John Forman is an accredited AYF club coach. The family boat "the edge" won the Victorian titles in 1991, 1992 and 1994 and has been placed several times.


Here are a few notes from our experiences sailing the edge. They may not work for all Castles because of different sails, masts, centreboard and crew weight. Most of these comments are in relation to sailing on flat water.

Setting Up a Castle

The mast is raked up to 14 inches. The rigging isn’t drum tight, no matter what we do we can’t stop the forestay from sagging so we use mainsheet pressure. We have set the mast up so that it is straight between the hounds and the base.

The spinnaker is in a basket on the bow for simplicity, this may not be the best way but with a crew of 3 you don’t have to have somebody off the rail packing the kite on the next beat. The sheets are long enough to drop the kite behind the main and into the cabin if conditions get really bad. We don’t use barber haulers on the kite.

The edge is basically set up very simply and if something doesn’t work we get rid of it.

Clean out the cabin and locker each season and before major races. It is amazing how much unwanted weight is accumulated, there is enough weight in the safety gear we have to carry.


Lighter Winds

Allow the yacht to heel a little.

Steer very smoothly, try to keep the boat moving all the time (including through the tack) concentrate on wind tufts/indicators.

Watch that the leach doesn’t curl to windward, oversheet the traveller and ease out the main until the boom is at the centreline (ie no pressure on the leach of the mainsail).

Be careful that the backstay doesn’t catch on the top batten.

Don’t have the genoa on too tight (on the edge this means about three to four inches from the spreader and gradually bring in as speed increases. Make sure leach line is only on enough to stop any flapping. We use a flat entry on the genoa (this suits flat water but needs a lot of concentrating on tell tales to maintain the flow).

Heavier Winds

Keep the yacht flat by working the traveller (we have found this to be very important especially with only 3 crew and notice a lot with 4 crew heel more than us). In extreme conditions you may have to ease the mainsheet as well.

We use a lot of mainsheet pressure, this flattens the main and pulls the forestay tight. We often don’t have the top tell tales flowing, this doesn’t seem to effect the performance and we can get greater height to windward.

We tend to sheet the headsails tight and concentrate on the main.

We don’t use the backstay unless it is really howling. We use the Cunningham and mainsheet to bend the mast.

In flat water we pinch through the gusts, this gives us height and keeps the boat flat. Be careful not to go too high and slow the boat.

If in doubt of which headsail to use go for the smaller, they don’t like being overpowered to windward.

If you are caught with the wrong headsail up and you’re more than halfway up the beat we normally leave it up and ease the main. We keep the No1 up to its maximum and then change to an old No 3.

Mark your halyards so you know how far to lower them when reefing, it is a lot easier than trying to get them back up and is a lot quicker.

We still use the flattener, although a lot of others don’t, it seems to depower well.


Lighter Winds

If it is too light for the spinnaker to fill then don’t use it, put up the headsail as it is easier to get a bit of shape into it and there will be less drag.

Have a set of very light spinnaker sheets to reduce the weight on the clew.

Mark the spinnaker sheets so they can be preset when raising the kite (caution…light winds only).

Heel the boat slightly, it helps the sails fill.

Move very gently around the yacht and concentrate on keeping the kite set.

Don’t run dead square in extremely light conditions, it is hard to keep the kite filling.

Be on the bow for the shortest amount of time possible. If you have a heavy foredeck hand have the rest of the crew move back a little.


Maintain control, don’t fly the kite if the crew aren’t up to it.

When reaching always have somebody ready to dump the mainsheet. This is most important as the main makes the boat round up. Keep the yacht flat and work the sails. Come up in the lighter airs and run off in the gusts.

Don’t have the backstay on tight as the mast will bend/break.

Don’t try to gybe sharply with the kite, make sure every body knows what their job is.

This is the time to change headsails if required.

Don’t forget to run the windward headsail sheet over the pole and in front of the uphaul so that when you gybe the kite the headsail sheet will be on the correct side of the kicker.

I hope these few tips will assist existing and new owners in getting the most out of their Castles. This is not a complete list as sailing is a continual learning curve, as I said earlier this may not work for all but it has worked for us.