In a new video, the bluewater sailors Amy and Matt who have been sailing the oceans for the past five years on their 37-foot yacht “Florence” explain their set-up for a long, downwind passage in the trades. This was done when they were actually crossing the Indian Ocean from Indonesia to the Seychelles. The video is entertaining and fun to watch, but, above all, it gives a very good and clear idea how to set up your sail-plan for a long downwind passage. This need not necessarily apply to tradewind sailing only, many of these very useful ideas can be used or adapted to shorter passages as well.


Amy and Matt have a full set of Rolly Tasker Sails to our Offshore Cruising Sail Specification on board. These sails are very strong and durable and feature, among many other details, protective webbing on the full-length batten pockets of the mainsail for chafe prevention. Even so, Matt points out how important it is to reduce chafe on a long passage. And this leads to the first practical hint on how to trim the mainsail.


On sailing yacht “Florence”, Amy and Matt don not let out the main to the full possible extent, even when sailing dead downwind. Their mainsail is fully battened. The sail would lie against the shrouds when eased out fully and chafe would become a serious issue even after a day or two. Instead, the main is only let out so that the sail does not lie against the shrouds. And the boom is then rigged and fixed in place using the mainsheet and a preventer rigged from the boom to a strong point on deck. This stops the boom from swinging back and forth as the boat rolls in the ocean swell.

It reduces possible chafe. Also, as would otherwise be the case with a fully battened main, it stops the battens from banging. And thus reduces stress on the sail itself, as well as for the nerves of the crew! Finally, the mainsail has the first reef permanently tied in. Variations in wind strength can be dealt with by furling or unfurling the Genoa accordingly, which can be done without leaving the safety of the cockpit. This is especially important with a small crew of two persons and even more at night.


On a long downhill passage with a small crew, the Genoa is the most versatile downwind sail. Larger crews might set spinnakers or other dedicated downwind sails at least during daylight hours. But for a crew of only two and with safety and comfort high on the priority list, the Genoa actually works extremely well. In the video, Matt shows how to adjust the sheeting angle of the Genoa for the best trim.

They also show how they have their spinnaker boom permanently rigged up on the “windward” side, fixed in position using the tack-line, guy and pole-up halyard. The Genoa sheet is rigged to run through the outward end of the pole. Should the wind shift so that the boat is running dead downwind, only one person can, again without leaving the cockpit, roll up the Genoa a bit and pull it out opposite the main, where it will then be poled out.


Amy and Matt also have a hanked-on staysail on an inner cutter stay. This can be set whenever the Genoa is poled out. It can either be sheeted in tight when running dead downwind when the staysail will then help to dampen the roll of the yacht. Or it can be used to fill the gap between the main on one and the Genoa on the other side if the Genoa is poled out, but the wind comes from a slight angle aft. Both these purposes are very useful, as Matt explains, although the staysail is by design an upwind sail.


This is the link to the video and we wholeheartedly recommend watching it. It is a very entertaining but also “educational” experience. This by the way applies to nearly all of their videos and so we also recommend subscribing to their You Tube channel. Enjoy and good and safe sailing to all of you!