Setup and Sailing

Setting Up and Sailing the Farr 1020

These notes are intended as an initial guide to sailing. Fine tuning, good sails and efficient crew work must still be added for optimum performance.

Any suggestions or comments that Skippers or Crew might like to make to add to these notes, or our fund of knowledge in general, would be welcomed by our office.

Mast Tuning

1 Stay Tensions

When the mast step and deck hole are in position according to the measurements on the construction drawing the mast will stand with less rake than shown on the sail plan before rigging is tensioned. The mast should then be bent back at the top by tensioning the cap shrouds (not the backstay) until the forestay intersection point is in the position shown on the sail plan. With the mast in this position the forestay should be just taking weight but still be capable of sagging about 50mm with a little load on it, to allow sufficient sag to give fullness in headsails in light weather. The forward bend produced in the lower part of the mast at this stage is designed to offset spinnaker pole loads and hold the mainsail flatter than on a straight mast in light conditions. The lower shrouds should then be set up so they are not quite as tight as the cap shrouds. The actual tension may vary depending on the amount of pre-bend there is in the mast. The right tension can only be arrived at through sailing and the principle is that while there is no mast-head backstay load on the mast, the mast should be standing virtually straight (transversely) between the deck and the forestay point. We have found that the boat performs better with a lot of stay tension. Once the correct rake is established by adjusting the forestay we go through the following procedure :

a) Ease lowers off

b) Pull on backstay right down

c) Tighten cap shrouds as tight as you can and do both sides evenly to avoid snake in the mast

d) Ease off backstay

e) Tighten lowers evenly until mast is standing virtually straight (Transversely) between the deck and forestay point.

When the backstay load is then applied to bend the mast fore and aft further while sailing, a significant amount of side bend should also appear and when the mast-head backstay is wound fully down, the side bend should be in the region of 30% of the fore and aft bend.

The current trend amongst the most competitive boats is to rake the mast well aft while trying to keep the mast section straight with as little prebend as possible. As the mainsail is so easy to flatten especially using backstay it is best to have less prebend to give the sails shape when required .It is easier to flatten sails than add shape. However the amount of prebend required depends largely on the shape of the mainsail. With an older, fuller main some prebend may be useful.

Use of Backstay

The backstay is used for both bending the mast to flatten the mainsail and also to tension the forestay and reduce forestay sag, thereby flattening the headsail.

a) Sailing to Windward

The aft set of the side stays automatically controls the forestay sag to a certain extent and the backstay is used as an added control rather than a total control. 

Because of this, generally in conditions up to 10 knots true wind strength very little backstay load is required. Above 10 knots true wind strength, backstay tension should be applied progressively as the wind strength increases and the boat becomes over powered. As the backstay tension is increased the mainsheet will also generally have to be pulled in harder and if the backstay is eased, so to will the mainsheet to keep the correct amount of twist in the leech of the mainsail . Generally when a change is made to reduce sail, such as reefing the mainsail or changing to a smaller headsail, the backstay would then be eased off initially and then retightened as the wind strength increases. However, at this stage the backstay would not be eased off completely but only sufficiently to give power from both the headsail and the mainsail.

b) Reaching

Generally much less backstay tension would be used reaching, particularly in light conditions so that the headsails and mainsail can be made as full as possible.

c) Running

Care should be taken not to sail downwind in very strong conditions with any great amount of backstay tension applied, as spinnaker loads at the forestay intersection point will tend to increase the amount of mast bend. However in strong conditions enough backstay load should be applied to take a certain amount of load off the sidestays although the sidestays should be capable of taking the full load of the rig.

Setting of Sails

2.1 Headsails

a) Sheeting Position

In general in flat water conditions the genoas should be sheeted as follows:

No. 1 Genoa - sheet on aft track

No. 2 Genoa - sheet between lower and cap shrouds on to inner forward track

No. 3 Genoa - same as No. 2

It would appear that whenever there is any amount of sea or "chop" or when the headsail is at the top end of it's useful range then the effective sheeting position of the headsail should be shifted out to the deck edge for the No. 1 and to the outside forward track for the No.2 and 3.

b) Genoa Car Position

No. 1 Genoa

Initially the genoa car should be positioned so that when the genoa is sheeted so that the leech just touches the spreader the foot of the genoa is taut, to the point where it deflects slightly, around the shrouds. This is a "ballpark" setting from which you can experiment to find the best setup for your sails.

To further fine tune the settings try luffing slowly while on the wind. If you find the top windward tell tale breaks first (stops streaming horizontally) this is an indication to move the genoa car forward. If you find the bottom windward tell tale breaks first then move the genoa car aft. In general in light conditions the genoa car should be moved forward, in heavy conditions the genoa car should be moved aft sometimes this will cause the top windward telltales to break first as the top of the genoa is allowed to twist. This is quite acceptable as it allows the sail to release excess power at the top end of the wind range. In general as a sail ages the genoa car should be moved aft to combat the effect of permanent stretching.

No. 2 and 3 Genoa's

Utilise the same principles as the No. 1 Genoa. 

c) Leech tension

The best guide for the sheeting of the leech of headsails is the position of the leech in relation to the end of the spreaders. The No. 1 Genoa should be sheeted so that it just touches the end of the spreaders. In light conditions the sheet should be eased so that the leech is up to 200mm from the spreader end, this will give the sail more shape and power. The No. 2 and 3 Genoa's should be sheeted so that if the shape of the sail were extended back to the spreaders it would coincide somewhere between the end of the spreaders and 200mm inside the end of the spreaders. The best way to find out what works best is to experiment to find the best trim for your sails and sailing technique.

In strong conditions all headsails should be sheeted somewhat freer in the leech. Any excessive hook in the leech of headsails seems very detrimental with such a large mainsail behind the headsail and so and absolute minimum of leech cord should be used to just remove leech flutter.

c) Luff tension

In light conditions the luff should be slack enough to just (or nearly) produce tiny horizontal wrinkles in the luff of the headsail. As the wind strength increases, more luff tension should be applied to hold the draft of the sail forward in the correct position and also to free the leech in the upper part of the sail in strong winds. If in doubt try less halyard tension, especially in light conditions.

2.2 Setting the Mainsail

This can probably best be covered in two sections:

Firstly when carrying full mainsail and secondly when the mainsail is reefed. It does however, at all times, seem to be extremely important to ease the main traveller to leeward as early as possible and thus widen out the sheeting angle of the mainsail. It must be remembered that the mainsail is producing probably the largest proportion of the total rig power and it always must be used at the widest possible sheeting angle consistent with reasonably high pointing ability to produce good forward drive rather than heeling force.

a) Full Mainsail

Generally in light weather it is necessary to sheet the mainsail so that the boom is close to the centre line to reduce backwinding from the headsail. The mainsail however, should be sheeted very free in the leech with plenty of twist to keep the upper part of the mainsail (where there is no effect from the headsails) from stalling. In very light conditions this would normally require the traveller to be pulled 600-900mm (2-3 feet) to windward of the centre line and the mainsheet eased so that the boom then falls to leeward of the centre line. The bottom of the mainsail when sailing to windward should normally be set quite flat with the greatest amount of power being in the area between the spreaders and the forestay attachment position. In moderate to high wind strengths the mainsail should be progressively flattened by use of outhaul, cunningham, backstay and boom vang. Care should be taken when using large amounts of boom vang that it is eased before bearing away on to a reach or run. This will not only take load off the rig reducing chances of breakages but also give more control. When running don't overly ease the boom vang as this gives the main more twist making the boat harder to control, when the boom is at 90 degrees to the mast is about optimum.

Naturally, when reaching the foot of the mainsail would be let in to increase sail power. As the wind increases the traveller would be eased out to leeward quite quickly and the mainsheet tension increased to control the leech. As the boat becomes overpowered backstay tension would be applied to flatten the mainsail (and headsail). At all times, the mainsail should be eased down far enough so that a small amount of backwinding is experienced. The mainsail should be sheeted, if possible, so that the amount of backwinding is slight but is even throughout that part of the mainsail that is behind the headsail. In a sudden gust the mainsail should be quickly eased totally and if required the boom vang released. As the gust subsides the boom vang should be reapplied before sheeting the mainsheet.

b) When Reefed

When the mainsail is reefed, the rig effectively becomes a low aspect masthead rig although there is still greater control over the mainsail through mast bend.

In this situation , the mainsail is generally sheeted quite hard down the leech to stand the leech up with the traveller dropped well to leeward so that when the boat is comfortable there is again an even amount of backwinding just visible. When the traveller is eased in a puff, there would generally be more backwinding in the lower part of the mainsail than the upper. The traveller should be eased 450mm or more to leeward when two or more reefs are in the main and it is quite acceptable for the traveller to be eased down up to 1m in puffs. If there is a lot of weather-helm experienced, it is more than likely caused by the traveller being to close to the centre line. This would be particularly true if the boat tends to round up into the wind during puffs. Another cause could be excessive heel angle. (See section 4).


2.3 Reaching with Spinnakers and Headsails

As these boats are very easily driven it is often surprising how much faster they go with smaller headsails or spinnakers than one would normally think would be required, the boat speed should be watched very intently as wind speed increases or apparent wind angle swings forward. As soon as the speed is seen to drop at all below what has been found to be the previous maximum speed, it would be advisable to change to a smaller headsail or spinnaker.

Changing down to a smaller headsail or alternatively reefing the mainsail is extremely important when reaching. Especially in harder conditions, the mainsail can be reefed quite early to reduce weather helm and while the boat often appears to be sailing too upright, it is generally sailing faster.

If the mainsail is ever flogging for any period of time, it should be obvious that it needs either a great deal of reefing or a smaller sail in front of it. Whenever possible, the headsail should be sheeted right out onto the deck edge and generally outside the life lines. When sailing on a reach with either a spinnaker or headsail set, the mainsail will normally need a very large amount of twist and should not be vanged extremely tightly.

Once again the aim should be to produce an even backwind all the way up the sail when backwinding does occur. Normally when insufficient power is being obtained the mainsail should be set with little or no backwinding on a reach. The use of wool tufts on the leech of the mainsail will be invaluable in setting the mainsail in these conditions.

2.4 Very Strong Running Conditions.should be set up with the pole well back and the sheet of the spinnaker leading through a snatch block on the gunwale well forward of the mast to hold the leech tight. This will reduce or eliminate any rolling effect and make the boat easier to control. The sail can be sheeted in so that the leech clew is quite a bit below the luff clew.

b) Mainsail

The mainsail should be set up with a certain amount of twist but not to the point where the angle of a line drawn between the leech and the luff to the centre line of the boat is greater than 90 degrees. The boom should not be allowed to rest against the side stays as in a strong gust, or when the boom flies out against the stay it may be broken.

Heel Angle and Helm Conditions

Generally the boat likes being sailed without too much heel angle and I would consider that upwind a 20 degrees maximum angle should be adhered to. Reaching, it will often be found that changing down to a smaller headsail or spinnaker and reducing the heel angle significantly even down to 12 to 15 degrees will produce much greater boat speed. It would generally appear better to be conservative with headsails and spinnakers on reaches. 

The boats seem to like being sailed with little or neutral helm. Mainsheet traveller position can easily be adjusted to help this. In our experience, maximum upwind boat speed is attained with virtually no weight on the helm.

The boat can then be very easily steered through waves and this can increase boat speed in a seaway considerably. As the boat drops into a sea, the helm is pushed down and as the boat comes back up out of the trough, helm should be pulled up to pull it away up the face of the wave. This motion can be quite definite and still be surprisingly effective. At times in a big sea it seems an advantage to sit inboard over the helm to do this more effectively, rather than use a tiller extension.

Sequence of Sail Changes

(sailing to windward) True Wind speed (knots)

No. 1 Genoa 0 - 23

No. 2 Genoa 6 - 35

First reef in Mainsail 30+

No. 3 Genoa & Second reef in main 40+

Storm jib & Third reef 50+

For the less experienced or when cruising it is possible to deduct 10 knots from each of the above figures and still obtain good performance.