The Anatomy of a
Takedown: Part III – The Mexican Takedown
call this the Mexican Takedown, I don’t know, but it’s probably a good story.
The Mexican is a great trick to have up your sleeve because you usually pick up
a boat or two when you pull it off (or lose four when you mess it up). The
Mexican is similar to a weather takedown, but you use it when you are coming
into the leeward mark on starboard and will have to jibe to go around it. This
will let you hold the inside position until the last possible moment and pass
any boats you are overlapped with. Basically it goes jib up, pole down, jibe,
chute down. Like the weather takedown, the sail and all the gear will come down
on the port side of the boat and be ready for a bear away set at the next mark.
The exact timing of all of these maneuvers will vary with windspeed, boatspeed,
and competition, but the harder it is blowing, the sooner everything has to
happen. This is a good one to talk through quickly once we know its happening.
1. The Setup -
About three quarters of the way down the leg (or as soon as the back of the
boat figures out that we are coming in on starboard jibe):
and Mast – drag the jib around to the port side of the boat (it is
probably already there) making sure to get the front of the sail on the
correct side of the foreguy.
- Bow –
hook up the tack of the jib into the snap shackle on the bow. Make sure
the luff of the sail is not twisted and feed the head into the pre-feeder
and the track on the headstay. Hook up the jib halyard and feed the sail
up a few feet. Make sure the sail is in the correct track and shackle for
the halyard you are using.
- Pit –
man the jib halyard and raise it a few feet once the bowman has it hooked
- Mast –
toss the starboard jib sheet over the pole and hook up both jib sheets to
the clew of the sail. Open the forward hatch.
trimmer (or any free hand in the cockpit) – take some (but not all) of the
slack out of the port jib sheet and load it on the primary winch (a couple
turns will do, you probably won’t need a handle as we won’t be grinding it
in on this side). Take the slack out of the starboard jib sheet and get it
ready to go on the starboard primary (you can’t load it yet because the
guy is there)
– if you are sailing a deep angle to the mark (i.e. it’s breezy and the
pole is squared back a lot) call for the jib to be raised halfway. This
will not disturb the flow over the spinnaker if you are sailing deep
enough and will give the foredeck a head start. Note: you cannot do this
when reaching into the mark.
2. Raise the Jib -
About five boatlengths from the mark (more or less depending on the windspeed):
Mast – jump jib halyard at the mast always
watching the sail to spot any problems
Pit – overhaul jib halyard. Once the mastman
can’t jump it anymore, put four turns on the winch and put the halyard in the
self tailer. Grind the sail up to the proper upwind tension (this should be
marked on the halyard, but the bowman can call it if necessary). Make sure to watch
the sail for any problems. Leave the jib halyard on the winch and in the self
tailer to minimize any chance of slippage. Make sure spinnaker halyard is
flaked, out of the bag and ready to run.
Bow – Watch the jib luff feeder for any problems
and be ready to run forward and help feed if necessary. Try to keep your weight
as far back as possible.
Floater/Pit – tighten outhaul to upwind setting
(probably close to all the way). Cunningham can wait.
Main - tighten backstay about halfway to upwind
Jib Trimmer – no need to trim the jib yet, its
not driving the boat (you are probably still on the guy or the sheet anyway)
but make sure it is not flogging.
Spin sheet trimmer – load the lazy spin sheet
onto the winch, take the slack out of the lazy sheet and get ready to fly from
3. Pole Down –
About three boatlengths from the mark:
– call for the trip, then call out time until the douse
trimmer – pull back on the guy a
few feet to compensate for the pole as it is tripped away. Get ready to
bring in the jib sheet on the starboard side. Once the spin sheet trimmer
has the slack out of the lazy sheet and is flying from both sheets, ease
the guy and take it off the winch. Load the starboard jib sheet on the
primary (three turns, handle in).
- Mast –
trip the pole and then lower the inboard end to the deck. Then grab the
lazy guy (hanging down off the sail on the port side of the boat) and hand
the end to the sewer man reaching out of the hatch. Make sure that it is
outside the jib and then runs under the foot of the sail to the hatch.
sheet trimmer – you are now free flying the chute from both sheets. Keep
it full and get ready to rotate the sail through the jibe.
- Pit –
lower the outboard end of the pole to the deck
- Bow –
Make sure the hatch is open the hatch before the trip and then make sure
the pole comes down smoothly. Guide it underneath the bow pulpit.
– assume the position of “human pole,” holding the new sheet (and/or old guy)
as far outboard as possible with one hand while holding the shrouds with
(Runners) – go below and forward, get ready to gather the sail through the
hatch. Take the lazy sheet from the mastman and make sure everything is
clear to come down.
4. The Jibe –
Whenever it is right—probably within two boatlengths, but try to give the crew
enough time to get the spinnaker down afterwards.
– call for the jibe and go release the port jib sheet.
– turn the boat smoothly through the jibe. There is no pole to worry
about, but you have to help the spin trimmer keep the sail full.
sheet trimmer – this is the one time you don’t want to overrotate the sail through the
turn. Ease off on the old sheet and pull in on the new sheet to keep the
sail in front of the boat. We want to try to keep the spinnaker nearly
completely on the new windward (port) side to make the takedown easier,
but rotate it enough to keep it full.
trimmer – bring the jib in on the starboard side. Don’t trim too hard, but
be ready to bring it in as the boat turns around the mark (i.e. keep it in
– Set the traveler way up to the new windward side. Trim like crazy as the
boom comes across the boat. This is your chance to get most of the sheet
in before you go upwind. Once the boom is across, ease to trim for a close
reach and get set up to grind the rest of the way in.
and Mast – help the jib across if it needs it, then get set up for the
douse by grabbing the lazy guy on the port side. From here on, this looks
like a normal weather takedown.
4. Time to Douse
– One-ish boatlengths from the mark or very soon after the jibe (can vary on
any number of factors including windspeed, boatspeed, overlaps, starboard
tackers, confidence, etc.):
– call for the douse
– If reaching into the mark, turn down briefly to help collapse the chute
if possible (it might not be, don’t sacrifice position – they’ll get it
– Grab the lazy guy and pull it down and back to collapse the sail and get
it around the forestay. Then reach up and grab the luff tape and pull it
down. Stuff the sail down the hatch.
- Bow -
stand just forward of the mastman and help pull the lazy guy down if
necessary. Grab the foot of the sail and pull back to get the sail around
the forestay. Then reach up help pull the sail down. Stuff the sail down
- Pit –
Initially dump a lot (15 to 20 feet) of the halyard to help collapse the
sail. Then, while watching the sail and the people gathering it, lower it
in a controlled manner. The key is to prevent the sail from getting in the
water and under the bow, so make sure the sail is around to weather and under
control before lowering the majority of it. Note: you should have at least
one turn around the winch before you open the clutch to avoid shredding
your hands, but if the jib halyard is on the winch you need, it is fine to
take a turn on top of the jib halyard.
trimmer – ease the new (starboard) spinnaker sheet forward so the sail can
be pulled around the forestay. Ease the old one as necessary.
– Pull like crazy on the lazy guy until you can reach some part of the
sail. Pull the entire sail below. Disconnect the gear and hand it to the
Bow or Mast. Start packing the sail.
trimmer – Tend to the jib sheet.
5. Rounding the Mark:
– set up wide so you can make a gradual turn and round the mark tight so
you are sailing upwind with no room between the windward side of the boat
and the mark
– You should already have the sail most of the way in so trim to match the
– help the main trimmer grind if needed.
trimmer – trim the sail to match the boat’s turn. It is important not to
overtrim the jib during the turn, if anything err on the side of
undertrim, but make sure you get it all the way in once the boat is close
else – be very conscious of weight placement. If hiking is necessary, then
every available person should be on the rail hiking as hard as possible.
In light air, keep weigh to leeward to heel the boat and help it turn
around the mark.
- Bow –
Hike with the rest of the crew. Cleanup can wait until the boat is up to speed
and clear of any traffic – preferably in smooth water or a lull.