Sailing & Racing Tips

Notes on sailing the Timpenny 670 and 770 & Racing Tips


Precautions & Limitations

It is basic seamanship to be prepared, so before you set out ensure that you have all regulation safety equipment (this varies from State to State). Then inspect the gear and fittings on the boat. Before towing, ensure that the boat is correctly on the trailer and properly tied down.

Always check the weather forecast before you set out - and keep an eye on the weather when you're out - if you see bad weather coming, head for shelter early. Trailer yachts are not ocean racers and should not be treated as such. The Timpenny 670 is an extremely safe boat, but it has not been designed as an offshore boat, and should not be used as such. If you venture out of harbour, make sure the weather pattern is stable and benign.

Trailing & Launching

The trailer has been specially made for the Timpenny 670 and requires minimal maintenance. Cheek the wheel bearings and replace the grease about twice a season (more often if you keep immersing the axle in the water). Cheek and adjust the brakes and tyre pressure regularly.

With a loaded boat on the trailer, towball weight should be around 100kg.

One of the first things to do upon arrival at a launching ramp is to remove the taillights. It is easy to forget later. If you are launching at a strange ramp, check below water level - sometimes ramps end very abruptly!

On most ramps it is only necessary to back the trailer until the back bar is just touching the water and preferably no more than the tyre rubber in the water. The tilt mechanism should only need to be used on very shallow ramps. A few inches of slack on the wire (with a back-up safety line on to the bow), combined with a sharp braking while backing down the ramp will help to move the boat off its rests. During launching, snub a bow rope around the trailer winch post as a precaution, but only use it if the hull starts to go off line. Before leaving the launch site under motor, let the keel down at least 15cm for steerage, more if under sail.

For retrieval the trailer should be in the same position as for launching. Make sure that the keel is fully housed, rudder off and outboard tilted! Don't laugh - it has happened. Hook on the winch line, line the bow up with the first roller, and winch in. Have a second person holding the boat near the stern or use a boat hook or similar from the jetty and make sure it stays straight on line.


The Drop Keel (non-enclosed version)

After launching the drop-keel version, remove the pin and wind the winch handle to lower the keel. With the keel fully down unhook the lower block, remove the hoist, place the sealing cover over and do up the wing nuts on the hold-down bolts.

Except in light winds and calm shallow waters where a rapid keel hoist may be needed, always sail with the keel fastened down. To hoist the keel, simply reverse the above procedure. It is a good Idea to spray the winch and pulleys frequently with WD40 or similar. Check the hoist wire for wear every time you use it and, if frayed strands appear, replace it immediately. As an extra precaution, always keep your hands clear of the keel's centre-case while the keel is on the wire.


The Swing Keel

The swing keel is developed to need minimum maintenance or effort. The only care required is that the keel be lowered slowly. If your swing keel does not have a slot stopper, one can be fitted to reduce turbulence in the keel case when the keel is lowered. This turbulence can slow your boat significantly.



These notes are not intended to be a sailing textbook, nor will they turn a beginner into an, expert. They will, however, allow the beginner to set up his boat and recognise how, to rig it and handle it for different weathers in an efficient manner which will make the boat easier to sail. For the experienced racing sailor they will allow a direct start on fine-tuning and boat handling detail.


Setting up the Gear

When the mast is erected the forestay and jib halyard should be only moderately tensioned. The best way of doing this is to take a loop of the rope tail and pass it through the eye of the wire halyard. This then forms a three-part purchase which can be used to sweat down the halyard. With the mast set up, and jib halyard sweated down to this extent, the mast rake aft should be between 150-30Omm.

The angle at which the jib sheet leaves the clew of the jib is important. Set the jib up initially with the sheet angle approximately bisecting the clew angle and sail the boat with the sheet about 100mm in from the handrails. With the jib sheeted down hard the leach should just free off in the gusts. It should not hang off a long way normally, and it is essential that the leach should not tighten up and the luff fall off in the gusts. If the leach fails off too much, then the jib attachment should be moved up on the clew board. If the leach stays too tight the sheeting position should be moved down the clew board.

The mainsail battens should be placed in as hard as you can and the mainsail hoisted to the top of the mast. The main is loose footed ie only the clew is attached to the boom and the cunningham is attached to the tack (see photo in rigging section). This setup allows a lot sail shape control in any wind conditions.

Tip: To make your set up a lot quicker every time you can leave all your shrouds, sail control sheets etc connected to the boat, blocks, cleats etc if you have over length sheets (longer than they need to be). Then you can simply raise the mast, hoist your sails and thread your sail reefing lines and off you go. No need to run all your sheets again though blocks etc! When you drop your mast the extra length allows you to move the mast forward and you simply bungy the excess sheets to your mast for safe transit.


Sailing to Windward

Drift conditions (0-4 knots)

The mainsheet slide should be centred, the luff should be loose and the foot should be tight. In drift conditions flatter, but heavily twisted sails are usually the most efficient. Don't sheet the main down hard.

The jib should be sheeted at, or beyond, the handrail and the jib sheet not pulled in too tightly. If the jib is too tight and the mainsail too loose, the boat will suffer from lee helm. It normally helps balance to heel the boat slightly to leeward. In drift conditions keep the boat moving. On no account try to sail too close to the wind, and on no account pull the sails in hard.


Normal Winds (4 to 11 knots)

For normal winds the mainsheet slide is kept in the centre of the boat, the luff of the sail is pulled out just enough to take out wrinkles, and the boom vang is pulled on until the upper mainsail tufts just set properly when going to windward. If the vang is too loose the windward tuft will flutter, and if it is too tight then the leeward one or the leach ribbon will flutter. When racing it is better to control this by mainsheet tension since this helps keep the forestay tight.

The jib should be sheeted 100mm in from the handrail (or at the handrail in a bad chop) and sufficiently hard so that the leach does not fall off significantly except in gusts. The jib must not be sheeted in so tightly that the leach does not fall off in the gusts.

The sailing technique is simply to keep all tufts flowing and to luff as the gusts come. When a sharp lifting gust comes, the traveller may be eased because you will not be able to turn the boat up into the wind quickly enough to take full advantage of it. Bring the slide back on as the boat responds to the new wind direction.


De-tuning Conditions (11 to about 20 knots)

When the boat begins to heel excessively, flat sails are an advantage, and the primary technique is to flatten the mainsail, easing it out along its slide to reduce the heeling moment. The mainsail luff should be pulled down tight to stop the maximum draft going back past' halfway along the sail. The foot and the vang should be pulled out as tightly as you can to flatten the sail as much as possible. The mainsheet slide should be eased out as far as it is necessary to enable the boat to not heel excessively, i.e. not more than 15 degrees from the vertical, and eased further in heavy gusts. The jib should be sheeted 100mm in from the handrail (or at the handrail in a bad chop) and down hard so that the leech just fails off in the gusts. It is very important in these conditions to ensure that the leech of the jib fails off a little more than the luff. It may also be necessary to tension the luff of the jib to ensure that the draft does not come too far back and cause a hook in the leech.


Automatic Cruising (4 to about 15 knots)

The Timpennv 670 is set up with full width mainsheet and jibsheet tracks, because these allow for efficient use of the sail and also because they make for very easy cruising. To put your boat onto automatic cruising for sailing to windward, you should set the mainsheet slide at about 15 inches from the centreline (or on the centreline for winds

below 8 knots) with the vang on reasonably tight, the foot pulled out hard and the wrinkles pulled out of the luff. The jib slide should be left loose and the jib sheet lightly tensioned. With this setting as the gust hits, the boat will heel over and gain weather helm and slightly round up. This will take power out of the mainsail first because it is sheeted wider than the jib and so the boat will gradually reach- equilibrium as the power goes out of the mainsail, the heeling moment decreases and the boat balances. When the gust drops the reverse will happen. This means you can sail through most gusts without touching the sheets and by simply letting the boat follow its own natural inclinations to luff the gusts, you will need to do very little to keep the boat sailing happily. Also, with this setting the jib will tack automatically; it will not tack as far out as described in the racing sections, but it will be adequate for the purpose.


Reefing (above 20 knots)

The rig design allows the Timpenny 670 to operate over a wide range of wind strengths without sail changes. Once the true wind exceeds about 20 knots however, the boat should be reefed.

A word of warning on wind speeds - a genuine 20-knot wind is almost invariably described afterwards in the club bar as 30 knots. Most small boat regattas are cancelled if the true wind speed exceeds 25 knots. (By then the "club bar" wind is up to 35 or 40 knots!).

At 22 knots the double-reefed main and a small jib have the same power as the full gear has at 11 knots. Beyond 22 knots you will go faster with this rig than with the big jib and full main.

Timpenny 670s have been sailed to windward in the smooth waters of Sydney Harbour with full gear in winds gusting to 30 knots and with the big jib and single reefed main in winds gusting over 40 knots (real wind, not "club bar" winds). This was done to prove a point and is definitely not recommended - even a small mishap can mean gear damage! With a small jib and double reefed main, simply follow the same procedure as the wind goes above 22 knots as for the de-tuning described above, except the jib should be sheeted opposite the handrail. With this rig the boat is reasonably happy to around 30 knots and can be sailed, with skill, in higher strength winds.

A single-reef main is primarily to give an easy time for cruising, in winds in the 15-20 knot range.

It is good practice in strong winds to put the lower part of the main hatch in place, then if water does get into the cockpit, it won't rush into the cabin.


Close Reaching

Set the jib slide right out and sheet the jib so that the leeward tufts are just on the point of breaking. Let the mainsheet slide out and make sure that the vang is not-so hard that it is stalling the upper sail (you can tell this by looking at the leech ribbon) and let off the foot of the mainsail consistent with getting the lower main tuft working. Then trim the mainsail so that the leech ribbons are just on the point of breaking. If you find the boat becoming overpowered, ease the mainsail but do not ease the jib other than to keen the tufts flowing. If you are continually overpowered, pull the foot back on tight and tighten the van.

The sails with all the tufts flowing and the leech ribbon just breaking have a lift coefficient something like 80 percent higher than a sail with all the tufts not working. This obviously means a lot in performance, so watch the tufts.



Sail in the same general manner as the close reach, except that you should watch very carefully to see that the sail be kept unstalled. You may find it advantageous to ease the vang so that the upper mainsail can become unstalled, even though the lower mainsail, which is inhibited by the stay, is still stalled. Once the jib becomes blanketed by the mainsail it should be poled out on the opposite side.



The boat should be set up with the jib pole out and sheeted tightly. The mainsail should be let out to the stays, and in light winds the vang should be eased slightly so that the upper mainsail is at right angles to the centreline of the boat. In strong winds it is not prudent to allow the mainsail to go this far and the van should be kept tighter.

In light winds the boat will normally go faster with the bow depressed very slightly and heeled slightly, with the crew forward and to leeward. In strong, winds keep the boat flat and on its normal waterline with the crew sitting well aft.

It may pay to tack downwind if you have enough water, but this calls for good gybing technique and on most river courses it does not pay.

Keep a watch out aft and try to stay in the panels of stronger wind.


Downwind in Strong Winds

In many instances reefing downwind is more important than upwind. Most reported trailer sailer capsizes have happened downwind - a gust forces the boat to round up broadside onto the waves and the wave then rolls the boat. Reef earlier downwind in rough water than in flat water.

Downwind, changing to a small jib is not much help - reef the mainsail to the second reef. If this is too much, change the jib or drop the main entirely and sail on jib only - you will find the boat handles happily downwind with just the jib.


A lot of the 770 sailing tips are applicable to the 670 as well.

Timpenny 670 Notes: Racing/Sailing tips by Doug Carswell

(Minutes by Peter Legge (Poseidon) on the Martha Cove berthside (hopefully in due course) with edits by Doug, draft sent to Doug 25th Feb14.) Additional  explanatory comments by Michael Ruhsam.

This edition 8 March 2014.

At the Victorian Trailable Association championships, those Timpenny 670 sailors were treated to a 45 minute discourse on rigging by Sailor Extraordinaire, Doug Carswell before races on 23rd Feb; Doug is the owner of Uome. Since Uome is a most prolific winner at the titles, their must be something in what he says!


Doug emphasized that the mast should have a backwards-rake at the mast top. This rake is determined by hanging a plum-bob from the top of the mast and measuring out from the mast along the boom 20-50mm (his is 32mm). The rake will contribute to sail shape and “weight on the tiller”. Certain rakes can lead to very light tillers that in turn reduce drag; experimentation is needed. Most mast foot plates are fixed and so adjustment fore and aft is not possible.

Doug has rather loose main stays and diamond stays; this enables the mast to curve in line with the sails.

Discussion of spreaders and rotating masts suggests that not a lot is gained.

The jib tack should be cleated as far forward as possible and the foot should run close to the fore-deck to avoid loss of air underneath and resultant turbulence which robs power from the jib; in the case of the Timpenny 670, there is a fairly large “inevitable gap” and we have to live with this design feature. Note the Volvo Ocean racers and their deck hugging jibs/genoas, ie deck sweepers.

The jib luff needs to be super tight for all racing.

Tell tales are critical to determine the laminar air-flow. They are best placed along the luff and leech line in positions of a line extended parallel to and in line with the battens.

Luff outer telltales should stream to indicate fast laminar flow.

The best adhesion points for the luff telltales are just back from the middle and lower parts of the sail; the upper sail luff telltales are relatively irrelevant.

Leech telltales should stream showing the release of air flow.

Doug finds his jib is best cleated to the jib traveller using the lower holes on the jib clew-board for strong and light winds and middle hole for 10-15knots.

He uses hand-tightened shackles to connect to the clew board.

Main sail
The main sail is normally cut for 100% efficiency with loose attachments to the mast, tack and clew.

However, sails stretch and they do need to be flattened, by using the clew-outhaul, to reduce the gap between the foot of the sail and the boom, at a position say 30cm back from the boom-vang attachment point, to Doug’s “four fingers rule” for width.

The luff downhaul (Cunningham) should be relatively loose with “some crinkles” allowed as long as they are parallel to the boom and not diagonal (indicating sail “strain”).

Doug sets his main sheet tension and leaves pretty constant in the race, with any boat “over powering/roundup” relieved by use of the main sheet traveller control.

Main sail telltales in the body of the sail are best placed near the batten points, as this reflects efficiency; telltales on the leech should always be streaming freely to indicate rapid exhausting of air.

The best air-flows and drive are derived from maximizing the slot between the jib and main sails. In lighter winds, this is optimised by the boom aligned along the mid-line of the boat, by moving the ain sheet traveller cleating point to the windward side of the boat.

Doug’s Uome has its main-sheet on the rear deck, unlike the majority of Timpenny 670s, that have the main sheet traveller and cleat over the cabin. Doug finds the extra pulleys make tensioning easier.

Doug described his use of the spinnaker “chute”; such chutes require “fitting” and can be bought from….. as used on ….. boats.

Due to the very small jib on Timpennys, spinnaker baskets can cause significant turbulence to the lower part of the sail and hence loss of power. When sailing upwind it is best to keep them off the bow and only deploy when required.

Spinnaker telltales have limited; mainly use when sailing on a reach.

The skipper’s experience is best used to concentrate on sail trim rather than steering. Of course steering requires intense concentration but overall, trim and strategy are best made off the helm in most situations.

Reefing. Don't be reluctant to reef in strong winds. A well reefed boat helmed properly will sail quicker than a boat that is burying the rail in the waves and continually being overpowered and rounding up all the time. Its also less strain on your boat and crew.