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Sailing with Tell Tales - The 4th Corner
Sailing with Tell Tails:
I could not sail without tell tails - but for many - sailing with them can make their sailing worse. Let me explain: When the boat is healing and overpowered to windward - and the helm continues to try to keep the tell tails parallel - then please, please, please pinch or ease the jib - lift the windward tell tale - and reduce the tipping moment.  By easing the jib in a large gust, and ignoring them saying bear away, then you have opened the slot (the gap between the main and the jib).  This looses lots of power which enables you to continue to sail the boat as flat as possible. 

I have a couple of examples: 

In this video of Sarah and I sailing a very old 2000 - at time 2:40 - Sarah can be seen releasing the jib, a couple of times in succession to keep the boat on its feet.   You can also see that I am not sailing to the tell tails - but sailing inside them with the jib luffing.  Mind, if the boat was also heeled, then the boat would have wanted to tack - but as the boat is flat - this works well.  



In lighter winds, the mystical 4th corner is the ideal place to place a set of tell tails.  You can then see if the leach of the jib is hooking into the slot, or too open which looses power.  When you are trying to develop power in your rig, don't forget to keep an eye on the luff of the main as well, to check you don't have too much backwinding due to either an over sheeted jib sheet (check those 4th corner tell tails) or too straight a mast causing the luff curve to spill over into the slot.  I think it was Adam Bowers who first gave the top of the slot the name the 4th corner as its is truly a very influential part of the jib on the slot.  Pull the jib cars back or ease the jib tension to open the 4th corner and reduce power.  Or simple dump the jib and its all gone.  

In this video  I am sailing with a very small Harry Kennedy.  Once again Harry is quick to release the jib at time 1:20 to ensure we keep the boat on its feet.  You will also see a decent amount of main sheeting too - but the jib is THE coarse power control.  The mainsail is the fine power control.  Once the wind gets too gusty to cope with just the main control - we then start to use the Jib too - to good effect here.  


 And also in a Graduate here - shot from the committee boat by Nigel Denchfiield you can see the effect of the gust that hits us at 8 seconds.  The main is left ragging and Harry dumps the jib and normal service is resumed. The more open slot is easier to handle and the boat starts to move again.  



And now you can see the fleet that we are about to lap rounding the leeward mark.  They are sailing to their tell tails.  They are not playing the mainsheet and certainly not playing the jib sheet.  Their boats are heeled and so they are slipping lots to leeward in the breeze. 


Hand Over Hand Sheeting Taking into account the effects of sailing on tell tales and being aware of the 4th corner might help you manage the power more effectively - but I fear that nothing will manage this better than being able to hand over hand sheet on the mainsheet. I guess I am just describing the effect of sheeting in quickly - but if you can do that - then you are not so worried about letting the sheet out to de-power. This is ssooo important that you might be inclined to practice the technique of releasing and sheeting at home - using a spare extension and some main-sheet on elastic whilst watching the TV. Its this technique that drives me to use the 19mm Rooster Carbon Extension over the larger 22mm, and 25mm options as it gives me more room in my hand to hold both sheet and extension.



In Strong Winds:

You should firstly ensure that the 4th corner (the active slot management area of the jib) Sails prepared to counter the draft being pushed aft by the wind:

©Nigel Denchfield/ Stewartby Water Sailing Club
©Nigel Denchfield/ Stewartby Water Sailing Club

Jib Cunningham:  This is a more powerful control than you might imagine.  Pull it on hard on the shore after you have applied your rig tension  The tension pulled on the jib Cunningham should not only take out the wrinkles – but also make the jib lift slightly at the luff in normal conditions.  It certainly will not look like that with 20 knots over it, even if it is made with the heaviest of yarn tempering such as is used on our new Mark 2 Tri Radial Graduate Jib.

Main Cunningham:
I pulled about as hard as I could on the Cunningham even with its 4:1 purchase which again moves the draft forward to both compensate for the wind pulling it aft but also to enable me to use lots of vang to flatten and depower the mainsail.  If I just used vang alone, then I would be in danger of a hooked leach and lots of drag to windward.  You can't use vang if you are also not prepared to pull on the Cunningham or downhaul at the same time. 

Centreboard position:
In strong winds there is a high chance that despite all efforts that weather helm might take control – so I might not be quite so excited about getting the board all the way down – I might be happy with it a couple of inches up – but continue to monitor the feel on the helm when the boat is upright.

Jib Cars:
I moved the jib cars one hole aft from their maximum power position.  I might have gone further, but we were never sheeting the jib in hard – so the leach would rarely hook.


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