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.

Chris Turner on his Spinnaker Handling Fit-Out….!!

A few days ago we published an item on our World Champions’ fit-out for spinnaker handling…. This is what Chris has to say about it:-

I have the kite cleat forward (same on Sake) so I can control the drop. Free’s Graham to have his head out of the boat. I pull the kite down, no need for a sock through the cockpit as you simply stuff the kite forward. After the first couple of pulls you are pulling on the sail itself anyway. Merlins, Scorpions and a lot of traditional UK Classes have this set up, it is nothing new.
Lead is where it is as there was no where else to put it! Handly you can put your toe under it on a windy reach too!
Got a few new ideas that will come for the Nationals…



First-Time Fifteeners – More on Twinning Lines….!!

A few days back, as part of our series of posts for First-Time Fifteeners, we ran an item on the use of twinning lines.

David Williamson has kindly sent in this extra tip:-

In most conditions running square, we actually spring the windward twinner approx. 2 feet from the cleat and set the leeward to match. The kite still flys balanced and square while remaining quite powerfull. The benefit is that gybing requires no movement of either twinner. While the crew smoothly gybes the pole, it is very easy for the helm to fly the kite (hopefully without collapsing, aided by the twinners controling both clews). This makes re-acting to windshifts and the presence of other boats a lot smoother and easier.

Datchet Fifteens – Cathy Foster Coaching………!!

This weekend, the Datchet Fleet Captain arranged for Olympian Cathy Foster to come to the Fleet and provide coaching.  We shall spilt the feedback notes from the Fleet Captain, so that Cathy’s coaching on downwind techniques appears tomorrow. We shall file both these articles under the Blog’s category called “Technique”….. and click the photos to enlarge them…. 

Cathy Foster ex Olympian and professional coach, came to Datchet Sailing Club today 11th August 2012.  Six club boats rigged and ready to go at 9.30 am.  The wind was 10 knots and not a cloud in the sky.


Cathy started the day with a discussion on how does it feel when thinks are going right when sailing. Belief, confidence and feeiling in control was the key feedback from the group. Cathy stated that it’s something we need to do early and to get us back into the winning feeling grove.  ( doing “a Ben”!!!)


Looking at attention to get us back to the winning feeling


Internal              /.               Internal

Tight.                 /.                Wide

¥.                             -ve > +ve


External             /.               External

Tight.                 /.                Wide


If on flat water. >>>>>>

 look  for wind 

If on the sea look

For waves


Another part of race recovery


The goal of bad starts beats etc are getting yourself out of the negative past of future.  When we sail we need to sail in the now and short term future. ( focus on the wind shifts and or next few waves)


In the morning we then went on the water focusing on sailing fast as a team (helm and crew)  to warm up and let us get working together    Using a box we completed an odd number of tacks and gybes  while Cathy looked at our sailing skills and how we sail the boat at the right angle.   10 being perfect 0 we are effectively capsized.     This was followed by starting with wind short windward leward


Big learnings for the fleet  From the morning



  • As a fleet we are not using the kicker enough so we are losing speed when the gusts hit us.
  • The fleet was not sailing flat enough. Which was allowings all to sag to leward.
  • John has also started to slow the start on the tack and then speed up at the end
  • Some of the fleet needed to pull the main in quicker by going laser style or find a way that works
  • most of the fleet are over using the tiller.  We need to luff slowly and the tack quickly and  the last part is quick.


  • We need to think about doing the same at mark roundings   So we leave the mark at speed and heading in the right direction and the foils are working better for us
  • When looking at role tacks. The crew should watch the helm to ensure you cross together the helm crosses at the right time.


More tomorrow on downwind coaching….