Heads Up on Your J/22 Headstay

Quantum J/22 class expert Travis Odenbach provides some insightful nuggets regarding rig tune and headstay positioning. Get in touch with Travis or your local Quantum Sails representative if you have any questions or would like to discuss your sailing further. You can also check out the tuning guide and other J/22 resources on our website.

Because each J/22 is just a little different, the headstay length is one of the most important factors to dial in — but, it also can take some time to optimize. When using Quantum sails on a J/22, the headstay can range anywhere from 4’ 11.75” all the way to 5’1”. You can read more about rig tune and marking and measuring the headstay on page 3 of the Quantum J/22 tuning guide. The standard starting point is to use the former for any J/22 below the 1500-series, and 5 feet or longer for boats over a 1500-series hull. But, the true trick here is to go sailing and figure out the best setup for your rig and sails.

So, where to start? I always begin with the headstay at 4’11.75”, and head out, ideally in a steady 8-10 knots. Turn upwind with the boat as flat as possible, let go of the tiller, and see which way the boat turns on its own. If it tracks straight for a few seconds then turns up, the headstay is probably correct! If the boat tracks for a few seconds then turns down, I would lengthen the headstay.

In my opinion, the ideal setting is neutral, to just a slight weather helm. The shorter your headstay, the more leeward helm you have. The longer the headstay, the more weather helm you have. Once I find the sweet spot, I measure the headstay with calipered measurements. This way, I never lose the number that seems to dial in my J/22. Make note of the settings that work best as a part of your tuning guide so that you can easily repeat these results quickly.

About Travis Odenbach

A Rochester Native, Odenbach grew up sailing various boats on the Lakes and beyond. His tenacity on the racecourse led him to a sail design and consulting career, making him an excellent addition to Quantum. Around the country, you can find Travis winning many regional events driving his own J/24, or helping customers on J/70s, J/24s, J/22s, and other larger boats. He enjoys giving back to the sport by consulting with sailors to help them have the best possible experience and performance on the water.

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