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Vang or outhaul first?

SimonFa

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25 Feb 2013
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Me North Dorset. Venezia in Portland.
It probably doesn't matter but I think about this every time I hoist the main and its starting to bug me. To ensure the main runs smoothly I always release the vang and outhaul but then I wonder if should harden the vang or outhaul first (assume |I'm going upwind)? The more I think about it the more I think I'm fretting over nothing, so I thought I'd ask the experts?

Yes I know, first world problems :)
 

Mercury Rising

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Brexitshire, England
Depends on how your rig is designed I suppose.
From a basic point of view a simple yacht needs and outhaul, but doesn't need a vang. I would say the vang is a modifier. Think kicking strap.
You can sail a dinghy without that, but if the clew is not at the right tension it'll be pretty rubbish.
 

dunedin

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Boat (now back in) the Clyde
I am surprised that you need to loosen the outhaul to hoist the sail, unless you keep the outhaul very tight.
Certainly need to release the vang, and I would set the outhaul before pulling on the vang, as the outhaul often very difficult to adjust with full vang tension on.
Then finally Cunningham/ downhaul of course 😀
 

Concerto

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The outhaul controls the position of maximum chord (depth) of the sail. The vang controls the amount of twist. So hoist with a light tension on the outhaul and once sailing set the outhaul. Then check the amount of twist and set the vang. If you are unsure what the sail should look like then read the RYA article Trimming the mainsail | Boat Handling - Sail | Cruising Tips | Knowledge & Advice | RYA - Royal Yachting Association or look on YouTube. Going on a good race boat to see how they set their mainsail or try and get a good sail trimmer onboard to show you how to get the best out of your sails.
 
Last edited:

capnsensible

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Atlantic
The outhaul controls the position of maximum chord (depth) of the sail. The vang controls the amount of twist. So hoist with a light tension on the outhaul and once sailing set the outhaul. Then check the amount of twist and set the vang. If you are unsure what the sail should look like then read the RYA article Trimming the mainsail | Boat Handling - Sail | Cruising Tips | Knowledge & Advice | RYA - Royal Yachting Association or look on YouTube. Going on a good race boat to see how they set their mainsail or try and get a good sail trimmer onboard to show you how to getb the best out of your sails.
Top Tips! :)
 

lw395

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16 May 2007
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It probably doesn't matter but I think about this every time I hoist the main and its starting to bug me. To ensure the main runs smoothly I always release the vang and outhaul but then I wonder if should harden the vang or outhaul first (assume |I'm going upwind)? The more I think about it the more I think I'm fretting over nothing, so I thought I'd ask the experts?

Yes I know, first world problems :)
If you only slacken eachby a modest amount, I can't see it mattering.
Unless the boom is a long way from 90degrees to the mast, when moving the outhaul affects leach tension.

If you let off lots of outhaul, then applying the vang first would possibly do odd things to the sail.
Since applying the vang increases the friction at the clew, it makes sense to set the outhaul first.
I apply some outhaul as soon as the sail is up, it stops it flapping so much. Leaving the vang off reduces the power in it.
Unless your rig is like a dinghy, where applying oodles of vang will flatten the main to something like a board with little power.
 

awol

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Me - Edinburgh, Boat - afloat on the Clyde
My mainsail clew is held by a longish shackle. I relax the outhaul before hoisting (actually after lowering the sail) to get the shackle angled up with halyard tension, then outhaul tension then kicker.
 

Ian_Rob

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The outhaul controls the position of maximum chord (depth) of the sail. The vang controls the amount of twist. So hoist with a light tension on the outhaul and once sailing set the outhaul. Then check the amount of twist and set the vang. If you are unsure what the sail should look like then read the RYA article Trimming the mainsail | Boat Handling - Sail | Cruising Tips | Knowledge & Advice | RYA - Royal Yachting Association or look on YouTube. Going on a good race boat to see how they set their mainsail or try and get a good sail trimmer onboard to show you how to get the best out of your sails.
This morning, this link comes up as being potentially malicious - impersonating the RYA site. Is it just my iPad?
 

Iliade

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27 Apr 2005
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Shoreham - up the river without a paddle.
I touch the outhaul about once a week as the overall level of wind changes. Sometimes I don't bother for a whole season (Autumn, winter and spring being one season - the cold wet windy one, summer being the cool damp windy one.)
 

Stemar

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Home - Southampton, Boat - Gosport
Still seems OK for me.

Here's the relevant bit

Trimming the mainsail
Related pages


Using the kicker, mainsheet and traveller to best effect.
The mainsail is primarily set and controlled using the mainsheet, kicker (vang) and traveller.
Their combined affect is to adjust the sail angle to the wind and the amount of twist in the sail.
Twist
Wind speed increases and frees a little with height. Therefore the top of the sail is trimmed freer than the base of the sail.
The amount of twist is judged by looking up the leech to see if the top of the sail falls to leeward more than the central sections. A more precise method is watching the telltales streaming from the leech.
When going upwind, the mainsheet and the traveller are used to control twist. When sailing off the wind, the kicker takes over.
Mainsheet
The mainsheet not only adjusts the angle of the sail to the wind, it also affects twist when sailing close to the wind.
The sheet exerts a large downwards force on the leech of the sail when the boom is directly above it, much more than the kicker.
Adjust the mainsheet so that the top batten is roughly parallel with the boom or the top telltale streams straight out from the leech.
Too much sheet tension and the top telltale will fall to leeward as the leech closes and twist is reduced.
Once the sail set is correct for close hauled or fine reaching, the mainsheet traveller is used to quickly depower the sail in gusts, without spoiling twist.
Traveller
When going upwind, once twist is set using the mainsheet, the traveller is used to power or depower the boat.
It is normally centralised but can be hoisted to windward in light airs or to leeward in heavy airs.
Moving the traveller to windward, easing the sheet and kicker allows the boom to stay near the centreline with the

sheet eased.
The eased sheet allows the boom to rise in the light airs, creating twist.
If weather helm is detected or boat heel increases, ease the traveller to leeward. This retains sail shape and twist but reduces heeling force. The luff spills wind but the leech keeps driving.
If you are still over-pressed with the traveller to leeward; reef, centre the traveler and start the process again.
Kicker or vang
The kicker controls leech tension and twist when the boom has passed to leeward of the traveller.
Easing the kicker allows the boom to rise, opening the leech and increasing twist.
Tightening the kicker will close the leech decreasing twist.
Often the kicker needs adjusting to stop the top of the sail twisting too much when sailing off the wind and on a run.
Rod kickers
Contrary to belief, rod kickers do not exert more force downwards. Their role is to create more upwards force in light airs.
They push a heavy boom upwards using gas struts or springs allowing the leech to open instead of the weight of the boom pulling down in light airs, closing the leech.
Twist rules
  1. Going upwind
  2. Light airs: traveller to windward, sheet eased to centreline or just to leeward.
  3. Medium airs: traveller centralised, main sheeted normally to achieve twist.
  4. Gusts: leave the sheet alone, ease the traveller.
  5. Increasing wind: reef, centralise the traveller and start as (2)
    Reaching and running
  6. Use the kicker to adjust twist once the boom passes outboard of the traveller.
Written by: Simon Jinks, RYA Yachtmaster™ Instructor Examiner
 

James_Calvert

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6 Oct 2001
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1,925
Thanks for this. I now know why a rod kicker is useful (not having one to play with). I confess I've often achieved the same effect by forgetting to slacken off the topping lift after hoisting.... glad to realise it could look deliberate.
 

Concerto

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Sail on the Medway, Kent from Chatham Maritime Mar
If you're going upwind, presumably the mainsheet will be pulling the boom down as well as in, so isn't the kicker irrelevant? The kicker only comes into its own when you're off the wind, so the mainsheet's closer to horizontal
You would think so, but you may need to move the mainsheet traveller as well - sometimes to windward. The best indicators for sail set are tell tales on the leech. If they are all flying horizontal, then the sail is corectly set and trimmed. This simple article will help.
Main Sail Trim by the Tell Tales

For a more detailed article on sail set using tell tales for both sails.
Cruising Sail Trim Guide: Putting It All Together | North Sails
 

SimonFa

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25 Feb 2013
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Me North Dorset. Venezia in Portland.
Thanks for the responses, basically nothing to fret about.

Sail trimming isn't the problem, I've done a bit of Laser sailing and read that page a few times. I think it was Flaming or someone like him who gave a great explanation of using the traveller a few years back. As it happens the Hunter Legends have a very good traveller system on the arch above the cockpit and I use mine a lot.
 

temptress

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15 Aug 2002
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Gone Sailing -on the move.. In India
It probably doesn't matter but I think about this every time I hoist the main and its starting to bug me. To ensure the main runs smoothly I always release the vang and outhaul but then I wonder if should harden the vang or outhaul first (assume |I'm going upwind)? The more I think about it the more I think I'm fretting over nothing, so I thought I'd ask the experts?

Yes I know, first world problems :)
depends on the sail and rig. As a rule of thumb

some kicker then
Outhaul then
More Kicker

then it depends on the boat, rig, Sail shape, sea state..

don't forget lufff tension,travler and
😋...
 
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