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Competitive Sailing Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

A Checklist For Successful Trimming

Trimming sails is a challenging crew position which requires knowledge and experience but the trimmer also needs the ability to work with the rest of the crew.

The goal of the trimmer is to get the boat to perform at peak efficiency and to use that speed to out sail the competition. A good trimmer must recognise changing conditions and react accordingly taking weather, sea state and tactical position on the race course into account.

The best teams set themselves up for success long before leaving the beach or dock and the trimmer is an integral part of that team.

As a trimmer, when you leave the dock, have a good understanding of what the forecasted weather is likely to be and update this information when out on the course.

Once at the boat, look around your area, make sure everything is in its place and sails are packed and stowed where they are readily accessible. It is very important that all unnecessary gear is removed to ensure that the boat is as light as possible.

Inspect the sheets, blocks, winches, handles, cleats and jammers for any issues. Carry a grab bag with duct or electrical tape, lube, markers, sail repair tape and tools plus energy bars and drinks (include spares where appropriate).

Spray all moving shackles and clips to ensure that they will not seize at a crucial moment replacing any that are worn or bent. Make sure there are knots in the end of halyards, that all telltales on sails are intact and the right sails are in the right bags.

As a trimmer you can be a valuable backup to the tactician so read and memorise the sailing instructions. Carry a rule book and notice of race in a waterproof folder for reference where necessary.

Keep target boat speeds and note down what  sails are required depending on wind strengths and sea state. Have this information written on a card plus have it prominently displayed on the boat as a reference for your teammates.

This is particularly important so that everyone can understand what sail should be set and when meaning each crew member will be prepared as conditions change.

Trimming sails on a dinghy or being part of the crew on a Maxi is equally rewarding. Define the mission, set parameters, prepare your trimming area, stay focused and constantly reviewing your fastest trim will make sure you are successful.

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By Brett Bowden

Brett Bowden is an author, entrepreneur, business broker, and yachtsman. Brett is a competitive yachtsman and has competed in many races and championships around the world and still owns several boats.
Brett Bowden is the author of “Sailing To Win” and lives in Victoria, Australia.

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