Arif Gurdenli

Reproduced from FINNFARE July 2004

Just before the 2004 Europeans in La Rochelle, France, IFA conducted a Finn Clinic with 7 participants from China, 3 from France and 1 from Argentina.

The idea of the clinic was to give the sailors the ‘big picture’ for success rather than just the boat speed or some drills. Main topics covered were: boat preparation, boat handling, boat tuning, sails, speed tests, strategy & tactics, fitness and rules.

Since the boats were not prepared and measured in detail before we started by checking the positions for deck ring, centreboard pin and the mast rake (with a scale). Since there were big differences between the sizes of sailors we had to make some adjustments. For the lighter sailors (<90 kg), we pull the centreboard pin backwards to 2.05-2.06 m (from the transom) and for the heavy guys (>103 kg) we pushed it forward to 2.07-2.08m. The same applied to the deck ring that for heavy guys we pulled the ring back (1 big + 2 small pieces in front) and for light guys we pushed t forward (1 big+1 small piece). The rake is adjusted to 34-35kg for all sailors and the fine tuning is done on the water after some speed testing.

Hiking positions are checked as well and the hiking strap positions together with pussy pads are adjusted to have the most comfortable layout. Since in a race more than half the time is spent upwind (mostly hiking) it is very important to have the most comfortable position.

During the week the wind was very generous that the sailors had to hike quite hard. Lots of speed testing is done on the water so that the guys who were not happy with the settings found opportunity to readjust.

On the shore we rigged a boat and worked through all the sail controls:

Outhaul: has an overall affect on the sail that the depth changes by 3 times i.e. if you let the outhaul 1cm. The draft increases approx. 3cm. Outhaul also changes the top 1/3 of the leach. If you pull outhaul, top part of the leech opens where as if you leave the outhaul it closes the upper leech.

Cunningham: has a direct affect of the draft position. If you pull the Cunningham if also pulls the draft towards the mast and most importantly it opened the middle part of the leech.

Inhaul: affects the bottom part of the sail that pulling it opens the bottom 1/3 of the leech. It also affects the entrance of the sail. If you sail at medium winds and flat water you can leave the outhaul more than normal so that the entrance of the sail becomes flatter and you point higher. This setting is not forgiving which means you have to steer very carefully. It would also work well if you play the inhaul together with the mainsheet. If you pull the mainsheet, then you also pull the inhaul and if you ease the mainsheet then you also ease the inhaul. This way the sails keep a nice shape at all times.

In the mornings we spent some time at the classroom discussing about the strategy, tactics, rules and fitness. In the afternoon we were on the water for long hours, speed testing, short races, start drills, tack and gybes during the short racing.

On the upwinds we concentrated on the steering, sail shapes, hiking and body movements. On the downwind we focused on how to be more comfortable in the boat, steering the waves, easing the controls (i.e. outhaul, Cunningham, inhaul), centreboard position (between 1/2 and 3/4 up) and also vang tension. The part of the sail that you shall look at is the top part of the leech - if you pull the vang hard then the leech becomes very tight and there’s not enough power on the sail. This way it’s safer but also harder to catch the waves. If you leave the vang very loose (except for the light winds) then the leech becomes too open where the boat becomes unstable and you also loose power. Optimum adjustment is to have the leech moving like the wing of a bird while nicely playing with the sail or pumping.

Gus Miller was with us during the clinic and it was great to have him around. He was dedicated to share his knowledge with the sailors at all times. He was on the water in our coach boat every time. Although I gave him hard time while driving the boat sometimes roughly over the waves, he did not mention anything. Thank you Gus.


One day Andy Zawieja was the guest speaker talking about the masts. He mentioned the importance of deciding on a concept for the masts. Since the masts can be soft-stiff bottom, soft-stiff middle and soft-stiff tip or any combination it may cause the sailor to be confused if trying to go for all.

As a general approach, soft bottom (fore/aft) masts act like a good suspension and could be faster in waves and windy conditions. Stiff bottom masts (fore/aft) would be good for light winds and smooth sea.

Stiff top (fore/aft) helps to keep the draft of the sail at top and the leech tension can be better controlled. Softer top (fore/aft) could be good for light weight sailors.

More important is the sideways bend. If a mast is soft at the deck level then it’s not possible to point high enough. If you have a good weight (around 100kg) and you are strong then it’s good to have the mast going straight up to the middle of mast (for sideways bend).

One other aspect to check is the sideways bend for both starboard and port tack. Sometimes the mast would be bending slightly different of opposite tacks and this would cause a sail to look good on one tack but bad on other. Sideways bend has also a direct affect on the overall shape of the sail. The top part of the mast (sideways) should have enough bend that the leech will be open in a breeze or choppy wave conditions.

Measuring the mast in the regular way (12kg at the tip and supporting at the decking) is very good to match the sail but does not give a good indication for what the mast does near the deck and BB levels.

Old style testing (hanging 20kg in the middle and supporting the mast at the ends) would give a more accurate reading especially for the lower parts.

How to measure your rake by a scale

You may have seen many of the most successful Finn sailors using a scale to measure their mast rake. If you want to catch the technology and give up on our long time tape measure here is how to :

First of all you need an electronic scale that can measure 30-40kg (60-90 lb) sensitively to 0.1 detail. Keep your old tape measure (or buy one - if you don’t have one) and get 5.5-6 metre of 3-4 mm spectra rope.

Tie the spectra rope and the tape measure to your halyard and hoist it up. Tie one end of the scale to the spectra rope such that there is enough distance to attach the outhaul to the other end of the scale when you lift the boom up.

Measure the distance (let’s call this A) from top of the mast to the top of the black band of mast at gooseneck (inhaul). That should measure 5.70 metres. Anything less or more shall be a correction. We’ll come to this soon.

Pull the mainsheet hard that boom touches the deck like you sail upwind. Now measure the distance from top of the mast to the black band on the boom. Adjust the outhaul so that it will measure 6.02. Now comes the correction: if the distance A was 5.70 then no correction is needed. Let’s say that if A was 5.69 then this needs a 1cm correction that we subtract it from 6.02 which shall be 6.01. On the contrary if the measure A was 5.72 then this needs 2 cm correction that this time we shall add it to 6.02 which shall become 6.04m.

Now read the load on the scale: 31-33kg is the lower end where 37kg is the upper. 35 kg would be a good place to start as an average. If you rake the mast forward the scale will read more, if you rake back it reads less - on Devoti boats one full turn at the bottom means approximately 2kg.

A bit complicated??





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