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Anatomy of a Tack

Anatomy of a Tack

Changing direction going up wind

1. Ten seconds before the tack

  • Tactician: “We’re headed, we should tack.”
  • Helmsman: “Alright everyone we are going to tack.”
  • Everyone Else: Stay on the rail and hike hard.

2. Five seconds before the tack

  • Helmsman: “Get ready to tack” or “Ready about.”
  • Jib Release: Leave the rail first and go to leeward winch.
  • Runners: leave the rail next and go to companionway.
  • Jib Trimmer: Leave the rail and go to cockpit side of windward winch.
  • Grinder: Go to rail side of windward winch. Stand forward of winch facing aft with outboard foot against the chock and shoulders centered over the drum.
  • Everyone Else: STAY ON THE RAIL and hike even harder.

3. Three seconds before the tack

  • Anyone who is not in position announce it loudly.
  • Jib Release: Take handle out of winch and unwind a couple of turns without easing the jib.
  • Runners: Load new runner onto winch with three turns; unwind a couple of turns on old runner without easing.
  • Jib Trimmer: Check that winch is loaded right: three turns (clockwise), handle in, high gear. Pull any slack out of new sheet.
  • Grinder: Get in position so you are ready to grind. Remember to go clockwise first.
  • Main trimmer: Check to make sure traveler is clear on other tack.
  • Tactician: Double check that there is room to tack.
  • Everyone Else: STAY ON THE RAIL until the boat starts to turn. Hiking now is critical to keep the boat flat and fast going into the tack and we already have four people off the rail.

4. Start the tack

  • Helmsman: Turn the boat up, slowly at first, then faster as the jib starts to backwind. Once the jib is across, turn back up and pinch slightly to let the crew get the jib in before turning back down to build speed.
  • Runners: Release old runner and pull on new runner hand tight. Put in self tailer and put handle in.
  • Jib Release: As the boat starts to turn, ease an inch or two of sheet to prevent the jib from ripping on the spreader tips. Wait until jib starts to backwind, but before jib hits mast or shrouds. Unwind rest of turns off winch drum and make sure the line goes out freely.
  • Jib Trimmer: Pull sheet in hand over hand as fast as possible. Look at jib the whole time and tell grinder when to stop grinding.
  • Grinder: Start grinding in clockwise direction. Spin the drum fast in high gear before there is any load on the sheet to prevent overrides and build up momentum for when there is load. When you can’t go anymore, change directions. When you can’t go anymore again, change directions. Keep grinding until trimmer says “Stop.”
  • Bow and Mast: Stand between mast and shrouds and help jib around by keeping the clew from getting stuck.
  • Pit or Floater: Grab new jib sheet at clew after the jib is around the shrouds and run it back to the block.
  • Main: Change sides quickly and ease mainsheet about 6 inches. Pull traveler up (or down) to same position as on the last tack.

5. Finish the tack

  • Runners: Make sure new runner is in self tailer, grind it on to the same setting as the last tack (the mark on the line should be the same distance from the drum), and get to the rail. Leave the handle in so runner can be easily adjusted while sailing upwind.
  • Jib release: Load up winch for next tack—three turns, handle in, high gear—then get to the rail.
  • Bow: Skirt if necessary, then get to rail.
  • Everyone Else on the Foredeck: get to the rail and hike really hard until everyone else gets there.
  • Grinder: Grind until trimmer says “stop” then get to the rail.
  • Jib Trimmer: tail the sheet and call the trim, keeping the grinder going until the jib is inside the lifelines. Call for skirt if necessary. Once jib is inside lifelines, send grinder to the rail and do final trim yourself. Add turns to the winch and trim in low gear until jib is approximately one inch off the top spreader and one inch off the turnbuckles. Adjust jib lead if necessary. Once trim is final, get to the rail.
  • Helmsman: Drive the boat down to build speed with both sails eased. Once speed is up to target, call for both sails to be trimmed in completely.
  • Main: Trim main to helmsman’s course until boatspeed is up. Then trim in to help him drive the boat up.
Source: J/44