Play Your Vang Downwind
SaiZing asked Mike Considine of UK Sailmakers to discuss how to play your vang downwind. Many sailors don’t have enough heel in the boat downwind to reduce wetted surface and weather helm. If you don’t have enough weight to heel the boat to windward, you can ease the vang slightly in a puff, which allows the top of the leech to open up and add to the windward heeling force. This also reduces weather helm and allows you to steer down more easily in the puff. Then, after you steer down, you can tighten the vang to increase power in the sail.
Risks of Under- and Over-Trimming the Vang
While under-trimming the vang will help you heel to windward, don’t overdo this. First, you are spilling power as the leech opens up. Second, in a big breeze, the windward heel can increase dramatically in a puff, potentially causing the dreaded “death roll.”
Over-trimming the vang also depowers the sail and thus slows you down. You can tell if you are over-trimmed if the top batten is hooked in and doesn’t move during small puffs.