The most critical thing to remember when sailing an Alerion upwind is that you are trimming four foils. What you do with the sails affects the angle of attack of the keel by either increasing or decreasing leeway. Sail trim also affects the amount of helm on the rudder when sailing upwind. You always want to sail the boat upwind with minimal helm. Use your tiller extension, even if you are sitting in the cockpit. If you can’t easily steer the boat using two fingers on the extension, you have too much helm. The cramp in your fingers will be your first clue that you are not trimmed correctly. Here are a few basic tips:

1)     Probably the two most important strings on the boat are the backstay and the jib outhaul. The backstay allows you to control the power in the main. More backstay tension will yield a flatter and therefore less powerful main. If you have helm Pull in on the backstay! The jib outhaul allows you to control the twist of the jib and therefore the slot between the main and the jib.

2)     Never sail the boat upwind with the traveler centered. It should always be between 1/2 and 2/3 of the way down.  In lighter air it should be 2/3 down and the mainsheet relatively tighter in order to get the force vectors facing as far forward as possible.

3)     The aft end of the jib boom should never be inside the edge of the cabin top. If it is, you are guaranteed to sail slow. The slot needs to stay open to promote good air flow between the main and the jib. If you are carrying a big bubble in the main it could be because the main is too full, but more likely it is because you have the jib boom too far inboard and/or are carrying too much tension on the jib outhaul, thereby preventing the jib leach from twisting.

Ralf Morgan, Hull # 272