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Matt's Monday #15: Get your lines right

Mar 1, 2010

Tight linesWhere do I position my harness lines????

You just got your new set of adjustable Da Kine lines and now you need to know where to put them. Well I learned a pretty cool trick that gets you REALLY CLOSE for all sail sizes! Ideally you would do this in a no-wind area. This tip helps you find the sweet spot on modern days sails that are no more than 5 or 6 years old.

With the sail fully rigged, reach over the top of the boom and grab it with two fingers. Pick the sail up from different locations until the rig balances out evenly (see photos below). If the clew of the sail dips down, move your fingers back towards the clew. If the mast is dipping down, move your fingers closer to the mast. Once you establish that perfectly balanced position, spread your lines approximately 3 inches apart from each side of your balance point. This being said, I believe that your harness line attachment points should never be spread wider than 6” apart. If you find that your lines are spread more than that, chances are you do not have them balanced properly or you are using an older sail that may have a more “draft back” set up.

Grab with 2 fingers and......pick up the sail to see how it balances

Hooking in on land!The next little test you can do is hold the sail up on the beach and hook-in to the harness lines (DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK AS I HAVE SEEN PEOPLE CATAPULTED ONTO  CONCRETE WHILE ATTEMPTING THIS) and get a feel for how the balance of the rig feels. Ideally there should be a very light breeze blowing and you can stand there comfortably without the sail pulling you around too much. If the mast comes back to you, then slide the forward attachment/line further back until you can stand there with no hands. You may also have to move the back attachment/line point back as well. The longer the lines you have, the easier this is to do on the beach, so that should tell you something good about longer lines right there!

Many people have a different sailing style, so these tips are just guidelines to get you started. A general rule is that if one arm is getting tired move the lines towards the pain. Meaning if your front arm is getting really worked, perhaps your line is too far back, and you are doing too much work. Slide the front harness line attachment point forward so it will take some of the load off your arm. Same goes for the back hand, if you are overworking then move the line further back or check your rig settings. If you are overpowered, the power in the sail tends to go back so you might need to pull on some more outhaul.

My advice is to move one thing around at a time. If you change 13 different things all at once, you will never really learn what made the difference! I know that is easier said than done, but with a little time and proper understanding of what works and why, you will be a lot better off for your next session.

Three-Time World Champion, Matt Pritchard is sponsored by Gaastra Sails, Tabou Boards, Da Kine, Kaenon Polarized and Camaro Wetsuits. Matt Does Private Lessons on Maui as well as several clinics throughout the year in different locations. If you have any comments or suggestions, you can contact Matt by email:

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