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Our friends in FLA suffered terrifically from Hurricane Ian a few weeks ago. Fortunately for some 30 boats, WDS opened up its workshop such that they could be stored safely inside (photo above). Others were not so fortunate (photo below). Our hearts go out to all in FLA. We are certain that the can-do spirit and team work of the sailing community can bring all these sailors back into happier days.

The Isles Yacht Club home of a lively Harbor 20 fleet; is going full swing into its social season. For a brief insight into all that's happening check out this Link. Bring your dancing shoes because this club enjoys swinging to the beat.

The FLA Sailing Season also starts in a bit.

As part of the start of Sailing Season, We are please to republish a not-so-secret tuning guide that's been used by many successful sailors since it was first published around 8 years ago.


The rigs on Harbor 20s are unique. The jibs are very small and are high aspect. The idea is to find an optimum setting that, powers up the jib and provides performance in a wide spectrum of conditions.

Base number (between 30.4" and 30.2) when measured with a tape hoisted to 28 feet to the top of the tray they measured to the back of the transom – the 30’2” measurement is the standard jib stay fully extended.

Base tune is 10 – when its windy go up 4-6 full turns when its light back off 1½ turn.

Base tune is 8, when its windy go up 3 full turns and when its light back off 2.

What I do is adjust the uppers and lowers to the conditions of the day and if I am sailing by myself or with a crew, as each has an affect on rig tune and when the uppers and lowers on the leeward side start to sag. My goal is to have them start to sage on the biggest puff of the first beat, this way I know I am set up for optimum tune when I hit a lull or when I need that little extra to get up to speed when coming out of a tack.

So when it’s windy I have found that I am up 2 full turns, and when it light I am off a full turn to turn and a half.

Setting The Mast
First make sure mast is in the middle of the boat. To do this, first sight up the boat to make sure the mast is close to being in the center. Then extend the main halyard with firm tension so you can touch the deck. Check each side with the main halyard and adjust the mast back and forth until it is in the center of the boat. When adjusting the turnbuckles and the shrouds to the above tension, make sure you adjust both sides evenly so the mast remains straight in the boat.

When you are done with your rig tune, you will need to secure the turnbuckles so they do not turn.  I use a Velcro tie so I can access and adjust the turnbuckles. I also make sure they are greased and can turn easily.

For the jib stay, make sure your cotter keys are bent around the turnbuckle. This will keep the turnbuckle from moving and will let the roller furler seat over the turnbuckle.

When setting your mast you may need to have more tension on one side then the other, in order for the mast to be straight and in column, this has to do with variation in spreader angle and the set of the spreader bar, so to get the mast straight your base number may be a point or two more or less from side to side.

Mainsail Setup
Because the Harbor 20’s mainsail is relatively large in comparison to the jib, proper mainsail setup is important.

Outhaul should be set so there is 2-3 inches of space between the foot of the sail and the boom.

Adjust the luff at the mainsail so it is firm. As the wind builds, the mast will compress providing for more wrinkles. The idea is to keep the luff firm with slight wrinkles. Make sure to adjust the main halyard to keep the sail properly hoisted. As the mast bends, it compresses causing the sail to slide down the mast. I recommend changing the main halyard to a non-stretch line.

Batten Tension
Snug enough for the batten to seat in the cup but not over-tensioned. The battens should pop easy on every tack or gybe. As time goes by, your mainsail will shrink so re-tension your battens every 3-6 months

Jib Setup
The most important adjustment is the height of the jib on the head foil. Most settings have the jib tack an inch or so above the top of the furler.  You want to set the sail as low as you can and still have leach tension when it is windy. If it is too high, the jib will be too full. If it is too low, the top will luff in each puff.

The idea is to have the sail adjusted so the outhaul is maxed out in 12-15 knots of wind.

Set your jib using the middle hole. You want your jib set so you can have the top leech square to the spreader or parallel to the centerline of the boat with the outhaul max in 12-15 knots of wind. You will find that since the jib is hi- aspect that you will be adjusting the outhaul to match the change in the apparent wind.

You will want to set the luff firm and error on the side of firm, rather then loose with wrinkles as when it gets puffy your jib will rise and you will loose the top of the sail.

Hoyt Boom Height
Class rules state that the Hoyt boom when measured from the deck should be 7” - 11”. Most sails are made to the class maximum measurement. Make sure your Hoyt boom height is closer to the lower- middle of the measurement, rather than on the high side.

Hoyt Boom Length
Class rules state that the end of the Hoyt boom when measured is 9’6 and ½ inches from the bow eye to the end of the boom. It is best to have your boom length closer to the maximum length, rather than on the short side.

There are boom extenders available and the Class Measurer has a boom measurement tool to confirm absolute length and conformity to the rules. I have found that a laser mast top fitting works well as an extender.
Backstay Tension
Light to Moderate - no tension.
Medium to Heavy - adjust as needed.

Centered all times.

Mainsail Sheeting
In heavy air - sheet hard and keep an eye on the top telltale to ensure that it flows and you are not stalling the mainsail.

In heavy air - tighten the boom vang to induce mast bend down low and ease the mainsail in the puffs.

Downwind - always make sure your battens have popped to the proper side when you have completed your gybe. In heavy air, you will need your crew to ease the boom vang an inch or two when sailing downwind.

Jib sheet
Upwind - adjust the jib sheet so the leeward sheet sets square to the boom.

In breeze - sheet in an inch or two tighter to get more leech tension.

It is best to slightly over tack so you tack into the jib stay sag. Not fully completing a tack will prevent your boat from accelerating properly.  

In light to moderate wind, you will have more jib stay sag. As the wind builds and you are sheeting the mainsail harder and harder, the head stay will flatten out. The head stay will flatten more as you increase the back stay.

Harbor 20s were design to perform best in the moderate harbor breezes of Newport Beach. They tend to be underpowered in light wind and become overpowered when the breeze is on.
Like most boats, the Harbor 20 is best sailed flat to a slight heel. Over heeling in heavy air is not fast as the boat slides sideways. If you heel too far, you will lose rudder control.

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(951) 277-3377