Think of “leverage” and its fleeting nature this way: you buy a stock at a low price and it goes up. Rather than selling it for a comfortable profit, you hold it in the hope that it will grow higher. Instead its price drops and your potential gain (leverage) evaporates.

When we talk about leverage on a racecourse, we’re usually talking about location-based, tactical situations where you may have more pressure, a better angle, the ability to cross other boats, or you’re protecting a lead. Leverage is nothing but figuring the risk-to-reward ratio. The farther you are from a competitor, the more potential leverage there is. Leverage is something that's good to have when you are behind, and bad to give away when you are ahead. Remember, leverage does not mean going for the big Kahuna every time -- make small investments that pay off in one or two boatlength gains instead of trying to pass the whole fleet at once. If your small gamble fails to pay out, you won't lose your life's savings.

Here are two examples: Say the wind is oscillating and you’re on starboard well ahead but to leeward of the other boats. You get a major header before it reaches the others. You’re now bow-down and, by tacking, you could make up windward distance on the fleet sailing a relatively higher angle on port. Do you tack and cross the competitors and consolidate your position or do you wait for an even bigger header? Unless you see evidence of more header coming, the odds would say to tack and consolidate your position.

Here’s an example of lost leverage that occurred in the race I sailed last Thursday night on my 40-footer SOULMATES. There was only one other boat in our class, which was the XP44 PHANTON. SOULMATES lead at the top mark. While sailing downwind, SOULMATES ended up getting luffed way above the course. It took a while roll over the boat that started ahead of us, but while were sailing above the course PHANTON had pulled even and to leeward. She was on the rhumbline 10 or more boatlengths to leeward. That gave Phantom the lead and leverage. But instead of reaching up to sail faster while we had to sail more downwind and slower, PHANTOM kept sailing directly to the mark.

Much of her leverage evaporated when we got an unexpected wind shift that knocked us 30 degrees. That shift allowed us to sail right at the mark on a fast reach. While the shift didn’t last until we got to the mark, it allowed us to consolidate a lot with Phantom – we reduced her leverage by more than 60 percent. When we got near the three-boatlength zone at the leeward mark, PHANTOM was overlapped to leeward and called for mark room. When we turned up to give her room, we accelerated and ended up blocking PHANTOM’s wind. She slowed down and we were able to round clear ahead. We kept that lead on the final one-mile fetch to the finish line. For PHANTOM, the price of her stock went up...then unexpectedly fell.

We’ve all been in leverage decision situations like this and it’s always a tough call whether to consolidate or go for the bigger win. Over the long haul, cash in you leverage when you can. Don’t go for the big, killer move and fail; rather, use leverage to gain a few boat lengths at a time and avoid the risk of going from hero to zero. It's better to take an early gain than to be greedy and wait for more.


With the boat show season upon us, now is the time to talk to your local UK Sailmakers loft about new sails for 2020. For owners of cruising multihulls and large cruising monohulls who don't want laminate sails, the top of the line option is HydraNet Radial. Hydra Net is a woven material that includes a mix of high tenacity polyester yarns and Ultra PE yarns. Ultra PE is the generic name for the family of yarns that includes Spectra and Dyneena. While expensive, these sails are strong enough to carry the loads and keep their shape.

The tight weave of Ultra-PE warp yarns paired with high tenacity polyester yarns gives Hydra Net® Radial superior shape retention when used in a tri-radial panel layout. And there are other benefits of these sails: the fabric has a soft, working “hand,” and they are white, so they look just like a traditional Dacron sail. Hydra Net® Radial cloth is also higher in “tear strength” and is much stronger than any woven polyester. This means that these sails can be lighter than Dacron sails of equal strength, yet they hold their shape better over the life of the sail.

Another bonus of these woven cloth sails is that, unlike sails made with laminate materials, the woven cloth is breathable, which minimizes the mildew-triggering effects of staying damp.

Hydra Net® is often the fabric-of-choice for larger cruising boats that don’t want to use laminate sails. It’s an especially attractive option for long-distance cruisers since it can be repaired anywhere around the world simply with a sewing machine. Sailmakers like Hydra Net® Radial sails because design targets that were previously only possible with laminates can now be achieved with Hydra Net®.

Although Hydra Net® is one of the most expensive materials used to make sails, these sails are still a good value because the price difference is offset by the fact that these sails last so long -- they are typically the last sails a boat ever needs.


After multiple, well-reported incidents of failed man overboard recovery attempts, the thought leaders within the world of safety at sea are evolving their thinking regarding the best way to recover someone in the water. The traditional side pick-up method, long the primary technique taught, is being replaced by recoveries using the LifeSling. The chances of a successful MOB recovery increases when the first recovery attempt is successful. Therefore, it is now recommended to use your engine to get back to the person as fast as possible and then use the LifeSling to connect to and to pull the person back aboard. If the person in the water is conscious, the LifeSling is the safest MOB recovery method.

The Lifesling can be used in two ways. The traditional method is to drop it over your stern, let the 150 feet of polypropene line pay out while steering around the MOB to bring the tow line and horseshoe to the MOB. This is similar to bringing the tow rope to a water skier. Instead of needing pin-point accuracy, the LifeSling gives you larger window of opportunity to recover an MOB. With the long floating line, you just have to get it to the person in the water. Once the sailor in the water puts the horseshoe over his or her shoulders, they are physically attached to the boat. Then you can stop the boat, pull them in, attach a halyard and winch them back aboard.

There is a second way to recover someone with the Lifesling, and it’s faster. Once some goes overboard, tack the boat and backwind the jib to stop the boat. Check for lines in the water, start the engine and return to the person under power. Pull abeam or slightly upwind and then toss the LifeSling to the MOB as if the LifeSling was a throw rope. This saves the time of circling the long line around. Keeping the boat 5-15 feet away from the person, which means you can use your engine without the risk of hitting the MOB with the boat or hurting them with the spinning propeller.

Here is a trick to using the LifeSling more effectively. Tie a bowline in the Lifesling line —10 to 15 feet up from the horseshoe. This lets you attach the halyard before the person is along-side the boat. The more time they are in the water next to the boat, the more chance they have of getting hurt. Tying a loop in the tow line also keeps you from having to lean over the life lines to attach the halyard. Leaning over the life lines makes you vulnerable to falling overboard yourself.

Finally, a quick word on rigging the LifeSling and repacking it. The Lifesling comes in a rectangular bag that attaches to the stern pulpit with Velcro straps. The straps just hold the bag, not the person in the water. Therefore, be sure to tie the dead end of the LifeSling line to one of the legs of the pulpit with a bowline. The last six feet of the line is covered with webbing to protect the polypropelyne line from the UV rays of the sun. Only the covered part of the line should be outside the bag.

It’s worth noting that racing sailors spend a lot of time practicing tacks and gybes before racing with new crew members; with that in mind, it makes sense to practice LifeSling recoveries more than once a year. On a warm summer’s day, have someone jump in and try the two different LifeSling recoveries. You will be surprised how much you learn. Repacking the LifeSling can be done in a few minutes on the boat. It does not have to be sent away to be repacked like the MOM8. It’s important to practice on your boat since all boats turn, slow and accelerate differently. Remember, the life you save may be your own.

Some of the footage in the video comes from the Storm Trysail Foundation's Man Overboard Recovery Video, which was produced for Storm Trysail Foundation by Gary Jobson. The Storm Trysail Foundation runs several hands-on Safety At Seminars throughout the year, with the biggest one at New York Maritime in May. Attendee's get access to nearly a dozen videos that Gary Jobson created to supplement the class. For more information go to: www.stormtrysailfoundation.org


When racing in Europe this year it is impossible not to have come across Erik van Vuuren’s winning yellow monster Waarschip 36 HUBO. As of day one, Team UK Sailmakers was part of the ‘W36 Worlds Edition’ design team with performance, craftsmanship and innovation at heart. And now she is for sale.

Since it’s launch in March 2018, the fully crewed team W36 ‘ Hubo’ are in a winning mood in both IRC and ORC events. Concluding with an overall win in the Dutch IRC Nationals 2018, the challenge was picked up for 2019 to outperform in the growing doublehanded circuit with ‘W36 Worlds Edition’. And so they did. The newly crowned 2019 IRC Doublehanded Champions continued their winning streak in 2019 and ‘Hubo’ currently also ranks number one in the Dutch competition.

Hubo results 2018-2019.jpg

Van Vuuren commented, “Our journey with UK Sailmakers has been truly special. Not shying away from innovation, we designed a sustainable racer for the 2018 World Championship requiring an equally bold approach from our sailmaker. Our wishes were their command and, in the short period between launch and the Worlds when we were tuning for speed, the designers at UK Sailmakers translated those findings into seamlessly designed sails with the right cloth. UK Sailmakers’ attention to detail showed me professional sailmaking craftmanship at its finest”.

The ‘W36 Worlds Edition’ may be the only reusable and carbon-neutral yacht. The experts selected the type of FSC wood, its specific characteristics and natural fiber structure and treated it with biodegradable epoxy. Then they ‘baked’ it briefly in an oven to achieve extra durability. The result is lighter, stronger and more sustainable than the usual composite and carbon materials. A design build around the sailors, and optimized for the two leading handicap systems IRC and ORC, allowing the freedom to perform at any event and sustainably have fun.

With the team preparing a new program we couldn’t resist sharing. When will you find an opportunity to get your hands on a ready-to-race fully optimized IRC and ORC racer? With so much eye for details in design, construct and ergonomics? With a more than complete set of specially designed world class sails.

Or better: a winner that deserves a team to go out and play. Some even consider ‘Hubo’ the boat to beat at the combined ORC and IRC Worlds 2020 in New York. And we’re sure the team will share all tuning and speed secrets with you.

Click here for the boat’s brokerage listing.


Sailed on the English Channel and the Solent, the RORC IRC Doublehanded Nationals was sailed over the first two weekends of September. The Dutch W36 HUBO dominated the IRC Doublehanded Nationals, which consisted of distance races the first weekend, including one from Cowes to Cherbourg), followed by course races on the Solent the following weekend.

Whereas the long-distance race to France had winds at a varied range of speeds, the dominant feature of the course races was spicy currents on the Solent. In the four inshore races, Erik van Vuuren and co-skipper Jochem Schoorl on the Waarschip 36 HUBO were nearly unbeatable with scores of 2-1-2 and a retirement that they threw out. Their scores for the series were 1, 1, 2, 1, 2, (Ret.).

The Waaschip 36 HUBO, built for the 2018 Offshore Worlds, has proved an all-around winner.

“Every race was completely different,” said van Vuuren. “The opening race of the second weekend was the most intense. With a course east of Cowes and close to the Isle of Wight, local knowledge made the difference. Despite a good start, we missed some speed; it soon became clear that there was less wind than what we set-up the rig for. Regardless, we took second thanks our fast boat, well-executed maneuvers, and smart strategy.”

"Our spinnaker was up and flying much earlier than the competition’s,” said Schoorl. “Our jibes, in general, were unparalleled; our spinnaker handling on HUBO was the same as it would have been with a full eight -man crew."

In the next race, van Vuuren boxed-out many boats at the starboard end of the starting line. "We created a wonderful congestion of competitors who couldn’t go anywhere, absolutely great! Twenty seconds before the start, we fell off, accelerated, and shot off at full steam on starboard with the entire fleet behind us. Very tasty! ”

After the Cherbourg Race and taking a second and first on the Saturday of the last weekend, the Dutch team was firmly at the top of the leader board. To protect their lead through the final day, the team planned to sail defensively; but this was a championship where no presents were handed out.

“It almost went completely wrong right away,” said van Vuuren. “In the first race on the last day we were over early. For a split second I could feel the championship slipping through our fingers. With two-and-a-half knots of current going toward the windward mark, our competition almost disappeared. Full concentration and never getting dispirited, we blasted away with our fast yellow barge! At the first mark, we saw everyone doing a standard bear -way spinnaker set; we had decided to do a gybe-set for better wind. We caught three boats while rounding the mark and immediately caught more wind on the left side of the course as we had planned. At the finish we had worked our way back to second!”

"It's always an achievement to beat local sailors in their home waters!" said van Vuuren at the awards ceremony.

Left: Jochem Schoorl and Eric van Vuuren. Above: HUBO approaching the Needles at the west end of the Isle of Wight.


The “Late Main Gybe” method is the key to the fastest possible asymmetrical spinnaker gybe. Delaying the boom’s crossing avoids the main blanketing the spinnaker as it is trying to re-fill. 

In a Late Main Gybe, the helmsperson needs to stop the boat’s turn just beyond dead downwind. At this point the spinnaker is almost completely on the new leeward side and the boom is being held out to the old leeward side. The boat will be wing-on-wing for second before the turn is completed. If the boom comes across too soon, the boat will have to head up too much in order to get wind in front of the main for the spinnaker to fill, which adds extra distance and more time with the chute not pulling. 

To sum up, do not to turn too fast and assign someone to hold the boom until the chute fills. If it is too breezy to hold the boom safely, make sure the boom stays centered until the chute re-fills.


The mainsheet trimmer needs to say loudly, “Boom’s coming across!” when it is released to warn the crew to duck out of the way. It’s best to have an extra person holding the boom so that the main trimmer can pull in the slack in the mainsheet to keep the loop of loose sheet from smacking a person or catching the binnacle. 


X-Drive Carbon Black main and genoa. Carbon reinforcing yarns run continuously between the corners of the sails and the cross cut laminate panels are made with black aramid fibers.

X-Drive is a two-part construction system that combines a lightweight sailcloth laminate and high strength supporting fibers that are bonded to the surface of the sail. UK Sailmakers has the option of using Carbon Fiber yarns or S-Glass Fiber yarns in the supporting grid and we can choose laminates with aramid or polyester yarns in many different weights and configurations. The result of all these choices is that your local UK Sailmaker can make a racing sail for you that meets your performance requirements, longevity desires and budget restraints.

Here are three photos representing the range of X-Drive performance and affordability:

The photo above shows X-Drive carbon black sails. The reinforcing fibers are carbon and the laminate has black aramid yarns in the mylar sandwich. This combination of materials delivers the highest performance X-Drive sails we make.

X-Drive Carbon on a polyester laminate.

The next picture shows X-Drive sails made with carbon fibers on a polyester laminate. This mid-priced performance option offers exceptional durability, light weight, and a more traditional (less-black) look.

X-Drive Silver: A polyester laminate with S-Glass reinforcing yarns.

The final shows X-Drive polyester laminate sails made with S-Glass loadpath yarns. While not as stretch-resistant as carbon fiber, for smaller boats these sails will exceed most club performance, durability and affordability objectives while also delivering a traditional all-white appearance.

Five reasons to consider UK Sailmakers’ X-Drive :

  1. Continuous Yarns - X-Drive sails are made with continuous fibers running from corner to corner absorbing the sail’s aerodynamic loads. The grid of continuous fibers allows the sail to maintain its optimum shape longer. X-Drive sails are made by nearly totally covering the surface of the sail with reinforcing fibers along the sail’s computer predicted load paths.

  2. Durability - The X-Drive construction method produces highly durable sails delivering peak performance season after season.

  3. Lightweight - X-Drive sails are lighter than the Dacron sails many club racers and performance cruisers use.

  4. Strong - These continuous fibers take the loads off the sail’s cross-cut seams and prevent catastrophic sail failure and seam creep.

  5. Affordable - There is a performance X-Drive sail to fit virtually any club racer’s or performance cruiser’s budget. X-Drive’s performance, durability, and affordability translate to Value!

If you’re considering purchasing new sails this fall or over the winter, contact UK Sailmakers and discuss which X-Drive sail is right for your boat and the kinds of sailing you do. If you order soon, you’ll be able to receive your new sails before putting your boat away for the winter. That way you can test out your 2020 sails in 2019.


The MC 34 AZAWAKH sailing with her Titanium main and No. 3 jib.

The 620-mile Fastnet Race is one of yachting’s most challenging competitions. With most of the course in the open ocean, sailors are guaranteed to a great ride both upwind and down. UK Sailmakers Belgium’s Michael Lefebvre writes about hitting the passing lane in the second half of the race.

Lefebvre sailed with his customer Vincent Willemart on his MC34 AZAWAKH in this year’s Fastnet. The boat had an all-UK sail inventory. After parking in light air for hours after the start, the wind kicked up for the leg across the Irish sea to Fastnet Rock. At one point, AZAWAKH found the conditions to her liking sailing upwind with her Uni-Titanium No. 3 jib and a reef in her mainsail -- a UK Sailmakers’ X-Drive Endure with double sided Liteskin.

One of the sails that got a real workout was his bright orange A5 spinnaker. Being smaller with narrower shoulders, this A5 was ideal for the 150-mile leg from Fastnet Rock to the Scilly Islands. According to Michael this sail was very stable; in 22-32 knots of wind at 110-120° apparent angle AZAWAKH roared past the competition picking-up an astonishing 17 positions in her class. Enjoy is video of AZAWAKH sailing under the killer A5.

Although Willemart didn’t reach the podium this year, her crew, boat, and sails performed exceptionally well bringing this happy owner to commit to sailing in the Transquadra Race next year – a 2700-mile transatlantic race for amateur short-handed sailors from Madeira to Martinique.