Feathering a 420
by Peter Rocco
(Michigan State University)
I am on the Michigan State Sailing Team, and last weekend I skipped a FJ for the first time. As I was approached the windward mark I realized I was going to have to feather the boat. After growing up on scows my whole life, I duplicated what I would do in a MC scow on a FJ. I put heel on the boat, and pulled on the cunning ham. I ended up hitting the mark, and was wondering what I should do to properly feather a FJ or a 420, since we use both in the MCSA.
In order to feather well you need to have strong wind, which will push the apparent wind closer to the true wind allowing you to move closer to the point of no sailing (loss of aerodynamic lift being generated). See this post for more info: http://www.startedsailing.com/close-to-the-wind.html
It might be quicker, easier and keep your speed on if you were instead to tack and tack again instead slowly trying to feather your way up to the mark.
Even if you lose a place, it will have been better than as you say hitting the mark or losing more than one place.
This is especially true if you roll tack, because then the exit speed of the tack will be higher allowing you to tack again relatively quickly and making the whole process take less time than if you had just feathered your way up.
So in summary, only feather if there is enough wind, if not, just do two tacks.