How to Gybe a 505
Barney Harris Comes out of the Closet

Barney Harris put the "How do you gybe" question to the 505world e-mail list; responses were collected together in this article.

A question for the 505 world...

I am embarrassed... How do you gybe a 505 in over 20 kts without capsizing?
OK, there. I said it. I capsize when I gybe in high wind with the same regularity that the sun rises each morning. The last time we broke our stick, shredded a few sails, and had a hole punched in the hull by an enthusiastic but inexperienced crash boat driver.

I must be missing something so fundamental that I need to purge my soul before the 505 world to obtain the answer. It used to be capsizing at the windward mark - until I learned to pull up the board and blow the vang before the crew swings in to set the pole; duh. What steps do others take at the wing mark?

My process now is:

  1. bear off,
  2. fling the boom over
  3. pinch my nose and jump into the water next to the center board
  4. berate my crew for not being worthy
  5. bail & miss happy hour
Whew! I feel better already - I am finally out of the closet, someone please respond!
Barney Harris
505 USA 8643
Albacore USA 8011
Northern Chesapeake Bay

Now you've done it! You should have remained incognito! Our mistakes seem obvious to me

  1. Not enough speed!! We did one excellent jibe that day going real fast - no pressure on main. I don't think we ever came off a plane. We should bail on the jibe if too slow in those conditions and wait a few seconds for the right time.
  2. too slow a turn - deadly when combined with no speed since the boat rolls to windward before jibe and you get majorly by the lee
  3. damn fool crew forgot to release twing one time
  4. go down the wave during the jibe, not up.
  5. once boom goes over, jam the helm back downwind effectively completing an "S" turn.
  6. poor skipper/crew coordination
Crew X [Jesse Falsone, ed.]
505 8643
Northern Chesapeake Bay
You holed a new boat....... ah man! You should be preparing to bend over and take-it! You just opened yourself with this one, Mr. Harris! I'll just sit back and watch this on develop, like a dirty old man at a peep show.
Later,
George
Northern Chesapeake Bay
[Ed. That would be George Saunders, who sold his 505 and fled to the International Canoe fleet to learn how to drive]
Barney,

I'm sure you studied all the gybing basics.....Gybe with speed, catch a wave if you can, ease the vang, not too much board, etc, etc. Really it come down to basic technic with practice, practice and practice. The only good and well working shortcut I know of is......Get yourself a BIG RUDDER.
This is like an insurance policy. When things are on the way to go wrong, you will still have steering to save it. On my prior boat 8049 I had a big rudder. Never capsized in the gybes. On my current 8593 I got a standard rudder, and I started to capsize in the hard wind gybes.[Ed. I can vouch for Mike Smith's (crew on 8593) ability to gybe a 505, so it must be Johan and the rudder] What actually happen was that my gybing technique got sloppy sailing 8049, the big rudder always saved it. Some might say that big rudders cause more drag, but I doubt its important. It can be argued you get some "rudder lift" on the beat. I think my old 8049 won the British Nationals with that big rudder (not in my hands though). You don't have to steer so much, and a big rudder is great on a hard reach. The alternative to a big rudder is again, practice.
Cheers,
Johan Backsin.
SWE-8593
Sailing in Northern California


Once again, as in all things, a clear case of Bigger is always Better.

TP


Johan et al:
This is an excellent point. More control authority at low speed sounds like an easy way to immediately cleanse my soul and join the annointed. I think I'll buy one! Thanks!
Barney Harris
505 USA 8643
Albacore USA 8011
Oh, another thing that a lot of people have told me is to steer up into the wind a bit before the gybe. This increases boat speed to lessen the rig loadings.

Bill Green
USA 6491
Colorado


A totally!!! safe gybe is to come into the gybe at full speed crew comes in off the wire and just "go for it" at full speed then sort out the pole afterwards. You do need a system that will allow the pole to come off after a gybe. This is not the fastest way but you got to do what you got to do. [Ed. This gybe style is referred to by other respondents as the "chicken gybe"]

Mike Holt
GBR/USA ???
California


Barn- You're e-mails are too funny! Ali and I got the heavy air gybe down pretty good! I must say lots of practice helped. Major things to keep in mind:
  1. Keep the boat going as fast a possible.
  2. Gybe the boat as fast as possible.
  3. As the skipper, get your ass to the other side. Do not roll gybe.
    Ali has this move where he goes and sits on the new rail before the boom comes over. It drives me nuts in light air, because we have bad roll gybes, but in heavy air, it works well. As soon as the boom comes over, he is in the right place and steering the boat according to my moves.
  4. maybe do the "S" turn.
  5. If the boat slows down, so there is load on the main, you are toast!
  6. Make sure the crew pulls the main over, if not, you are toast.
Here is how we do it from my perspective:
First we talk incessantly. With the mark coming up we talk about the gybe, If Ali has time, he will pre-cleat the new jib sheet, so I don't have to deal with it. Then I will start to say " ready to gybe" and Ali will go crazy and say "Yes, Now! Damn it". I come in and pull the twings on and go for the pole. As soon as I blow the pole, Ali is turning the boat. We purposely do not do it carefully or gingerly. I slam the pole down, Ali turns pretty hard, I pull the boom over with the vang like crazy, then jump to the new side, put my ass on the rail and grab the trap handle. I often swing out for a second, if the driver has screwed up the turn. In really breezy conditions, I will ask Ali if he is under control, before I go and put the pole up ( manual pole). He usually screams "yes, yes, hurry up" then I go put the pole up.

Henry Amthor, often "Chicken gybes" in heavy air. He would just leave everything up, poles, twings etc., gybe the boat and then have the crew deal with it all. I don't know if you can do this with a pole launcher.[Ed. Barney Harris and Jesse Falsone use a Spiro pole launcher].

-Allan
[Ed. Late crew of 8263]
Apparently living in Seattle


Not sure which of the multiple techniques is the best. Various UK training officers have recommended ensuring that the old leeward twinners are on and the new one is off before gybing to stop the kite pulling you over, other recommendations include steering back into the gybe as the boom comes across. The only one I know for sure is DON'T SLOW DOWN!!

Andy Williams GBR8445


Try the following:
  1. Bear off
  2. Have crew facing aft for this manoeuvre, have him/her grab the mainsheet ( all parts) just below the boom blocks.
  3. When he/she feels a LULL IN PRESSURE on the boom (i.e. just starting to skid down the face of a wave) he/she pulls the boom across, attempting to lessen (dampen) the slam as it fills on the other side.
  4. Simultaneously, The helm CENTERS THE TILLER ( Momentarily) as the boom comes over , and concentrates on keeping the boat under the tip of the mast. i.e. : the boom and the tiller are travelling in opposite directions at the moment of the gybe.
  5. Once the gybe is completed, the helmsman continues to steer up onto the new course.
Of Course you may not get a lull, but you can lessen the the slamming action of the boom going over, and you can make sure the boat is not turning when it happens. In fact, in extreme conditions, it pays to pull the helm up to windward so that the boat is actually turning against the travel of the boom at the moment is slams across. This stops the boat pirouetting and causing the consequential capsize. Hope this helps.

Will Hartje
Arizona USA


I am embarrassed... How do you gybe a 505 in over 20 kts without capsizing?

I must confess, when it's over 20 knots, capsizing is not a problem because the straps hold it on the trailer just fine.. (I windsurf when it's like that!)
US5169
Chad Price
Nebraska


OK, Barney, I'll begin the exorcism. One thing that I make certain of is that the spinnaker is under control! I drag it around to the new leeward side with the old guy and I trim in the new guy/old sheet to keep the sail snugged up to the forestay and behind the jib. Keeping both twings in fully is not bad. Having the spinnaker fill inappropriately, especially some meters from the boat, is instant death. (I know we're talking gybe here, but you've seen those take-downs where the halyard is freed, the sheet and guy are freed, and the spinnaker is full, ten meters to leeward and at masthead height?) The only other condition I set as certain is to have the CB half down. Full up is bad, full down is bad, but you probably knew that. Let the good times roll. Have at it, 5-ohers.

Dave


I must be missing something so fundamental that I need to purge my soul

Yes, you are...

My process now is:

1. bear off,
2. fling the boom over
2.5 PRAY!!!


Seriously, as a newcomer to sailing, let alone 505s I have similar problems. I blow the vang before I round and get the board up too if I can. I'm new at this game and I feel your pain. Do you have a launcher or bags? I make sure the jib is loose as we round, or maybe even a bit before, but I've heard this is a bad idea for bags. It is important to keep your speed up, and this is where I didn't know quite what to do. I think steering down a bit helps, but the concern is slowing down so much that the rig loads up and you take a dunking. One thing my driver has told me is that grace is for beauty pagents, so I will literally dive across the boat (when crewing, not driving) to keep it balanced. A lot of people will prebend the mast before rounding and pull on some cunningham to depower the main. Another thought, I don't know if this is a concern for a Waterat or not, but on the Kyrwood I have been crewing on, I have had a great deal of trouble with the jib recleating during a tack after I have uncleated it. This is an instant capsize I have found out and a pretty violent one at that. Is it possible that Jesse is uncleating the jib only to have it recleat at a very bad time, like mid jybe or tack?

Anyway, *PLEASE* email me with any responses you get or suggestions you have. Us newcomers (read: anyone with less than 20 years driving these boats) need to stick together. Things that the veterans take for granted are new to us, and often they don't think about them, and therefore never tell us. You may want to crew for someone else and see what they do, and have Jesse do the same. Also, thanks for some of the e-mails you have sent to the list in the past, I have found them to be very helpful. Oh, by the way, sorry to hear about the passing of Spot.
Bill Green
USA 6491, Colorado


Barney,

Your process list neglects to mention anything about that big balloonlike piece of cloth flying out in front of your boat! It sounds like you are capsizing to leeward just after the boom comes over, probably a result of losing too much speed before the boom comes over. Berate your crew some more until he can handle the twings and the pole faster:).

Stergios
USA 7199
New Jersey


Hello (the now purged) Barney, I own CAN 8442 (green hulled Lyndsay) and am one of the peculiar owners who, in fact, spends much more time crewing as my driving is not quite up to speed. We were at the Hyannis regatta and had no problems gybing. I will explain what happens in the front end of the boat (since I know what goes on there). Then, I will explain what happens in the back end of the boat (but only the theory!).

We're coming into the mark. Helm releases vang drastically so boom doesn't get caught on water immediately after gybe. Next, helm takes spin sheet and guy (without un-cleating). I sing in and in the really big wind (20 kn plus) I put both twings on in order to keep the chute depowered then take the pole down. In lesser winds, I blow the pole first and don't touch the twings. The next step is CRUCIAL. My skipper says go and I grab the vang and pull the boom over as quickly as possible. While I do this the driver steers a very quick and big S turn (bearing off hard, gybing and then bearing off hard on the other side). I've found that the KEY is for the crew to be super-aggressive when yanking the boom across. You can't stop part way through - no hesitations just stare the boom down and muscle it over. Allowing it to go on its own has always led to disaster for me (both when crewing and driving). Immediately after the boom goes over, the crew must be prepared to put weight out on the new windward side. Although this is usually only for a very short amount of time until the boat is stable again, it is especially important in the big wind. Finally, pole back on, secure the new guy in the cleat, release leeward tweeker and back out onto the wire (out of skipper's reach).

Used to capsize all the time just like you. But, with a little practise it goes quite smoothly now, to the point where a gybe happens as quickly and instinctively as a tack going up wind. I think that it's key to be quick and don't hesitate.
Hope this helps....

Michael
CAN 8442
Ottawa, Ontario


IMHO, the main thing is to be going as fast as possible. If you are sailing as fast as the wind, there's no pressure in the sail to capsize you! The other thing is to remember that the way to stay upright at speed is to sail under the mast. Obviously this isn't possible as you turn, but the effect is much worse if you turn too fast, and over too many degrees. So if you can set yourself up sailing fast but very broad, and turn slowly and smoothly, you keep more control, will still be going fast dead downwind, and have less trouble from the mast still trying to keep going the way it was going before (cos the turn is slower). Picking a wave to gybe on is also good, helps keep the speed up if you're surfing. You should be going fast enough so it doesn't feel like flinging the boom over, you should easily be able to pull it, with control. Bearing away again as soon as the boom comes over can help keep the boat under the mast. Have fun practising! (seriously, a bit of practise without race pressure is the best way to learn, you can give yourself the time to set yourself up just right, without having to worry about turning tight to protect your wind, or to sail the shortest distance)
dave reekie
GBR 8006.
Barney,

I had some questions about the response from Will Hartje and asked for some clarification. If you are confused about what he said (I was) this may help.


Bill

Will,
Can you clarify this a bit. I usually crew, but will be doing more driving next year (my 160 is a bit light for the wire).
1. Bear off [ How much? A little or close to DDW? ]

As close to DDW as you can get without precipitating an involuntary gybe.

2. Have crew facing aft for this manouevre, have him/her grab the mainsheet ( all parts) just below the boom blocks. 3. When he/she feels a LULL IN PRESSURE on the boom (ie just starting to skid down the face of a wave) he/she pulls the boom across, attempting to lessen (dampen) the slam as it fills on the other side. [ I try to push the boom over as hard as I can. Is this correct?]
No, you want the boom to travel over as gently as possible, preferably when it is under the least load you can attain, you don't want to do it just as you get hit by a gust, look for a lull or a moment when, because you are sliding down a wave, you get a drop in the apparent wind.

4 .Simultaneously, The helm CENTERS THE TILLER (Momentarily) as the boom comes over, and concentrates on keeping the boat under the tip of the mast. ie : the boom and the tiller are travelling in opposite directions at the moment of the gybe. [Okay, here is where I get lost. Do you mean to briefly center the tiller as the boom reaches center line? Then what?]
Yes, essentially, you want the boom and the tiller to pass in opposite directions at the centreline. Once the boom has completed it's travel you can get on with gathering up the boat and pointing it where you want to go.

5. Once the gybe is completed, the helmsman continues to steer up onto the new course. turning when it happens. In fact, in extreme conditions, it pays to pull the helm up to windward so that the boat is actually turning against the travel of the boom at the moment is slams across. This stops the boat pirouetting and causing the consequential capsize. [ Sorry, can you tell I'm new at this? :) Aren't you already pulling the tiller to windward to gybe the boat? Do you mean steer the boat to leeward? ]
That's right, just momentarily you are steering back the way you came, it will counter the inertia of the boom slamming over which is trying to broach you into a capsize. It is an delicate art though, and can be overdone if you are not practiced at it.
It all condenses down to:

  1. 1 Pick your moment and gybe when load on the main is as low as you can get it
  2. Keep the boat under the mast
  3. Try and control the the boom as it goes across
  4. Counteract the inertia of the boom slamming across with opposite rudder


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