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RS200 Training

  • Notes from the RS200 training day led by Charlotte in February plus some video resourses for improving sailing technique.

    RS200 Extreme Conditions Sailing Coaching Video, from the Smart RS200 DVD.

    Initial Boat Setup

    Set spreader length. This depends on the weight of the sailors. 395 mm is standard.
    Set spreader deflection – put piece of whipping twine between the two shrouds level with the spreaders and measure distance between mast and whipping twine – should be around 130mm.
    Position of mast foot – I didn’t point this out on the day but there should be one hole showing behind the mast foot (where you put the mast on to the deck)
    Rig tension – I use 27 on loos gauge and go down to 25 when it is light winds (and crew not on side of boat)
    Set the mast rake. Attach a tape measure to the main halyard and measure to the black band on the mast to ensure you always hoist the main halyard to the same place. This reading will be slightly different on every boat. Then measure to the transom – should be about 21 ft 8.5 inches. NOTE 1 measure with rig tension ON!! Adjust mast rake by moving shrouds up or down the shroud plate.
    NOTE 2 length of shrouds varies between boats so different boats can have same mast rake.
    To check that the rig is square. Stand at the side of the boat and line up the base of the shrouds. Sight up the shrouds to the hounds. If the rig is square the near shroud will hide the far one.
    Main strops -- set to pull the boom onto the centreline in maximum power conditions. Pull the centre block forwards or over the transom to check that they are the same length.
    I put a bungee around the thwart with a clip hook for a centre board retainer – to keep centreboard down


    Set up for the conditions

    Set the jib luff tension whenever the condition change. Tighten to remove any creases for light winds, then progressively tighten as wind increases
    I rarely adjust the jib car on its track. One hole showing aft of the car is a good setting.

    Sail Controls

    The crew 'plays the kicker' -- easing it in the lulls. It is essential to get kicker off in big lulls – as soon as main on centreline, get it off!!!!
    Pull the kicker on as soon as the main is eased to help depower the sail so that you can keep the boom on the centre line for longer.
    To ensure that the boat can point well, set the jib luff tension and try to keep boom over centre line.

    How I think about tactics - - - Make a start plan

    Evaluate the bias on the start line
    • My preferred method is to sail the first beat and sight when the opposite end of the line is at right angles.
    • The closer end is biased.
    • If there is no bias, the starboard end gives you an escape to tack into clear air.
    • Discuss the start plan, then execute the plan -- this is harder!
    Divide the beat into thirdsFirst Third
    • Think about the trade-off between a good start and the right side of the beat.
    • e.g. At Lake Garda, a port bias start line is offset by prevailing conditions where pressure is on the right.
    Middle Third
    • Think about wind strategy
    • How is the wind direction changing (shifts)?
    • Where is the pressure (increased wind speed)?
    Top third
    • Think about how to approach the windward mark
    • Avoid the port lay line
    • The crew can contribute to the plan – make sure you know where the laylines are so you don’t reach them too early, then you have NO OPTIONS!!!

    Downwind performance

    Today's light wind conditions require 'soak mode' going downwind.

    The gains can be significant by doing this well.


    •        The crew trims the 'kite' to keep the luff 'on the curl.'

    •        Communicating to the helm the feel in the sheets - 'pressure.'

    •        Heel the boat slightly to windward.

    •        Steer using crew weight on minimise tiller movement .

    •        Rest the tiller extension on the side deck to minimise tiller movement.

    •        The objective is to sail the shortest distance.

    Question: So how much do you soak?

    Answer:   There is no right answer.

    A light crew might 'hot up' in semi-planning conditions as a heavy crew 'soaks' and arrive together at the leeward mark

    We didn’t really get to practice this so its homework! Try to heel the boat slightly to windward so that the kite fills further in front so its not shadowed by main sail and helps the boat to go downwind.  Helms minimise the rudder movement. Crews make sure the kite is always curling along the front edge.


    •        Fight for the bias end.

    •        Crew calls the shots.

    •        Start in the middle -- work out when you are on the line.

    Accelerating off the start line – practice practice practice!!!!

    •        Jib on a little to help the boat bear away.

    •        Bring sails in together. (If jib comes in to quickly boat will stall.)

    •        Heel the boat leeward.

    •        Come up onto wind.

    Port bias start    

    •        The Boat nearest 'pin end' is on front -- you are queuing to start.

    •        Evaluate where in the queue do you want to start.

    •        How many boats will you let go in front?

    •        If you are early, bail out -- come round and 'duck the line.'

    •        If a slow start is required, approaching above the lay line is not safe and you will be too fast.

    •        Try to practice what you have learned.


    Approaching a leeward mark

    •        The helm has to make the plan because the crew is focussed on trimming the kite.

    •        The helm tells communicated the plan to the crew.

    Keep thinking ahead!!


    •        RS200 Owner's Manual: Racing and race tuning

    •        Dinghy Techniques: Chapter 6

    •        Smart Rs200 DVD