Go Outboard to Go Faster

CW's Andrew Burton shows us a way to get a more comfortable ride by moving the sheet outboard. From "A CW Hands-On Tip" in our September 2008 issue

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Rigging a new sheet lead for off-the-wind sailing makes for a more comfortable ride.Andrew Burton

On racing boats, when the wind is aft of about 50 degrees apparent, the crew rigs an outboard lead for the jib sheet. Sheeting the jib to a block on the rail opens up the leech of the jib, allowing the sail to be eased farther without luffing. This in turn allows the main to be eased, too. The upshot of all this is that the boat goes faster and stands up straighter, making life aboard more comfortable, which appeals to all cruising sailors.

There are several easy ways to set up an outboard sheet, if you've got a place to attach a block on the rail. One way to do it is to run the lazy, or windward, sheet through the outboard block and to a secondary winch. Then make the old sheet the new windward sheet. Another way is to use a third sheet and run it from the secondary winch through the block to the clew of the jib. Make sure the outboard lead is forward of the normal, closehauled lead to prevent the top of the sail twisting off too much and luffing as it's eased.

Andrew Burton is a Cruising World associate editor.