Jump to content

Racing advice in light air


Recommended Posts

Any racing advice for someone who’s about to start a race in light air with My core Sound 17? I’m in the second day of racing. Had some trouble yesterday getting stuck when tacking. Wondering whether my weight should be forward since I’m going solo? I’m welcome to any other Css 17 sailing tips. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites



When sailing a CS17 solo in light air I am always in front of the mizzen mast and to leeward going upwind. This reduces transom drag and reduces wetted surface. 


Hoist the sails as high as you can. Make sure that you trim the boat to have some weather helm when sailing upwind. Do not sheet the sails in too tight.


Try to steer the boat through the tack. Not too much helm at first but increasing as you go rather than just slamming the helm over. If you blow the tack, you need to grab the main sprit and back the main which will pull the bow around to the new tack. This makes for a slow tack but is quicker than any other way to get you back on to the next tack. If you over tack, ease out the main so that it is drawing properly and and start bringing the boat back to close hauled sheeting in the main as you come up to course. I will sometimes ease out the main when I tack and bring it in as the boat accelerates ad comes up to course.


When I go off the wind I increase the draft of the sails to increase power. Sailing down wind I am going wing and wing with the mainsail on the windward side and flatten out the sails. The reason for flattening the sails is to present as much projected sail area as you can as the sails are stalled and draft does not provide lift.


I could go on but this is a start.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


What races are you in? Do you have a rating? What boats do you compete against?


Re tacking on light air, all I can add is to keep your weight to leeward prior to the tack, then move across to the "new" leeward side as soon as you start the tack. Rock the boat over as you tack.


Agree with Designer about starting the tack smoothly, but then push the tiller over all the way. Make sure to lift the tiller to clear the combing if necessary so the swing isn't blocked.


I'm still not sure how much to heel the boat in light air to make it point. I've heeled enough to start bringing the centerboard out of the water. It feels right, but I'm not convinced it helps. I would like to hear comments from others.


On August 11 I hope to race a bunch of keel boats. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In light air, heeling the boat is advantageous for several reasons.  One is that heeling reduces wetted area, two is that heeling adds weather helm which is an aid in pointing high, three is that adding weather helm helps in tacking, finally heeling gives the sails a better shape because of gravity.  Position of the crew is adjusted to maximize the other variable mentioned.


Heeling reduces the height of and horizontally projected area of the sails to the wind and those are negatives.


All of this changes with the particular boat and the wind speed.


Nothing is as important as going in the right direction and that can change if you need to go off the closest course to  chase spotty wind around the lake.  You absolutely need to learn to read the water as an aid in finding where the wind is.


Tieing off the tiller on centerline and sailing around through tacks and jibes by moving your weight around will teach you as much as anything about these conditions but you can do that with moderate wind also.  At some point you may wish to learn how to roll tack which can actually propel the boat forward in a dead calm even if its not legal in racing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Graham and Tom.  I think the 2 key points are weight way forward and to leeward.  This not only reduces wetted surface but keeps max waterline length as the rudder is still in the water even if the hull aft is high and dry. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a line between rolling while tacking and tacking in order to do a roll for the purpose of propelling your boat.  The judges will decide if you are guilty.  Of course, you will already know if you are guilty.  Very few know how  to execute a roll tack well anyway, especially in a two or more crewed boat.  Getting everyone well synchronized is not easy without lots of practice. 


Locally, we often have 18 or more college teams from all over the east racing in scheduled events.  Some of these kids can roll tack well in a wide range of wind speed.  Many do not get good coordination or execution and do not get good results from their efforts.  Those who do are generally the winning teams.  http://www.sailpack.org/2018orientalsailpack

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll add that the VMG function of a GPS is a really good way to figure out upwind if you should fall off to keep boat speed up or point higher to go more at you target. Set a windward mark and put your GPS in VMG mode, steer as consistant of a course as you can, and it will quickly reveal your best strategy.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

All great advice!


I really enjoy lightair sailing.  Probably the biggest reason is because I love laying flat on the leeward seat tank, and looking up at my sails.  Yes, I’m a lazy sailor!  I can shift my body fore and aft to get a good reading on my GPS, too.  Jay Knight’s crew were laughing at me doing this at the last Messabout, but I was in hog heaven.  All of this takes a very long tiller extension. But if you’re as lazy as I am, you’ll already have that covered, too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Supporting Members

Supporting Members can create Clubs, photo Galleries, don't see ads and make messing-about.com possible! Become a Supporting Member - only $12 for the next year. Pay by PayPal or credit card.

  • Similar Content

    • By Paul356
      Reacher and I tried something new on Saturday.  We took our boats out with the PHRF fleet on Green Bay, and the heck of it was, we did pretty good!
      Reacher is a member at M&M YC in Menominee, Michigan, where they have a fairly active big boat racing program.  This includes the annual "100 Miler" (which is only 45 miles long, for some reason) that usually attracts a lot of boats returning from the Chicago-Mackinac Race.
      Last Saturday, M&M held their annual Joey Shepro Memorial Doublehander, a more or less "fun race" and fundraiser for Make-a-Wish.  Reacher suggested I trailer up from Milwaukee and we could enter our Core Sounds and see what happened.  He has a 20, I have a 17.  This race is c. 14 miles from their Club, out around Green Island in the middle of Green Bay and back.
      They were nice enough to give us PHRF ratings, which was interesting.  Mine was 252. (That's seconds per mile, deducted from the final time, so I had about 62 minutes deducted.)  Reacher's was 246, so they pegged him theoretically as 6 seconds a mile faster.  For comparison, a Cape Dory 27 is 243 (New England PHRF) and a CD 22 is 282.  The slowest boat in the fleet was deemed to be a Com-Pac 19-2, rated at 283, while the fastest was a Tripp 33, rated at 90.
      This was set up as a reverse start.  The race started at noon, but each boat was given a unique starting time reflecting the handicap.  In theory, in a perfect race, all boats would cross the finish line together.  In practice, wherever you are in the race is your position at that time, since the handicap has already been accounted for.  No need to figure out if you need to "give time" to a boat at the finish line, since that's all been handled at the start.
      Thus the Com-Pac, as the boat with the highest handicap, was supposed to start at noon, precisely.  It never did, and we learned later that it could not point into the light breeze without starting its engine.  Tip to consumers:  don't buy a Com-Pac if you want to sail upwind in light air.
      I was next, at 12:07:02, and Reacher next after that 12:08:23.  So it went until some 34 boats were off the line, with the last (fastest) one at 12:43.  (Make sense?)
      The first leg was a beat of about 1.75 miles to a buoy before we turned to the island.  Reacher and I kept company on the upwind, tho he passed me as we neared the mark.  It was a blast sailing together.  It was about 80 degrees out, full sun, the water sparkling blue, the wind maybe 6, puffing to maybe 8 mph, from the north east.  I had us moving at 4 to 4.5 mph on the gps for most of the upwind.
      Then came a 3.5 mile close reach out the island.  It wasn't until then that other boats in the fleet started to catch up.
      I decided to go south-about the island; Reacher and most of the fleet went to the north.  Not sure if there was an advantage one way or another.  I was hoping for more puffs on the broader reach back on the North side -- dreaming of a bit of planning -- but those puffs never materialized.  GPS showed c. 5 mph on the way out, c. 6 on the way back.  Reacher's larger sails definitely helped as the wind stayed around 6ish or a hair more.  The water got a bit choppier, too, which hurt our light little craft when we had to punch into it but was still "flat" for the big keel boats. 
      The last leg was around the buoy and back DDW to the finish.  Almost caught up to a Catalina on that leg, but not quite.  My speed was 3.5 to 4.5, depending.  Their speed was flogging....
      Results:  As one of the big boat skippers said, in that light air, "it was a waterline race."  In general, boats with longer hulls and therefore lower handicaps did better, which is typical for a PHRF fleet in light air.  But Reacher was 18th of 34, and I was 26th, finishing in 3 hours 29 min.  Reacher was done in 3:09. (Full disclosure:  two boats abandoned and four were DSQ for whatever reason).  Of the 28 that finished, I was in ahead of a S2 11.0 (handicap 161) and a Catalina 309 (HC 186), and Reacher also bested a Hunter 27, a Hunter 38, an S-9.2 and a Catalina 28, among others.  I should add Reacher's a pretty fine sailor.
      Needless to say, Reacher and I were pretty darn pleased with these little boats.  They kept moving in the light air, pointed well, reached well, ran well.  We spent a long time after the race admiring them and talking about what mods we like on each of ours.  We couldn't have kept up with the big boats in this year's Mac race, of course, given the 6 to 8 foot waves and the 30 mph winds on the nose.  But in this race, hey, we were right in there.  And it was a blast to be out on the water on such a beautiful day.
      And photos?  I wish I had some, but sorry folks,  can't race singlehanded and take pix, too.  I might have one, and might have a gps track.  Will see if I can find download.
      But be glad you have a Core Sound.  Great boat. 
    • By Drew
      Has anyone attempted to get a rating for their CS 20#3 to enable club or event racing? I am faced with the dilemma of whether to apply to Australian Sailing, the body that determines local rules and handicaps, for what is known as a class-based handicap (CBH). It is needed to participate in any point scoring racing and seems to be quite a process. If anyone has done anything similar and succeeded elsewhere the details could be helpful to me if I pursue this here.
      Interested to hear your experiences, especially those who have participated in events such as the Everglades Challenge.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.