Twist in the mainsail

Here is a question from a student regarding letting out the main traveller in a gust.

I referred them to this post

which talks about moving the traveller upwind and letting out onthe mainsheet to increase twist at the top of the sail and thus reducing the forces aloft.


Greetings from Northern Michigan and the Great Lakes-
I have enrolled in your Catamaran Sailing Confidence Course in preparation for my first bareboat charter in the BVI’s on a 47ft Cat. In the section on sailing you state:
When sailing closed hauled on a catamaran in heavier air, move the traveler up wind (on the opposite side of the sail) and let off on the main sheet. This will allow the boom to rise a little and “twist out” the top of the sail. Twisting the sail allows you to let some of the top part of the sail “deflate” in case of slightly stronger winds. In light air, make sure that the top of the mainsail is not “loosing air” meaning, keep the traveler close to the center and tighten the mainsheet pretty good to make sure the main cannot open up at the top.

I am a crew on a 26ft monohull that races and when trying to go upwind we move the traveler to a windward position and try to keep the boom centered with the mainsheet (we also tension the outhaul and backstay). During heavy or gusty winds when weather helm and heel require us to depower the sails we will move the traveler down to center or leeward (rather than simply letting out the mainsheet and having the main luff) and this serves to “spill some air” and depower the mainsail. It certainly has worked to decrease the heel of the boat. This would be followed by reefing as winds increase.

So I have learned that in a close haul to move the traveler down to depower, but your statement is to move it upwind and I am therefore confused. What am I missing?

Thanks for your wisdom-



Search for a topic.
My vision for NauticEd is to provide the highest quality sailing and boating education available - and deliver competence wherever sailors live and go.
Grant Headifen
Last updated on February 1st, 2023