There's a self-professed F18 expert at my local club who insists that the helm should hang on to the main at all times upwind. He's got everyone else convinced too. I'm getting in to cat sailing (I have a skiff sailing background) and I think he's wrong. Here's why I think he's wrong:
- It's vital that the main is trimmed dynamically to gusts and lulls. When a gust hits, the apparent wind moves aft. The mainsheet needs to be eased to maintain correct trim for the new apparent wind direction.
- If he's holding the mainsheet, the helm can't react as quickly to gusts and lulls. Instead, he controls the power almost exclusively with the tiller. This is slow. Constantly feathering up in the gusts just uses the rudders as brakes.
- In breeze, if holding the mainsheet, the helm simply doesn't have enough strength in one hand to get the main in tight. The resident expert typically sails with over a foot of line between the mainsheet blocks. This kills leach tension and, hence, pointing ability.
Am I missing something? Have I got this completely wrong? I don't think so. All the Nacra 17 crews seem to delegate the mainsheet to the crew upwind. Likewise, Tornado crews used to have the helm on the crew.
Thanks for any input!