The Anatomy of a Takedown: Part II – The Leeward Takedown (Stretch & Blow)
Sounds dirtier than it is. This will be our standard takedown when we are reaching into a leeward mark (because its light air or because the tactician missed the layline) or when it’s a little too breezy to feel comfortable with the weather takedown. It can be done on either jibe, but assume here that we are reaching into the leeward mark (which we will round to port) on port jibe. Basically the way it works is jib up, pole forward, blow the halyard and chute down to leeward. Unlike the weather takedown or the Mexican, everything comes down on the starboard side of the boat, so it will have to be re-rigged upwind to be ready for a bear away set at the next mark. 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.
- 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 – you probably will not be able to cheat with the jib going up early on this one if you are reaching in. If you are sailing deep enough that it won’t disturb the flow, call for the jib halfway up.
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 close to 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:
- Tactician – call out time until the douse
- Bow – Make sure the hatch is open.
- Sewer (Runners) – go below and forward, get ready to gather the sail through the hatch. Take the lazy guy from the mastman and make sure everything is clear to come down.
- Mast – Grab the lazy guy (hanging down off the sail on the starboard side of the boat), run it under the foot of the jib and hand the end to the sewer man reaching out of the hatch.
- Guy trimmer – Ease the guy forward to the forestay to get the spinnaker behind the jib.
- Spin sheet trimmer – Overtrim the sheet to stretch the foot out behind the jib.
4. Time to Douse
Two-ish boatlengths from the mark (can vary on any number of factors including windspeed, boatspeed, overlaps, starboard tackers, confidence, etc.)
- Tactician – call for the douse
- Helmsman – Keep driving straight
- Mast – Grab the lazy guy and pull it down and under the foot of the jib. Once you’ve got a hold of it it’s probably easiest to sit down with your feet against the toerail. 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 guy down if necessary. Grab the foot of the sail and pull it in. Then reach up help pull the sail down. Stuff the sail down the hatch.
- Pit – Blow the halyard big time. We’re talking 40-50 feet or more. The idea is to collapse the sail from the top. The head of the sail will stream out away from the boat and will not land in the water. After the initial blow, while watching the sail and the people gathering it, lower it in a controlled manner. 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.
- Guy trimmer – Stay on the guy. After the initial blow, watch the foredeck crew gathering the sail and ease the guy to them as they need it. Make sure the lazy sheet is running free too.
- Spin trimmer – Once the spinnaker is blown, ease the spinnaker sheet forward and go tend to the jib sheet.
- Sewer – Pull like crazy on the lazy guy until you can reach some part of the sail. Pull the entire sail below. Disconnect the gear, clip it together, and hand it to the Bow or Mast. Start packing the sail.
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.
- Pit – lower the outboard end of the pole and leave the topping lift uncleated. Hit the rail as soon as possible.
- Mast – lower the inboard end of the pole and hit the rail.
- Bow – Guide the tip of the pole down through the bow pulpit. Then run forward and grab the topping lift. Bring it back to the mast, split it and get it under the jib sheets. Make sure everything is clear and yell “clear to tack.” Then hit the rail as soon as possible. (If there is no time to get the topping lift or if your weight is really needed on the rail, leave it. Because we use a jib halyard for the topping lift, the jib can tack through it.) The rest of the cleanup can wait until the boat is up to speed and clear of any traffic—preferably in smooth water or a lull.
- 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.