After a week of intense training with Japanese teams in Newport, Rhode Island, culminating with the New York Yacht Club One Design Regatta, a lot was learned about light air tuning and trimming.
Local skipper and North Sails pro Tim Healy made some useful notes on optimizing the J/70 for speed in light air conditions — and you may find them applicable to similar sport boat classes.
- Ease rig to get about 3/4 inch of middle side sag in the mast. This is done by going off two full turns on the uppers and off two turns on lowers. If you are not getting 3/4 inch side sag, keep easing lowers until you do.
- In big chop, use a little backstay to control the rig from excess movement. Just enough to control the rig but not too much to take out all headstay sag.
- In big chop and swell, keep speed up by twisting both sails thus making a large steering groove.
- Never stall the upper jib leech telltales. Trim until you see them stall then ease until 100% flowing.
- Jib leads 6-7 factory holes showing in front of jib car counting from behind front mounting bolt.
- Weather sheet trimmed to get clew at cabin house in flat spots, and 1.5-2 inches off in big chop and waves. Remember to move lead forward with less windward sheet and back with more windward sheet.
- Ease jib halyard to show 8-10 inches of wrinkles in luff of jib in light and choppy conditions.
- Main traveler up to get boom on centre when boat is up to speed out of tacks. Traveler at 75% up out of tacks for bow down acceleration.
Boat trim and turns
- Weight forward both up and downwind. Bow person in hatch up and down, out of hatch to help with roll tacking and gybing.
- Downwind: Tactician forward and to leeward and trimmer to weather. Both forward next to bulkhead.
- Upwind: Tactician forward next to bulkhead and trimmer as far forward as possible. Also, trimmer is first to control heel angle.
- Build speed first both up and down, then work on best VMG.
- Don’t let speed crash! It takes too long in light air to get going again.
- Make smooth turns and big rolls tacking and gybing.
- Keep momentum in focus when starting and at mark rounding
North Sails powered nine of the top 10 finishers at the NYYC One Design Regatta, including winners Team Vineyard Vines (John & Molly Baxter) and Tim Healy’s own USA 2 in second place.