Step 2:

Set genoa efficiency with the lead angle

In the Preparation chapter, we explained how to measure the angle between the boat's centreline and your genoa's sheeting base. Many new boats today are able to move their jib leads sideways as well as fore and aft, which gives them much better control over their lead angle. A narrow sheeting angle works best for high-efficiency conditions when the hull is easily driven. Narrowing the sheeting angle rotates the sail's forces to the side, cutting down on drive and increasing heel (see right), but letting you point higher. Though this makes the genoa more efficient, the sail is also very critical – more prone to stall and less able to accelerate.

© North Sails

Sheet inboard when you have some or all of the following conditions:

  • Medium air
  • Flat water
  • Experienced helmsman
  • You'd rather point than foot
  • A boat that's efficient underwater
  • No backwind in the main

Use a wider sheeting angle when conditions demand that you sacrifice some efficiency for more reliable power:

  • Very strong or very light wind
  • Genoa at the top of its range
  • Excessive backwind in the main
  • Heavy chop or sea
  • A boat that's inefficient
  • Inexperienced helmsman
  • You need to foot, not point

In summary, sheet inboard in ideal conditions and sheet outboard to play it safe at other times. Use the chart below as a rough guide, and start to make your own chart. On well-sailed boats, the lead angle is adjusted quite often with an athwartships jib lead puller. If your boat isn't rigged for this, use a barberhauler, a short sheet that pulls the genoa clew outboard or inboard.


» Set depth and twist with sheet