Sailing Flat

Everyone says sail flat for speed. Yet the current Scots and water shows the winner (?) well over with main sheeted in pretty close. Last sumer a race was called so I had my old sails on. Probably 15 knots of wind.

Someone behind me with new raciing sails (and a good sailor, better than me anyway) was not keeping up. And yes we were healed over a lot just to see how it would run. Junk sails and moving well. I know he was surprized as he called out, "those arent your racing sails!"


Jim Nighan

FS 760 - Skaneateles Fleet


Sailing flat

It's a general thing; keep the boat as flat as you can in the existing conditions while maintaining as much boat speed and pointing as you can. In a breeze you could keep it pretty flat by luffing the sails but then you lose air flow and boat speed and you make a lot of leeway, so it's not a good idea to keep it flat by luffing the sails. In really light air, it's no trouble keeping the boat flat but you lose sail shape and air flow over the sails; a bit of heel will give the sails some shape and promote air flow over them. There are other more subtle reasons to heel or not heel the boat.


FS 1087


check out this article.

Phil Scheetz

Flying Scot 5919

Fleet 163, Nockamixon Sail Club

A rule of thumb is that

A rule of thumb is that upwind heel the Scot until the weather deck is flat to the water.  Because of the crown in the deck this will result in a mild angle of heel.  It is thought that this angle best combines reducing wetted surface, keeping the rig upright for power, keeping the centerboard near vertical for lift and to avoid sliding, and adding a little weather helm for pointing.  If you have ready Buddy Melges' book then this is what he refers to as the optimum heel angle for the boat.  

Exceptions include very light wind, when it can be fast to heel even more; very heavy wind when it's best to keep as flat as possible to avoid sliding sideways. And, I know some very fast sailors who tend to sail the boat extremely flat all the time, flatter than the rule of thumb.