Boy is this is the thread for me. Coming from a background of Flying Scot sailing (DDW with a spin - no comments mb), I have to say I have really struggled this year with my H18. Upwind - I still have much to learn but feel I am making solid progress, but downwind, well...
The first problem is that I'm sailing Portsmouth with no other H18s. It's impossible to judge relative depth of reach, what works better, etc. I've tried various strategies, but at the end of the day all I can do is look at the corrected times and see that I'm still getting crushed.
The second is translating the theoretical book knowledge into practice. How much should you heat it up before bearing off? How does that change as a function of wind speed? How does sail trim factor into it. etc, etc.
I realize the answer is probably simple, and one that I won't like ('cause its not an easy fix): like any other sports its got to be more boat time in a competitive setting. Something that's difficult when you live in MI, only have 5-6 regattas a year, and nobody else in the same class to sail against.
So, a couple of specifics to start: Sail trim. I have read in multiple locations and assume that as a starting point the main traveler should be 4-6" inside the leeward hull and the main sheeted out so the top is twisting off (not too much) so it's barely touching the shrouds. Based on this, a few options run through my mind:
a) Does one set the jib relative to the main (so the tell-tales break similarly), and then steer for proper tell-tail flow, or
b) do you hold a course and adjust the sails to the wind? Or
c) does one sail the main telltails, while the crew adjusts the jib? or
Sorry for the long and convoluted post. As my CRAM friends will vouch, this has been vexing me for quite some time. Your advice is much appreciated.