Tuning Guide

By J.R. Maxwell


  • This is very important for pointing ability upwind.
  • Make sure that your centerboard goes to vertical (90 degree angle) when it’s all the way down, but no farther (that’s illegal).
  • If your board does not go to 90 degrees, you may need to re-arrange its placement in the trunk in order to get it to fit properly.
  • If your board goes past 90 degrees, you need to fix it.  This may entail installing a stopper in the trunk with a piece of wood or rubber.


  • Check your pins and gudgeons.  Make sure that they are fastened correctly without any cracks or worn spots on the transom of the boat.  These can lead to leaks in the hull.
  • Make sure that the rudder has been mounted at the correct height so that the tiller does not scrape the deck as you steer. (If it is too low it can be fixed by installing a piece of metal or wood onto the lower side of the tiller.  This will raise the resting height of the tiller a few centimeters so that it no longer hits the deck.)
  • Check the universal joint on your tiller extension. Look for stress cracks or fatigue from weather and use.  This is an easy fix that can save a huge headache during a race. 


  • Check regularly for rust and possible breaks.  Fatigued stays break easily in heavy air.
  • Make sure that they (your shrouds) are equal in length and complete with adjustable turnbuckles.  This is crucial when setiing up your mast rake.
  • Attach tell-tales to side stays.  These are very helpful for downwind sailing. They help with spinnaker trim and jibing angles.


  • JIB HALYARD:  This should be led to a position that is easy for the crew to use quickly.  The foredeck (top or bottom) or the centerboard trunk is a good place to lead this.  I recommend using a metal cam cleat (plastic ones give under heavy loads).  Please get rid of the old wing cleats.  They cause a lot of frustration for the skipper and crew alike.
  • SPINNAKER HALYARD:  This should be led back to the skipper on the starboard side.  The side or back of the centerboard trunk is a good place to put this.  It is also possible to rig up a retracting system with bungee that will take up the slack halyard so that it does not get tangled.


  • There are many different setups for jib leads on Blue Jays.  Some lead them to the centerboard trunk, others to the foredeck and still others to the outer railings.  I recommend leading them to the centerboard trunk through a series of two barber haulers on each side.
  • The barber haulers play an important role in getting good jib shape in all conditions.  One set should be placed on the inside of the foredeck (this one will pull the jib lead in and out and will also cause your crew to complain about the lack of room).  The result—better jib control.
  • The inner barber haulers should be about 5 inches from the deck and the outer barber haulers should be about 6 inches from the inside combing.


  • Make sure to check your tanks before you go sailing.  Find out if they leak and if they do make sure that you drain them in between every race. Leaky tanks can often be the cause of a lack of boat speed.
  • A little silicone sealant put on the underside of the railings will solve a leaky tank problem.


  • Set your mast rake to 19 feet, 2 inches.   This is good setting for all conditions.
  • Measure from the op of the mast to top of the center of the transom.


  • Make sure that your boat has a non-adjustable mainsheet bridle.
  • The top of the sheave can be no more than 16 inches from the deck.
  • Do this especially when racing.  Tape your rig dings, shrouds and anything that a sail could possibly tear on.


Check out our other article - How to be fast in a Blue Jay