— The official website of the Peterson Cutter Owner's Group

While we have put about 15,000 miles under the keel over the past several years, we have found that to enjoy long-term cruising, the best heavy weather sailing strategy is to AVOID heavy weather.  This is usually relatively easy to do when well armed with pilots, weather fax, an SSB, and a flexible schedule.  The heaviest weather we have ever experienced was 3-4 hours of 40 to 50 knot winds in the entrance to the Red Sea.  We did get into trouble there as we had the main up (through 3X reefed) got close to some shoals, tried to steer too low to avoid them, did an accidental prevented jybe busting some battens and battcars, and then had to tack around into breaking seas which resulted in a knockdown.  All this could have been avoided if we had only had a bit of genoa up or our storm staysail - we would have had a lot more flexibility with respect of maneuverability.  Now, whenever the wind is more than 25 knots and the wind is aft of the beam, we usually use only the genoa as a) speed is about the same as with the main (can still do 7-8 knots) b) we are lazy c) its easer to further reduce sail quickly and also do a quick jybe if necessary.

Tradewind sailing (downwind) we go with a full main (assuming wind is 25 knots or less) prevented out and 150% genoa poled out to the other side.  We have found it fastest to sail with the wind angling about 5 degrees over the corner of the transom on the same side as the genoa.  This prevents the main from blocking it as much and reduces snapping of the foot of the genoa as it collapses and fills.  This seems to work pretty well and we find we are much faster than most of our peers at this point of sail.  However, "Next Time" I would like to try a cruising chute to go alongside the genoa and perhaps 3X reef the main and keep it sheeted in the middle of the boat to reduce roll.  I think this would be an ever faster, possibly more comfortable, yet still manageable rig.
We have been increasingly reefing more often and earlier cause again, it seems that speed does not suffer that much while nervous glances up at the rig are diminished.  We sailed around with a 2X reef in the main for about two months in the Caribbean as we had 15-30 knots day after day on the beam.  We just keep the reef in and rolled the genoa in and out as our throttle control.  With the 2X reef in, its easy to get the 3X in when a squall is spotted.
Upwind, we use the staysail, 130% genoa furled in and out, and start reefing at 15 knots true (about 20 apparent).  One trick that seems to help pointing ability is to barber haul the staysail even further inboard.  We just use the other sheet (sheet on and then crank on the other sheet a bit getting the clue in another 2-3 inches).  This is the ultimate motorsailing rig.  You can sheet the main into the center of the boat and basically get a self tacking rig set up.  We keep the main pretty flat most of the time with a lot of halyard tension and the leach fairly tight cranking on the rigid vang to keep it that way.  As we have not raced the boat for three years we focus more on making sure we do not get overpowered and stay comfortable rather than maximizing speed, though we still like to keep the speed through the water at over seven knots.  We have an adjustable backstay and keep it fairly cranked on all the time (more when we raced).  I guess the top of the mast is raked back about six inches.
We use the runners whenever we have the staysail up and usually put them up as extra insurance whenever we have winds above 20 knots at whatever point of sail.

Aaron Henderson
S/V Redwings
[email protected]
Redwings Website

Last modified: January 01 1970 00:00