On Water Setup and Tuning


The 505 is actually a pretty easy boat to sail. It is, however, a hard boat to sail well and win. That is probably why the world’s best sailors love racing the 5O5 while at the same time its such a pleasant boat to sail even if you don’t win.

If you work out how to race a 505 you can sail anything. You will have learnt something about ALL aspects of sailboat racing.

The first challenge is not to get intimidated or overwhelmed by all the ropes and controls. It is just a sailing boat and sailing fast is primarily about making sure the sails are always working as efficiently as possible for the conditions.

The sails produce the power. Fuller sails mean more power. If you have too much power you need flatter sails. Don’t get distracted and too focused on how much rake, vang, rig tension, etc you have. Focus on the sails and what you need to do with them. Then consider what controls will achieve that.

Too often we focus on controls as the objective when they are just a means to an end – that is, correct sail shape for the conditions.

The controls at your disposal on a 505 are predominantly there to change the shape of the sails and hence control the power. You will be better served by looking at sail shape, getting to know how it should look and then finding out how the various controls change the shape rather than focusing on the controls themselves.

What changes do I need to make to my sail? is a much better question than how much rake or shroud tension should I have?

Top sailors often get the same result in different ways. For example there are World Champion sailors who maintain the Cunningham control is the most useless control on the boat whilst others will tell you it is super important in depowering. You can flatten a sail with or without Cunningham. So keep in mind the fundamentals of sail shape and experiment for yourself. There are often multiple ways of achieving a similar outcome. Which way is best will generally depend on how one boat is specifically configured compared to another and what mast, sails and crew weight is involved

Of course you have to start somewhere. The good news is there are tuning guides that will give you an excellent starting point for the different conditions. This On WATER section will tell you more about Tuning Guides, why and when to change sail shape and how each control can be used to achieve the best sail shape for the conditions.

Read on. Go sailing. Try it out. Have some fun.