Step 4:

Adjust helm balance with traveller position

The traveller controls the angle of the mainsail to the boat's centreline and to the wind (see below). Because of this, it has a large effect on helm. The helmsperson must continually let the mainsail trimmer know how the main feels, so the trimmer can adjust the traveller as needed. Again, 3 to 5 degrees of windward helm is your goal.

© North Sails
When adjusting the traveller, you almost never want to pull the traveller so much to weather that the boom angles to windward of centreline. It's tempting to try this when you're looking for more helm in light air, but it usually stalls the main. On the other extreme, don't ease the traveller to leeward so much that the genoa backwinds the entire main. This may be necessary for a short time to ease helm, but it means you need to depower.

The trimmer must continuously fine-tune the traveller to keep the boat on her feet and the helm in the groove. Just remember to keep an eye on boatspeed to help you find the fastest settings.

The relationship of the mainsheet to the traveller is sometimes hard to understand. Consider the following analogy: When you move the genoa lead aft, you twist the genoa. This is what happens when you ease the mainsheet; it twists the main. Moving the jib lead inboard narrows the genoa's angle to the centreline. The same thing happens when you trim the traveller; it narrows the main's angle to the centreline.


On many boats, adjusting the traveller automatically changes the mainsheet tension, and not always for the better! Ideally, you should set up the traveller so you can play it without affecting mainsheet tension.


» Fine-tune the total power of the main with the above controls