Arthwartship Sheet Positioning

Most yachts are equipped to adjust the sheets in a fore aft direction via jib tracks. Some yachts have inhauls and barber hauls on their sheet blocks to allow for arthwartship positioning. Arthwartship is merely something that is in the beam dimension of the yacht. Inhauls and barber hauls simply move the block towards centerline or towards the sheer.

These adjustments may seem unnecessary, but in fact they are very important for headsail control on various points of sail. If your yacht is not setup to adjust these controls, it may be a good idea to figure out another way to still accomplish the end goal. 

When pointing to windward, the angle of attach of your sail is dictated by the location of your clew. If your clew is set far out on the cap rail, you will never be able to sheet the sail close hauled and sail close to the wind. Instead, you will be forced to sail at much wider angles and this will reduce your Velocity Made Good as you work to windward. 

By bringing your sheet block inboard, you also bring your yacht closer to the wind as your headsail can maintain the same angle of attach with your yacht pointing higher.  

When reaching, the opposite is true. If your sheet positions are far inboard, your sail will have to be eased considerably to reach. This will cause the leech to open up and twist horribly. You will have a sail presented to the wind, but all the wind will spill out the twist and provide very little drive. By moving the sheet block outboard, you can alleviate this problem by setting your block far forward (to control the leech) and outboard. Now you're able to pull in on the sheet, close the leech, and reach with power. 

On racing yachts, the sheet block is usually a ring suspended by four lines. One runs forward, one aft, one inboard, and one outboard. The fore and aft lines control the fore and aft position of the block, just like a car on a track. The inboard line is the inhaul which pulls the block inboard to allow better pointing to windward, while the outboard line is the barber haul, which pulls the block outboard for reaching. 

It is not always practical to convert your yacht with a perfectly functional jib track to this system, which is why snatch blocks may be your new best friend. If you have a perforated aluminum toe rail, you can easily clip the snatch block to the rail and lead the sheet from the sheet block into the snatch block. You have now effectively moved the sheeting position outboard and successfully created a barber haul for reaching and running. 

Adding a padeye inboard would allow you to place a snatch block further inboard, thus creating a close hauled sheeting point for beating. 

Life gets easier if you have a cutter, as your staysail will typically have a track that is further inboard than your jib. When beating close hauled, you will have to lower the staysail to reduce interference with the jib as you point higher. Since the staysail is not flying, you can also hook a snatch block onto the staysails jib track and give you a fully adjustable further inboard track to sheet your jib to. This will allow you to point your cutter like if it were a sloop, yet retain all the ocean going advantages of a cutter whine offshore. 

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