Observation About Headsail Tack Location and Motion Through Seas

We have crossed the Atlantic on a 1968 Morgan 45 with a full keel and cutter rig. This is a CCA style boat with a LOD of 46 feet and a 32 foot waterline. Yes, 14 feet of the boat hover above the water while at rest.

Our bow has a far amount of overhang, with the staysail's tack just behind the beginning of the waterline and the headstay's tack located several feet ahead of the waterline.

One consistent observation we have noted when sailing, particularly when beating, is the way the yacht moves through the seas depending on which headsail is flying. If we have the job lowered and are only flying the staysail, we will ride up and over the waves. This gives us a much drier ride but a significantly bumpier one. Each wave is a wall that must be scaled and climbed down. This greatly adds to the distance we sail as we are now climbing the face and back of each wave, but we do so in a very calm and collected manner. Our speed suffers significantly as each wall almost stops us in our tracks! The end result is a very slow, albeit dry, passage to windward.

The alternative has also been noted. When we fly the jib on our headstay, we no longer ride up and over waves. Instead, we plow right through them. Water pours over the bow as we turn into a submarine and a river of seawater runs down the deck and off the stern. The river can be quite deep, reaching a few inches deep when beating in heavy conditions. This makes deck work less enjoyable and much less safe. Everything is slippery and a few inches of water rushing past can take away your footing, causing you to slip and fall!

On the other hand, our speed drastically improves as we no longer ride over waves, or slow down for them either.

Having a cutter allows us more versatility in Headsail arrangement and sail balance over a sloop, but now I wonder about sloops with their tack location. Most sloops, but not all, have their tack at the tip of the bow; some have them a few feet back. We have the choice of a fast wet ride or a slow dry ride through the seas, a sloop has the setup given to them by the naval architect.

Please let me know in the comments section below about your experiences with tack positions relative to the waterline and how the yacht handles beating into the seas. Also, I would love to hear from those with a bowsprit, does it provide even more drive through the seas?

Please like the post and share it with your friends