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The Anatomy of a Takedown: Part I – The Weather Takedown

The Anatomy of a Takedown: Part I – The Weather Takedown

The weather takedown is the ideal takedown because it allows you to carry the spinnaker to the last possible moment. Also since the sail comes down on the port side of the boat (usually), all of the spinnaker gear is in the correct spot for a bear-away set at the next windward mark. This is the takedown that we will usually use when coming into the leeward mark on port jibe for a normal port rounding. The exact timing of all of these maneuvers will vary with windspeed, boatspeed, and competition, but the harder it is blowing, the sooner everything has to happen.

1.The Setup

About three quarters of the way down the leg (or as soon as the back of the boat figures out that we are coming in on port jibe)

  • Bow and Mast – drag the jib around to the starboard side of the boat (it will most likely be on the port side) making sure to get the front of the sail on the right side of the foreguy(line that pulls the pole down and forward).
  • Bow – hook up the tack of the jib into the snap shackle on the bow. Make sure the luff of the sail is not twisted and feed the head into the pre-feeder and the track on the headstay. Hook up the jib halyard and feed the sail up a few feet. Make sure the sail is in the correct track and shackle for the halyard you are using.
  • Pit – man the jib halyard and raise it a few feet once the bowman has it hooked up.
  • Mast – toss the port jib sheet over the pole and hook up both jib sheets to the clew of the sail. Open the forward hatch.
  • Guy trimmer (or any free hand in the cockpit) – take most (but not all) of the slack out of the starboard jib sheet and load it on the primary winch (three turns, handle in, high gear).
  • Tactician – if you are sailing a deep angle to the mark (i.e. it’s breezy and the pole is squared back a lot) call for the jib to be raised halfway. This will not disturb the flow over the spinnaker if you are sailing deep enough and will give the foredeck a head start. Note: you cannot do this when reaching into the mark.

2. Raise the Jib

About four boatlengths from the mark (more or less depending on the windspeed)

  • Mast – jump jib halyard at the mast always watching the sail to spot any problems
  • Pit – overhaul jib halyard. Once the mastman can’t jump it anymore, put four turns on the winch and put the halyard in the self tailer. Grind the sail up to the proper upwind tension (this should be marked on the halyard, but the bowman can call it if necessary). Make sure to watch the sail for any problems. Leave the jib halyard on the winch and in the self tailer to minimize any chance of slippage. Make sure spinnaker halyard is flaked, out of the bag and ready to run.
  • Bow – Watch the jib luff feeder for any problems and be ready to run forward and help feed if necessary. Try to keep your weight as far back as possible.
  • Floater/Pit – tighten outhaul to upwind setting (probably all the way). Cunningham can wait.
  • Main - tighten backstay about halfway to upwind setting.
  • Jib Trimmer – no need to trim the jib yet, its not driving the boat (you are probably still on the guy or the sheet anyway) but make sure it is not flogging.

3. Ready for the Douse

About three boatlengths from the mark

  • Guy trimmer – pull back on the guy a few feet to compensate for the pole as it is tripped away
  • Tactician – call for the trip, then call out time until the douse
  • Mast – trip the pole and then lower the inboard end to the deck. Then grab the lazy sheet (hanging down off the sail on the port side of the boat) and hand the end to the sewer man reaching out of the hatch.
  • Pit – lower the outboard end of the pole to the deck
  • Bow – Make sure the hatch is open the hatch before the trip and then make sure the pole comes down smoothly. Guide it underneath the bow pulpit.
  • Floater – assume the position of “human pole,” holding the guy as far outboard as possible with one hand while holding the shrouds with the other
  • Sewer (Runners) – go below and forward, get ready to gather the sail through the hatch. Take the lazy sheet from the mastman and make sure everything is clear to come down.

4. Time to Douse

Two-ishboatlengths from the mark (can vary on any number of factors including windspeed, boatspeed, overlaps, starboard tackers, confidence, etc.)

  • Tactician – call for the douse
  • Helmsman – If reaching into the mark, turn down briefly to help collapse the chute if possible
  • Mast – Grab the lazy sheet and pull it down and back to collapse the sail and get it around the forestay. Then reach up and grab the luff tape and pull it down. Stuff the sail down the hatch.
  • Bow - stand just forward of the mastman and help pull the lazy sheet down if necessary. Grab the foot of the sail and pull back to get the sail around the forestay. Then reach up help pull the sail down. Stuff the sail down the hatch.
  • Pit – Initially dump a lot (15 to 20 feet) of the halyard to help collapse the sail. Then, while watching the sail and the people gathering it, lower it in a controlled manner. The key is to prevent the sail from getting in the water and under the bow, so make sure the sail is around to weather and under control before lowering the majority of it. Note: you should have at least one turn around the winch before you open the clutch to avoid shredding your hands, but if the jib halyard is on the winch you need, it is fine to take a turn on top of the jib halyard.
  • Spin trimmer – ease the spinnaker sheet forward so the sail can be pulled around the forestay.
  • Sewer – Pull like crazy on the lazy sheet until you can reach some part of the sail. Pull the entire sail below. Disconnect the gear and hand it to the Bow or Mast. Start packing the sail.
  • Guy trimmer – Once the foredeck has the sail under control and it is on its way down, make sure the guy is uncleated and go to tend to the jib sheet.

5. Rounding the Mark

  • Helmsman – set up wide so you can make a gradual turn and round the mark tight so you are sailing upwind with no room between the windward side of the boat and the mark
  • Main – set the traveler way up to windward and start grinding like crazy as soon as the helmsman starts to turn the boat to get the main in. Once the main is trimmed for a close reach then trim the sail to match the boat’s turn.
  • Tactician – help the main trimmer get the sail in by grinding on the other winch until the main is trimmed for a close reach.
  • Jib trimmer – trim the sail to match the boat’s turn. It is important not to overtrim the jib during the turn, if anything err on the side of undertrim, but make sure you get it all the way in once the boat is close hauled.
  • Everyone else – be very conscious of weight placement. If hiking is necessary, then every available person should be on the rail hiking as hard as possible. In light air, keep weigh to leeward to heel the boat and help it turn around the mark.
  • Bow – Hike with the rest of the crew. Cleanup can wait until the boat is up to speed and clear of any traffic – preferably in smooth water or a lull.
Source: J/44