Trim Your Jib Like a Pro

Gary Jobson, a former America's Cup winner, shares tips on getting the most from your headsail. Read the complete article here.

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Michael Eudenbach

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Trimming Furled Jibs: Most modern cruising boats employ a roller-furling headsail, but it’s important to remember to adjust the sheet lead whenever the sail is furled or unfurled. Gary Jobson (left) demonstrates the proper technique aboard a Sabre 34. With the lead too far forward (left), the top of the sail falls off to leeward and is an inefficient foil. In this case, sliding the jib car slightly aft (right) promotes perfect trim.Michael Eudenbach

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Dial In Your Ideal Headsail Trim: There are several things to remember when trimming the headsail aboard your boat. Don’t be afraid to experiment. In light air, play with the halyard: It’s OK to have some scallops in the luff of the sail when the breeze is down. As the wind builds, apply tension to the halyard to remove the wrinkles. The angle of heel is another important indicator of a properly trimmed boat; upwind, I find that anything more than 20 degrees is slow and inefficient. The best way to dial in your trim is by adjusting the car, or lead, on the genoa track. When the lead is too far forward (left), the draft, or curvature of the sail, becomes too deep, or exaggerated, and boat speed suffers. Likewise, when the car is positioned too far aft (right), the sail becomes too flat and lacks the necessary drive to keep the boat moving well.Michael Eudenbach

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When you find that sweet spot with the lead (above), the sail will be powered up, with the draft more or less in the middle of the sail. When the breeze rises or falls, adjust the lead accordingly.Michael Eudenbach

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Parallel Leeches: Visual references are key to headsail trim. If it looks right, it probably is. And if it doesn’t, switch gears by adjusting leads, leech lines, or halyard tension. Jib telltales are one of the easiest and best ways to ensure that trim is correct on a given point of sail: Telltales on either side of the sail should stream straight back. Another useful reference is to make sure the leeches of the main and the headsail are close to parallel (left) and working in concert. Always try to avoid backwinding the main.Michael Eudenbach