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Tuning your RL for Best Performance
Updated by Darryn Dyer November 2010
The RL24’s are one of the most enjoyable performance trailer sailers around, and these notes are intended to give you the opportunity of increasing your performance, make the boat easy and safe and above all, very enjoyable to sail.
These days a lot of RL24’s have opted for skiff style rigs for better performance and ease of handing. See RL24 Skiff Rig and Sail Set up on this website for further information.(Supplied by Michael Coxon of North Sails who developed the rig). These rigs have proven themselves to provide durability and performance in the fleet for the last 15 years or more. Below is some hints from Michael, Rob and myself, hope it helps.
Step mast with forestay and side stays (no sails). Level hull to design sailing lines then drop a string line from mast head to deck. Set rake up to have 200mm between the aft edge of the mast and the string line at deck level.
Are to be fixed (no movement) set up with 50mm poke and 50mm rake on the side stays (with the mast set up as above in the Rake section). After setting the spreaders up you will need to force the stays out of line into the spreaders.
Set the jib up so that the skirt sits just off the deck/coach-house. Extend an imaginary line from two-thirds the way up the jib luff down through the centre of the clewboard to the deck where you scribe an arc from the outside edge of the coach-house in to the centre line of the cabin. Bolt the jib track down over this sheeting line. The track should extend from the cabin edge for sheeting when reaching to within 25cm of the cabin centre for light air on a wind sheeting. You then use the clewboard holes for fine sheeting adjustments up and down.
Is loose footed and fully battened on a flexy mast, which combine to make a very versatile sail. The battens should be tied in with enough tension to remove wrinkles whilst sailing, keeping in mind that the sail will wrinkle more as wind pressure increases.
In light airs (0 – 8 knots) the mainsail should look as full as possible for power. Ease the loose foot in so the mainsail skirt sits about 22.5cm off the centre of the boom. Ease the boom vang right off (no tension) and pull the traveller 45cm to windward from the centre line. Then ease the mainsheet and thus boom into the centre line. There should be no luff tension on the main, even to the point that the cosmetic wrinkles develop up to the luff so that the drive moves aft in the sail. In these conditions, the mast will stand straight and the sail will look about the same depth all over with maximum drive at about 45% aft. Rig tension should be set to just hold up the mast with maybe even a bit of slack in forestay (not tight at all).
In moderate airs (8 – 15 knots) you set the mainsail up to be powerful, keeping in mind the boat should be sailed flat, yet with enough tension on luff, foot, battens and mainsheet to remove wrinkles. At this stage, the traveller ranges from the centre line to 15cm to windward with firm sheet tension (that is play the traveller in the gusts). Rig tension should be gradually increased as the wind increases so as to keep a tight forestay with minimal sag.
In fresh winds (15 knots and above) you start to depower the rig so the boat sails as flat as possible. Crew weight should be as far to windward as possible. The aim is to bend the mast through luff, main sheet, rig, batten and vang tension to depower the rig. Pull the foot tension out very tight so the sail sets flat off the boom. The traveller should be eased to leeward before the mainsheet to depower. Only throw the mainsheet in very fresh winds to prevent stalling and knock downs. In these conditions, the boom vang must be very tight so when the sheet tension is eased the mast does not straighten up causing the sail to power up. Rig tension should be gradually increased as the wind increases so as to keep a tight forestay with minimal sag.
It is a small high ratio sail designed to keep a clear slot behind the powerful mainsail. Being so short on the foot, the sheeting angle both in and outboard and fore and aft is very critical to wind conditions.
In light airs, the jib should be sheeted 25cm from the centre line and down the leech (high up on the clewboard) on a sheeting line of 76% up the luff so that the sheet can be eased about 2.5cm on a windward to induce twist in the leech without the leech falling off and losing power. In light air the ideal sail is a powerful cut 3oz new yarn tempered. Use very little to no luff tension so that the luff is on the point of scalloping between hanks. If rig tension is adjustable, it should be very loose to induce forestay sag and thus headsail power.
In moderate to fresh conditions, change to the 5oz new yarn tempered regular jib. Just enough luff tension should be used to remove wrinkles from wind pressure – so alter luff tension to suit wind strength. The sheeting should be more outboard 30cm to 35cm to prevent mainsail backwinding. More sheet tension is applied with increased wind pressure and the sheeting line is dropped down the luff (and clewboard) to about 60% to 70% to free the leech in fresh winds.
If you can adjust your rig tension, it should be tightened in fresh airs to prevent forestay sag. I have found my new North 3DL jib to be suitable over all wind ranges.
A nice clean centreplate will help performance no end. Plate should be locked down at all times until entering shallows. It’s a good idea to check where your centre plate is when fully down. Best to be slightly raked aft not forward.
The rudder blade while sailing should always have the leading edge slightly tucked under the transom (raked forward), if it angles back, the helm will feel heavy.
To achieve maximum speed and minimum heeling, always sail with both main and jib just filling (i.e.) with tufts and ribbons streaming horizontally, and particularly, when not beating, ease both sails until they start to luff, then draw them on Just a little. Remember, if a mainsail leach ribbon curls behind the sail or leeward jib tuft is standing up or either streaming forward, you are either sailing too low or have the sails on too hard.
No backstay is used with a skiff rig set up as above.
With the older style rigid masts backstay is use it to flatten your mainsail and support your jib luff, but DO NOT have it on TOO hard when running, or it may over stress the mast.
For best performance aim to sail your boat at not more than 15 degrees of heel, ease the mainsail until the boat stands up again. USE YOUR MAINSHEET, THAT'S WHAT IT'S FOR. Your boat will sail best if you keep your crew weight well forward when sailing to windward in all conditions, and further aft when reaching or running in strong winds. Typically a crew of 4 would sail to windward with 2 in the cockpit as far forward as possible and the other 2 alongside the cabin. When reaching 3 in the cockpit as far forward as possible and 1 alongside the cabin controlling spinnaker sheet. In strong conditions it’s sometimes necessary to have all four in the cockpit when flying spinnaker.
When launching, make sure the centreplate is fully housed and that the boat runs off straight, usually it will do this if it goes off quickly, but don't forget the bow line. Normally, it is only necessary to get your trailer tyres wet. The trailer skids should not be up too hard on the hull. If launching is difficult, lower them a little at the back end. If launching is still difficult and the rollers aren't turning, a little Vaseline on the hull just forward of the back two rollers should do the trick.