In this post we’ll talk about using the headsail (jib, genoa, etc.) fair-lead to get the most performance while also extending the sail’s usable life.

Moving the “lead” or “car” forward and aft will adjust the shape (aka twist) of the headsail. Essentially, when the lead is moved aft, the bottom and middle of the sail will flatten and the top will open. This will de-power the sail and allow the boat to sail flatter and faster in strong wind.

Opposite is moving the jib car forward, this should be done when the breeze is on the lighter side to create more power. By moving the lead forward, the sail will have more shape because the leech is being “pulled down” by the sheet resulting in a full foot and mid-section with a closed-off top.

To recap… Move the fair lead forward in lighter breeze (more shape) and aft in the stronger breeze (flatter sail).

When you think you have your cars in the correct position, test it by bringing the boat up into a close-hauled course. Next, slowly bring the boat higher up into the wind and watch as the inside telltales all start to “break”. If all the telltales break at the same time, the entire sail is working efficiently and you are all set! However, if the top tell-tails break first you need to adjust the car forward. If the bottom breaks first, bring the car aft.

Test your lead position next time you’re on the water or ask us on the dock for more tips! Here at Harbor Sailboats you can get beginning to advanced ASA sailing lessons to increase your knowledge and skills on the water, sailing.

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