Head Coach Tip of the week: telltales!


Winter is now upon us, and with that come some possible light winds days. Thus, it is key to make sure we are prepared when approaching such conditions.

Telltales are your guide to performance, they are an essential tool for accurate steering and trimming the sails correctly for either speed or pointing. Often they are overlooked, and can either be placed incorrectly or end up in poor condition.

If they are in poor condition, frayed at the end, they will not fly accurately and won’t give you that vital bit of information necessary to go fast.

Making sure your telltales are in great shape can give you a speed edge even on old sails. Even if your sails are 5 years old and slightly stretched, putting a new set of telltales on can bring those same sails back to life and keep you up to speed and competitive.

Make sure your telltales are clear of all other stitching, batten pockets and windows, two-ply wool is the best choice when it comes to steering telltales, as it is lightweight and reacts quickly. One of the biggest mistakes is to have steering telltales that are to heavy and do not fly in light conditions, like in the picture below.

In wet conditions, you can spray steering and leech telltales with silicon spray; this stops them absorbing water and sticking to the sail.

As a young sailor at my home club in Queensland, John Cuneo, Gold Medallist at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, once said to me “if in doubt let it out”. This concept was great in light air to keep the leech telltales flying; to this day, I still think about that concept when racing and coaching.

Remember, if you are looking for advice on how to sail better or win the club championships please drop into the Sailing Office and say hello!