4 Tips for a Smoother Ride

It’s one of the reasons we sail – for the excitement – but there are times when you’d rather not have to battle those Head Seas. Here we look at four ways of reducing the Slam and Bam!

Slow Down

Pounding occurs as the boat stops short. Technically you are experiencing a series of rapid decelerations. The faster you come down off the previous wave, the faster your boat will slow down when it hits the next. The faster you slow down the harder you will pound. So go slower and you’ll slow down slower and pound less.

Ride the Chine

A sharp narrow hull will sink deeper into the water than a wider flatter bottomed boat and so slow down slower instead of fetching up abruptly. If you have minimal dead-rise, heel it over using trim tabs or by shifting weight. This presents a sharp, narrow corner to the waves so the ride is better but wetter!

Keep It Level

The opposite is the case for boats with deeper-V shaped bottoms. Keep the boat level and the deadrise works for you and you get the softest ride. But some high-rise deadrise hulls can actually lean into the wind – if this happens, instead of riding a sharp-V section, you are riding the flatter panel between keel and chine. You could alter course so that the wind is no longer abeam but in reality it is more realistic to shift your weight or use tabs to keep your boat on its lines.


In large swells you can achieve a smoother ride by bearing off a few points a few points instead of hitting the wave crests head on. Crossing on your hull supported as you go over the crest, allowing the boat to ride, rather than fall, down the back side. This zig-zagging cost time but a longer softer ride often beats a shorter, rougher one.

Obviously none of the above is a total solution – every journey is different – but hopefull one of the above will be of use during your next bout with a head sea.

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