much of a helm. If the boat is overpowered (not enough Cunningham and backstay), the boat will have a lot of weather helm. If the boat is underpowered the helm will feel mushy. Both conditions are slow. A common mistake in light air is over steering the boat. If the helm is not balance and the hiking stick is held tightly, the helmsman will not feel the drag. As the wind lightens, lighten the grip on the helm. In winds under five knots, hold the hiking stick between the thumb and forefinger only. Under most conditions, the helmsman should steer with the hiking stick while sitting on the deck. Steering to weather while holding the tiller does not allow for a good view of the jib telltales or a good feel of the helm. I personally recommend against sailing from the leeward side. However, a heavy skipper with two light crewmembers may need to sail from the leeward side in light air to maintain proper heel.

13. Sailing to weather - The helmsmen should always be watching the jib telltales. If the weather telltale is forward the boat is too high and if the leeward telltale is forward the boat is too low. On wet days do not let a stuck telltale fool you. In heavy air it is okay to err slightly on the side of too high. In light air, err slightly on the low side until the boat is up to speed. The boat should have a slight heel. The leeward rail should never be in the water.

14. Sailing in puffs - The wind in the harbor can be very puffy. However, there are virtually no waves. This allows for feathering in the puffs, that is heading up high enough in the puffs to keep the boat flat, ignoring the telltales. Be sure to head back down after the puff is over.

15. Marks close to land - The wind speed can vary greatly over the water. In general if the wind is off the land, it is lighter near the shore. Therefore, the wind at a weather mark close to shore can be quite light even though the wind in the middle is strong. Be sure to readjust the traveler, backstay, and Cunningham as required in the lighter wind.

16. Crew weight - In light air, weight should be forward. The skipper should always be to weather to see the jib. The other crew should position themselves to balance the boat. Never sit in front of the leeward shroud, as it will disrupt the airflow over the jib. The skipper should be forward of the mainsheet block in light air. As the wind increases, the skipper moves back and the crew moves to the center and then to weather. The boat should always have a slight heel to weather when going to weather. In heavy air all three crew should be hiked out. Downwind, the crew weight is forward in light air and moves back as the wind increases. The boat should be flat. In some reaching and running conditions it advantageous to heel the boat to weather to eliminate weather helm.

17. Spinnaker – Some of the spinnaker halyards are quite short. There is not enough extra length in them for one halyard attached to the spinnaker and the other cleated off. Bring a piece of 1/4 to 5/16 Dacron line 6 feet long with a brummel hook in one end. Tie the free end around the mast support underneath the deck. Connect the brummel hook to the spinnaker halyard end not attached to the spinnaker. This will allow the spinnaker to be connected and will keep from other end from going up the mast.

18. Sailing by the lee with the spinnaker - The boat will appear to have good speed when sailing by the lee with the spinnaker up. The spinnaker will be pulling, however there is a significant speed loss being by the lee. The wind is running nearly parallel to the mainsail's surface and not providing much force. It may be okay to sail by the lee for a short time for tactical reasons; however it is important to jibe when the course and wind dictate the other tack.

19. Jibing in Heavy Air – Boats have a tendency to round up after a jibe. In heavy air this can cause broaching (even without a spinnaker). When starting the jibe, keep an eye on the back stay tell tale and sail 10-20 degrees by the lee. This takes some pressure off the main. Trim the mainsheet fast (directly from the boom, not through the ratchet block) to bring the main across. (If the spinnaker is not up, the middle crew can do this, otherwise the skipper has to do it). Once the boom starts to come across, head the boat back down to dead down wind. This has two effects. First, the angular momentum generated by the boom going across is neutralized by the boat heading back down. Second, the fact that the boat is heading directly down wind eliminates any weather helm and the tendency for the boat to quickly head up. Once the boat is stabilized, slowly bring the boat up to the new course in a controlled manner. Caution: When steering back down as the boom comes across, do not go too far as the boom will then just jibe back.

20. There are many guides for tuning an Olympic racing Soling. These may not be 100% applicable to the club Soling’s because they are not rigged as true racing boats with racing sails.

21. If there is a problem with the boat (including lost halyards), make sure it gets reported to the Club. Otherwise it will not be fixed by the following week.

22. Under no circumstances should anyone be hoisted up the mast on the main halyard to retrieve a jib or spinnaker halyard. Some of these masts are over 40 years old.

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