shubrook

J109 tips and tricks

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I've recently started sailing on a j109. The boat is in great condition and in under 10 kts it is about a half-knot over the polars.

This weekend, it was gusting up to 20 and we had a really hard time going upwind. We had no other 109's to look at, but 3 105's who appeared to be much flatter than us.

Looking at the boat, there is this humungous car track, but the marks for the jib car only went ~10 inches back from the shrouds. The marks were made by a sailmaker, but at #10, in 18 kts true, the top of the jib was still generating lift. Should I turn it up to 11? 

At 18 kts, we had the backstay about 40% on. Was that enough?

I know the rig was tuned for about 8 kts. Alas there was no time between races to tighten up.

One weird thing: The main trimmer, who I've just met, but has done a lot of J boat sailing, kept the traveler up high. He said that it was a J109 thing. I am skeptical, but he did a great job on main in light air. It is entirely possible the jib was just misbehaving and screwing everything else up.

Overall it was a fun regatta, even though we didn't win. But winning is also fun. 

It got me thinking: 

What are some weird tricks that you do on a J109 that would feel wrong on other boats.

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We have a J/110, which is close to a J/109 but not identical.   Were you using a class jib?   If so, the boat should be pretty manageable in 18 knots, but it will be sporty, the 109 is a pretty tender boat.  I don't necessarily agree with your main trimmer.  If you were having trouble maintaining steerage going upwind (the boat wanted to round up) I would absolutely drop the traveler.  On days where it is gusty (we often get 12-16 knot conditions on our bay), our main trimmer gets a real workout on the traveler.  His actions keep us on our feet going upwind.   Its critical that your crew on the rail give the main trimmer warning of incoming gusts.  I'm assuming you had your outhaul on pretty hard and the cunningham on as well.  If not, tighten them down, those will depower the sail pretty effectively.  Backstay tension really helps flatten the sail a lot.  It is hard for me to know how 'much' to put on for the J/109, but there are a lot of them out there so I'm sure other skippers will weight in.   From memory, I think we have our backstay on to about 50-60% of max in 18 knots.  Less if we have a lot of crew weight, more if we have less.  

Your trimmer is correct that the main traveler can be brought up to windward a significant amount in as long as the boat is not overpowered.  Once moving, we continue to bring the mainsail to weather until the top leach tell tail is stalling 50% of the time.   In 6-12 knots of breeze, once up to speed that puts the traveler all the way to windward, and the boom is on centerline.  Don't bring it to weather too quickly after a tack, you need to ensure that you have good flow across the main, if the traveler is brought up too aggressively you will stall out.   When trimmed properly, you will have good power and really help your pointing.  For the same reason, be careful of bringing the traveler too high in light air, it is easy to stall the sail out when the breeze drops below 5 knots.

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The J/105 is a very different boat compared to the 109 so not the greatest yard stick for comparison. 

YMMV but this is what we did with ours:

109's typically like to be sailed fairly flat otherwise you're just sliding sideways, backstay should be on quite a bit at 18 knots, maybe around 75- 80%, over 20 it should be at 100%.  Traveler all the way up in winds 0-8, 8-15 somewhere in the middle 1/3 of the traveler, above 15 traveler should be in the lower 1/3 to keep the boat from heeling too much.  above 12-15-ish get the foot of the jib flat, jib sheet on tight and play with the fairleads to find the right twist and open up the top if it's overpowered

Does the boat have inhaulers?  If not get those in right away, it will make a big difference.

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We were using a class jib. For a tiny sail, there was a lot of load on that thing.

 

The main was flat as we could make it upwind, yea.

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28 minutes ago, Psycho Tiller said:

The J/105 is a very different boat compared to the 109 so not the greatest yard stick for comparison. 

YMMV but this is what we did with ours:

109's typically like to be sailed fairly flat otherwise you're just sliding sideways, backstay should be on quite a bit at 18 knots, maybe around 75- 80%, over 20 it should be at 100%.  Traveler all the way up in winds 0-8, 8-15 somewhere in the middle 1/3 of the traveler, above 15 traveler should be in the lower 1/3 to keep the boat from heeling too much.  above 12-15-ish get the foot of the jib flat, jib sheet on tight and play with the fairleads to find the right twist and open up the top if it's overpowered

Does the boat have inhaulers?  If not get those in right away, it will make a big difference.

We were using the inhaulers about 3 inches. Towards the end of the day, I went down to 1 inch in an attempt to further flatten the jib. I'm not at all confident that this was the right choice though.

 

I think next time we are in 15, i'm going to put the jib car way further back and see what happens.

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11 minutes ago, shubrook said:

We were using the inhaulers about 3 inches. Towards the end of the day, I went down to 1 inch in an attempt to further flatten the jib. I'm not at all confident that this was the right choice though.

 

I think next time we are in 15, i'm going to put the jib car way further back and see what happens.

As long as the jib foot is tight and flat and you twist off the top in stronger winds you should still be able to keep the inhauler in if you're trying to point high.  You should be able to go almost all the way to the grab-rail on the cabin top in most conditions.  The other thing though is if the Jib isn't cut for using inhaulers you may have an issue getting it trimmed correctly.  One way around this is to lift the tack of the jib higher so the sail sits higher.  Otherwise the inhauler will be not only pulling the jib in but also pulling the clew up which makes getting the foot flat and good trim difficult.

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Had my J/109 for 12 years, sailed her 25K miles and did about 700 races with her. Won a lot of them. So...

Yes, she wants to be flat to reduce leeway. First, if the rig was tuned for 8 knots then that is the biggest issue. We had a baseline setting for 10-14 knots, then would back it off 2, 1-1/2 and 1 turns on the uppers, mids and lowers for light breeze day (whole forecast under 8 knots) or up the same amount for big breeze day (whole forecast over 15).

Regardless of rune, as the breeze comes up, the backstay goes on, traveller goes down, main gets sheeted in more, Cunningham gets snugged up (or main halyard goes up), jib car moves back, jib halyard goes up and job gets trimmed in. Once we are in the high teens, the traveler is likely all the way down, so we would go to Vang sheeting, with the vang flattening the main and the main sheet then effectively becoming the traveler. Making the main SUPER FLAT was key to depowering it in bigger breeze and keeping her from sliding sideways.

Also, as the driver I would work aggressively to pre-feather in the puffs...just before they would hit I would come up a few degrees to get some extra "ups" and keep the puff from knocking us over on our side. This would allow us to work up on any boats to windward of us, and allow us to force them to tack away as we gained height on them.

And yes, in the high teens I would say you should have ALL of your backstay on, well, all of it except for the last inch or so, which we would never put on. Keep shifting gears as the wind speed changes, working from the back of the boat forwards to depower, and the front of the boat to the back to power up.

And enjoy the boat...she is a lot of fun to sail/race!!!

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when we first got our 109 the sailmaker that help set up the boat said not to use any more than half the backstay when rig tuned for light air -- while i didn't specifically ask, i was under the impression that it could damage the rig and that i should not be sailing in heavy air with a floppy rig (but i could be wrong)

if i ever went racing (which i have not done in years) and tuned for light air, i'd always tune back to medium air at the end of the day/weekend

 

 

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@Cman, my guess is that your sailmaker was worried that there wasn't enough intermediate shroud tension to check the middle of the mast aftward, and they were worried about putting too much bend in the mast. In any case, having the leeward shrouds flopping about should be your warning that the rig isn't set up right for heavy air. (And theoretically, unless you have the right pin check system, everything could catastrophically work loose.)

The warning sign for too much bend in the middle of the mast should be tack wrinkles in the main that a reasonable amount of Cunningham can't pull out. I sail in San Francisco with a rig (usually) tuned quite a bit beyond the top end of the guides. With this setup and my stay lengths, it's hard to put too much bend in the mast unless you go beyond the 2" of ram.

FWIW, I've found the guides not well calibrated for our heavy air (20+ true). Loos tensions and turnbuckle turns beyond the "heavy" recommendations still result in somewhat slack set of leeward shrouds. The local riggers recommend ignoring the guides for heavy air and keep going tighter until the leewards stay still, but I've been wary about going this tight. So I've, perhaps naively, settled for somewhat slack leewards in the heaviest, but always with a straight-to-the-eye mast.

Otherwise, @11235's recommendations seem right to me, although sailing short-handed, I haven't gotten vang sheeting to work quite as well both with speed and with handling.

Also, I ease the inhauler before dropping the traveller below about centerline, but I might be doing this sub-optimally. Inhauling in 18+ seems counterproductive, as the "luff-up-a-little mode" groove gets too small and its very hard to keep all the telltails flying just so.

 

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Note to self from the weekend: If your jib trimmer is gassed out on the tacks, maybe the car needs to go back. It felt like an inch back made it 50% easier to trim.

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