Updated: Jan 11
It has now been two and a half years since I designed the DogTracks for the Etchells jib lead. My goal in designing the system was to make it easier for trimmers to replicate settings and for the camber and twist of the jib to remain constant as the jib car was moved in and out on the track. In particular, I wanted to help bridge the gap between corinthian and pro teams, as I felt that gap widened with the complicated systems that were being fitted to the boats to control the jib lead in the period from 2018 to 2020.
I was very happy with the outcome and hope it has gone some way toward those objectives. I would estimate I have now done 100 or more races using the system. I recently received a question from an Etchells sailor in the process of fitting the system to his boat down in Sydney
In terms of settings, where do you find the car positions that work the best. In the install-manual you say that the jib can be sheeted to 7 degrees. Approximately where on the track would this be? What sort of conditions would influence the setup?
Every degree is approx 45mm.
For reference - the traditional fore-aft track was placed at approx 10.5 degrees. The top corner edge of the cuddy is approx 9 degrees.
I use this for a guide:
4-6 knots TWS: 9-10 degrees (you can be too far inboard in really light winds)
7-9 knots TWS: 8 degrees
10-13 knots TWS: 7.5-8 degrees and in and out a bit from that depending on your mode
14-17 knots TWS: 9 degrees
18+ knots TWS: 10-11 degrees (an Etchells does not go any faster or point any higher from approx 14 knots. So from there, an increase in TWS means logically that TWA is moving aft/wider. The traditional setting works well.
Note - a few tips
In flatter water, you’d be more likely to be on the narrower side. In waves, (or where the size of the waves are bigger than what you’d normally expect for the TWS you have), you’d be set up on the wider side
I am positive that acceleration from tacks and launching from low speed at the start is negatively effected by being in at 8 degrees. I feel you are better to be 10 degrees out of a tack and then inhaul fairly promptly as the boat accelerates. Another benefit of the newer set up (block mounted on car) is that the car naturally sits at approx 10 degrees, so the trimmer can un-cleat the in-puller as he/she is tacking (on the old side). So that next time you fall back onto that tack, the car is in a better spot for acceleration
Get the trimmers to work together and communicate, or at least be observant. If the mainsail traveller is down to leeward, you need a good reason for the jib car to be in at 8 degrees…. If they are in sync with each other, the performance will generally be better
Experiment… In 2020 I wrote that we are yet to discover “how far inboard is too far?”. I think that is still true. The 52’s are in at 2.5 degrees!! Sure - they are a different beasts that create more leeway (and thus a narrower TWA) - but not 5 degrees more leeway than an Etchells. So, feel the boat and make careful observations of your relative performance when tuning and racing in the range of conditions. We are all learning - all of the time.
For more information
Check out the DogTracks - Etchells Jib Track System
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