Do you know your Downhaul and your Outhaul?
The amount of downhaul and outhaul can make an enormous difference to the way your sail handles. Height and weight of the rider play a big part in your sail tuning. For example a tall heavier rider using a standard freeride sail in winds between 12-20 knots would not use as much downhaul as a smaller lighter rider. Not using as much downhaul will produce more power at the top of the sail giving the heavier/taller rider that extra power needed, increasing the down haul will flatten the top part of the sail which in turn will decrease the power in the sail. For lighter smaller riders generally they will be looking to set the downhaul to the full recommended settings with an option to maybe increase just a fraction, the result of this will give the sail a much more stable felling especially through the gusts reducing the chances of the dreaded catapult.
Thankfully this is something a little easier to understand but downhaul and outhaul always work together. Increase in the downhaul will cause an increase in pressure on the mast resulting in a loser sail and some creases, it is then important to increase the outhaul to balance the sail again against the downhaul, (less downhaul = less outhaul). Wind speed will also determine the amount of outhaul you may or may not need. For sailing in lighter wind you will want to release some of the outhaul which will give you earlier planning, for stronger wind conditions you will want to increase that outhaul which will result in a much more comfortable stable feeling, not enough outhaul on a strong wind day will leave you feeling like you are fighting the rig as the gusts push the sail aggressively leaving you fighting for control. A great way to check your outhaul is to focus on the sail profile against the profile of the boom as well as checking the ‘Batten’ than sits above the boom with regards to its position against the mast..