Corsair Trimaran Sailing Hints

I was reading the new Corsair Marine Sailing Manual where I noticed several great Corsair trimaran sailing tips I wanted to share:

Corsair trimarans have several unique sailing features, one of these being the ability to make continuous 360° turns in the one spot. To do this, while going to windward for instance, just tack, but don’t touch any of the sheets. You will continue to turn, jibe and tack again indefinitely. This can be a handy tactic on starting lines!

A simple way of heaving is to just tack as above but immediately put the helm over to turn back into the wind with the jib sheeted on the windward side. This prevents tacking again and the boat will instead fall off. The rudder then takes over again and turns the boat back into the wind. You will then stabilize like this, just off the wind, moving forward very slightly. The helm can be lashed over and you now have a stable, barely moving work platform to do any needed repairs, stop for lunch or just wait for someone else to catch up!

Should you ever lose the rudder, for whatever reason, don’t despair. Among the repertoire of tricks is the ability to sail without the rudder. It takes a little practice to get right and it is worth practicing sometime. Pull the rudder fully up (first making sure you have plenty of room). Now, to go to windward you sheet the jib or genoa as per normal but let the main right out. Pull the main on slightly and you will begin moving. Pull the main on and you will go faster, let it out and you will go slower. Pull the main hard on and you will tack. Immediately let it right out until you stabilize on a reach and then start pulling it in until you are going fast again.

This takes a bit of practice to get it right, and for a time you will be all over the place but after a while you should be able to work your way to windward, tacking too, just by adjusting the mainsail. You can also sail surprisingly affectively without any sails. The mast alone is sufficient to get steerage way downwind and once moving you can bring her up on to a reach, even back into the wind. This can be a handy feature for coming into a ramp or dock at a greatly reduced speed.

Another feature is the ability to back up. This takes a bit of practice but by turning into the wind, and waiting until she starts going backwards, you can control this backing for as long as you want. Just steer the rudder whichever way you want to go. Can be useful in backing off a beach, or away from a dock - just let her go back, swing off a beach or away from a dock - just let her go back, swing around once in clear water, and then accelerate away.

The high potential speeds possible with rotating masts off the wind can be intimidating to new multihull sailors and, if necessary, the potential speed can be reduced to a more comfortable level by reducing sail or by under rotating the mast which depowers the mainsail. More rotation can be used as one becomes comfortable with the speeds possible.

When spinnaker running before very large seas offshore with boat speeds of 20 knots or more there can be a danger of pitch poling. This can be caused by pressure from the mainsail which cannot be caused downwind should the bow dig in. The solution is to drop the mainsail, which virtually eliminates this risk. This rule only applies to racers as cruisers should have reduced sail well before this even becomes a danger.

The limit for racers with modern rigs will always be nose diving, though this is hard to do with a Corsair design due to their characteristic ‘high bow’ sailing stance. The C28, for instance, at speed, frequently has the complete center hull bow section out of the water, the waterline beginning just in front of the dagger board. This comes from the wide flat swept up aft sections of the main hull which generate negative lift, actually sucking the stern down.

This characteristic can be maximized when needed with high speed racing downwind by moving the crew inboard and aft to the back of the cockpit. This keeps the flat aft sections of the center hull in the water and the bows very high by increasing the negative lift at the hull aft sections. This works most effectively on aft cockpit rotating mast boats, where the heeling component of the sails is less than the fixed mast, that being angled more forward.

Also important for the best performance, by minimizing wetted surface area, is to move crew weight well forward in light to moderate winds, to keeps the bows down countering the stern negative lift. The boat should also be heeled to leeward (crew on leeward side) when sailing to windward in light winds, just as with a mono. This keeps the sails in a more efficient shape.

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