Downwind (Dead)

Body Position

In very light conditions you should position yourself to maximise waterline length and heel the boat to leeward (Greenwood) / windward (Griffiths).  Place your aft foot over the centreboard casing with forward leg against the thwart (Chew).  May need to straddle the thwart or sit with feet forward (Griffiths).

In normal conditions arrange yourself so that your lower body feels locked yet able to move but with the ability to work your upper body to generate steering motion.    The boat should be heeled to windward until the helm is neutral unless planning is an option – keep boat flat (Greenwood).

You should be able to gain advantages on the downwind legs using your upper body weight and mainsheet.  Sheeting in and luffing the boat in lulls and then easing the main and bearing away in the gusts (Greenwood, Chew)

Run deep in the gusts – look behind you to see gusts and try to stay in the wind lane.  Gybe as required.   Avoid sailing by the lee? (Griffiths).

As the wind increases you will want to move further back in the boat (Greenwood).


Let the boom out to the shroud and, in light conditions, take the main from the boom direct and be prepare to work the sail, in conjunction with your body weight, as described above.

If you are experiencing weather roll – sheet in to reset the turning effect with the helm (Griffiths).

Kicker Tension

The kicker should be released enough to allow the top battern to open to 90 degrees with the wind. Or as much as your dare/possible (Scott, Griffiths). It should be kept tight enough to stop the leech twisting open too much as this causes in stability (Griffiths).

Tell Tales

Luff – Not much help when going directly downwind but if you are being followed by another boat and their burgee is pointing directly at you then the chances are its slowing you down.

Use shroud streamers – old cassette tape is perfect to check wind direction.

Greenwood seems to suggest these will fly downwind and to use them to manage the kicker?

Leechnot much help?


Under normal conditions it should be eased to remove creases and offer a fuller shape (Greenwood) and allow for 50-80 mm depth in the foot?

Leave it on as per upwind for very light or heavy/over-powered conditions (Greenwood). In very light conditions that sail maybe stalled so pull it out (Griffiths). otherwise it should be eased 2″ (Speed), 2-3″ (Scott), Off (McGregor).


Off (McGregor, Greenwood, Griffiths).  Remember to take it off as you bear away or you can damage the sail (McGregor).


Very similar to reaching.  Well raised but enough down to steer.  Possible to run with no board but very unstable so very easy to weather roll. (Griffiths)


  1. Thanks for a great reference of all the articles you have read; I am however still perplexed about the rigging set-uo; showing exactly what pulleys and where? I can seem to find it anywhere; even the Solo Class DVD doesn’t clearly show how the rigging is attached; thanks again

  2. This is a really good round-up! I’m also new in Solos after a 25 year ‘holiday’ – thanks for this article.

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