Roll Tack – optimist

Optimist Roll Tacking

Optimist Roll Tack

Proper tacking form is key to boat handling and performance. The roll tack technique is the most performant and “coolest” way to make it through a tack in light wind conditions, and even in moderate conditions it helps you exit the tack without stalling.

This video is great because you can see the posture and line management very clearly. The sailor is small to medium sized and size does affect the way that you roll tack. The conditions also affect the way you should tack. In heavy wind conditions you may not be able to hike to leeward before going into the tack without capsizing…so learn the right technique for the right conditions.

Steps and line management

  1. Hike out to leeward
  2. Hold the mainsheet with your forward hand and grasp the centerboard box
  3. Push the tiller over using your back hand. Rest the tiller extension on the opposite rail
  4. Use your hands (one on the centerboard box holding the mainsheet and the other on the opposite rail holding the tiller extension) to brace yourself as you hop across to the other side of the boat. The goal is to land with your feet in position to sit your hips directly up on the rail and get into position just aft of the bulkhead.

Larger sailors need a different technique to accomplish the same goals of the roll tack

Check out the difference in the positioning and line management of this sailor to the sailor in the first video. They are both right. The larger sailor uses his chest on the opposite rail until he can manage to step over and get into position.

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