excessive weather helm

Hi guys.

I seem to be fighting excessive weather helm up wind during our racing.  I am familiar with proper crew position, vang on, board up slightly ( but how much) going to weather and have even tried making the jib a bit more powerful with slight ease on the jib halyard to get better sail balance, but still can't get the boat flat and seem slower than others on a beat.  I have a snug rig with sails cut for that and believe I have set up the boat right for that according to the sailmaker.  I would be open to suggestions to help keep the boat flatter yet making my course to the weather mark good without needing to foot off too much in order to decrease my weather helm.

What is an optimum sailing angle on a beat for the Scot?  Does one let the jib's windward telltales dance a bit as we do on larger keelboats, (eg. San Juan 24 )on a beat or should the jib  telltales on a Scot both be streaming back ?

Thanks.  Skip


Try easing off the main, and

Try easing off the main, and see if that helps.  Check the rake too.

Rake, etc

I would check the rake as well.  Also check to see what the tension is on the forestay.  If the outhaul  is too loose, the sail will have a lot of draft, which you don't need in a blow.

Snug the Cunningham to pull the draft forward, and crank on the vang, which flattens the sail.

Phil Scheetz

Fleet 163, Nockamixon Sail Club

Tuning guide

See this link for the North Tuning Guide.  Most of this is accurate, no matter which sailmaker you have.



Phil Scheetz

Fleet 163, Nockamixon Sail Club

excessive weather helm

thanks for the comments.  I have checked my mast rake at 28'5'' with forestay tension measured at 94#, needing the forestay adjuster plate to get that.  I already have max outhaul on and use cunningham so I'm not sufe what more I can do to decrease my weather helm.  Maybe it's just a matter of letting out the mainsheet more although it seems similar to the other boats now. Any other thoughts?  Also when going on closehauled course, does one have the windward jib telltales dancing a bit or streaming aft like the leewards?     Thanks      Skip


Try easing the main as

Try easing the main as discussed and see how that works.  As for the jib, both jib telltales should be straight back.  As the boat picks up speed, start to slowly head to wind to just lift the windward telltale.  Turn slightly to windward or leeward as needed to keep them streaming and allowing the windward one to just start lifting.  Good luck!

read threads on sailing light yet flat

  1. you may enjoy a thread from late 2007, about four pages below, about keepingthe boat flat even with light crew, especially the comments of jay lott

randy blough, FS1954

weather helm

Greetings from Plano,tx,

I to had a lot of helm,Scot Mauney had an article which said to move the mainsheet bail on the rudder head back 1 inch.

That did the trick for me..A  pleasure to sail again

 Fs 4024



Does that work?

This seems like a novel solution.  It seems this would change the way the tiller feels, in that it may feel more balanced, but does it correct the underlying imbalance that is creating the weather helm?

When you have weather helm, you have drag.  This seems like it would mask the feeling of imbalance, but you would still have the drag.  Were you just as fast, or hopefully faster, after making this change?

Phil Scheetz

Fleet 163, Nockamixon Sail Club

weather helm

Another item to check.  Make sure your rudder blade is down. If it is not all the way down, you will certainly get more weather helm. There are two schools of thought on the rudder angle, the factory setting and the other a vertical edge, instead of the slight angle as set from the factory.  I sailed with both and actually prefer the factory.  Reason being you will feel weather helm sooner than the vertical edge.  Again, boat balance, sail trim all play into the weather helm.  I find it hard to believe that moving the main sheet block on the rudder back will actually help.  Just my 2 cents!

Sailing overpowered - reprint from post 5 years ago

I usually do well upwind even at weights of 350 lbs or less in overpowered conditions. Here is what to do when you are overpowered (you will know you are overpowered when you are fully hiked and the main is trimmed all the way in and the boat still heels past the optimum heel angle): 1. Move jib lead back. This opens the jib / main slot, depowers the top of the jib and gives a better pointing angle with the bottom of the jib. 2. Stop windward sheeting. No point in it in these conditions. You want to keep the slot open. It's more important to be flat and fast than to get a little more pointing. 3. Max outhaul (even in less than windy conditions I keep my outhaul within an inch or two of max - the outhaul is not an important adjustment on the Scot) 4. Max cunningham. 5. Max vang. You should have been progressively applying more vang as the wind increased to overpowered conditions. Do 3 through 5 and your main should resemble a piece of plywood in how flat it is. At this point I usually encourage my crew to hike a little harder. 6. Now keep the boat FLAT. This means sailing the boat on a slight feather on the jib (inside telltale tickling but jib not visibly luffing) and EASING THE MAIN AS MUCH AS NECESSARY to keep the boat flat. If you heel then you get weather helm which is slow. 7. If it is wavy then you need to learn to work the tiller and the main to keep the boat powered in the waves. When you hit a big wave, which would otherwise kill your speed, yank the tiller toward you to steer away from the wind a little and ease the main at the same time. This will help the jib drive the boat through the wave but will keep the main from heeling the boat. When you get to a flat spot trim back in and steer back up. I am talking relatively small corrections here, probably not more than 5 degrees in steady wind. Don't be afraid to manhandle the tiller. It's more important to keep the boat balanced than it is to use easy tiller movements, in heavy air. In big waves I am often easing, and trimming, on every wave. Make sure your biceps are in good shape. 8. If you get so overpowered that you have to luff the whole main then you are highly overpowered. Luffing all the way back to the leech of the main will cause the boat to have lee helm and fall away from the wind. You may need to luff the jib momentarily to recover the boat's balance and get going again. If this keeps happening consider abandoning the race and heading to the bar. J. Lott FS 5698

One more thing

One more thing:  if are used to sailing boats other than the Scot, you may be accustomed to a neutral helm in heavy air.  In a Scot it's difficult if not impossible to completely get rid of weather helm.  Minimize it as much as you can, but if there is still some weather helm, that is normal.  You might want to look at whether there are other factors which are making you not as fast as the rest of the fleet.  Your problem might not be excessive weather helm.

helm vs feel

i agree with Phil.  I think this adjustment would reduce the tiller tug but not the drag.

randy blough, FS1954

No drag on Randy's boat

Randy was fast yesterday at the Challenge of the Lakes.  Apparently the drag was not a problem on their boat.  Funny I was considering checking my rake yesterday, and when came in, after being slow, and feeling that tug, my rudder was about 1/3 raised.  

Phil Scheetz

Fleet 163, Nockamixon Sail Club