Kittiwake 2 in light winds

I have just maidened my kittiwake 2 today in light winds.
I found that the boat would not take in light winds, so i had to jibe. Once the winds picked up i had no problem tacking.
Any suggestions why?
Thanks and happy sailing.

It sounds like you have the sail’s center of effort a tiny bit too far aft for the light winds condition, but when the wind picks up, it’s not so noticeable. You might try moving the jib just a wee bit forward and see if it helps out in light winds. You’ll know you’ve gone to far if the boat doesn’t try to head up into the wind slightly on a close reach, but instead tries to head off the wind (lee helm). Getting the sails in exactly the right location fore & aft is one of the more critical aspects of “tuning” your boat, along with getting the right amount of “twist” in the sails.

Bill Nielsen
Oakland Park, FL USA

As god or better are ‘garbage bag’ sails made from polythene bags etc. For light weather sails Freezer bags or the bags your suit comes back from thex drty cleaner inb do very nicely.
When you look at a fleet of Britich Footys racing, its pretty likely the best boats, not the worst ones, that are selling petrol, beer …


Hank - If you are using the Kittywake sail plan in the designated position then your problem is more one of tuning and boat handling. In light winds and ghosting conditions everything needs to be loosened. You should have plenty of camber in the sails and a fairly loose jib stay, which should help the jib’s reaction time for wind shifts or tacking. You should sail most of the time with your sails one click out on the transmitter, using all the way in for the puffs. Alternately, you can set the trim lever for the sails on the transmitter to all the way “in” for regular winds and adjust it towards center or further in the light stuff.

That said, it sounds to me as if your jib is trimmed at too tight an angle in relation to the main. This will choke off your sails and inhibit tacking, boatspeed and acceleration. When the sails are all the way in the jib boom angle in relation to the centerline of the boat should be 2 or 3 degrees wider than that of your mainsail. For regular winds I would set the main at about 5 degrees off center and (depending on jib stay tension) the jib should be at 7 to 8 degrees. In light winds there needs to be some twist to both sails. Anything can be taken to an extreme so you need to play around a little so that you get a feel for what your boat likes in any particular wind.

I would check the the rudder linkage as well. I assume that you are using the push/pull linkage that is sort of the sport standard. The servo arm and the rudder arm travel in arcs around their pivot points at a certain angular distance (adjustable on digital units but about 60 degrees on analog ones and lower end digital ones). The usual set up is one-to-one. More throw (rudder turning) can be gained by moving the attachment of the connecting rod further out on the servo arm and/or closer to the rudder shaft on the rudder’s arm. But before you muck about with that I would practice tacking the boat effectively.

Most sailors, and particularly those with fast reacting boats like Footies, haven’t mastered proper boat handling habits. I come from formative experience in heavy vane converted Marbleheads which needed to be caressed into tacking smoothly without stalling. The proper technique for tacking, and this is particularly important for light air, is to slack the sheets a click or two before you start tacking. This takes the pressure off the sails so they don’t fight the maneuver. Tacking should be started gently with maximum rudder applied as you cross the eye of the wind. You should over-tack slightly to a close reach, then, as the boat starts to accelerate bring the sails back in and head back up to close hauled. Done correctly, the effect should be balletic and the boat should have a bit of boost as she begins the to sail away from the tack.

In competition this maneuver has to be second nature and executed pretty quickly. But I would advise you to practice tacking this way until you have it down. Start by doing this method slowly at first, in fact see how slowly you can do it. Only by slowing it down will the mechanics become clear. Train yourself so that you don’t have to think about it as you tack. I’ve been sailing r/c boats for 40 years since I was little boy and I still practice tacking and mark rounding all the time to hone my boat handling skills and keep sharp.