Dead downwind

This is more a sailing question than a Flying Scot question, but as a relative newbie to the Scot, I'd love insight from y'all.

Set-up: I took lessons years ago on Rhodes 19's in Chicago. A safety tip we were taught about broad reaching and running downwind was to use the jib as an indicator of an impending accidental gybe. I can still hear the instructor saying "If the jib starts to flutter and come over to windward, the main will be next ... push the tiller to leeward."

So, first question: is that sound boathandling advice for the Scot? Or just the effects of my aging memory? :-)

Set-up for part two:

Last weekend, the wind built while we were out and we had a handful getting back to the marina, which was DEAD downwind. With part one above in mind, and especially since I didn't want to gybe or broach in heavy wind, I was being a little conservative. I noticed that my angle downwind was closer to a broad reach regardless of which tack I was on, and it seemed that the boom wasn't out as far as it could have been, even with the mainsheet eased out all the way.

Second question: When running, how far to YOU ease the sail, and is there a visual indicator (I don't know, maybe the how close the boom gets to the shrouds or something) that tells you you're at the limit?

Thanks for any insight.


Well, I haven't heard that "tip" you mentioned. However, I would think that if you were running dead down wind, the jib would be partially blanketed by the main well before an accidental gybe and would flutter early. So you could probably use this as part of your overall information gathering. On the Scot, you can put a masthead fly to give you a pretty clear visual reference of when you're sailing by the lee. In lieu of that, a lot of folks also tie strips of old cassette tape to the shrouds to indicate the same thing.

As for how far to ease the main, it'll go right up against the leeward shrouds and you'll be able to see the shroud pressing on the back side of the main. The max I'd ever have it out is to ease until the boom just touches the shroud and then bring it back a hair.

But that's just me. I'm no pro.



I agree with Tripp. I usually leave the sail out until the main is being creased by the shroud, but I usually try not to have the boom touching the shroud. If you sail a zig-zag, jibing course downwind, with the boat about 130-150 degrees off the wind, it it easier to control the boat, and the boom doesn't have as far to travel to get to the other side.

These courses will keep the flow over the main, which is faster AND easier to control. I put a tell-tale about a foot forward of the front end of the second batten on the main. If that tell-tale is streaming back, and your leech telltales are streaming, you definitely have good flow over the sail. On these courses, the jib will drive like a sail, as well, instead of hanging in bed-sheet mode. This will also allow you to ease the main slightly if you need to, if you get a sudden gust.

If you are new to the boat, practice this in light wind. Choose a day where it's 5-10 knots. Sail to weather a mile or so, to a fixed point you can remember, like a nav buoy, the big oak tree, whatever. Then sail downwind on the courses mentioned and see how many times you can jibe the boat until you arrive back at your starting point. If you have time, and energy, do this again, and see if you can do more than the first time.

Do the same, on a windier day to dial up your skill level.

You will quickly become comfortable with jibing the boat and the downwind runs will be fun.

Phil Scheetz
FS 4086