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classic racing dayboat, gracing the river Thames since 1911

Estuary One Design

Racing Tips

Racing an EOD Upwind By Andrew Carpenter (Madrigal - EOD 113. Rig; Selden mast and boom - no runners, Lonton & Gray sails)


As we all know an EOD is easily overpowered and can be bit of a beast so it’s important to make the rig as controllable as possible. To make the beast easier to sail first set your rig up before the start of the race. You can do this by adding a mast choc to straighten the mast in light winds or removing a choc in a force 3 and above. We find that even a small 12mm thick choc makes a difference to the mast and sail shape.


For EOD’s without runners and If you have adjustable upper shrouds then you can tighten the uppers for light winds or slightly loosen them for stronger winds. In both instances you are trying to de-power or power up the rig.


Before the start of the race, we sail up wind on both tacks to see how the settings affect the boat. The boat should have a neutral helm or a very slight amount of weather helm and the rig should be easy to flatten off in the gusts and be powered up in the lulls. To test this let go of the tiller and see if the boat sails straight. The idea behind setting up the boat is to achieve the maximum amount of power for the average wind speed for the race. Which means all three of you hiking to your max should be able keep the boat flat when the rig is fully powered up, or as flat as possible!


As the mainsail is proportionally so much larger than the jib we have found it better to get the mainsail set up and working well before altering the jib. The angle of the jib can be changed by the fairlead positions, this is the same for all sloop rigged boats. You can change the angle and flatten the jib or increase the belly and twist in the leech by moving it backwards and forwards. You probably all have preset positions depending on the wind strength. We have found that only four holes on the fairlead cover all the wind strengths that we are likely to sail in, so it doesn’t require much altering.


The further back you move the fairleads the less you will point but the more it prevents backwinding the mainsail by opening the slot between the jib and the mainsail. The position of the fairlead will always be bit of a compromise. We tend to beat up wind before the start of the race and set the position of the fairlead so that the first 8 - 10” of the mainsail (about 1/2 way up the mast) is just beginning to backwind, for a more detailed analysis check out the link to the Mike McNamara Rig Tuning Video below.


If you find the wind increases during the race and you need to flatten off the jib because it’s causing the mainsail to backwind more than you would like, then firstly alter the windward fairlead and tack onto the new preset. Then alter what was the leeward side fairlead after checking that the new position improves the sail set up.


When racing to windward you are trying to keep the sails in the optimum shape for the wind and wave pattern for that particular moment that means altering the sails through a mixture of kicker, main and jib sheet tension, traveller position, outhaul, cunningham and hiking out.


Outhaul; generally we sail with quite a flat mainsail and have noticed that we tend to use more outhaul than other boats. With less outhaul It often feels like you are sailing quicker (a fuller sail) as it looks, and indeed is, more powerful. The trade off is your pointing ability, weather helm increases (a real speed inhibitor) and its harder to keep the boat flat. This is down to personal preference and how you sail your boat but I would say generally it’s better to have slightly too much outhaul pulled in rather than not enough. As the wind changes up a beat you should alter the outhaul and it can easily be forgotten when there are numerous other things happening. If your crew know how to set the outhaul for the prevalent conditions then pass on the responsibility to them, so as a helm you have one less thing to think about.


Cunningham; In light to medium winds we don’t tend to use that much Cunningham and would rather sail with creases in the main sail with the ability to point high than no creases in the mainsail and not pointing as high. As the wind and chop increases we apply more cunningham and sail slightly freer. However Madrigal is a heavy EOD and retains a lot of inertia to windward and we have noticed that she will sail a close angle to the wind and still punch through the waves.


Kicker; because an EOD has such a large mainsail getting this right is critical to upwind boat speed. By watching the top leach telltale you can see how much twist (how open or closed) the leach is. Upwind the leach can be controlled in conjunction with the mainsheet tension the traveller and the kicker. What you are aiming for is a mainsail that allows you to point high whilst also easy to de-power in the gusts and power up again in the lulls. How you operate these three control lines at the same time is down to you. We have found that once the mainsail is hauled in to a near central position the kicker is applied until the leach nearly stalls. Let out the traveller in the gusts and if still overpowered then apply more kicker. As the gust passes you need to pull the traveller in and probably knock off a bit of kicker as the leech will likely be stalled, check the telltales. Unless, it’s a force 4 and above, easing off 6 - 10''’’ of traveller is probably enough. Easing the traveller makes sailing an EOD easier but there is definitely a point when letting off the traveller is detrimental to boat speed and you will notice the decrease of boat speed and pointing ability quite quickly.


In very light winds you may want to pull the traveller slightly to windward so that the boom is closer to the centreline of the boat and leach tension is predominatly controlled by the mainsheet. In very fluky conditions it’s often better to play the traveller upwind rather than the mainsheet as you can make changes to sail shape far quicker.


Body Position: As in all dinghies and day-boats keeping crew weight close together is important. This helps to reduce the pitch of the boat and an EOD is no different. Upwind an EOD in light and moderate winds needs the crew weight well forwards and you should aim to sit close together with the helm as far forwards as they can manage. In light winds I usually try to helm the boat from in front of the traveller, moving back behind the traveller to tack and then moving forwards again. The forward crew should be next to the shroud and the middle crew close to the forward crew. As the wind increases the crew can move back slightly so they find it easier to hike out further. You can always check by looking at the wake off the stern of the boat and rudder, the less you have the faster you should go.


All these points will produce slightly different results depending on the cut of the sails, the stiffness of the mast and how much rig tension you use. I can only speak from a personal viewpoint and what works for us.  Andrew




Sailing Upwind by Johnny Wells (ex Tango - EOD 104. Rig; Selden Mast then latterly a Z Spar, no runners).


Hi guys,


Tim drew my attention to Andrew Carpenter’s excellent article on EOD upwind sailing and asked if I would like to share some of the things that we used to do on Tango.


Over the 10 years of sailing EODs we changed our rig settings less over time and ended up with 1 rig setting - point and squirt.

We stopped changing the fairlead position across the wind range (I cut a foot off the track) and arrived at our 1 fairlead setting by sailing close hauled in force 2-3, luffing up slowly and all the tell tales should break at the same time - from there on we would control the jib twist/slot with sheet tension.


In a very similar way to Andrew we would launch as early as possible and sail both tacks up wind looking for 2 things:

1) Compass bearings, high and low on each tack (get a compass)

2) Are we overpowered and by how much and what percentage of the time


Under powered with 3 crew hiking upwind:

Sailing on mainsheet tension to control the leach - some leach return gives height but it is a compromise with the increased drag, look at your mainsail’s upper tell tales often in these condition to avoid over-sheeting and stalling the rig.

Chocks in

Outhaul off - unless it is very light and the flow is struggling to stay attached to the sail

Rig tension on - unless it was very light and we would sometimes ease the tension to let the rig breathe

Cunningham off

Kicker - nipped up to the mainsheet tension

Plate down - unless it was very light and we would sometimes raise the plate Traveller - centre or just above in the light stuff - middleman lowers it in the gusts Jib tell tales - windward lifting slightly above horizontal

Upper tell tales on mainsail - streaming 80% stalling 20%

Jib tack line - 5-10 mm of movement of the sail up and down on the luff wire for a finer entry


Over powered with 3 crew hiking upwind:

Sailing on kicker tension to control the leach - flatter sails to drive forward over seeking height - increasingly taking power from the rig as the wind increases.

Chocks in

Outhaul on - swing on it

Rig tension - using cascade system, ease tension slightly so the furler comes off the deck up to 12mm as the wind increases - drops the rig back and allows top of mast to drop off in the gusts - don’t over do this

Cunningham - slowly pulled on to very hard as the wind increases - this opens the leach to reduce power

Kicker - increasingly hard to the point where the helm bowses down on the mainsheet as the middle man pulls on the control line hard - flattens the mainsail by bending the mast

Plate - raise up to 150mm as the wind increases - takes power off the boat Traveller - drop down the track further as the wind increases - middle man has to tack this - ease the jib as you drop down the track to keep the slot open

Jib tell tales - Increasingly looking at the chop rather than the woolies, feeling for boat speed rather than looking at the jib for height

Upper tell tales on mainsail - increasingly streaming as you flatten the mainsail Jib tack line - snug this on a few millimetres for a fuller entry as you steer a wider attack through the chop


I have observed crews hiking harder when overpowered in a gust - wrong:

Make sure your control lines work and have enough purchase and use them to control your rig by flattening and twisting the sails.

As a gust hits the apparent wind goes aft - so ease your sails and get up to the speed of the increased pressure then trim back in and take the height or stay bow down in fast forward mode. The boats are heavy and over-canvassed, you have to drive them by pressing on the jib (bow down) to get the foils working and giving you height - drive it high rather than point it high. They carry their way so you can go bow up for short periods but it must be balanced by pressing on the jib.


Roll tack the EOD across the wind range, keeping the main sheeted on and the jib slightly eased as you luff and no-one crosses the boat before the stem has gone through the eye of the wind, ease the main as you cross the boat and pull in both the sails as the crew right to boat - you will be amazed at your gains by doing this as you squirt the boat back up to speed.

And remember don’t get blinkered by looking for more speed on the race course at the expense of the bigger picture most crews would benefit far more by nailing their starts, rolling each tack and gybe perfectly, in wide and out tight at the mark roundings, clearing their air, knowing the rules and race management better than their competitors and taking the tack closest to the windward mark.


Happy sailing, Johnny

Below is a series of links to videos, and general tips for racing your EOD.




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