High speed reaching in a 12 is very exciting and often
When sailed properly you'll be surprised how fast you can go
even relative to asymmetrics, particularly on a tight reach.
Key points are:
Get on the plane and stay on it
Anticipate the gusts
Play the waves
Put your body weight to work
On the reach you need to get powered up as quickly as
possible. That means as soon as you round the mark:
Leeward shroud off
Dangly pole out
Centre board half up
The only time you should vary from this is if conditions are
really scary (in your opinion) or you are going to engage in
some rapid tactical manoeuvres after the mark.
Responding to gusts
12s accelerate rapidly and you need to get every last ounce
of speed out of every gust. To do this you need to anticipate
the gusts. Crews can help here by looking backwards for gusts
and counting down the seconds until it will hit. Describing
what's happening to the other boats around will also help.
Before the gust hits
Before the gust hits, the helm should be ready to bear away and
both helm and crew should be ready to ease the sails and hike
out. Any leeward heel induced at this point is lost speed.
As the gust hits
The crew should come up to windward to keep the boat flat.
In fact a little windward heel can often be good to help the
boat bear away and accelerate.
Both helm and crew may pump the sails (within the rules) to
Riding the wave
If there are waves around you can use these to help promote
planing, to increase your speed or to work the boat lower to the
To pick up the wave, as you feel the boat lift, pump the sails
and hike hard. You may need to move your body forwards to help
tip the boat over the crest of the wave.
Often the boat will initially slow down and pressure will mount
on the sails so you need to respond with outward body movement
to keep the boat flat.
Riding high or low?
If you want to
work the boat low with the waves towards the next mark, bear off
to follow the face of the wave low.
If you're going for speed steer to keep on the wave, bearing
away if you're going faster than the wave and heading up if the
wave is beating you. Try and avoid using lots of rudder as this
will slow you down, use body movement to help steer instead.
Helm and crew need to co-ordinate their movements and so
communication is important.
The dangly pole was invented
for reaching. It can be flown to leeward to keep the jib leech
tight and get maximum air flow through the slot.
On the reach the crew should play both the dangly pole string
and jib sheet to keep the tell tales flying.
If the nose starts to go down a well timed pump of the jib can
help rescue a potential nose dive.
Note the good trim of the boat in this picture: the crew and
helm are well back and the nose is out of the water.
Getting ready for the gybe
With any luck the helm will have sailed slightly high of the
gybe mark during the reach and can bear off on the final
approach. This allows the crew to come in off the side deck and
get the controls back on.
Setting controls for the gybe
If gybing onto another downwind leg the crew needs to:
Pull on the leeward shroud on
Ease the pole so it can cross inside the forestay.
Consider fine adjustments to the board and outhaul so
they are ready for the new leg.
If gybing and then heading back upwind the crew needs to:
Back on with the shroud, outhaul
As you round the mark let the pole go and squeeze the
jib in with the main.
Helm should put on some more kicker ready for the beat