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April 17, 2024 8 min read

ILCA Calibration By Jack Graham-Troll

Whilst Jack was collecting His New Devoti ILCA we had a great chat about the ways he marks his boat with various calibration stickers. Whilst some people would not be as open to sharing this Jack has taken the time to write up why and how to used these calibration stickers.

Calibration markings are a valuable tool for optimizing boat setup and speed. Using these markings as a reference, you can note and replicate the optimal control settings for different sailing conditions. This allows you to save precious time when adjusting controls during a race and maximize your boat's speed around each mark and along the racecourse.

In an ILCA dinghy such as the Devoti, key calibration points include the outhaul, kicker, mainsheet and centreboard. By noting the ideal settings for each of these controls, you can ensure consistency in your performance and avoid losing valuable boat lengths. Consistency is crucial in sailing. By using calibration markings and maintaining consistent control settings, you can make a significant difference in your boat's overall performance.It's important details like these that can help your strive for optimal consistency, which is what really makes the difference!

Outhaul Calibration 

Having the right rig setup is crucial for each situation around the race course and using an accepted method for calibrating your outhaul can provide several advantages. It ensures consistency and accuracy in your boat setup, allowing you to fine-tune and optimize your performance. This calibration method for the ILCA dinghy has been adopted by sailing team squad sailors proving it is an effective and reliable tool to refine your boat setup and improve your overall performance on the water.

It is a very effective approach, using the same calibration system as other sailors and experimenting with different settings in various conditions during training, you can easily find the optimum.

This becomes a benchmark that you can replicate during actual racing, which helps reduce unpredictability, save time, increase confidence and improve performance!

As a new sail is used and begins to stretch, the calibration marks may not always read exactly the same. However, with slight adjustments to your sail setting, the calibration marks will still serve as an effective reference point. Use a new or relatively new sail when applying your calibration markings for the first time.This ensures that your best sails, which will be predominantly used for racing events, are properly calibrated and can provide accurate information when making sail adjustments during a race.

By using calibration markings and paying attention to the changes in your sail's performance, you can maintain consistency and optimize your boat setup to stay competitive on the race course.

Fitting your Outhaul calibration sticker

Setting up your rigging properly to ensure accurate calibration is crucial for optimal sail performance. Follow these simple steps to achieve consistent and reliable sail settings:

 1. Assemble your rigging using a new or your newest sail, ensuring the Outhaul, Downhaul, and Kicker are attached.

 2. ILCA 6 and ILCA 7, measure 5 inches from the end of your boom and set the position of the sail with the tip exactly 5 inches from the end of the boom.

 ILCA 4, measure 15 inches from the end of your boom and set the position of the sail with the tip exactly 15 inches from the end of the boom.

3. Choose a reference marker along your Outhaul control line.

 For example, Sailing Chandlery ILCA sailor Jack Graham-Troll uses the centre hole of the block along the Outhaul that joins the primary and secondary lines. Jack’s Outhaul is made up with a longer primary line, positioning this block further along the boom, directly in his line of sight.

4. Attach the calibration sticker to the boom, ensuring that the number five marker line is aligned with your chosen reference marker point.

5. Wrap the sticker around the boom so that the numbers 5 to 9 align horizontally along each side of the boom, with the join coming together along the bottom edge of the boom and the Sailing Chandlery logo along the top.

The calibration marker lines should be visible around the circumference of the boom, providing a clear reference point regardless of your tack or point of sail.

Marking Your Centreboard 

The centreboard plays a crucial role in maintaining stability and maximizing boat speed, especially downwind and in varying wind and sea conditions. As we become more advanced and focus on other downwind skills , it's important not to overlook the centreboard settings.

Having calibration markings for how the centreboard is set can significantly improve consistency. By noting the optimal position for different conditions, you can make the right adjustment quickly and accurately to set the centreboard in the position that optimises performance.

Consistency is key and calibration markings for the centreboard helps maintain that consistency. It allows you to easily replicate successful settings based on the specific conditions. Close attention to the centreboard settings and utilising calibration markings can enhance your overall performance.

Fitting your Centreboard calibration reference sticker

Centreboard calibration markings indicate the height your centreboard is lifted up from the deck of your ILCA dinghy.

These specific height indicators are referenced in the Laser handbook by Paul Goodison and provide a good benchmark for centreboard settings.

Follow these simple steps to apply the calibration sticker correctly: 1. Measure down 15 cm from the centreboard stop, at right angles to the top sloping edge of the centreboard (the same angled slope as the centreboard casing).

2. Align the number 15 marker line on the calibration sticker with the 15cm measurement, positioning it at right angles to the top sloping edge of the centreboard.

3. When raising the centreboard from the casing, the marker lines on the calibration sticker will indicate when heights of 15, 20, and 25 cm are reached.

Using these height markings will provide a visual guide to replicate your centreboard settings.

Marking Your Mainsheet

Understanding your sail angle downwind is crucial for optimal performance. Without mainsheet markings, it can be a challenge to gauge whether your sail is properly trimmed and at the right angle, resulting in your sail being too far out and having a negative impact on speed and control in the boat.

Markings on the mainsheet that indicate ninety-degree angles can be incredibly helpful. With clear and accurate marks, you can easily adjust your sail position based on wind conditions. Whether it's light winds or stronger gusts, having the ability to quickly and reliably sheet in or out to maintain the desired sail angle is essential.

Use these markings as a reference to consistently trim your sail angle and achieve maximum speed and confidence downwind !

Marking your mainsheet sail angles

Marking your mainsheet will help ensure a correct sail angle for optimal downwind performance. Follow these simple steps for accurate 90 degree mainsheet marks: 1. Rig your boat with the mainsheet threaded through the boom and the mainsheet centre block in the hull.

2. Pull the boom out to position the sail at 90 degrees to the hull.

3. Whilst holding the sail in this position, take any slack out of the mainsheet and mark the mainsheet at both the mainsheet block on the boom and the mainsheet centre block on the deck.

4. To make these marks more permanent, we recommend using whipping twine to mark these positions.

5. When untying and removing your mainsheet, it's important to remember not to untie the knot at the boom end, as if this knot is not retied in the same position, it will alter the distance along your mainsheet to your 90 degree marks and effect your sail angle. We recommend always untying the knots at the mainsheet block and remove the mainsheet through the mainsheet block first and then out of the blocks along the boom and finally from the end of the boom, always leaving the boom end knot tied.

Sailing Chandlery offers pre-knotted and permanently marked mainsheets for your ILCA dinghy, please contact us for more details.

Calibrating Your Kicker

Kicker calibration settings can play a significant role in achieving consistent boat setup and optimizing performance. Using block to block marks as a starting point for upwind setup provides a solid foundation to work from. Having confidence in your kicker setting off the start and at the leeward mark can give you a critical advantage, especially in busy racing situations. Being able to set it correctly the first time, allows you to focus on other important aspects, such as tactics, strategy and what’s going on around you.

When it comes to downwind sailing, understanding when the boom is at aninety-degree angle to the mast at the gooseneck is crucial, particularly in windy conditions at the windward mark.

This baseline setting prevents the rig from becoming too open downwind, maintaining control while still allowing you to bear away at the windward mark. To ensure accuracy and consistency, marking your kicker settings using your best sail is the smart approach. Your best sail is the one you'll likely use for racing, so having the calibration set specifically for it means you can trust that the setting will work well in competitive situations.

Kicker (Vang) block to block markings

Having ‘block to block’ and 90 degree marks on your kicker provides a solid foundation to work from. Follow these simple steps to accurately mark these kicker settings:

1. Using a new or your best sail, rig your boat ready for sailing.

2. Pull the traveller on as tight as possible.

3. With the kicker slack, pull the mainsheet in, pulling the traveller and boom blocks together in the ‘block to block’ position.

4. Pull the kicker on, to remove any slack in the kicker control lines.

5. Mark the position of the kicker primary/secondary line double block, on the kicker primary line. We recommend wrapping coloured tape around the primary line to mark it.

Pulling the kicker on to this mark, will pre-set the kicker to the block to block position.

Follow these simple steps to mark the 90 degree kicker setting:

1. With the boat rigged as above, pull the boom out to position the sail at 90 degrees to the hull.

2. Using the kicker, pull it on to adjust the boom until it is at 90 degrees to the mast.

3. When the desired angle is achieved, mark the position of the kicker primary/secondary line double block, on the kicker primary line. We recommend wrapping coloured tape around the primary line to mark it.

Pulling the kicker on to this mark, will pre-set the kicker at the 90 degree boom to mast position.

All you need to fully calibrate your ILCA dinghy is available at Sailing Chandlery, please contact us for further information.

 

Base Line Setup

Once you’ve marked all your equipment, go out and experiment with different setups to established good base settings. Trial and error will help you find the optimal settings that work best for your boat and sailing style.

You'll develop a better understanding of how different adjustments affect your boat's performance. Having confidence in your ability to consistently replicate these setups around the race course is key.

It allows you to focus on your racing strategy and tactics without worrying about whether your boat is properly tuned. Knowing that you have tested and refined your settings gives you the assurance to push harder and make up those valuable boat lengths.

Remember, sailing involves a continuous learning process and each race provides an opportunity to learn and improve. Embrace the enjoyment of experimenting and refining your setups and with practice, you'll become more proficient in optimizing your boat's performance and achieving better results.