A properly trimmed jib, or headsail, helps balance your boat, increases speed, and decreases heal. But where do you fix your gaze while pulling on the jib sheet?
Here are three places to gaze leading towards a well-trimmed jib.
Start with your eyes near the luff as you use the halyard to adjust the draft, or curvature, of your sail. In light winds, ease the halyard until a few, light wrinkles appear and tighten to move the draft aft in higher winds. Adjustable back stays will affect luff tension and main twist. When using, be sure to examine both sails. Note, the best viewing location for examining draft location is on the bow.
Moving your eyes to the tell tales on the luff, or “front” of the sail, adjust the jib leads as far aft as possible. When the bottom tell tales aren’t streaming parallel to the water, move the car backward. If the top telltales break first, move the car forward.
Look at the leech of your sail and adjust the sheet tension so the telltales just start to fly. A tightened sheet decreases twist enabling you to point higher while an eased sheet increases twist, slows the boat and decreases pointing ability.
Once defining proper halyard, jib car, and jib sheet positions, mark them by taking a few stitches in the halyard and sheet and noting the car’s position. Tape can be use to mark the spreader where a smaller jib’s leech is positioned. Or, use a zip tie to define the distance an overlapping jib lays away from the shroud. Note wind conditions, point of sail, and the position of the jib halyard, car, and sheet on various outings. Soon, you will have a point of reference allowing you to quickly trim your jib in changing conditions. Small, fine-tuning adjustments will be the only mystery.
Turn your gaze up and out of the cockpit when trimming your jib. Look first towards the luff, then on the luff itself, and finally at the leech to achieve a well-balanced, fast boat with less heel. Whether cruising or racing, a well-trimmed jib is a longer-lasting sail.