Melges Performance Sailboats and North Sails Zenda have hosted the MC Scow’s “Zenda University” for more than 25 years. This year’s iteration took place in Eustis, Florida at the Lake Eustis Sailing Club. The Melges and North Sails Team hosted two days of focused on the water practice coupled with shoreside demonstrations and chalk talks. Zenda U gives sailors a chance to improve and prepare for the MC Scow Midwinter Championship also held in Eustis. While light air plagued the event, the best sailing was done during the clinic and a lot of light-air lessons were learned! Read on for some of our top light-air tips and takeaways from 2020 Zenda University.

1. Heel Angle
Upwind, the MC Scow enjoys sailing at about 12 degrees of heel always erring on flatter. This gets your leeward leeboard vertical in the water ensuring that you are moving forward and not sideways. One common mistake is sailing with too much heel. Sailing with a significant amount of heel in light air may feel like the correct thing to do – your helm increases as does your mainsheet tension. What you don’t realize is that your boat is going sideways. To avoid sailing over-heeled you need to constantly work towards the weather side of the boat. Don’t be afraid to press on the weather deck and take some heel out of the boat. Proper body position is key to transitioning from the low-side to the high-side and maintaining a consistent and proper heel angle.

2. Body Position & Transitioning 
Sailing on a consistent and proper heel angle requires the ability to transition from sitting on the leeward rail under the boom to pressing on the high side of the boat. This transition needs to be done in a smooth and efficient manner. Abrupt movements with either your body, tiller or mainsheet all affect the flow on your sails and foils hurting your speed. Below are a few key steps to think about when transiting across the boat to help you sail on your proper heel angle all of the time.

Focus on your tiller hand. 
Focusing on your tiller hand when transitioning will allow you to minimize steering and keep your tiller extension out of the way when moving from the high side to low side and back again. The key to this is keeping your tiller hand and tiller extension behind you rather than across your body. When moving into the boat, transition your tiller hand from the traditional microphone grip to a thumbs-down panhandle grip behind you. This allows you to lock your tiller hand into the deck and reduce tiller movements as you move to the low side. If your initial step into the boat has not maintained your heel angle and you feel it’s time to sit under the boom, do so by flipping your tiller extension behind the boom while turning and sitting on the low side. When you need to flatten the boat, swing the tiller extension behind the boom and press the mainsheet hand and tiller extension hand on the weather rail until the boat is back on its proper heel angle.

Move across the boat slowly and deliberately. 
Walking lightly across the boat as you transition ensures you maintain consistent and even flow on your foils. It also helps to not heel or flatten the boat too quickly when transitioning. A great way to practice this is by limiting the sound you can hear as you walk across the boat. Note – you shouldn’t be able to hear yourself walk across the boat.