Albacore Sail Tuning Guide - North

The following suggestions are meant to be a guide and should not be misconstrued as being the only way to make your boat go fast. There are many variables in yacht racing and we can only offer information that we have found to work for ourselves, but for your crew weight and the various wind and water conditions a slightly different approach may be in order. This guide is a very good starting point but what ever makes you go fastest is best. We always encourage sailors to keep good records of their racing experiences so that good settings can be repeated and bad ones avoided for future races. Mark your sheets and halyard for reference so that your notes are easy to translate into fast settings.

This tuning guide features a table of settings for most wind and water conditions but for the 300-330 lbs. crew. If you are lighter you may want to de-power sooner and if heavier stay powered-up longer. Again experiment and find out what works best.


  1. Centreboard Pin: Centre of the bolt should be 254 cm. from the transom.
  2. Mast Step: The aft pin in the mast step should be 74 cm from the centre of the C/B pin. These two measures are important for determining the balance of your boat. For example, if the C/B is too far forward you will create weather helm, and the opposite is true if the C/B is too far aft. You must "feel" your boat to determine how your helm is. Excessive weather helm is bad but a little is needed to maintain a feel for the boat. How much you need to "feel" is your call. Remember the less you need to pull on the helm the less drag you will be creating.
  3. Spreader Angle: The spreaders should be 43 cm long and be set at an angle such that the distance from the straight line between the shrouds to the back of the mast should be 19. cm. Be sure that each spreader is adjusted identically to the other. Once your mast is stepped we can double check that the correct pre-bend has been applied and fine tuning can be done from there.
  4. Check that your shrouds are of equal length. The smallest difference will cause your mast to bend sideways.
  5. Check that all your sheaves are clean and lubricated.


  1. RAKE: There are various methods of measuring rake. The following method works on many hulls but if it seems a bit 'far out' on your boat another method may be in order. Future editions of the North Albacore tuning guide will feature 3 ways to measure rake depending on what type of hull you own.
    Mast rake controls the centre of effort. If the rig is too far forward, neutral or lee helm will occur. If the rake is too far aft, weather helm will occur.
    Hoist the jib and tension the halyard to approximately 200 lbs. Disconnect the forestay and swing it back to the black band at the gooseneck on the mast. Mark the forestay at the height of the top of the black band. Now reconnect the forestay and measure down the forestay from the mark to the attachment point at the deck. The distance we want to get is 86 cm. Adjust the shroud pins to achieve this amount. For Ontario Yachts hulls this measurement should be 75 cm.
  2. Check your Pre-Bend (Spreader angle): Before you stepped your mast we set the spreaders up at a certain angle. What we are trying to achieve with spreader angle is the proper amount of pre-bend. Pre-bend is the amount of aft curvature in your mast when the rig tension is on but without sails up. Pre-bend is measured by the distance between the straight line from the tip of the mast to the gooseneck and the back of the mast at the spreader mount (Use your main halyard as the straight line). The proper amount of pre-bend with new sails is 1 cm. As your sails get older (mid fuler) you ran increase the prebend to 2 - 2.5 cm to help control your growing sail from getting too full.
    If, once you've loaded the rig (i.e. have your jib up and its tension applied to 200 lbs,) and you find more or less pre-bend then you must fine tune your spreaders. This may be because your chainplates are not in the same position as ours, your spreaders are not the length we recommend, the height of your spreader bracket is different or your mast step position is out. Sweeping your spreaders aft increases pre-bend, sweeping them forward reduces it.
    If you have no method of adjusting your spreaders you should consider a way as proper spreader adjustment is crucial for proper mast trim and subsequently sail trim.
  3. Check that your mast does not move from side to side in the mast gate, If it does affix plates to your gate to make it a snug fit. Allowing movement lets your mast bend sideways and this is not fast.
  4. Sight your mast to ensure it doesn't bend sideways.
    If it does:
    1. Are your shrouds the same length?
    2. Is your mast fitted evenly from side to side in the gate?
    3. Are your spreaders adjusted identically?
    4. Is your mast permanently bent?


Front of jib track (in relation to C/B pin) ........... 0 cm
Length of jib track ................................... 30 cm

Please note that on some hulls including Ontario Yachts built Albacores the front of the jib track should be approx. 10 cm aft of the pin.


All the adjustments listed below are important to the performance of your North Sails. Read about the use and effect of each adjustment and then refer to the table on the last page to find out how to set each one for the given condition.


Rig tension controls the amount of luff sag and lateral mast bend. In light air or choppy conditions when power is needed we allow more jib luff sag which make the jib fuller and thus gives the boat more power, In heavy air we apply lots of rig tension to reduce jib luff sag and depower the jib by making it flatter.


Jib lead position affects the fullness and twist of the jib, and also the slot between the main and the jib If the lead is too far forward the jib becomes too full and the twist is reduced thus closing the slot. This is poor. If the lead is too far back the jib becomes very flat and the leech twists open, The slot in this case will be overly open and may be de-powering the boat too much. We want to close the slot enough to generate maximum power while not stalling the sails or overly backwinding the main. If the boat just isn't moving well you may have the lead too far forward, If the main looks good but you're not pointing well the lead may be too far aft.


The Cunningham moves the draft position in the sail. As the Cunningham tension is increased the draft is pulled forward, straightening the leach and decreasing the heeling force, If the wind drops and the cunningham is not released this can seriously hurt performance. A simple rule of thumb is to use none until 11 knots and above 11 knots apply enough to just remove the wrinkles in the luff area.


Boom vang controls mainsail leach twist and mast bend. Vang tension bends the mast and flattens the main (de-powers it). It should be adjusted as the wind changes. If the vang is on tight and the wind drops be sure to ease it to maintain good mainsail trim. Be sure to use no vang when sailing to windward in conditions below 11 knots


Prebender is used in very light air to help flatten the main when excessive power is not needed. As the wind rises less prebender will be needed when at 8 knots the, mast should not be prebent at all. In most conditions the, mast should be allowed to float freely, for and aft, in the gate so the mast can be bent using the vang as the wind rises. In 8-11 knots and very lumpy seas restriction may be needed to increase the power of the main while the vang is applied. Restricting the mast low down keeps the main fuller and more powerful when extra punch is needed


Outhaul controls the fullness of the bottom half of the main. The tighter the outhaul the flatter the sail. The foot of your North main has a shelf. Under NO circumstances should this shelf be open when sailing to windward.

If you would like any further information on rigging your Albacore or the rigging of any new equipment please write or call us.

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