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By Phil Morrison

Tuning a National Twelve or any boat for that matter is an elusive art. Good ‘tuners’ fall into two categories; those who have fixed ideas and supreme confidence in them this alone probably accounts for their success and, on the other hand, those whose ideas fluctuate with every article they read and have supreme confidence in themselves —-this accounts for their success.

Having proved that I am unsuitable for writing on the subject I shall expound my own Golden, sorry, slightly tarnished, rules.

  1. Gadgets: If you sail two consecutive races and don’t use it, throw it away and forget it. The fifteen seconds you spend wondering whether to use it or not could better be spent watching the jib luff.
  2. Obvious. Check your gear and equipment. No, don’t make a mental note: DO IT.
  3. Replace any worn halyards, kicking strap, centre-plate rubbers, etc. Don’t check and say ‘Mmmmm! That’s not going to last long’.
  4. Polish the bottom of your boat, rudder and centre-plate if you think it makes you go faster; if you don’t, do it anyway: it will help keep you out of the “Tubs’ Trophy”.
  5. Stick to stern sheeting think about it; it’s the best way anyway.
  6. Think. Have you been meaning to make the centre of pressure easier to move; make a longer tiller extension, so that you don’t tire yourself in light weather; actually fix that leaking bailer, mount the jam cleats properly, move the toe straps so that you can actually sit out come on this is tuning, not ‘Should my mast bend 15 thou. more between gooseneck and flag halyard cleat?’

Tuning won’t make you win races, but it gives you much more time to think, and that will. And before you all get around my boat and point out the things I haven’t done, I did say earlier ‘I’m no tuner’. I’m not much good at thinking either!

More advanced stuff

For Micky Deas, Mike Jackson and the like (Mike MacNamara has private tuition 2 pints an hour).

  1. Balance. Weather helm, etc., get it right you spend less time fighting and more time sailing. Have you ever consciously consid­ered how light or otherwise your helm really is when sailing? Remember straight up and down rudders with long tillers means not much gets back to you.
  2. Mast bend. As stiff as possible sideways and a little bit stiffer than you think you can hold fore and aft. Where? Unimportant. It will be in the right place despite your efforts!
  3. Sails. Jib—flat plus one good crew. Main—cut flatter than you think, and no hard leeches better to have reverse batten twist and bottom batten poke.
  4. Observation of rule 3 should be done from outside the boat. It is impossible to see what your sails are doing from inside the boat. (Categorical and with a pint on it !).
  5. Finally. So you’ve got a slow boat. Sell it to an uninhibited recruit to the class, and buy him a drink when he passes you in his second race


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