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 How to depower sails in a broach?
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Master Marine Consultant

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Initially Posted - 06/09/2012 :  19:55:38  Show Profile
[url=""]This other thread[/url] got me thinking about a problem I've encountered once or twice. Since it's specific to the C250 rig, I've decided to put it over here in the C250 section.

Let's say, hypothetically, that you're on a DDW run and the wind picks up unexpectedly. As is often the case with DDW, the actual wind is much more than apparent wind, so things like this can sneak up on you. After doing everything you can to manage on your run, you decide that it's time to reef or even drop the main completely. In order to do this, you need to turn into the wind, but that requires a "white-knuckle moment" when you're momentarily broach, and there's actually a danger that the severe heel might cause you to lose rudder control.

For most traditional rigs, the obvious solution is to let the main out as far as it will go during that instant when you're broach. But the C250's modified B&R rig has swept back spreaders that limit how far you should typically let out the mainsail. We are always very careful never to let the main out beyond the point where it is gently touching the spreader, which severely limits our sheeting range.

So my question is, when in this position of two bad choices, which one is the safest choice? Is there any acute hazard to the rig from forward pressure by the sail on the spreader? Or can it withstand a few seconds of forward pressure in order to depower the sails in a broach?

Rick S., Swarthmore, PA
PO of Take Five, 1998 Catalina 250WK #348 (relocated to Baltimore's Inner Harbor)
New owner of 2001 Catalina 34MkII #1535 Breakin' Away (at Rock Hall Landing Marina)

Edited by - TakeFive on 06/09/2012 19:57:21

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Response Posted - 06/10/2012 :  04:04:49  Show Profile  Visit britinusa's Homepage
So the main is already at the extent of the sheet (limited by the spreaders) and a gust tries to bury the boom.
In the rare occasion where we experienced that situation, JD has wanted to turn into wind hard. As she turns, the main depowers and the heel eases fast. There has not been enough time to uncamcleat the main.

We traverse several 'channels' in our sailing area, and I like to sail through them but have the engine ready to take over if needed. If the wind was gusting, or above 10 knots, and DDW, I would probably drop the sails and motor through as there is no room to turn up in those narrow channels. So if navigation limits dictate, then sail planning kicks in.

We have had a near knock down in that situation, and it's a bit disconcerting as it's typically not a single wind shift but a flurry of them and it's chaotic for a few seconds. But that's sailing.

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