North Sails J/70 Winter Update

North Sails Designs Faster than Ever
Congratulations Bruno Pasquinelli and team Stampede for winning the 55-boat J/70 Winter Series at Davis Island Yacht Club in Florida, with consistent finishes of 2-1-3 in the three-regatta event. Bruno used North’s XCS-1 Mainsail, a product launched last summer that also powered World Champion team Catapult in San Francisco last September.


Key West Recap by Tim Healy
We had a great time racing at Key West Race Week! Things have settled down a bit and I’ve found time to compile my notes from the regatta. The following paragraphs will present what helped our team find speed in the wide range of conditions we saw in Key West. While we had great team chemistry, and confidence in our boat handling, I found that some small adjustments in our jib set up and trim were extremely helpful.

The conditions brought moderate to heavy chop every day, with a fresh breeze that started out around 13-18 knots from the Northeast on Monday, and gradually clocked right throughout the week, dropping a few knots each day. By Friday, we were racing in the lightest breeze of the week, a Southeasterly at about 5-7 knots.


I think it’s important to start with jib car position because this is an item which is discussed a lot, and it is critical to achieve the correct jib shape. For the week, in the conditions stated above, we had our cars set with 4-5 holes showing in front of the car from the first bolt head on the track. Identifying the correct lead position for the conditions was key to finding consistant speed and height.

We generally pulled on enough windward sheet to pull the jib clew inboard 1.5 – 2 inches, or what amounts to about 2.5-3″ when measured from the cabin house to the clew. If we found a patch of flat water we might weather sheet a bit harder so that the clew actually got within 1 1/2 inches from the cabin house. However, if we did this much weather sheeting we would need to release the leeward sheet a bit so as not to close down the upper jib leech. I believe that this ended up being a very important component to us finding a faster gear. I will try to explain what we did and why it worked so well:

While we were out tuning on the practice day before the regatta, we realized that when we trimmed the jib tighter to point better, we not only lost speed but we lost our high mode as well. We found we were trimming to the point where the #2 jib leech tell-tale (the one that is seen through the mainsail spreader window) was just on the edge of stalling, or flowing back 80-90% of the time. When this was happening, we were not fast – our speed was average (at best) and our pointing was not great.

What we did not notice through the process was that that the upper jib leech tell-tale on the #1 (top) batten was stalling almost 100% of the time. This meant the top 20%, or so, of the jib was getting very little flow and, probably worse, it was creating a lot of drag. When you add choppy conditions to a stalled shape, the net result is typically poor boatspeed and bad pointing. When we adjusted our trim to have the #2 leech tell-tale flowing 100% of the time, and the #1 (top) tell-tale flowing 90%-100% of the time at max trim, we found our speed was much better, and our pointing improved as well. This was because the top of the jib was now producing more power and less drag. Our better pointing ability came from a more efficient upper jib shape as well as the speed increase through the water, as this created better flow over the keel, resulting in less leeway.

Another added benefit of this setup was that the steering groove became wider, allowing me to steer through the waves better, resulting in much less pounding in the chop. For the rest of the regatta we were very disciplined not to over-sheet the jib even in tight lanes, and if we were patient and hung in there without trimming in the jib, we soon found that any boats threatening our lane would soon fall behind.

See also:
Key West post-racing interviews with Tim: Day1 | Day2 | Day3 | Day4

Contact Tim Healy to share your thoughts on his jib trimming notes.

J/70 Next Stop: Midwinters
Recommended J/70 Sails: XCS-1 Mainsail, J-2 Jib and AP-1 Spinnaker

Heading to St. Pete for the Midwinters? Our experts Will Welles and Brian Hayes will be there to assist you and your team. Look for the North flag for post-racing docktalks. Good luck!