This video very nicely shows the basics in catamaran sail trim and sail handling, which is different from monohull sail trim. Come on board with Sam Newton of Rolly Tasker Sails Australia. This hugely experienced offshore racing yachtsman shows us how to trim the sails, here in very light weather, but he also explains what to do when the wind pipes up. All in a very relaxed and easy to follow manner – enjoy!

Standard sails upwind in light wind

The main focus here is to keep an eye on the tell-tales at the leech of the mainsail and to keep these flying. Sailing upwind in light air, the boom should be on the boat’s centerline but the mainsheet not too tight – on a multihull, the position of the boom is largely adjusted by the traveler, which is so much longer here than on any monohull. The mainsheet then mainly tensions the boot and the aft leech.

In light air, the traveler can be pulled slightly to windward of centerline and the mainsheet eased until the boom is on or just to leeward of the centerline.

When the wind builds

With increasing wind speeds, ease the traveler to leeward to de-power the main. As already said, the mainsheet controls the height of the boom, there is no vang on multihulls. To ease out the sail first use the traveler, the mainsheet is used to control the leech tension and with it the twist of the sail. In stronger winds, tension is released to give more twist and to let the top part of the main feather away to leeward, de-powering the boat. Again, keep an eye on the tell-tales.

Headsail trim by tell-tales

Again, the key to trimming the sail is in watching the tell-tales. In the headsail, these are placed along the luff of the sail in various heights, about a third of the way in. Ideally, both tell-tales (one on the windward side of the sail, one on the leeward side) should be flowing evenly. When beating upwind, the windward one should be rising a bit up from horizontal.

Let the tell-tales tell you…

This is the basic rule for the tell-tales in headsails. If the leeward one is dancing about, the sheet is over trimmed – too tight. If the windward one is rising vertical, the sheet is under trimmed – too loose. Sailing upwind, the tell-tales indicate exactly how close to the wind you can be sailing. Leeward ones dancing: You are sailing too low. Windward ones rising vertical: You are sailing too close to the wind.

On a reach

When bearing off just ease the sheets and drop the traveler down the track. Trim the sails that there is no “bubble” along the luff of the sails, sheet in according to the tell-tales. The mainsail should preferably not be chafing hard  against the shrouds.

Code Zero

A Code Zero will give you more power, speed and fun when reaching in about 90 to 160 degrees off the wind. This sail is somewhere about halfway between a jib and an asymmetric spinnaker. It obviously has much more power than jib and is quite easy to handle, as it can be furled like a headsail. Set the sail when furled and unfurl when you are ready. Ease until the luff backwinds (the “bubble”), then trim a little bit. Gybing is also very simple, just furl the sail before you gybe and unfurl when settled on the new tack.