Stiletto 27 Std. Editon

Adjustments for Tuning Boat and Rig, and Sail Trimming Tips (Written by Peter Wormwood as an early manual for Stiletto owners)

Sailing adjustments, tuning and sailing tips for the Stiletto 27 submitted by Tom House

Section I - Sailing Adjustments

The following sections on sailing controls are obviously inter-related. When sailing, the adjustments of one may result in the need to adjust one or more others. We will attempt to describe the effects of each sailing control on the Stiletto in terms of what it does and how the result will change the "feel" of the boat. In the end, though, sailing a boat is like playing an instrument - you are a very essential part of the whole. Speed and handling depend on your ability to get in tune with your Stiletto and sense what adjustments are needed. In general, if it feels better - it is!

1.) RUDDERS- the rudders provide one of the primary sensory inputs to you through the tiller. The rudders tell you whether or not the boat is in balance. The boat is perfectly balanced when there is slight weather helm so the boat wants to turn slowly into the wind if the tiller is released. For example, if the traveller is too far in, or the centerboard is too far up or forward, the tiller will pull strongly against your hand, a condition called "weather helm" in which the boat wants to turn into the direction of the wind. On the other hand, if the main sheet is too loose, the headsail or jib too tight, or the centerboard is too far down or back, "lee helm" will result in which the boat wants to turn away from the direction of the wind and the tiller pushes against your hand. In this sense the push or pull of the rudders through the tiller tells you which list of adjustments needs to consider. NOTE: When sailing away from the dock or beach, be sure the rudders all the way down, even 1/2" at the rudder tip will give you a false reading of the helm conditions.

2.) CENTERBOARD - the centerboard is both the underwater balance point of the boat and the surface against which the water pushes, just and as the overall sail plan is the balance point which the wind pushes. The centerboard is adjusted both by raising and lowering as well as tilting the board forward or aft in its bracket. If the boat was being sailed in a perfectly balanced condition and the top of the centerboard was then pushed all the way forward, the bottom of the board, which is in the water, would move aft. The boat would then have "lee helm" or would turn away from the wind. If on the other hand, the top of the board were pulled aft, pushing the bottom of the board forward, the boat would develop "weather helm" or would turn into the wind direction. Consequently the board can be moved around to rebalance the boat when it is developing Weather or lee helm and the sails are properly trimmed.

If, again, the boat were being sailed in a perfectly balanced condition and the centerboard were pulled up in its mounting several inches, the stern of the boat would begin to slide sideways slightly away from the wind direction, resulting in the feel of weather helm or if the board were pushed several inches further down in its mounting, the stern of the boat would slide sideways less, and the feel of lee helm, or turning away from the wind would result. This represents another way of balancing the boat often used when reaching and running with the wind.

The above paragraphs are true sailing in any direction relative to the wind. There are certain board positions, however, which tend to be normal for sailing in a particular direction in a Stiletto. When sailing to windward we keep our board all the way down. This gives maximum resistance to sliding. While reaching the board is pulled up far enough to get rid of the lee helm. Running downwind at slower speeds the board is again pushed down. Board position is always secondary to proper sail trim.

3.) MAINSAIL CONTROLS - the mainsail controls are the main Sheet, traveller, downhaul, outhaul, mast rotation, and batten tension. The battens should all be in their pocket tightly enough so that there are no vertical wrinkles in the mainsail. On the top-most battens this means very tight.

The mast rotator, should be adjusted so the long axis of the mast section is pointed into the apparent wind direction. This means some rotation sailing upwind (approximately 30o from center) and a lot of rotation sailing downwind (approximately 60o). Under other than racing conditions we set it correctly in the upwind position and don't bother readjusting for different points of sail, as it is not critical.

The downhaul adjusts the draft location in the mainsail. The more downhaul tension the farther forward the draft, the farther forward the draft, the less weather helm. The downhaul should be tight enough to prevent any horizontal wrinkles in the mainsail. On a Stiletto this usually means that the main sheet is pulled in very tightly, then the downhaul is tightened as much as possible, then the main sheet is let back out again. Under very light wind conditions the downhaul can be eased out, making the sail a little fuller, and more powerful. This would also be desirable when sailing downwind for a long while.

The Outhaul is used to control the fullness of the bottom third of the sail. Sailing upwind the bottom of the sail should be very flat because it is sailing backwind of the jib. This means the outhaul car should be all the way aft. When reaching and running the jib is farther away from the main, so the bottom of the sail can be fuller (more curve) and consequently more powerful. At this point ease the car forward such that the curve in the bottom of the sail matches that in the panels above. This usually means easing the car forward about 4"- 6". If you forget to tighten the outhaul sailing upwind, some weather helm may result.

The mainsheet and traveller are the two primary mainsail controls.

The goal in trimming the mainsheet and traveller is to get all the telltales on both sides of the sail to flow aft and at the same time keep the helm balanced. Keep in mind that the jib changes the wind direction on the lower part of the mainsail, so it must look different than the upper part of the sail.

The main sheet controls the twist in the mainsail. The main sheet must be kept in tight enough on all points of sail to achieve the desired sail shape. The most common mistake in trimming the Stiletto sails is to allow the main sheet to be too loose, allowing too much twist in the sail. The main sheet when very tight pulls in the upper part of the leech, adding power to the upper half of the sail, and bends the mast away from the sail, causing the mainsail to flatten, which is desirable in sailing to windward and is especially desirable in heavier winds. In strong winds the main sheet is also acting as a backstay supporting the mast.

The mainsheet tightness also affects the tightness of the forestay to which the jib is attached and thus the shape of the jib, so it also affects the ability of the boat to point upwind when sailing to windward. When sailing downwind the main sheet should be loose providing as much curve as possible in the mainsail and also relieving tension on the forestay, thereby adding fullness to the jib. When reaching the main sheet should be fairly tight to keep power in the upper part of the mainsail as well as keeping tension on the forestay.

The traveller is used to adjust the overall angle of attack of the mainsail relative to the wind over the boat. If, when the main sheet is properly adjusted there is too much weather helm, the traveller should be let out until the helm is reduced. When sailinq to windward the traveller should normally be centered or even up to 6" towards the windward side of the boat. In very heavy winds it should be let out as necessary to reduce the weather helm and heeling of the boat (about 6"-l8"). Reaching, the traveller will normally be about halfway out the track, but might be anywhere from 6" out when close reaching to almost the end of the track while broad reaching. When sailing downwind the traveller should be all the way out to the end of the track.

4.) JIB CONTROLS - the jib controls, in addition to the main sheet tension, are the jib sheets, jib cars, and the jib downhaul lacing at the tack of the sail. The downhaul should be laced just tight enough to give the luff a taut, wrinkle free look. This will require lacing it much tighter in heavy winds, but it should not be over tight in light breezes as it will cause vertical wrinkles in the luff of the jib. On any point of sail except hard on the wind, the jib sheets should be as slack as possible without luffing the jib, or inducing a reverse curve in the leading edge of the sail. When sailing to windward close hauled, the jib sheet should be as tight as possible without causing the slot between the mainsail and the jib to close up, or so tight as to cause the leech or trailing edge of the jib cloth to curl toward the mainsail. The jib lead to the deck is adjusted by moving the jib car fore and aft along the track. The jib car is in the correct position when the entire leading edge of the jib from top to bottom luffs at exactly the same time when the boat is turned slightly upwind from the course, which you are sailing.

Again, the goal is to get all of the telltales flowing aft.

5.) REACHER - The reacher is really very full shaped jib which can be used on all points of sail from a close reach to downwind. In extremely light breezes it can even be used upwind but can easily become over stressed if the breeze picks up. The controls are the halyard, the reacher bridle, and the reacher sheets. The halyard is set up tight when the sail is raised. The tack should be centered on the bridle to keep the leading edge taut. When close reaching the tack should be eased off to the leeward bow to open up the slot between the reacher and the main. When broad reaching or running downwind the tack should be pulled to the windward side get the loading edge of the reacher out from behind the mainsail. The reacher sheet should be trimmed so as to keep a nice airfoil shape in the sail with the draft in the forward half of the sail. Be careful, though, not to over tighten the sheet, especially when sailing downwind.

6.) SPINNAKER - the spinnaker is a huge, powerful sail designed be used downwind and broad reaching in light to moderate air. The spinnaker is about 2 1/2 tims larger than the mainsail alone. As such, it is the one sail which, more than any other, must be used with proper Caution as its power in heavier air can make any boat, including Stiletto, uncontrollable and subject to capsize. On the other hand, when used properly it can add large measures of speed and enjoyment in more moderate or light conditions. Unlike monohu1l sailboats, the Stiletto requires no spinnaker pole and this simplifies the use of the spinnaker. On Stiletto the spinnaker has its own halyard and running backstays, but otherwise uses the same controls as the reacher. Sailing off downwind it may be desirable to slack off the halyard about 1 - 1 1/2 feet from the mast, but it should be tight against the masthead when reaching. It is very important to remember to always tighten the windward running backstay firmly before raising the spinnaker and before each jybe. After jybing the leeward running backstay can be slacked off to allow the main boom to be eased farther out. The running backs are the only support for the top section of the mast against the tremendous pull of the spinnaker and failure of the mast can result if they are not properly used. As on the reacher, the bridle can be moved to the leeward side when reaching and to the windward side when running downwind to get more of the spinnaker out from behind the main. The spinnaker should be sheeted as loosely as possible, allowing approximately 8"-12" of the leading edge of the sail to actually curl in towards the mast. Normally, the spinnaker sheet requires continual adjustment to be set properly. While cruising, however, we will sometimes trim it in just a little too tight to avoid having to constantly adjust it even though a little boat speed will be lost.

Both the reacher and the spinnaker can often be used with another jib in a double head rig. This is a matter of experimentation to see if speed is gained under the particular conditions.
Section II Tuning the boat and Rig

The balance and tautness of the rig of any boat affects the sailing qualities in terms of speed, pointing ability and steering or helm balance. The section below entitled mast is of major importance.

1.) THE STANDING RIGGING - consists of the forestay bridle, the forestay, and the port and starboard shrouds. The purpose of the standing rigging is to hold the mast in the proper upright position.

The only adjustments are the forestay turnbuckle and the shroud adjuster, which have a series of six holes for adjustment. With the boat floating in the water on its normal lines the mast should be in a vertical position and the rig should be as tight as possible without being so tight that the mast does not rotate on its support.

Normally the shroud adjusters will have the pin in the 2nd or 3rd hole front the top when the mast is vertical. Note that both the port and starboard shroud adjusters must be in the same hole or the mast will lean slightly to port or starboard. The forestay turnbuckle controls the overall tightness of the standing rigging.

2.) THE MAST - is supported like a column by the port and starboard diamond Stays and jumper stay attached to the upper and lower mast sections and held away from the mast by the spreaders. These diamond stays are adjusted by the turnbuckles at the lower end of each on newer Stilettos and by an adjuster at the spreader tip on earlier boats. The port and starboard diamond stays should be tight enough to completely prevent any sideways bending or motion of the mast while sailing. We sight up the little groove in the front of the mast to verify that it does not arc to either side when sailing. The jumper stay should be tight allowing only a slight bending of the mast, along its fore and aft axis, and should only bend away from the main sail. This bend will become apparent when the main sail is sheeted in tightly. The reason for allowing a slight bend in the mast away from the mainsail is that, when sheeted in tightly in heavy winds the bend of the mast will flatten out the mainsail slightly and both reduce the amount of weather helm or the tendency of the boat to turn towards the wind.

3.) THE DOLPHIN STRIKER - the purpose of the dolphin striker is to take some of the mast compression loading on the center of the main beam and spread it out to the ends of the main beam. This is necessary only in extreme conditions such as high winds or waves. The dolphin striker should be adjusted by backing out the adjuster screw until the dolphin striker is snug against the dolphin striker strap. Then tighten the lock nut against the dolphin striker rod to secure the adjuster screw. You may need to readjust the dolphin striker from time to time.

4.) THE RUDDERS - the alignment of the rudders is preset at the factory and normally would not require adjustment. If a rudder were seriously damaged or replaced, the alignment can be checked with the blades in the full down position and the tiller cross arm connected and centered so that the rudders point straight ahead. The distance between the trailing edges of the rudder blade should be within 1/4" of the distance between the leading edges of the blades.

5.) HULLS - as in any sailing craft the smoothness of the underwater surfaces affects the overall speed capability of your Stiletto. This is particularly true as the boat accelerates into the upper speed ranges.

The Stiletto is delivered with a smooth, fair bottom, but if you are racing the boat you way wish to make further improvements such as wet sanding the bottom paint. Even if you are cruising, however, from time to time you should check the bottoms for marine growths such as barnacles and for minor damage from rocks if you beach the boat. If these imperfections are are permitted to accumulate, performance will naturally suffer.
Closing -

In closing, may we suggest that before you sail you perform a "preflight check", which should include the following

1. Snug standing rigging
2. Tight diamond and jumper stays
3. Mast rotator set
4. Do all of the pin shackles have rings or cotter keys and all of the screw shackles tight and wired if critical?
5. The tightest rig in the world won't stay up if a shackle comes apart.

With these adjustments and checks made, you are now ready to go sailing with confidence that your Stiletto is ready, too!

Section III: Sail Trimming Tips:

The downhaul opens and closes the sail's leech. Easing the downhaul closes the leech. Tightening the downhaul opens the leech. In heavy air, when one needs to bleed off power, downhaul max to point the leech off to leeward to dump some power. Otherwise, work to keep the leech pointed straight aft with the downhaul, outhaul and traveller.

The Mainsheet controls sail twist, which allows one to get the upper telltales flowing when the lower ones are.

The jib is a leading edge flap for the mainsail. As such, it's job is to funnel air over the lee side of the mainsail and keep the flow attached to the mainsail. The leech of the jib should be (as much as possible) a parallel surface to the nearest part of the mainsail. If it points at the mainsail, the leech is too tight and closes the slot, not allowing the maximum amount of air through. If it points away from the mainsail to leeward, maximum power is not being harnessed and the mainsail is more likely to stall (leeward telltales hang). Jib luff tension and sheeting position on the track control this...and barber hauling the jib clew outboard when reaching and running, opening the sail slot.

The real trick to downwind sailing is to focus on it as hard as you do sailing upwind. For some reason, people mentally sheet out downwind - even though it's actually harder to keep the flow attached to the sails and the boat moving. A lot of the difference between your speed and mine downwind is focus.

As for trim, the key is to set your mainsail up for downwind - outhaul and downhaul eased, mast FULLY rotated to fair the transition from mast to sail on the leeward side, traveler out, and mainsheet eased somewhat (but not so much that the upper leech is falling off to leeward). Once the mainsail is set up, trim the spinnaker and sail the boat such that you barely keep flow over the leeward side of the mainsail (leeward telltales just flowing). As you go faster, you may need to either sail deeper, or travel up a bit to keep the weather telltales on the main flowing. When you get too deep, the spinnaker trimmer can help you out by easing the spinnaker sheet (Which it will need anyway if you are too deep,). Easing the sheet will give you weather helm, which will help turn the boat back up on the wind.

Conversely, when you get too high, over-trimming the chute will help pull your bow off downwind. Although I'm a better sailor than Christopher, I trim the chute downwind because I can have more effect on performance than if I steered. This is because I can see the sail better and feel the pressure on the sheet. While trimming, I have a running dialog with the helmsman, guiding him/her up and down by what I see and feel.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing that I can tell you about proper multi-hull sail trim (in all directions) is to forget all that aerodynamic crap and do three things -

1.Always have the ENTIRE leech of your mainsail pointed as straight aft as possible - that means parallel with the fore & aft centerline of your boat - TOP to BOTTOM. Think of the boat as a rocket. It goes forward because gas (air) is squirted out the back.

To be most effective, you want to direct that nozzle (your leech) straight aft - exactly opposite of your direction of travel, not to leeward, not to windward. Remember high school physics - for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? Take that idea to heart, upwind and down.

2.Align the leading edge of your sails exactly with the apparent wind, so there is equal flow on both sides of the luff - that's what telltales indicate - that there is wind flowing by. If it flows by both sides equally, the telltales will flow back equally. No flow, they hang.

3.Connect the front of your sail with the back of your sail with a nice smooth transitioning curve - that's what the outhaul and downhaul are for. As you turn off the wind and the traveler is eased out, the mainsail leech will become aimed off to leeward. Ease the outhaul to get it aiming straight back. As you ease your mainsheet, the reduced pressure on the leech will move the draft too far forward in the sail, leaving the leech too flat (and pointed off to leeward).

Ease your downhaul to move the draft back and close your leech (making it point aft).

If you understand what I've just written, and go out and apply it, I guarantee that you will go faster than the pseudo-aerodynamicist. The problem with using aerodynamic theory for sail trim is that most people don't understand it well enough to fully and effectively apply it. The three rules above are simple, straight forward, and easy to apply. They are how I trim, and how I win more than my fair share of races. I call it "Trimming for the aerodynamically impaired".

By the way, notice the order I listed the rules in - while everyone talks about keeping the telltales flowing, I believe that's just keeping the motor running. To apply throttle you have to get the leech right!


Running backs serve two purposes: The first is to support the top of the mast to keep it from breaking off under the load of the masthead sails. The second purpose is to assist the mainsheet in providing luff tension for the sreacher. While job number two indicates that the runners should lead to the transom, if you did so, the mast would probably break off sideways because the screacher tack is to leeward, the sheet is to leeward, and the head of the sail is pulling the mast sideways to leeward - so. unless the runner is pulling reasonably upwing of the top of the mast, the masthead is going to leeward and then down! So, the best tensioning point on the deck is a compromise between the two needs.

One of the problems that we have run into as we have raked the masts further and further aft is that the runner tracks have had move further aft (or get longer) in order to obtain enough tension as the cars are pulled aft, away from the mast.

Mike has gone the longer track route and his runners now reach tension right about the back of the nacel. Having converted my boat to side opening hatches, I didn't want a tensioned runner to interfere with my hatches fully opening. In addition, I wanted a little more side support than Mike has opted for - I intend to wild thing downwind in a breeze and I wanted my mast fully supported against the sideways shock of a collapsing and filling chute. So, to deal with the tensioning with mast rake problem, I built a 2' long by about 2" high ramp on which to mount my tracks. now, as the cars are pulled aft, they definitely go down away from the masthead, tensioning the runner on a much shorter track. fully tensioned, the car is about 2' behind the shroud.

OK, that's why Mike and I are so different on our full tension locations. Where would I like to be optimally? Probably somewhere in the middle - about even with the bottom aft corner of the canopy. However, with significant mast rake, that may not be possible without ramps. So, now you have the parameters, pick what works best for your boat.

As for tracks vs. tackle for tensioning, the blocks and tackles do not have enough purchase to move the masthead under load. My track system has a 4:1 pulling on a car that moves aft 24" to move down about 1 1/2"; so that's a purchase of 36:1 X 4:1 = 144:1

Billy Ellis sent me the following questions, which I've answered below - sorry about the long windedness - you guys ask multiple, complicated questions...

My sail maker just delivered my new screecher so I am at the point of installing track for the trim point and running back. I want to use the same track for each. Would a T track in any way work for the running back or would the friction be too great? The problem is that I do not want to spend the money for adjustable screecher lead blocks, which would be required using traveler track. If going the traveler track route is required what would be the safe working load requirement for the cars?

My other question concerns mast rake. You had mentioned that deeper dagger boards allowed you to rake your mast much further than the standard set up. Could you elaborate on the web site? Also would not adding a mast head screecher require additional rake to balance the boat, both from the point keeping the center of effort from moving forward and also the faster you go the more lift your board generates? - Billy Ellis

I don't think that you could get away with a T-track for the runners. They're pretty highly loaded, and I think that the friction might be a problem for you. When we first started putting runners on, we put a 4:1 tackle on the end of the wire, led to a padeye on deck. It quickly became apparent that that wasn't near enough, so we turned to tracks. My boat's out on the mooring, so I can't measure it, but I think that, with my ramps, I tighten the wire 2" when I move the car 20" - so that's a 10:1 ratio. In order to move the car under load, I have a 4:1 purchase system. Therefore, the total purchase is 4 X 10, or 40:1. I use Harken #159 cars with a SWL of 850#....and I'm worried about them - the balls turn square pretty quickly from the compression (an ongoing problem with Harken traveller cars of all sizes.) Were I to do it again, I would either use their #214 car (SWL 1250#), or more likely switch to Ronstan's #RF827 car (SWL 1430#), which has stainless bearings - eliminating the ball crush problem.

I'm not so sure that I would want to sheet my reacher to the track because that implies a car in a fixed location, blocking the travel of the runner car. On my own boat, I have a fixed block shackled to a padeye on deck slightly aft of the max aft sheeting position of the reacher. I then use a tweaker block riding on the sheet to fine tune the lead for different wind angles and tack positions on the bridle. The tweaker block is on a small line that leads down to a bullet block attached to an eyestrap on deck and then to a small cam cleat. With your Reacher leading so far forward, you might be able to shackle the bullet block to the shroud U-bolt.

As for mast rake and balance, most stock Stilettos have more weather helm than is really good because their mainsails are typically old and too full, or there is not enough downhaul on the sail to open the leech. The profile of the hull rocker on the Stiletto is what I would refer to as an unbalanced design. The hull is much deeper and the V much sharper forward than aft. This causes the hull to 'bite' into the water and resist leeway much more forward than in the after sections. The result is that the stern wants to skid to leeward. This is, of course, counteracted by pulling the helm to weather to keep the boat going straight and - viola - you have weather helm! To ease the helm, we put the dagger board down which, being aft of center, increases the 'bite' aft. If a longer dagger board is used, then there is more bite aft, and the boat starts to get more leeward helm.

Once this happens, it is possible to rake the mast aft to bring the helm back into balance. I haven't measured my rake, but I'll bet that it's around 7-8 degrees from vertical.

As you point out, adding a masthead Reacher to the front of the boat is definitely going to create leeward helm. While mast rake will help neutralize this, once you take the Reacher down and put the jib back up, you're back to heavy weather helm. So, what's the answer? Live with it!

My boat is about as tweaked out as I can imagine that it's possible to tweak a 27. I've done all the go-fasts and modifications - I've got deep boards in the hulls and new, flat sails. The spinnaker and Reacher tacks are on a bridle, rather than further forward on a pole (to minimize the lee helm that moving the sails even farther forward causes). In the end, I go upwind with a little more weather helm than I want. Downwind, or any direction with the Reacher I have more lee helm than I want...and Merlin, with a much better hull shape, does too. It can't be avoided when you're moving the center of effort in the sail plan back and forth several feet.

Finally, you are right with your observation that the faster you go, the more lift your board develops, and the more lee helm you feel. For years I have been encouraging Stiletto sailors to foot their boats to weather more in order to build up enough speed to help neutralize the typical weather helm. I can send you an article I wrote in Multi-hulls after the very first Stiletto Nationals describing how to sail a Stiletto fast. It makes this very point. At seminars during the Nationals I used to point out that I was the lowest pointing boat in the fleet upwind, yet I was getting to the weather mark first almost every time... So everyone, you are flying short winged fighters - you have to fly them fast to keep them in the air - don't stall the dagger board by pinching upwind. As you go faster reaching, and the helm goes neutral...and then leeward, pull your board up a little to re-balance the helm. Peter

Replying to Peter Wormwood comments: Peter, why not shorten the running back rather than adding additional track to the system in order to get enough tension when you rake the mast. - Billy.

Our first move when we raked the masts and discovered the problem WAS to take all of the slack out of the runner in it's cast off position. Even so, we found that we were only marginally getting enough tension with the runner fully on. By way of explanation, where we once sailed the boats with the mast perpendicular to the local deck, we are now sailing with about 7 degrees of rake from the vertical.

Seven degrees of rake moves the masthead aft almost 3' from its earlier position. To help explain the situation, imagine a right triangle whose vertical leg is the distance from the masthead to the deck, the horizontal leg is from the point where the vertical hits the deck aft to the running back car, and the hypotenuse of the triangle is the fixed length of the runner. If you move the top of the mast aft 3', then the vertical moves aft 3', thereby moving the starting point for the horizontal leg 3' aft. So, to have the same tension on the runner, the car must move aft 3' to maintain it's same distance from the location of the new vertical. So (ignoring the shortening of the runners that we did do), theoretically the track must be 3' longer, or be moved aft 3'. Keep in mind that the tracks were only 4' long to start with. I think Mike's are 5' now.

So, you think: "What's the big deal - move the track back 4' and get on with it". Well, I forgot to mention earlier that we run the tracks forward to the shroud chain plates to assure that the leeward runner is far enough forward to not interfere with the shape of the eased mainsail down wind in light air... This may be subject to change though. Chris and I noticed that with the bigger mains and chutes that we are using now that we are pulling the apparent wind further forward downwind. In fact, during the refit, we shortened the mainsail traveler track a foot. So, the mainsail may not be lying across the leeward runner anymore. Since we re-launched after the changes, I haven't paid any attention to this detail, so I can't say for sure.

Anyway, looking at it more closely, at tension the runner car should be 4-5' behind the shroud chain plate. Peter

Handling Puffs and Gusts:

I think circumstances dictate what to do. It has worked for me to bear off hard and fast and not ease the sails. If you bear off onto a reach and let out your sails you power up and likely could go over. If you bear off as I said hard (30 or more degrees ) and keep your sails trimmed hard you will stall the sail foils and the lift (which is causing the hull to fly) is drastically reduced if not eliminated.

There will still be force on the sails but not nearly the force of an un-stalled sail. For sure feathering works in the right conditions especially if some one is playing the sails but the situation described was that things were happening so fast the sails could not be played by a single-hander and that he was on the verge of going over. Feathering works well if you have anticipated the gust but could result in a capsize if you head up too late. As I suggested it is always a good idea to practice these techniques under more controlled circumstances so that you know what to works under duress.

Reefing the main and using the small jib (Or furling your foresail) helps alot with gusts, and can be sailed safely up to 25 knots. Over that I just use a reefed main. If it gets over 30 I stay home. With multi-hulls you always reef for the gusts, this is opposite of a monohull.

Nylon Reachers were really only made for light winds. I've never used one over 10 knots, and even at that, it was stretching quit a bit. I only used the reacher at about 90 degrees. I don't use the reacher much, as I sail a lot by myself, and you really need at least 2 people to fly one.

NEVER cleat the reacher! You are just asking for trouble if you do.


He's especially right about the jib sheet wanting to hang up on everything in sight during a tack. In fact, he forgot to mention the fuel tank and the cooler sitting in the cockpit. When I sail on Cindy's boat I get to be the crew and deal with the jib sheet. The smoothest way that I've found to tack is to face aft. That leaves her a path aft of me to get across with the helm and mainsheet. When the tack begins I look over my leeward sholder up the slot to watch for the luff of the jib to start to break. As soon as it does I release the sheet. (any sooner and you lose power through the tack, any later and you slow the boat down - and the load comes back on the sheet from the backed jib, making it hard to release.) To release, I grab the sheet right at the block with my leeward hand, thumb away from the block (imagine a fist wrapped around the sheet). Locking my wrist, I push the sheet out of the cleat using the side of my hand.

In heavier air I have to lock my elbow as well and drive my body weight down through my wrist. In that case you must be sure to wait until the jib luff breaks to unload the sail. Before un-cleating, I already have the new sheet in my hand with all the slack taken out.

As soon as I release I start wailing on the new sheet with long arm strokes back past my body on both sides. Now here is the key: The old sheet running out through the block wants to hang up on aforementioned fuel tank, cooler (and helmsman's feet). It also MIGHTLY wants to jump back in the cleat. For this reason, I keep my visual focus on the old sheet running out through the block, rather than the new one I'm pulling in. I guarantee that if you look away, it will snag on something! Once I start sheeting the new sheet I'm rotating my body and backing toward a seat on the new weather side. I want to get seated before the sheet is all the way in so I can brace my feet against the foot braces for the final trim. Except in very heavy air, I leave the sheet out a couple of inches to allow the boat to accelerate before flattening the jib for max pointing. We're talking a delay here of 5-8 seconds in the trim cycle.

If you're quick, an alternative approach in heavier air is to un-cleat the jib sheet prior to the tack while still seated on the weather bench. The trick is to get it un-cleated, but not ease it even a fraction of an inch. The whip method used is more powerful, but slows the tack down if you ease the sheet at all. The trick is to allow enough slack in the sheet to whip it out, but pull the slack back out just as the sheet clears the cleat. The advantage is that it keeps your weight to weather a little longer. This is important to help hold the weather hull down AND to prevent the leeward stern from digging in too much during the tack (when you want it up and skidding across the water). In fact, as a helmsman I delay crossing the boat until the boat is almost head to wind in order to keep my weight off that leeward stern. Going back to the jib sheet position, using the whip it out technique, a really good crew will get the jib un-cleated but stay seated until the jib starts to back. Then they'll let the old sheet run, and rotate across the boat facing aft and trimming until they're seated and ready for the final trim. They will always be in position before the helmsman reaches position on the new weather nacel.

As long as we're this deep in the discussion, let me say that the helmsman should ease the mainsheet 3-4" during the tack to help the boat re-accelerate. I usually do this right after I've passed the hiking stick around behind the mainsheet tackle, using my freed up leeward hand to make the ease. Then, as I back toward my seat on the nacel, I'm steering with my aft hand and trailing the mainsheet out to the new side, clear of the fuel tank and ready for re-trim as the boat accelerates. In heavier air, I hand it to the jib trimmer to re-trim once he has the jib is trimmed. During a tack, the third crew moves to the middle of the tramp, facing aft. In a kneeling position, he/she should reach aft with his leeward hand and grab the foot of the genoa. as the boat tacks, he should pull the foot forward far enough for the clew to clear the mast. This does two things: first it makes sure that the clew clears the mast without snagging (and the leech clears the jumper strut), and secondly, it helps pull out the slacked old jib sheet against the friction of the 2:1 tackle.

...and those are the dance steps I use for fast tacking a stock Stiletto 27... Peter


The three best ways that I know to improve upwind performance are: . Add deep high aspect ratio dagger boards that endplate on the hulls at the top end (endplates double the effective aspect ratio of a foil...). My 27 draws 6', which is 2' more than stock. . Increase the aspect ratio of the sail plan by lowering the boom and/or raising the mast height. (Did both to my boat - adding 18" to the bottom of the mast, which pushed the relative position of the hounds up - increasing the aspect ratio and luff length of the jib, as well as doing the same to the mainsail) . Reduce the overlap of the jib, or even eliminate it in favor of a uni-rig. (My jib is full hoist but overlaps the mast no more than 1-2"...the uni-rig is impractical unless the boat is designed for it)

And by the way, the fastest way upwind in a stock 27 is to foot, rather than pinch. The small stock daggerboard, like the short wings of a jet fighter, needs a lot of water flowing across it to generate enough lift. Once you have good speed, then you can work it up a bit.

Years ago, when the Stiletto Nationals were well attended with a lot of well sailed boats, I would consistently be the lowest pointing boat in the fleet, and the first to the weather mark - go figure. . .


The weather helm on a 27' Stiletto can be caused by several

1.Rudders not all the way down, need adjustment, repair, or longer connecting rods to bring the blade forward to butt against the pintle.

2.Mast rake can cause excessive weather helm if it is too extreme.

3. Sails and sail trim plays a major role in balancing the helm. If you fly the lapper and main, with the main sheeted in and the lapper luffing, you will always have weather helm. On the other hand, if you sail with the Genoa sheeted in, and the main luffing, you will have lee helm. Therefore, one should balance the two sails according to conditions, as well as what point of sail you are trying to achieve. If you have excessive weather helm, you should ease the main traveler a bit and sheet the Genoa in to balance the rig.
New flat sails will cure most of the problem right away. Old baggy sails just enhance the problem of weather helm in most conditions. Let me know if I can help you upgrade your sailplan. Ron

You can also reduce helm on any boat by sweeping the rudders forward a bit. This can be done either by lengthening the push rod ~ 1/4" - 1/2". or by moving the pivot point.

However, the main reason the helm is heavy is because there is a lot od side force, and that needs fixed. Changing the rudder rake only changes the way it feels. Either the main is baggy or it is over trimmed. Also try reaching off just a bit more until you get the feel of the boat, not trying to sale hard on the weather.

Weather helm can also be from old sails, which put the draft further aft.


When I sailed stock boats with Peter Wormwood in the early 80's, with new sails we rarely dropped the traveler below center until we were almost flying a hull. Going upwind in almost any conditions, the traveler was rarely lower than two feet below center. This is clearly different than Guy's idea of never bringing the main above halfway up and, I feel a clear indication of a way full main. Cocking the daggerboard aft is a valid way to pick up excess helm, especially reaching with a smaller jib and full main, but is only a remedial step for weather work as it reduces your draft and hurts pointing ability. Along the same line, leaving the traveller halfway down also blows pointing because the main is what drives the bow up. When sailing to weather in hull flying conditions, the boat, in correct trim, will almost plane on the leeward hull- we called this hyperdrive and is the most exciting thing I have done in sailboats, I think. We carried the traveller about 8" down and played the mainsheet to control heel- the optimum being weather hull just barely out of the water- max righting moment, no wake from the weather hull, only the rudder. Needless to say, this requires an extraordinary amount of attention to wind, waves, boat, etc-definitely not booze-cruise mode.

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