Dragonfly Sail Guide Upwind

Here is an in-depth guide to sailing upwind on a Dragonfly trimaran including how to trim the mainsail, headsail and how to tack.


Trimming the mainsail

Due to the wide beam and stability of a trimaran trimming the mainsail is quite different to a monohull. You have to pull much tighter on the mainsheet.

Trim – What you have to do is look at the top of the mainsail, the best way to do this is to look up from behind the boom. This should be more or less straight. You know you have pulled on too much if the back of the sail goes toward windward. If the telltales are flying directly straight back you will also know that the sail is trimmed correctly.

Foot of the sail – You will always have about 2 or 3 inches of the curve in the foot of the sail, don’t worry about this.

Wrinkles – Dragonfly’s have a 2 to 1 mainsail halyard system to get enough mainsail tension, don’t worry if you have a few wrinkles from the foot to the first or second batten. The system is also designed so you can use the reef 2 line as a cunningham by putting the line through an eye on the sail and through a cam cleat and back to the winch in the cockpit. This will help reduce wrinkles.

Trimming the headsail

How to trim the headsail/ furling genoa – Similarly, with these sails, you must pull the sheet tight when sailing upwind so you can point high. The headsail should be just inside the lower spreader.

Luff – In light winds don’t pull the luff of the genoa too hard otherwise, you will get long verticle wrinkles and the sail will get too flat.

Track position – If the car is too far forward you will be pulling down too much on the sail and you will get too much curve in the foot. If you take the car further back the foot will get more straight and the leach will open more. It is important to play with it based on the wind conditions to get this right.

How to tack

Tacking Angle – On Dragonfly’s the tacking angle is typically 80 degrees, which means 40 degrees to the true wind or 30 degrees to the apparent wind. 

Don’t be too slow or too fast. These boats accelerate but they also decelerate which means they don’t have the same momentum that monohulls do.

As soon as the helmsperson begins to head up the crew must let off the leeward sheet completely and pull on the windward sheet. Once the tack is complete and the headsail is completely pulled on the helmsperson can read the telltales in order to position the boat in the best way.