Power-reaching has always been a highlight of offshore racing but more sailors are now also looking beyond those up and down inshore courses
There is nothing more exhilarating in offshore sailing than power reaching – the point of sail we dream about that makes the other legs of a tough race worth the pain… High speeds, spray and that visceral thrill we get knowing a boat is being pushed to its limits as the miles are speedily devoured.
A drawback on this point of sail, however, is the heeling and imbalance that can happen when there’s either too much force on the sailplan from the masthead Code 0 (MH0) or even the fractional Code 0 (FR0), resulting in costly sometimes brutal course deviations to hold on to these sails. Yet the speed and power are hard to give up, even with the extra miles covered – while constantly recalculating the VMG trade-offs against a lower heading.
Often the only way to stay high enough to stay on course is to reduce the power and heeling moment by dousing the larger sails and shifting down to smaller headsails. But then there is a significant loss of power and speed, with more of the mainsail needed to maintain drive force.
Using more main means shifting the load balance aft, which in turn results in more helm pressure to stay on track. The more main used, the more weather helm needed, and the greater the rudder angle which creates drag, inhibiting speed further.