NEW Sailor App for MSC

Sailor App – For the parents/competitors

MSC is using an app called “Sailor” for various club functions. A competitor/parent version of the app can be downloaded from the app store onto smart phones and ipads.

If you have previously loaded the Sailor App, please delete it and load the latest version. When you load the app, go the “Club” tab and select “Mordialloc Sailing Club”
The app will be used by competitors to sign on and sign off for racing. When you go to sign on the first time, you will receive a once off 6 digit verification code you must enter to allow you to continue. The app will also provide access to sailing instructions, club notices and other relevant information we wish to get to members.
If you leave that tab selected and notifications enabled on your phone, you will receive notifications:

  1. when results are posted.
  2. Any messages are sent.
  3. Documents or change notices posted.
    You can also use the app to display our local weather, access our website and social media feeds.

Note: the use of this app is separate from registering your presence at the club as a part of our Covid safe planning, by scanning the QR code displayed at various points around the

Beating Upwind

Going upwind is the most important skill for the new racer to learn. You can come back from a bad start and you won’t lose that many places on the downwind legs, even if you are slow. If you can’t go upwind well, though, you can give up the game, because it is on these legs that the most spots are gained and lost.

Boat Trim (as opposed to sail trim)

The first thing you have to think about is that you are sailing in a boat-a boat that floats in the water. Whatever movements you make when you’re sailing affect the relationship between the two, and this relationship is vital to understand because it’s the water that slows the boat down the most.

Fore and Aft Trim

Drag affecting the hull is sometimes a difficult thing to detect, but there are ways to find and reduce it. For instance, while you’re sailing, move back in the boat until you’re sitting on the transom. Look down behind the boat and you will notice a lot of little swirlies coming off the stern. You will also hear water rushing back there. That noise is drag-your boat spending some of its energy making pretty pictures in the water-ones that slow you down.

This is an easy problem to fix-just move forward until you see the water smooth out behind the boat. This reduces the drag generated by the stern sitting in the water. Now the water has a nice, smooth exit from the stern, and it won’t make as much noise.

Side to Side Heel

Keep the Damn Boat Flat!!!

The most important rule for going upwind is to keep the boat as flat as possible. This does some great things for the boat.


First, when the boat is completely flat, the centerboard will be as deep in the water as possible.

Maximizing the depth of the board in the water allows it to do its job the best. If you’re slipping sideways while going upwind, you’re losing ground to those who aren’t. As an experiment, lift the board halfway while sailing upwind. You will notice the boat won’t point as high, and as an added bonus, you can watch the trees on the edge of the lake go by sideways (a beautiful sight!).

Second, when the boat is heeled, the hull acts as a rudder and tries to turn the boat in one direction or the other. In order to sail a straight line, the real rudder will have to be used more in the opposite direction. Whenever it’s used in this fashion, you will see the nasty drag swirlies coming off the transom. Again, these swirlies, as all others, require energy to form-energy that is better used going fast in a straight line. FLATTEN THE BOAT!!


Here’s where you may learn something new: When that puff hits your boat, if you’re yelling at the crew to hike, you’re doing the wrong thing. You must ease the sail, even dump it way down sometimes. If the boat heels up, it’s only the skipper that is to blame.

Think about this: the crew’s job is to keep the mainsail full, not keep the boat down-that’s the skipper’s job. Here’s how it should go:

  1. the puff hits,
  2. the skipper lets enough out to keep the boat flat,
  3. looking up at the sail, the skipper decides she or he would like to use more of the main, so she or he calls the crew up to the rail.

One more note. Between the above steps 1. and 2., the boat will heel-that’s your signal that the puff hit. However, learn to react quickly enough so it goes up so slightly that only you notice. Your crew shouldn’t even feel the movement. That’s your goal, and I’m not exaggerating!

For some techniques on staying flat and fast, read the two following sections on EASE-HIKE-TRIMming and FEATHERING.

A Note About Light Winds

In very light winds, it is still important to be able to point into the wind, but the main emphasis should be on speed. For this reason, when the wind is so light that it doesn’t have enough energy to keep the sails open, you must use gravity.

Heel the boat slightly to leeward, enough to hold the sails open. This way, when the next puff comes along, it will spend its energy pushing the boat forward, instead of just opening the sail. Also, whatever flow you may have will detach itself from the sail if it doesn’t have shape.

In this mode, the boat won’t point very high, so don’t force it. Let the sail out at least to the corner of the transom, and be very, very careful to keep the boat still. All your movements should be slow and easy, so as not to disturb the intimate relationship your sail is hopefully having with the wind. The goal is to keep the boat moving. If you stop, you’re dead!

Technique: Ease-Hike-Trim

“Isn’t it okay to let the boat heel up when the puff hits-then I can hike it flat and use all the energy the wind just sent my way?” NO WAY. Even if a puff hits and you feel you can hike it flat, it’s much better to ease the sail a bit, and there are two reasons for this.

First, when the puff hits and heels the boat up, you will be blown immediately sideways-not the direction you want to go. If there is too much power in the sails, let some go-that’s always better for your speed to the next mark.

Second, when the wind hits, the apparent wind moves back because of the new injection of true wind. I.e., every puff that heels your boat is a lift. This means the sail, if it’s kept in, is overtrimmed. You will lose the connection the wind has with the sail, so let it out.

EASE-HIKE-TRIM is a great rule to make the boat go fast when the puffs hit. Here’s how it goes:

  1. When the puff hits the boat, EASE the sail, but just enough to keep it flat.
  2. Immediately afterwards, start to HIKE a little, and at the same time,
  3. TRIM the sail back in.

The HIKE and TRIM steps should happen at the same time, counterbalancing each other.

Your concentration should be on keeping the boat completely flat, throughout the entire puff (and don’t be afraid to dump a lot if the puff is a big one). The initial ease keeps the boat flat and prepares the sail for the new wind direction. The goal is to use the puff to its fullest, so as soon as you can rein in that power, with the hike and trim, do it. This whole maneuver should take about 3 seconds.

Whenever you’re going upwind you should hear the ratchet of the mainsheet block almost constantly (in-out-in-out…). This is a sign that you are adjusting the sail enough to keep it trimmed correctly.

Practice this in the puffs until it’s very smooth and natural. It will become ingrained the more you use it, and it soon won’t take any concentration at all.

Technique: Proper Hiking

A note on hiking technique:

The best way to hike in small dinghies, like the Laser and the FJ, is with your legs completely straight, and your back bent slightly. What this does is extend your weight out as far as possible, with the least amount of effort. You will agree, it is easier to use your legs to get your weight out, than it is to use your back muscles.

Once your weight is out, you can move it much more easily simply by bending your back. If you move your weight in and out by bending and straightening your legs, you are taking much longer to adjust, because it’s the whole body that’s moving. If the adjustments are made only with your upper body, the adjustments are quick and smooth.

In the Laser, it is important to keep the drag in the water down. Butt drag is one of the worst types of drag. Straightening your legs will keep your butt out of the water on the beats and close reaches, keeping you dryer and keeping the boat moving faster. If you’ve ever been flying on a Laser on a close reach and dragged your butt in the water, you know, “with enemas like that, who needs friends?”

Apparent Wind

This is a short discussion on a phenomenon that is important to keep in mind, no matter what leg of the course you’re on. The breeze you feel in the boat is a mixing of two separate breezes-one which is from the real direction (true wind), and the other, from straight ahead caused by the motion of your boat (generated wind). The product is the apparent wind.

Imagine riding a bike, with the true wind coming straight from the left at 5 mph. When you’re standing still, you feel the force on your left arm. Now ride the bike forward at 5 mph. The wind will feel like it’s coming at you at a 45 angle, between straight in front of you and straight from the left. This is the apparent wind.

As the bike picks up speed, the wind will feel as though it has moved more to the front of the bike. If you start riding down a hill at 45 mph, you won’t be able to feel it from side any more-it’s mostly from the front. That generated wind has taken over.

Conversely, if the bike is going 5 mph and the speed of the breeze from the left picks up to 30 mph, you probably won’t feel the generated wind any longer. You will feel all the true wind, because it is much stronger.

Now, imagine the same situation in the boat. The boat is traveling forward at 5 mph, and the wind is straight across the beam at 5 mph. It will feel as though you are on a close reach, with the apparent wind coming at the boat from a 45 angle. When a puff hits, the wind will move back toward the beam, causing a lift-and when you hit a lull and slow down, the breeze moves to the bow, causing a header. Experiment with this by sailing into lulls and puffs and watching the sidestay tell-tales.

“Feeling the Edge”

No matter the body of water on which you sail, there will be wind shifts-both headers and lifts. Often, these come with little or no warning, and those racers that notice and adapt the most quickly will pull ahead.

After sailing for a while, it will be simple to detect and react to the shifts-it will be second nature to do it while you are thinking of something else. It’s a sort of voodoo, especially for the best sailors. They won’t be able to tell you how they do it because they’ve done it for so long.

Technique: Watching the Telltales

The eventual goal for your upwind development is to be able to sail to windward by merely feeling the boat. However, in the beginning, and also in some conditions, such as very light air, you will need to watch the telltales on the jib (or the main if you’re in a cat-rigged boat, like the Laser). Read the section, JIB TELLTALES, in CHAPTER 2 – RIGGING.

Have the crew pull the jib in as far as possible. By “as far as possible,” I mean the point where it is as close to the centerline of the boat, without “squashing” all the power out). Don’t flatten it completely. To determine where this point is, sail against someone while trying different settings on the jib. If the boat feels sluggish, let the jib out a little to put some power back in. Remember, also, that if the jib is cranked in too tight, this will close the slot between the jib and the main (read the section, JIB LEADS – …, in CHAPTER 2 – RIGGING, especially discussion on the slot).

Once you have the jib trimmed correctly, you can start steering the boat, using the telltales as guides. If the outside telltale “piddles,” this means the sail is overtrimmed for the direction of the wind on the boat. You don’t want to let the sail out, so you must head up. This, in effect, retrims the sails, except instead of bringing the sails in, you “brought the whole boat in.”

If the inside telltale piddles constantly, or if the sail luffs (actual luffing, or just an inversion at the front edge of the sail), the jib is undertrimmed. You don’t want to crank in more on the sheet, so you must retrim by bearing off.

Your goal is to make the outside tale flow straight back and the inside tale “lift” occasionally, meaning some air is getting to it, but not all the time. If you don’t know how often the inside tale should be lifting, err on the side of too often. It’s better to have too much air flowing along the inside edge of the sail, than not enough.

When this happens, you should be pointing as high as possible. Remember through all this adjusting that if the boat is not up to speed, you won’t be able to point, so make sure you’re going as fast as you can. Also, you should be able to feel when the power is gone from the jib and the main. The following sections will give you an idea of how to develop this “feel.”

Technique: Feathering

The most helpful article I’ve ever read about sailing a small dinghy was an article in Sailing World called “Ease-Hike-Trim.” At first I thought this was a stupid article. “Doesn’t everyone do this?” It didn’t take long to realize this comes with experience.

Even though I thought the article was kind of silly at the time, I came away with one piece of information that has helped my racing more than any other, and that is the technique of Feathering. This technique, when used in conjunction with Ease-Hike-Trim, can push your pointing up at least another 5 -10 degrees.

Basic Idea

Start by pointing into the wind as high as possible, and have the mainsheet pulled in tight. Now, every time a puff hits, head up into the wind until the boat is flat again. Then, when the puff has died off a little, you will be sailing in what feels like a header, so bear off until the power returns to the sail. You should be constantly making adjustments to your course.

Notes on Feathering

  1. Before concentrating on this technique, you should have the basics of Ease-Hike- Trim mastered. Often a puff will hit too quickly to correct in time, and the boat will roll up on its side, killing all your speed, and washing you downwind. The only way to stop this is to Ease-Hike-Trim.
  2. Ease-Hike-Trim should be used in conjunction with feathering. As mentioned above, the puffs sometimes strike too hard to compensate with only one method. The heading up should be done slowly, to keep control. Also, the boat should not ever heel more than 10 degrees. If it does, you’re losing speed and ground.
  3. The initial heel not only indicates the puff (or lift), but it also helps the boat to turn up into the wind to point higher. Use this heel to steer, minimizing rudder usage. The same is true when the lull (or header) hits. The boat will heel to windward, turning the boat away from the wind-exactly what you want.
  4. It is important to recognize that, as mentioned above in the section, “Apparent Wind,” a gust has almost the same effect on the boat that a lift does. Similarly, a lull feels like a header.
  5. What you will be doing when you bear off, is building up speed-then, the “feather” up into the wind uses that speed to shoot you closer toward the windward mark.

Skills: Blindfolded Sailing

Now, once the above techniques have been mastered, you can sail upwind using only feel. A great way to practice is to close your eyes. If you are sailing with a crew, you can even go so far as to blindfold yourself, with the crew standing as a lookout for obstacles.

This may seem silly, but there is no better exercise to force yourself to get used to sailing without staring at your telltales. Your eventual goal should be to put your boat on auto pilot, as far as speed and pointing are concerned. This leaves your eyes open for tactical and strategic considerations.

Skills: Two-Boat Speed Testing

You will always find that competition improves your performance, and this is especially true with sailing. You can work on your upwind speed alone, but it is always nice to practice with someone else, both to gauge your progress and to provide incentive to sail harder. However, there are a few things you must know to maximize your practice with another boat.

First, the goal of speed testing is to gauge and improve your speed and pointing-not to practice tacking or tactics. Choose an open stretch of water where you won’t have to tack for a while.

Second, get the boats far enough apart so neither is in the other’s bad air (read the BLANKETING and BACKWINDING sections below), but close enough to be in the same wind. You must have the same conditions for each boat to get a true reading. Have the boats on a parallel course about 3 boatlengths apart.

Third, set the sails on each of the boats to have the same shape. The object is to test and improve your sailing abilities, not to see if more draft is faster.

Start out in this position and sail until one boat is blanketing or backwinding the other. Then tack and start the process over. You will find your speed and pointing improve almost by themselves. Your body will start doing what it must to make the boat go fast and high, using the other boat as a reference. Use all the ideas outlined above and below, including ease-hike-trim and feathering.

Technique: Steering the Boat Using the Boat

If you’ve been reading this guide and paying attention, it should be obvious by now that any extra rudder movements not only turn the boat, but they also slow you down. A boat can be steered using only the trim of the sails and the trim of the hull.

Heel the boat to windward and the boat turns downwind. Likewise, it turns upwind when heeled to leeward. In fact, it won’t take much heel to accomplish this, so try not to overdo it.

Now, imagine the boat as a big weathervane. The centerboard is the pivot, and the sails are the rooster. By the way, the pivot point is referred to as the center of lateral resistance, located around the middle of the centerboard. There is a corresponding center of effort located in the middle of the sail plan.

The boat is called “balanced” when it doesn’t want to head up (weather helm) or bear off (lee helm) when sailed flat. When a boat is balanced, this means the center of effort is directly above the center of lateral resistance. When the center of effort moves back, as it would if the main is trimmed and jib is not, the wind pushes the butt of the boat around, heading it up into the wind. The opposite happens when the jib, but not the main, is trimmed in.

Just a note about the desired feel for the boat: Your boat should have a very slight amount of weather helm to it. Make sure it’s not too much, or the rudder will be used excessively to keep the boat straight. A balanced boat is not quite as fast as one with a tiny bit of weather helm, and lee helm is a big no-no.

Skills: Sailing Without a Rudder

With the information above, you should be able to grasp the idea of rudderless sailing. Get to the middle of your lake with the rudder on, then remove it from the water (it’s important not to just leave it in, since it keeps steering). Now, using the information above and the table below, sail the boat on a beam reach.

To Head Up:

  • Trim the main
  • Ease the jib
  • Heel the boat to leeward

To Bear Off:

  • Trim the jib
  • Ease the main
  • Heel the boat to windward

You will be doing a lot of circles at first, but eventually a little control will come.

With this control will come new ways to steer, even with the rudder in, allowing the boat to turn itself, without the braking action of the drag formed on the rudder.


Sail Controls

This section outlines the major controls for the shape changes. Many times, in the beginning, it’s not obvious how to change the shape, location, or size of the draft in the sail. However, with some practice, it will become second nature. All the myriad lines, blocks, and grommets in the boat should begin to make sense, instead of looking like part of a big bowl of spaghetti.

Wind Indicators

Before you learn to change the shape of your sail, you have to know what types of changes to make. Much of your sailing will be done by the feel of the wind, but there are also many visual aids for detecting wind direction, and how the wind is interacting with the sails. These aids are important when you begin to sail, and even after you have mastered the basics. They are especially useful in very light winds, when it’s difficult to sense the wind by feel.


The windex is a small weather vane attached, in front of the mast about 1 foot off the deck. This is a very gross method for measuring the direction of the wind, and is most useful downwind, when fine adjustments are not needed.

Sidestay Telltales

Sidestay telltales accomplish the same task as the windex. They are good for a gross indication of the wind direction

Mainsail Telltales

The main telltales are very sensitive, accurate, and thus useful. These should be placed about 33% to 45% of the way back from the luff of the sail, and at 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 the distance from the bottom to the top. They should be made of a light material which does not stick to the sail, such as yarn or audiocassette tape.

Use these to see the attachment of the wind to the sail. Going upwind, with the sail mostly flat, there should be attachment on both sides. You will see both telltales flow straight back. It’s imperative that the flow be maintained on the outside surface, so keep the outside telltale streaming back. .

Leech Telltales

Attach these to the leech of the sail, at the points where the battens are inserted. When the air is leaving smoothly from the leech, these will flow straight back, as they do on the surface of the sails. The goal for these is to have them lifting (flowing) about 1/2 the time. The theory is a little sticky, but this is a good goal for speed and pointing.

If they lift more than 1/2 the time, there is too much air flowing freely off the leech, so you need to capture more by trimming the sail, or by tightening the vang (see discussions below on main sheet and boom vang). If they lift less than this, the leech is too tight, and you should let up on the mainsheet or the vang.

Outhaul – (bottom draft size)

One of the most basic of all the controls is the outhaul. It controls the size of the draft in the bottom 40% of the mainsail. If you are heeling too much then flatten the sail by pull on the outhaul. To give the sail more “bag”, or draft, let out the outhaul. It does just what the name says-it hauls the back of the sail out.

The outhaul is also used to make the transition between beating and going downwind – let off the outhaul. When reaching, more draft in the sail will give more power. This also applies to running downwind, the outhaul is let off to make more bag in the sail. Right before the leeward mark, the outhaul is then brought back in to allow pointing. This is very important- try pointing upwind sometime with the outhaul all the way off. You won’t ever get where you’re going.

Inhaul or Cunningham – (draft location)

The inhaul or cunningham is an important control. The modern purpose for this little line is to control the location of the draft. When the cunningham eye is pulled on, the draft in the sail moves forward.

As the wind speed increases, the draft tends to blow back in the sail towards the leech. This is undesirable as it causes overpowering and extra drag. The draft should be somewhere between 40% and 45% back from the luff of the sail.

A by-product of a tighter cunningham is that the leech of the sail begins to “open up.” Sighting straight up above the boom, the top batten of the sail should be parallel with the boom. If the cunningham is pulled on tight, the top batten will then be pointing outward, away from the boom. To bring it back in, you can put on more boom vang, which is discussed below.

Mast Bend – (draft size)

You may see on a Laser when the sail is laid out flat. When the mast is inserted, straightening out the luff, the sail gets its fuller shape. If that straight mast is bent back, closer to the shape of the flat sail’s mast sleeve, the shape goes out. The main purpose of mast bend is to depower the sail, and this can be done in a variety of ways.


When sailing, you will soon find that the mast is quite bendy. One of the ways to induce bend and decrease the draft of the sail is to sheet very hard.

Vang Sheeting

The boom vang can be used on a bendy mast, just like the main sheet, to pull the top 1/2 of the mast back. If all the control were left to the main sheet, the sail would power up when eased and depower when pulled in. This way, only the angle with which the sail hits the wind changes.

Boom Vang – (leech shape)

The main job of the boom vang on most boats is to control the shape of the mainsail leech. When the vang is pulled on, the leech gets tighter, and when released, the leech gets loose, and “twists” off to leeward. The top batten, as mentioned above, should be approximately parallel with the boom. If pulled in too much, there will be excess drag. If left loose, too much power is lost out the back of the sail.

Main Sheet

This control is the most interactive of all. Their major function is to control the angle of attack on the wind. This is the angle at which the wind hits the sail, with respect to the boom.

When the sail is brought in, the angle increases and the power increases, but hopefully you already know that. You should also know that if the angle of attack is too large (the sail is pulled in too tight), the sail will “stall” and the lift will be destroyed. It will look the same, but it won’t be working as it should any longer. If the angle is too small (the sail isn’t pulled in enough), it will luff, generating no lift at all. You can use the telltales on the sail to judge whether the flow you need is being generated. Remember that this flow can be created and destroyed by changing the angle of attack.


Reaching & Running

These legs are often the fastest legs because of the increased speed of the boat. This means that there aren’t as many lead changes as in the beat legs. Your goal on these legs should be to set up for the leeward mark rounding, without getting passed. The boats behind will catch up, but you’ll be pretty hard to pass on the downwind legs if you are doing things right. Even if you do get passed by 1 or 2 boats, don’t let it bother you too much-there is always time to catch up at the mark rounding or on the next windward leg.


Below are a few basic techniques for keeping the boat moving. Keep in mind, also, that clear air is important. If someone is driving over you on top of your wind, try your best to get away without making too much of a course change (large course changes are mostly bad since you sail a lot of extra distance).

Technique: Sheeting Off the Boom

If the class rules allow, you should sheet the mainsail directly off the boom, ignoring the last block in the cockpit. This gives you a great feel for the sail, and it also allows much faster reaction time when you need to sheet in or out.

Your attention on the downwind leg should be split 70% speed watching and 30% watching what’s happening around you. The 70% speed watching is imperative. You can gain or lose a lot on the downwind leg due to correct or incorrect sail trim. It can be the difference between grabbing the puff and passing 3 or 4 boats, and getting “rolled” by 3 or 4 others who did it right. Sheeting off the boom allows you to react more quickly, and it also allows you to feel the power in the sail, while you’re watching your surroundings the other 30% of the time.

Technique: Heeling the Boat to Windward

If you ever see pictures of Lasers racing downwind, you will notice that most, if not all, are heeled to windward. There are two reasons for this. First, heeling the boat gets the sails higher into the air, where the wind speed is often greater. Second, it reduces the surface area where the boat touches the water, reducing drag.

Most importantly, the boat is heeled to reduce the pressure on the tiller. When going almost straight downwind, with most of the sail area on one side of the boat, it will want to head up. This tendency forces you to use the rudder more than you should to keep the boat going straight. To counteract this, simply heel the boat to windward until you no longer feel any tiller pressure. You should be able to steer with your fingertips loosely gripping the extension.

Technique: Steering the Boat with Heel

Given what you have learned above about drag on the rudder and steering the boat without it, this should now be easy. Because the boat is going so much faster, heeling the boat is very effective for steering. Also because of your greater speed, the drag on the rudder is increased, so you should be steering as much as possible without it.

Just remember, when you want to bear off, heel to windward. To head up, heel to leeward. You should always make your movements small since course changes cost extra distance. Unless it is necessary to make the correction quickly, keep the amount of heel to only 5 -10 degrees.


Jibing is one of the two major transitions mentioned in the PRIORITIES chapter. It is a very important manoeuvre because there is a huge potential for things to go wrong. When going downwind, the boat is much less stable. When the force of the wind changes drastically during a jibe, the boat can carve up into the wind, running you way off course, into another boat, or at the very worst, capsizing. The key to keeping control of the jibe is to keep the boat steady.

First, don’t make a large movement with the tiller to turn the boat. Keep a straight course as you bring the boom across the centre line. Also, keep your weight in the centre of the boat, and keep it mobile in case you need to throw it to either side to prevent a capsize.

Finally, and most importantly, if the winds are moderate or heavy, make sure the boat is up to speed. Think about that-make the boat go as fast as possible before jibing. The reason for this is: If the wind is from straight behind at 15mph and the boat is going 5mph, you feel 10mph of wind. That’s a lot of force! If, however, you are going 13mph, you only feel 2mph of wind. This reduces the force on the sails considerably, keeping the jibe under control. Wait until you are up to speed, then, when a lull in the wind comes, throw the boom across the boat.

Watching the Wind

Keeping an eye out behind you on the reach or run is always a good idea, especially when you’re looking for wind. The main idea is to pick a side of the course and stick with it, but within that side, you can move a little to use the wind.

When a puff is approaching from behind, you want to head up slightly, so it gets to you sooner. Then, when you’re in it, bear off and ride it until it runs out. The idea here is to get to the puff quickly, and then stay in it as long as possible. You can increase your speed if you head up while in the puff, but this is not a good idea most of the time. If you’re going quickly across it, you will come out the other side sooner than you want-so stay in it.