Preview: How to Trim Sails with Carol Hasse, Part 3 – Mainsail Trim

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In the end sailing is about safety, comfort and speed – and proper mainsail trim helps with all three. Legendary sailmaker Carol Hasse walks through the steps to ensure the mainsail is doing its job on all fronts.

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37 Responses So Far to “How to Trim Sails with Carol Hasse, Part 3 – Mainsail Trim

  • Avatar

    Chuck Keller says:

    A great video on trimming the mail sail. We sail model boats DF 95 and am adapting the instructors concepts to our model boats.

    • Nate Rooks

      Nate Rooks says:

      That’s awesome, Chuck! We’d love to hear if you develop any nuanced tricks or tips with model sailboat trim.

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    Allan Webb says:

    I’m brand new to the crew, and this is the first set of videos I’ve watched. You can tell the passion in Carol when she explains this course. Absolutely enjoyed every bit of it thanks so much.

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    Ed Reynolds says:

    Have listened to Carol’ s presentation on sail trim and found it very helpful in terms of adjusting the sails. I would like see it terms of a day sail. For example when you hoist the main how much tension do you start with on the main halyard, out haul, same with the gen on the roller and so on. I get to the boat and there’s a six knot breeze. Hoist the main, get it was as tight as I can? I get the adjustments, but wonder about the starting points. Thanks, Ed

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      Kevin Tisdall says:

      Hopefully Carol answers but my rule of thumb is to see how much wind there is, then decide on initial trim. So, in 6kts wind, you don’t need much tension and certainly don’t need to shorten sail. So start out with light-medium tension for halyards/outhaul. From there you can adjust as you sail upwind (more apparent wind, more tension) or downwind (less apparent wind, less tension).

      If you arrive at the boat and it’s blowing 25kts, you would use maximum tension or reef sails (and use max tension). Always easier to shake out a reef and let off tension if the boat isn’t performing correctly.

      You get a feel for initial setup eventually. Also, it’s a totally dynamic process based on sailing angle and wind speed (which changes with sailing angle).

      Good luck!


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    Uri Fischer says:

    Thank you for a great instructor.
    How do we trim a gaff maine sail?

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    Keith Pullin says:

    Wow! what a great series of talks by a very talented lady, I’m not a sailor as yet but I am about to start on the construction of my first attempt at boat building after a short course at the Boat Building Academy here in the UK, ( Lyme Regis ). Extremely easy to understand and follow many thanks, Carol.

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    Drew Waterbury says:

    Great info. Just joined a sailing club and I try to learn something new every time I go out by myself. Carol just gave me a month’s worth of study and practice (at least). OCH is a wonderful resource. Thanks!

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    John Mcalinden says:

    Carol, you are absolutely wonderful. Your films should be mandatory viewing for any would be trimmer. They are so easy to understand that the publishers of the leading books on the subject may be forced out of business.
    One question: What effect does backstay have on an easily bendable carbon rig?
    Thanks again.

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    Keith Cheney says:

    This sail trim video series is amazing! I have learned an incredible amount in a very short time. Thank you Carol and OCH!

  • Larry Venezia

    Larry Venezia says:

    This three part synopsis of sail trim and the physics of sailing is wonderfully explained and summarized for both the neophyte sailor and those of us cruising sailors that just put the sails up and just sit back and relax. Time to go back to “pulling some strings” again to really get the boat back into the groove. It’s obvious that Carol really knows her stuff and I really appreciate her taking the time to provide us with this short course. Thanks also to OCH for bringing this to us. It behooves us all to refer to it often. Great for off season viewing.

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    David Hubbard says:

    I’m with Paul and Jim. This was great for me, with a new boat and first serious sailing in many years. So a followup on some other rigs would be great too. I have an “S” boat, with no vang, a traveler that cannot be locked, and a club jib. And of course a curved mast. But I’d be interested in any other rig too, like gaff, etc… Nat made my sails, and gave me some early tips that helped a lot, but a deeper dive would be great. More! More!

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    Jack Camillo says:

    Wow, excellent information, and very understandable! You know what would be cool – if, for each point made, you interjected with a photo of a boat sailing with the sail in the proper trim. But as it is, again, very instructive. Thanks for another great video.

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    Christopher Wick says:

    Great basics, but not much information about the outhaul.

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    Chet Knights says:

    Fantastic! This is the kind of content that I was looking for when I first subscribed. Carol’s three videos are the best yet( and that’s saying a lot). Keep up the great work!

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    chip puhl says:

    Wow, what I just learned with these videos is that I have been out of touch with my sail shapes for the last 50 years of sailing. Never too late to learn. What a great instructor.
    What would Carol say about the new Stack-Pack I just added to the main of my 26′ day sailor. It appears to be a contradiction to shaping the lower portion of the main?

  • Avatar

    Leslie Bell says:

    Thanks guys once again. Since I have the misfortune to live in St. Paul, MN., there is very few real sailors. I have been building a small sailboat, starting my 6th year now. She is as traditional as I can afford, ( Nam Vet on disability pension, no complaints). I make very few
    comments as you guys know. Love Carol’s knowledge and experience. I built my sails out of cotton and hand sewed them myself. Gaff rig of course. I have researched every available source I could find on gaff rigged sails. I would very much appreciate any further knowledge on trimming gaff sails and the running backstays.
    Thanks again for all of your fine work,
    Leslie William Bell

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    Vincent Drane says:

    Great series on sail trim. I would really like to hear these principles applied to a Balance Lug sail in the 15 to 18 foot boat range which seem to have less controls and often compromised sail shapes. Keep up the great programs.

    • Wayne McKinnon

      Wayne McKinnon says:

      Try Michael Storer, google him and his Goat Island skiff, it seems extremely tight downhaul is a lot of the secret. Videos are tops.

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    Donald Holmes says:

    I’ve wanted and needed this information ever since I bought my first sailboat. Now I have it and intend to put it to good use. Thanks!

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    Darrian Gourdine says:

    l am a newbie and I have been reading all that I can on sail trim and points of sail.
    Carol has fully open up my understanding and sparked my desire to learn even more… Thank You

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    Andrew Grainger says:

    I second Jim Newton – let’s hear about gaff riggers. Also, I missed mention of leech lines.
    But nicely done on the rest

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    Carolyn & Ron Pease says:

    Wonderful, wonderful discussion on sail positioning.

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    Ken Strangward says:

    A front just came through, it’s poring outside & my boats on the slips.
    Plenty of time to replay these videos, they are really filling in the missing bits.
    Thanks Carol appreciate your informative chats.
    Would look forward to some information on other types of rigs, the effects of extra sails on cutter & ketch rigs, maybe some info on heavy weather sails, the list goes on.
    All the best

  • Avatar

    James Maher says:

    Great series. First time I’ve ever heard what a leech line is for.

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    David Slater says:

    I have just finished watching all three videos, one after another. Sail trim knowledge is exactly what I have been needing. My wife and I sail a Cabo Rico 34, I will apply this to improving my sail trim on Cabo Rico. I will watch these again. Thanks Carol and OCH.

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    Michael Seibert says:

    Carol has outdone herself on this video, which contained the best explanation of sail twist and mainsail trimming I have seen.

    I would also love to see a video on the spinnaker.

    The other thing I would love to see is a presentation that would show sails in action, and point out when they are trimmed properly and improperly.

    Thanks again for another excellent series of videos.

  • Avatar

    John Kelly says:

    This 3 part series on sail trim is *so* packed with information I’m going to re-watch and take notes! I can apply everything in here to racing my Laser as well as trimming the headsail and main on bigger boats. Carol’s explanations are clear and practical.

    You’ve whetted my appetite for more. One thing I struggle with on bigger boats is hoisting, dousing and trimming a spinnaker. It seems easy watching videos or reading, but out on the foredeck in 15 kts things get hairy fast! Could I request that you (either Carol or someone else at OCH) put together another video or set of videos that illustrate managing the chute? Thanks very much.

    The best money I ever spent went to getting a lifetime membership.

  • Steve Stone

    Steve Stone says:

    The first year OCH went to Port Townsend to the Wooden Boat Festival, Kaci Cronkhite (and literally everyone else) told me: “You have to meet Carol Hasse.” Now we all know why, eh? I feel so lucky to know Hasse and the loft crew, and I’m so glad we’ve been able to bring OCH members inside their sail loft in Port Townsend.

  • Avatar

    Paul Atkins says:

    I’d love to see Carol discuss other rig types and how they are best set. For example standing lug or sprit.

    Thanks this was great!

    • Steve Stone

      Steve Stone says:

      Thanks Paul. That topic is on our list for Carol, or possibly Nat Wilson (or Nat’s son, who is now skipper of Ticonderoga).

      • Avatar

        Bill Saunders says:

        Steve, Carol did an excellent presentation for marconi rigs. As was stated by several others, and as you have indicated that you intend to do, it would be really nice for someone to address such adjustments to sail that are applicable to simpler traditional sails. I have commissioned with Bruce Blatchley at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding to have Ross Lillistone’s Periwinkle design built. It has twin balanced lug sails that can be used together or individually from 3 different mast steps. Completion is scheduled for September 2018 and I hope the school will showcase the boat and their work at the 2018 Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend. If so, I intend to be there and hope to meet you and Eric if you attend.

        • Steve Stone

          Steve Stone says:

          Congrats on that new boat (in process) Bill. Should be a beauty if the NWSWB is building her. We’ll hope to see her in Port Townsend in September. Good idea on the lug/traditional rig sail trim series. Noted.

    • Avatar

      Gregory DeCowsky says:

      Another vote for how to trim a standing lug. I just got the hull and am building the rig. Have only sailed in a lugger a couple of times.

  • Avatar

    Jim Newton says:

    Simply outstanding! What a great instructor. I hope in future videos she addresses sail trim on gaffers.


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