Fours steps to setting up for a successful gybe

by Chris Kameen on February 5, 2014

Gybing is often considered a tricky manoeuvre in sailing especially as the wind builds, however there are a couple of little techniques that can really help. Last weekend we managed to get some good footage of me sailing one of our new boats, and one shot in particular highlighted some key points:

Gybing the RS Quba

  1. When setting up for the gybe a slight heel to windward helps the boat bear away and means we don’t have to use the rudder so much
  2. Minimal amount of rudder means that we make a smooth turn
  3. I have moved my back foot across the centre of the boat and it is pointing forwards meaning that when I go to move across the boat I will aim and move forwards making sure that I end up sitting in the right place.
  4. I have already taken the tiller across the boat like  “cutting the butter”,  as the boom comes over and I cross the boat I shouldn’t need to add any extra rudder movement other than to straighten up on the new course.

I hope  this helps.

I have had an emailed question for this which I thought I’d share:

Hi Chris,

Any tips on what to do with the boom and the sheet falls during the gybe? I’ve been grabbing the sheet falls and trying to guide the boom across, but at least twice I’ve been caught out when the boom swung across quickly and I’m wondering if it’s better to let it go and concentrate on getting to the other side of the boat once it crosses the centreline. 

This is a good question.

First comment is to remember that for the boom to come across the boat must be sailing dead down wind, often we try and gybe (boom coming over) before we are sailing square to the wind.

Second of all there are two types of centre sheeted mainsheet, as shown in the picture the mainsheet has a purchase at the back of the boat and then travels along the boom and there is a lead in the middle. The other is like on the Pacer where all of the purchase is in the middle of the boat.

The set up for the gybe is the same and the next step has slightly different actions depending upon the type of boat:

The Pacer: With the boat set up as in the photo above, whilst maintaining your grip on the mainsheet, grab the falls. With the boat slightly heeled to windward you will have gravity helping you, so you will feel the falls go light and at that point pull the boom across… Do not pull it before as this loads up the sail and the rudder and removes the windward heel. As soon as the boom starts to come across you can also straighten the tiller to slow the rate of turn of the boat.

The RS Quba: With the boat set up as in the photo above, you will reach the point where the boat is sailing downwind, grab the fall of the mainsheet and give it a tug which initiates the boom coming across and then gravity and wind will help it come across. This never feels quite as controlled to me as in a boat where you can grab all of the falls. In this video, double olympic gold medalist Shirley Robertson makes it look very easy!

If you have any comments or questions then post below

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