Tips for Trimming a Mainsail: Am I Possessive? Or is the Guest Obsessive?

polite ways to deal with guest sailor know-it-alls

Is it just the mainsail trim person who tends to get possessive over his/her spot on the boat, or does this possessiveness extend to other regions, such as foredeck or pit?

Now let’s talk obsessive. Yes, I want trim quality, so I suppose I am obsessive keeping an eye on the sail shape. Foredeck definitely has to be obsessive. Pit certainly needs to be obsessive. But does a guest on a boat need to be obsessive (insert jarring sound of needle dragging over a record)?

Beer can racing season is back.

Beer can racing season is back.


The Guest Does Not Always Know Best

Maybe a guest can be obsessive about temperature of beer he brings onboard. I do not think it right that he be obsessive in vocalizing suggestions for someone else’s sail trim; certainly not if it’s his first time on the boat AND if his own attention to trim is rather, well, inattentive.

Yep, beer can racing season returns north of the equator! Time to get the crew into its routine. As we on S&S trial a few newbie candidates, I’m reminded that I need a refresher on “polite ways to deal with guest sailor know-it-alls.”

This past weekend’s boat guest was not as bad as Jack, but he did irk me enough to inspire this post. Here are a few highpoints from our short race:

  • Guest assigned to port side jib trim; is disoriented re: how to position himself, so alternates between straddling backwards over winch, then standing in pit + grabbing boom-to-traveler sheet for balance

  • After polite advice to not hang on main block sheet as item to grab for balance, he opts for the boom

  • Eventually settles in and initiates jib trim

  • Six minutes into the race: boom is too far out and blocks his view of telltales, so reaches up and moves boom out of the way

  • Offers several suggestions: mainsail in, mainsail too tight, mainsail…

  • Repeat reach up and shake boom a few times (because I am not heeding his advice)

  • Repeat voiced trim suggestion several times

I Think the Main Could Come In

He’s probably an affable enough person (and it is only the start of the season), so I don’t launch in immediately with a mean response. He initially gets a few faked smiles following his repeated, “I think the main could come in.” Ten minutes into the race, and roughly the fifth time he’s moved and shaken the mainsail, it is time to comment. I blurt out a polite, “please don’t move the mainsail.”

It worked. He quieted, the wind picked up, we rounded the mark, then sailed back up the channel. On the return leg I think he was truly distracted in realizing a girl could trim the main in 17-knot conditions (which is really not all that much wind, but we’re working the puffs). He was at least fairly distracted--skipper had coach him through jib trim most of that return leg.

So it turns out that the guest was not consistently obsessive. But, that I was consistently possessive (in a quiet sort of way).