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Allan Belovarac

August 26, 2016 “I have a 1993 Catalina 34 with a wing keel. Whenever I go upwind, I get a lot of leeway, which is especially noticeable in our club races when, on the windward leg, my vessel literally slides away from the rest of the pack. I know wing keels are not the best for pointing, but I was wondering if I might be doing something wrong with sail trim or rig tuning. Any suggestions on how to get the best windward performance with a wing keeled boat?”

David Flynn

August 31, 2016 Quantum Expert Answer

​Unfortunately you have discovered one of the universal truths of upwind performance; there is not substitute for draft. Wing keels can provide similar righting movement to a deeper draft keel but putting extra weight down low, but they do so at the price of drag. They are never going to be as efficient at creating lift and reducing leeway as a deeper keel with smaller sections. In terms of what you can do with setup and trim I would keep in mind the golden rule of upwind performance: SPEED FIRST, THEN POINT.  To get your keel to work you need to have water flowing past, so you need to keep sails eased and get the boat moving well before you try to sheet in harder and point. The lighter the air, the more important this is. You will probably not be able to point with deeper draft boats in light conditions. Don’t worry about it, just do what your boat does well and foot. As the breeze builds your relative pointing angle will improve.

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