Practice Preview - The Gybe

The main focus of our upcoming season of coastal racing and training will be to master every sailing maneuver we may be called upon to perform offshore.  On top of this list is the gybe because, in any breeze, a bad gybe burns not only boat lengths, but precious time and energy, and has the potential in a blow to bring down the rig.  When we do gybe, we need to be able to stick it every single time.  

The gybe aboard Abilyn involves much more than changing the direction of the boat by turning the stern into the wind.  When broken down into its component parts and taking into account the articulating spinnaker pole and runners, the gybe aboard Abilyn involves a protocol of 30 individual steps designed to minimize movement across the nearly 10-foot-wide cockpit.  

Abilyn (USA 829) preparing to gybe.

Listed below is each step in our standard protocol, which we created based on our experience aboard Abilyn as well as the invaluable guidance provided by Single-Handed Transpac sailor Jerome Sammarcelli and Mini Transat sailor Lucas Schroder.  Both my co-skipper and I must be able to perform the entire protocol alone.  When sailing double-handed, the driver handles only the steering and runners.

Stay tuned later in the season for some sweet video footage.  Soundtrack to be determined.  Lately, I've been feeling dubstep.  

The Abilyn Gybe Protocol

  1. fall off to about 160-165 TWA
  2. trim main traveler so that boom is inside lifeline (main is usually trimmed downwind with mainsheet to control leech tension and traveler eased to leeward)
  3. lock main traveler control in weather cam cleat
  4. load working afterguy on winch drum
  5. open working afterguy clutch to "open" position
  6. ease working afterguy so that pole articulates leeward (to centerline)
  7. close working afterguy clutch
  8. remove working afterguy from winch drum
  9. load non-working (lazy) spin sheet onto weather winch drum (2 wraps)
  10. go low to trim lazy afterguy to hand-tight load (necessary so that, following the gybe, the pole stays on centerline and does not drop to leeward)
  11. trim in slack on lazy runner
  12. remove lazy main traveler control from cam cleat
  13. return to high side and ease working spin sheet to de-power kite
  14. ease off completely the working runner fine-tune control
  15. trim lazy spin sheet to bring clew patch around forestay
  16. when clew patch is around the forestay, turn boat
  17. while turning the boat, and with hand on the new working spin sheet, trim the lazy runner so that it trims the boom across centerline to new leeward side where it rests against old working runner
  18. continue to turn boat while trimming new working spin sheet, making sure to maintain control of the new lazy spin sheet
  19. head up to 140 TWA to help spinnaker pass through fore-triangle
  20. fall off when spinnaker has been fully gybed
  21. lock working spin sheet in weather cam cleat in cross-sheeting configuration
  22. add fine tune to new working runner
  23. go low, open up the runner macro clutch, and ease lazy runner, which will allow the boom to drop to leeward (given that we've opened up the traveler early in the protocol)
  24. open clutch on new lazy afterguy
  25. go back to high side, and load new working afterguy on weather winch drum
  26. open new working afterguy clutch to "lock open" position
  27. insert winch handle, ease kite, and winch in new working afterguy to bring pole approximately 10 degrees to weather of centerline
  28. remove winch handle from drum, close new working afterguy clutch, and remove working afterguy from winch drum
  29. go low and close new lazy afterguy clutch.
  30. trim kite and sail on!

See you out on the water.