Jib tracks or cheaters?

Jib tracks… Lady K doesn’t have them.

We race PHRF races in our club and every race, every other boat sails higher to the wind than we can. It’s frustrating. Like, really frustrating.

So I went in search of why we were getting creamed so badly on the upwind legs of our club races.  I spoke with another member of the club who luckily, happens to have a Hughes 35. the same boat as Lady K.

He had installed inboard jib tracks years ago and he wins a lot of races now. I checked out the tracks on his deck and he explained that he can now pull his jib in over the deck while my boat can only pull the jib into the toe rail. Pointing upwind, he can get the sail much higher making the boat sail much higher and faster.

Naturally, I started pricing jib tracks like his. I was in for a rude awakening. We would not only need to drill a ton of holes in Lady K’s deck, but also spend almost $1000 to accomplish the goal. Not cool.

My friend Chris actually turned us onto a new system that race boats use instead of tracks. A low friction ring is actually used to pull the jib sheet anywhere you want and it simulates actually having jib track!

A quick trip to the hardware store and we were in business.

The jib sheet now runs from the sail, through a metal ring, and then to a block far back on the toe rail, and then to the primary winch. This is the set up for sailing high up wind.

When we want the jib sheet to come down further up the boat for different points of sail, a line pulls down on the metal ring, thus pulling down the sheet.

If we want to point very high into the wind, we have another line that is tied to the ring that pulls it in toward the mast. Presto: inboard jib tracks!

Last night in the race we used these about half way up the upwind leg. We immediately gained a little over five degrees upwind and we pickled up speed!

We still have a lot of learning to do but I can say, this much cheaper alternative to tracks actually down work.

<3 Tim

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