How to trim sails with Joel Turner

Joel Turner is the sail trimmer on the Boatworks Extreme 40.  He spends hours on the water, racing all forms of sail boats. In this video Joel shares some of his tips.
Joel Turner: I'm Joel Turner. I'm acting as a trimmer on the Extreme 40, The Boat Works. So, the job of a trimmer up the front of the boat is winding on the jib sheet, winding on the screecher sheet. You're also involved in hoisting a screecher up the mast. So, basically whenever you're sailing along in a straight line, you know, you got your weight out over the side of the boat, you're grinding the sail trying to get it in the right spot to make it go fast. Every maneuver you do you're running across the other side of the boat trimming another sail on, or the same sail but on a different side. So you're just constantly adjusting. It's just adjustments, but happening nonstop.

Yeah. So we've constantly got our heads out of the boat, and within the boat. So we're looking for wind on the water, you know, clouds, islands, tide and if you're trimming a sail you're also very importantly looking at the sail that you're trimming. It's just like an aeroplane wing, you've got to look at the right shape, you got to get the right airflow going over the sail so that it works at its maximum efficiency.

It's a very physical job. So on these Extreme 40's they're a very physical boat to sail. They were designed to sail in small areas in flat water. So when we're racing them out in the biggest swell and some chop they're quite ... You've got to sail them quite aggressively to sail them fast.

So, basically when we're sailing up wind on the breeze we're generally sitting on 16 or 17 knots. When we turn the corner and get the screecher up and we're going down wind we've sort of been sitting somewhere between 20 and 22 a lot of the time. The most we've had the boat up to is about 25 knots. So, the harder you work the faster the boat goes.

It's a little bit full on. You know, you're holding on pretty damn tight when we're at max speed. Most of us are towards the back of the boat and just holding on really tight. There's very, very small adjustments in the helm. Very small adjustments in the sail trim. Obviously if you have a really big change then there'll be a big consequence to that in the boat. If you pull a sail on hard, if you turn really hard the boat will tip over very easily because your just sailing right on the edge. If you pull a rope at the wrong time, or if you let it out at the wrong time the boat will either go slower, or it'll just start to tip over. Which obviously both of those aren't ideal. We're trying to make the boat go as fast as we can all the time. So you've got to be on your game the whole time.

You know, if you're trying to learn to trim sails it's just all about experimentation. Just like with anything you've got to test limits all the time. You've got to just learn yourself and it takes hours. We spend a lot of time ourselves just out on the water just sailing in a straight line trimming the sail on, off. See if the boat goes faster or slower. It's simple as that. It just takes a lot of time and a lot of practice to be able to know the sweet spot just in a matter of seconds. We can trim a sail to the right spot just without even thinking about it simply because of the amount of experience we've had and the amount of times we've got it wrong. You've got to do it wrong, got to make mistakes.

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