By Brendan Huffman
In recent months, UK Sailmakers has helped a growing number of our customers by designing for them sail plans and rigging layouts to help them sail better either alone or with a smaller than usual crew.
Besides having fun or winning the race you’re in, the additional priorities for shorthanded sailing are to stay onboard (rig your jack lines and use them as there are fewer or no people onboard to do a MOB recovery) and keep a careful lookout for other boats and obstructions (fewer eyes onboard looking around).
Furling genoas with higher clews increase your visibility under the headsails. As you reef them with the furler, your visibility improves. If your headsail is short on the hoist, try adding a pennant at the tack to raise the foot a little higher. This will give you a clearer view to leeward. A higher clew on the genoa also gives you more flexibility sailing to the apparent wind angles without having to adjust your lead as frequently.
A good reefing system on your mainsail will give you more options, too; preferably the reef outhaul and reef downhaul are led to the cockpit to maximize safety by reducing the need for people on the bow. We prefer separate reef lines and downhauls for slab reefing over the single line reefing system. Here is a link to a UK Sailmakers instructional article on proper reefing procedures.
Lately, UK Sailmakers Southern California has been participating in Del Rey Yacht Club’s and Pacific Singlehanded Sailing Society’s shorthanded races. Setting outside leads has noticeably improved boat speed on the reaching legs. UK Sailmakers made an instructional video showing how to set an outboard lead; click here to see it.
Letting your mainsail luff a little when you have to leave the cockpit helps to stabilize the boat on windy days and, importantly helps maintain footing for completing tasks more quickly.
Always clip your tethers to the jacklines whenever we leave the cockpit. Even if you’re sitting in the cockpit, be sure to clip in to fixed padeyes installed in the cockpit or the jackline.
Shorthanded races are a lot of fun and great ways for cruisers to try something new without investing a lot of resources into transforming your boat into a racing program. Click here for more info about upcoming races: Del Rey YC and PSSA.
Drop us a line or give us a call to discuss how UK Sailmakers can make it easier to sail your boat when shorthanded.
UK Sailmakers Los Angeles
1731 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Marina del Rey, CA 90291