Why do racers have their sails so low?

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by Gregory Matous, Sep 22, 2015.

Tags:
  1. Gregory Matous

    Gregory Matous Member

    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    I was wondering why racers have their sails almost to the deck level?

    Is it just to reduce the heeling force, or is there something else going on? And if it is just to reduce heeling, then in light wind it would seem you could attach the halyard lower on the spar (thus raising the sail higher for visibility).

    I would also think that you can change the center of effort of the sail by both moving the halyard location and the gooseneck. (together). If you only move one or the other, then the lower spar will now be at an angle (don't know if it matters). True?

    Finally, is reducing/eliminating weather helm the goal for gooseneck adjustments? Or is there another goal in mind?

    thanks!
     
  2. Pauliemac

    Pauliemac New Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    The short version is they go faster that way. Many also make the rig adjustments you mentioned.
     
  3. sailcraftri

    sailcraftri Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    47
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Not just about the rig being low but getting the upper spar more vertical.
     
  4. beldar boathead

    beldar boathead Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    111
    Trophy Points:
    63
    And if you have a sail window there is no visibility problem .
     
  5. Gregory Matous

    Gregory Matous Member

    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    I've come up with two theories why this works.

    First is the opposite of the Jens rig. So the Jens rig does not actually reduce physical sail area (like reefing a marconi rig). Instead it allows the top spar to flex more (by leaving it unsupported by the mast) and spill air at the top. (my understanding)
    Having the sail lower, by contrast, provides more support to the sail and less twist. Thus more power in normal conditions.

    The other theory is that it lowers the center of effort of the sail and simply provides less heeling force. So you have a bigger wind range before you can't sail flat anymore.

    I'm not a racer, so i just keep the sail up high because I don't have to duck. But its not completely obvious why a lower sail makes the boat faster.
     
  6. Nene

    Nene New Member

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Try raising it 1- 1 1/2 ft from the recommended set up setting that came with the boat and see the difference in speed. I'm a taller gal, 5'8 and got tired of peeking under all the time (no window) so I raised the rig, twice; big decrease in speed. The upshot of that is I can now handle bigger wind
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2015
  7. Light and Variable Winds

    Light and Variable Winds Well-Known Member

    Likes Received:
    138
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Raising the boom keeps it out of the water in rollers. :eek:

    For me, raising the rig (no window) made my Sunfish more "tender", but my perception gave no loss of speed. :confused:

    Wind close to the water/waves tends to be less strong, and increases with height. Sail design took a leap forward when squaring off the head.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2015
  8. Gregory Matous

    Gregory Matous Member

    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    I'm actually going to try different settings and see how it works out. I might have to get someone else to do a casual race with though. I'm not so good at telling how fast I'm going, but i can tell if someone is passing me :)
     
  9. Gregory Matous

    Gregory Matous Member

    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    As soon as you mentioned flattop sails, I thought,
    So here's another catamaran sailor who moved over to the Sunfish because the cats don't fit in the garage, and the municipal district keeps complaining when he parks it in his driveway, and its getting too expensive to store it at a storage yard, plus the extra setup time, and...

    I still miss my H16.
     
  10. danpal

    danpal Active Member

    Likes Received:
    47
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Racers keep their sails close to deck level in order to look cool. Having your sail high up is more comfortable but doesn't cut it in the cool department.

    Compare the two images below:

    Cool
    upload_2015-9-25_19-5-34.jpeg

    Not as cool
    upload_2015-9-25_19-10-32.png

    Hopefully we can put this discussion to rest.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  11. Alan S. Glos

    Alan S. Glos Active Member

    Likes Received:
    69
    Trophy Points:
    28
    I have two Sunfish on my beach, my race 'fish with the low rig and my wife's Wednesday afternoon ladies sail/drink wine boat with a high rig. I sail both from time to time, The high rig boat is more "tender" (i.e. tippy) and I am guessing that basic high school physics says that the high sail imparts more leverage on the mast, hence more tippy. Also, it seems harder to trim the mainsheet on the high rig in heavy air (no clue as to why.) The high rig does increase visibility and reduces boom-on-head incidents, hence the popularity for day sailing.

    Alan Glos
    Cazenovia, NY
     
  12. Nene

    Nene New Member

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    3
    I've started reading the bible (The Sunfish Bible), and found that what I was sensing, was correct. On page 25, "Jack evans proved that carrying the sail low was fast". So conversely, carrying it high would slow it down...a good thing in big wind.

    I'm loving this book. Very interesting learning the history of this little boat.
     
  13. Doug Warren

    Doug Warren Member

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Nene - Raising the sail in heavy wind will not improve the handling of the boat. Raising the sail will move the center of effort higher off the water. As a result the boat will tend to be more tippy. I suggest you check out the Jens Rig section of the Sunfish Bible to learn how to better rig the boat in higher winds. Good luck
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Nene

    Nene New Member

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Okay, I must have been being obtuse, thinking the inverse would work in this situation, but I get it now. Thank you sir.
     
  15. Gregory Matous

    Gregory Matous Member

    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    I read a neat Sports Illustrated article that was published right before that book came out:
    HERE SHE IS, THE TRUE LOVE BOAT
     
  16. Gregory Matous

    Gregory Matous Member

    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    he he..
    A racer cares not a whit about being "cool". They would shave their bodies, cover themselves in turtle wax, and sail naked, if they thought it would give them more boat speed.

    Having a classic striped sunfish sail and raising it up high is like driving a convertible. I am always surprised at how many comments I get on it. But probably not the fastest boat on the water.
    convertible2.jpeg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2015
    • Like Like x 1
  17. jaas75

    jaas75 Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    so im still no clear how you achieve the lower sail?? do you cut the mast??:confused::confused: or just dont pull the halyard all the way:eek:

    please advice
    thxs in advance
     
  18. cnovark

    cnovark Member

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gah! You tie the halyard to the upper spar in a different spot.
     
  19. jaas75

    jaas75 Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    dahh that makes sense sry silly question
     

Share This Page