How to Trim Sails Upwind

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,744
    Kevin Wensley, Director of Operations of the Offshore Sailing School, demonstrates how to trim sails upwind.

    Kevin Wensley: Hello! My name is Kevin Wensley. I'm Director of Operations here at Offshore Sailing School and today I am at South Seas Island Resorts on the beautiful island of Captiva in Florida What I want to talk to you today about is a little bit about trying to get a sailboat to go upwind. And sailing upwind pretty much requires the sails are set in a fairly specific way and then you're able to steer the boat to keep the sails at the right angle to the wind. To take each of the sail in turn, first of all looking at the sail of front of the boat, the Jib, you want to pull that in nice in tight using the Jib sheet, but to get a good frame of reference, have a look up the side of the mast of the spreader and try and get the back edge of the jib to be inline with the end of the spreader, that's going to give you a pretty accurate position for where the jib should be.

    After that go ahead and look at your main sail, your main sail again wants to be nice and tight, so pull tighten your main sheet and you're trying to get the boom pretty much to the centerline. Once you have that in place, the next step is to trying to get the boat sailing at the right angle to the wind. Now sailboat can't sail straight into the wind, but they can sail at about 45 degrees to the true wind. So if we can work at where the true wind is coming from, then we should have a good idea of where to point the boat.

    So weed a visual indicator out on the water for where the wind is coming from. And for me, I like to use the waves. The waves or the ripples on the surface of the water, they tell me where the wind is, and once I know where is the wind is, I can then angle my boat it about 45 degrees to that and start the boat moving upwind.

    Once we're in rough with the right position, I can then go to the fine-tune of looking at tell-tales on the jib, so you'll see the yarn on the leading edge of the jib and if we get the yarn on both sides of the sail flying straight back, what that means is that we got a good even flow of air over both sides of the sail and what that will do is that would generate lift, and lift is the force that is going to take us upwind.

    When you're sailing upwind and you're getting plenty of lift, then that boat is going to heel over nicely and it's going to be a tremendously accelerating experience, and that's how to set the sails up and trim for upwind sailing.