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Waves and more waves

Printed From: Yachts and Yachting Online
Category: General
Forum Name: Beginner questions
Forum Discription: Advice for those who are new to sailing
Printed Date: 03 Jul 22 at 8:39am
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 9.665y -

Topic: Waves and more waves
Posted By: dics
Subject: Waves and more waves
Date Posted: 15 Sep 08 at 1:34pm

So a bit of a Homer Simpson question.

What are the best techniques for sailing in waves when on the beat, reaching out to the wing mark and running down to the leeward? Obviously a lot depends upon the type of boat you sail but I am only after some basics (which are usually too easily forgotten about) and I'm not worried about the quickest route eg high, low or by the lee but really just dealing with the wavey stuff. Too many times when sailing upwind I find my little boat resembling a nodding dog!


Dics (my nodding dog is really a 300).

Posted By: sten
Date Posted: 15 Sep 08 at 3:50pm

it much the same for all boats, you need to have the balance and trim right all the time. to do this feel which way the boat wants you to move and move with it. the same with the steering. you movements need to match the size and timing of each wave. if you do it wrong the boat will tell you by slamming a wave.

if you sit to far back the bow will lift to high and slap the next wave, if to far forward you will feel the bow catching on the wave, in just the right spot the boat will keep perfect trim as it goes over the waves with a bit of leaning for and aft

as you go over the top of the wave the boat tends to trip over so you will need maximum hiking at this moment and you will get a slight rest in the trough.

steering as you go up the wave head up and bear away down the back. you can use your body to help this by twisting your shoulders in the direcection you want to go. its best to let it the boat steer itself and just correct to keep on the proper course,

for coppy conditions use more agressive exagerated sterring and movements, in swell longer and smoother


Posted By: dics
Date Posted: 15 Sep 08 at 4:15pm

Thanks for the advice.

I usually head up as I go up the front of the wave and then bear off as I go down the back. This can be down quite effectively by just sheeting in and using the hull profile to steer the boat. Also I try to time it so to keep as much of the length of the hull that is in the water as possible. This is to keep the water length at is maximum for speed as well as helping not to smash into the next wave.

This is just what I have found intuitive and wondered if it was correct.

Thanks again.

Posted By: tmoore
Date Posted: 15 Sep 08 at 6:21pm
i also sail a 300 and at the nationals found it so difficult to get into sync with the waves going upwind. i was wondering if i should have been footing off more in order to get into that 'power' zone?

Landlocked in Africa
RS300 - 410
Firefly F517 - Nutshell
Micro Magic RC yacht - Eclipse

Posted By: FireballNeil
Date Posted: 15 Sep 08 at 6:35pm
Im not sure about other boats or if this really is the best thing to do, but we had pace with some of the fastest boats upwind at the 29er nats. As soon as we saw bigger chop approaching we would crack off a couple of degrees and have the boat going as fast as possible when we hit the chop, winding the height back on afterwards


Posted By: tmoore
Date Posted: 15 Sep 08 at 7:07pm
only problem is that im too light to be able to crack off into that power zone and still keep the boat flat in anything above about 10mph....

Landlocked in Africa
RS300 - 410
Firefly F517 - Nutshell
Micro Magic RC yacht - Eclipse

Posted By: FireballNeil
Date Posted: 15 Sep 08 at 9:30pm
the faster you go the less gusts blow you sideways though, if I were light id be making the most of every lull to bear off and gain as much speed as possible


Posted By: tmoore
Date Posted: 15 Sep 08 at 9:40pm
i know what you mean as i do that in the 29er all the time. it just doesnt work the same when your about 3stone underweight

Landlocked in Africa
RS300 - 410
Firefly F517 - Nutshell
Micro Magic RC yacht - Eclipse

Posted By: G.R.F.
Date Posted: 15 Sep 08 at 10:06pm
Sailing in waves?

Doh, where shall I start. A lot depends on what kind of waves.

Lots of questions, are they tidal ( I don't mean tsunami tidal) I mean is
there current involved, and are they wind with current or wind against

Then there's the wave speed, are they travelling faster or slower than you.

Then there's the height thing, how much is the rise and fall.

Then there's the how much wind in relation to the wave thing.

All offer different techniques and opportunity for advantage to you, and
disadvantage to your opponent if he or she doesn't spot any of what's
going on.

Far be it from me to get off on one here, especially in such esteemed
company, and I'm also coming from a bit of a beginner angle here trying
to make a boat do the same as what years of making a board do by
instinct has proved successful. Lots of it is transferable especially the
down wind in waves bit.

You can use waves to overcome an unfavorable current, just dont get
stuck in a trough.

You can use faster waves than slower shorter waves when the currents

Up wind, sometimes avoiding the waves pays, sometimes they can be a
sign of a faster moving windward current, so go get in there and work

If they're slamming footing off and powering through them is best.

If there's not a lot of wind but the waves are big, the rolling effect under
the wave surface (and look up jefferies sheltering theory) can help with
some times sheeting out and in to balance, to legally propel you faster by
sheeting out staying upright as the wave approaches then sheeting in on
the recovery.

There's simply too much to put in a single forum post, it's an entire
chapter of a tactical sailing book, how to deal with waves, but one thing
to definitely do, make them your friend, annoying buggers that they can
be when they're icy cold and smack you in the face. they do make sailing
more fun.

Posted By: redback
Date Posted: 15 Sep 08 at 10:14pm
It sounds like you are overpowered most of the time.
That's exactly why I sail a 4000 - most of the time we
are overpowered. Unlike the contributor above we drive
off in the gusts and head up in the lulls. To drive off
in the gust you have to play the main-sheet. We don't
cleat ours, and as we bear off we ease and hike hard
then squeeze and relax a bit as we go up. We have
enough mast bend, kicker and down-haul to enable this
but never enough to feel underpowered.

In a chop we modify this so that we hit the waves fast.
In bigger waves we will squeeze up and then drive a bit
on the way down. In very large waves we don't bother
unless we encounter a breaking crest.

Downwind in a fast boat like ours we tend to overtake a
chop and so its a bit of a bucking bronco sort of ride
which just means hanging on. In larger waves we are
still too fast to surf them but we have to watch we
don't lose heeling force and "tea bag" the crew because
the pressure drops on the way up the back.

However in my Laser and Scorpion days I really used to
enjoy surfing and by getting in sync and really throwing
your weight about you can get quite an advantage over
the more sedentary sailor but it takes practice. In
Lasers I certainly have surfed right up to the transom
of Wayfarers by using their wake on otherwise flat

The only surfing I get in the 4000 is upwind where a
powerboat can provide waves to surf on since you are
often on the brink of planing anyway.

It sounds like you need to pay attention to your rig
controls. Bend that mast (especially with down-haul)
until you are only just overpowered. If the sail is
flogging then you have to use more down-haul then you'll
be able to drive hard in the gusts, squeeze in the lulls
and in waves you'll have more options and control.

Sorry I got carried away but I hope you found it

Posted By: dics
Date Posted: 16 Sep 08 at 9:21am

Thanks for the all info. Lots to think about. Like you Redback i was overtaking the chop but then every 4th and 5th wave were a bit bigger so when I got to those it was surfing with the subsequent loss of pressure in the rig. basically up wind I need to get more in tune and work the boat with the waves as Sten suggests and off wind I need to formulate a stragegy depending on where the waves are coming from to bear off and surf the big un's and then down wind it will be surfing with by the lee in the troughs to get me to the waves I want to surf.

I know my rig settings were fine for the conditions.In the 300 when you get to a certain point you tend to be on pretty much the same settings  when sailing off wind as to sailing upwind. Down wind it was only less kicker used. Even the board stayed up 10 inches all day!


Posted By: tmoore
Date Posted: 16 Sep 08 at 11:57am

it may have been ok for you dics. however with the board up and maxed out kicker and downhaul i was still overpowered. obviously i should be on the baby rig. im just wondering, i know there mush be lots of lightweights in the same situation, how do they cope?

or is it simply a matter of sheeting out and curling the front of the main? i hate doing this upwind because of the extra drag im creating which slows me down. on the other hand will be overpowered be slowing me more?

G.R.F, i dont suppose you could reccoment a book or something to help with waves (its jut upwind, downwind i love surfing them) 

Landlocked in Africa
RS300 - 410
Firefly F517 - Nutshell
Micro Magic RC yacht - Eclipse

Posted By: dics
Date Posted: 16 Sep 08 at 12:40pm


Talk to class coach Alastair Wood. He is a light weight and last year moved from an A to B rig. You can email him on the Yahoo group.

Posted By: G.R.F.
Date Posted: 16 Sep 08 at 1:03pm
Originally posted by tmoore

G.R.F, i dont suppose you could reccoment a book or something to
help with waves (its jut upwind, downwind i love surfing

Doh it's such a long time ago I read up on this sort of stuff. I can't
remember for the life of me where I came across that "jefferies sheltering
theory" if you google it all it comes up with is my references to it here.
But it was in a sailing book that dealt with waves, but....

In those days more often than not, the waves were moving faster than the
boats and even reading back to my own views, they tend toward that
tactical view that often the issue is climbing up the backs then surfing
down the front.

Angles now play a big part with us, and crews, deciding to take a
promenade around the foredeck, then whining like girls when they slip in
the water, lucky they have that wire thing to bounce from, why they have
to spin round in circles as well though, all because I've had to bear off a
bit suddenly to catch a wave..
Then they whine cos they can't hold the spinnaker when I need to climb
high a bit along a particular face to build the speed necessary to dive
down and clear the back of the next wave.
So now what we've worked out to keep him happy he controls all the
wave riding activity with 'off' 'up' commands. All I now do is waggle the
stick, a monkey could do it.

But back to the question, I'll have to check up at home, see if I can
remember/find any of my old sailing books. Obviously "start to win'
would have been one of them, I can't remember what he said about
waves, I used to have endless debates with him, coming as I did more
from the windsurfers planing centreboard free angle.

Posted By: sten
Date Posted: 16 Sep 08 at 2:26pm
Originally posted by tmoore

or is it simply a matter of sheeting out and curling the front of the main? i hate doing this upwind because of the extra drag im creating which slows me down. on the other hand will be overpowered be slowing me more?

if the boat heels it is slow because you will end up fighting the rudder better to let the sail out or pinch

which will depend on the type of wave, if the wave is square on upwind you can flatten them out by sailing at an angle over them either pinching or footing which ever allows you to get over the difficult waves with out slamming them,

if you want to foot then you will have to play the main alot to keep it flat, the other option is to pinch over the waves which is slower but silular vmg.

if you are very light and its windy reaching of is often and rapid trimming the main the best option but you will need to be fit.


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