Waples Wines Northern Travellers – Tip of the Month 2 !!

Travellers tip #2 Kicker setting:On my boat the kicker is one of the most constantly adjusted settings.  In simple terms, other than the main and jib sheets it is the control which mostly affects the speed and balance of a fifteen. Therefore, it should be in a very accessible place.  I have mine on the mainsheet jammer which I like because you never run out of adjustment which can happen with the twin control system if they are not continuous. There are well documented numbers about kicker tension in different wind strengths but my view is you should learn to develop “feel” from the rudder without looking at the sails all the time.

Light winds upwind and downwind i.e. when the crew is in the bottom of the boat; it should always be very slack.  You don’t get much rudder feedback from a fifteen in these conditions. Medium winds upwind.  This is when you can “feel” the difference.  Start to apply kicker just as the boat starts to become overpowered (ie: the rudder loads up and you find yourself having to ease the main to stop the boat heeling and luffing into the wind).  You will find as you pull on the kicker the boat will heel less, the rudder will “feel” more balanced  and you can keep the boom centralised which will help with pointing. However, you must be quick to ease the kicker again if the wind lightens as the leech of the main will quickly become too tight and will stall. You should “feel” the boat rapidly slowing down and the rudder going very light.  I can’t stress enough how important it is not to be ‘over-kickered’ when this happens.

Medium winds downwind; it should always be slackish.

Heavy winds upwind; keep pulling on the kicker until the mainsail shape distorts (excessive creases from spreaders to outhaul) and then let it back a bit.  If boat is set right the rudder should “feel” almost neutral (ie: a little weather helm but you are not fighting it all the time).

Heavy winds downwind; firstly, make sure you ease the kicker lots before bearing away around the windward mark.  This will make the manoeuvre much easier as you will not have to fight a rudder which is trying to make the boat head into the wind.  It will also be kinder on your gooseneck fitting! When reaching with the kite it should be well eased.  This will let the spinnaker do the work and keep the boat flat, the rudder neutral and the boat will “feel” under easy control. When running it should also be well eased but if the boat starts to lose control and keeps trying to bear away into a gybe pull the kicker back on a bit until the rudder loads reduce and the boat is back under control”. Helm, Greg Wells, ƒƒ4030.

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