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Five Tips on How to Recover From a Wipeout

Published on January 4th, 2016

You’ve lost it, but a quick recovery from a wipeout can save the day. Yachting World’s Jonty Sherwill asked top match racer Ian Williams for his five tips on getting back upright…

To keep a boat going on a gusty reach with kite and rudder on the edge and every gram of crew weight on the windward rail can be a nail-biting task. The precursor of a wipeout will often be a bigger than usual gust or hitting another boat’s wash.

A big dump of the spinnaker sheet with mainsheet and boomvang let go completely, plus some vigorous pumping of the helm might help reattach the vital flow, but when the rudder abruptly goes light and the boat spins to windward the crew must quickly switch to recovery mode.

Checking no one has slipped overboard is paramount. If all the crew are safely aboard, some key actions are needed to regain control. A practised team will know the routine and that a cockpit tidy up after the kite hoist will pay dividends; top of the job list is a flaked kite halyard ready to run.

1. Clear thinking
After a wipeout the big decision is whether to keep the weight up and back in the boat, to get it to bear away with the spinnaker still up, or to lower the spinnaker then rehoist once you have borne away.

It is important to know who is going to make that decision: the helmsman will often have the best feel, but it could be the person with the most experience, particularly if the helmsman is less practised.

2. Smoke the halyard
If you decide to drop the spinnaker partially, it needs to be dropped far enough to take the power out of it, but not so far that it goes in the water. One way to ensure this is to have a mark on the halyard in the appropriate place – but make sure it is very big and clear as it will be moving extremely quickly.

Full list… click here

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