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A guide to TUNING AND SAILING with your Wavelength sail and rig

The Solo is a relatively simple boat to set up as the rules are quite tight, and most boatspeed differences stem from the ability to “change gear” quickly when racing in variable conditions (which is most of the time). So apart from some measurements to help check your mast and centreboard setup, most of the information here is aimed at helping you get the best from the rig when sailing.

Of vital importance is to start with a mast and sail that fit together as well as possible. This is the job of the sailmaker and mastmaker. Look at recent results or ask around the fleet to establish which combinations are working. If your mast and sail are not in harmony, no amount of tuning or practice are going to make you win the nationals. Of course the best way of ensuring that the mast and sail are fully compatible is to buy them both from a single manufacturer like Wavelength Designs…

As a general rule set the mast heel as far forward as possible (up against the bulkhead if necessary), and have the forestay loose enough so that when you push the mast back by hand it just touches the rear of the gate. This ensures lots of mast rake which is fast upwind!


Outside of transom to rear of mast foot min 2975mm -max 3010mm.
Transom to centreboard pivot 2030mm.
Mast rake – Masthead measurement band to intersection of transom and keel (on inside of boat) approximately 6260mm (varies from boat to boat).
Shrouds loose enough to allow the mast to move to the front of the deck hole when pushed by hand. Use a chock in front of the mast for medium wind conditions.


The distance between the rear of the mast heel and the centreboard pivot seems to be quite consistent on fast boats, and care should be taken that the centreboard is in the right position. Also, make sure that the rudder blade swivels down so that the trailing edge is almost vertical – this reduces weather helm enormously.



The sail is supplied with battens fitted to approximately the right tension, however, some adjustment will probably be necessary. Basically, the batten should just take up the length of the pocket. If they are too tight they will be difficult to flick through during a tack or gybe. If they are too loose the pocket will be wrinkled. The top two battens are the most crucial. On the Wavelength sail these are fitted with screw adjusters, and they should be tensioned slightly in medium winds and relaxed in light or strong winds. The lower battens can usually be left once the correct tension has been found.

The sail should always be hoisted to the top measurement band (the halyard should be marked in the right place). The Wavelength sail is fitted with a webbing “tack strap” which allows the tack to float vertically. This should be tightened until the edge of the sail is about 15mm from the back of the mast. (Important note: during sail measurement the tack must be pulled down by hand to boom level – friction will then hold it there – otherwise the bottom batten position will appear too high.)


Upwind, control the sail using mainsheet and traveller. Increase sheet tension to flatten the sail and close the leech. Ease the traveller in the gusts to maintain forward speed, but pull it back up in the lulls to point high. As a general guide, the traveller car should be about 5” to leeward of the centreline in medium conditions.

Further sail shape changes are made with the cunningham and outhaul. In general, the more mainsheet tension you are using, the more the mast will be bent, causing the entry of the sail to become too fine or flat (shown by diagonal creases coming from the mast down to the centre of the boom). Pulling on the cunningham restores some shape or “roundness” to the leading edge of the sail. In general, apply just enough Cunningham to remove the creases. The outhaul controls the amount of depth in the lower half of the sail. Ease it up to 3” to provide the extra power to drive through choppy water. In flat water and strong winds it should be pulled out to the measurement band.

It is not advisable to use the kicker to do the job of the mainsheet when sailing to windward. The mast will simply bend too much in the lower part, depowering the sail too quickly. The only time kicker sheeting is recommended is in very strong winds.

(Note: the above does not apply to certain rigs which have specifically designed for kicker sheeting. The Wavelength rig is not designed for kicker sheeting.)


Let the cunningham right off. Ease the outhaul about 4-5” on a reach and 2-3” on a run. Use just enough kicker to hold the leech from twisting open. Nothing kills downwind speed more than using too much kicker. The only time large amounts of kicker is applied is on closer reaches in medium to strong conditions. On a run let the boom out to the shroud and ease the kicker as much as you dare. This keeps the airflow over the sail and lets you run very square.


The ability to “change gear” quickly on the race course to suit changing conditions makes a huge difference to boatspeed.

There are two ways of improving these skills. Firstly, you can look at the sail as you are sailing along, assessing its shape, and comparing it to the prevailing conditions, and to the ideal shape required for those conditions (which may or may not be stored inside your brain!), then adjust the sail controls to achieve this perfect shape.

We all employ this method to a degree, some with more success than others, but the facts are that the less proficient you are, the more it will distract you from the job of steering the boat and what is happening on the race course. This is where the second method comes in, which involves extensive use of reference marks. This system is as old as sailing itself, but is rarely used properly.

Basically, if you have marks on all your controls you will be able to memorise settings when you have had good speed on a particular day, so instead of having to keep a memory bank of sail shapes, you build up over a period of time a memory bank of sail control settings which you have found to be fast in particular conditions. The beauty of this is that you can, for example, round the leeward mark in a choppy force 4, setting outhaul, cunningham, vang, traveller and mainsheet to exact marks, knowing you will be ready to go as fast as you can without even looking up at the sail; thereby allowing more concentration to be applied to steering, tactics, shifts etc. Obviously to arrive at these fast settings requires a lot of time in the boat but the sooner you start the better!

Good sailing and good luck!

Wavelength Designs - Cornwall -United Kingdom. 

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