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I have Tara on the hard at the Waiheke Island Boat club and have a question, I have had problems tacking the tiki 26 and have had suggestions made to me about adding a keel or vortex convertor!. Does anyone have any suggestions as to the length the keel or vortex convertor should be and what sort of shape. Has anyone had success with either. Thanks Ken

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Hi, I do not think you need to change the boat, you need to learn how to tack it :-).  a 26 will go through the wind if you keep: a.)  the traveller sheeted a bit to windward and the mainsail sheet tight, so the wind will still drive the boat when the bows have already the wind from the new side-

b.) keep the foresails sheet tight till the wind blows the bows to the new side and shift the foresail only when you got the wind on the new side in the main.

c.) keep prepared to eventually sail the boat in "reverse gear" when you stalled in the tack, watching the waterflow seeing you go backwards you need to reverse the tillers position.

d.) when reefed on the mainsail keep the mainsails traveller more to windward when tacking

My experience of sailing Freyia in the last 15 years.


Hi Ken,

I agree with Matthias, I have the same experience on my Tiki 26.  If I'm careful I can tack without needing to reverse the tillers if the water is fairly flat, but any waves make it more difficult.  Plenty of practice in the technique and timing is needed.The only tip I'd add is that sometimes it helps to bear away a few degrees to add a bit of extra speed before swinging into the tack.  Again it needs practice to get right.

I don't think a vortex generator would help with this problem.  The only thing that might help a little is a deep narrow daggerboard to provide a pivot point, but that would cause so many other difficulties I wouldn't recommend trying it.

Every boat design has advantages and disadvantages.  With a Tiki 26 slow tacking is something I accept because it does everything else so well.


In flat water the smaller Tikis will tack easily. When there are waves it can be harder, much harder. Pulliing the main to weather and backing the jib will usually bring her around. Sometimes not and you will have to back out and  restart. JWD's thought s are that the boat spends most of the time trying to go straight, not turning. The long skinny hull shape works well for this.

 The boats also have limited maneuverability in reverse under power. On our Tiki 8m we have removed the skeg and used balanced kickup rudders on a 5* stern post.  Stock angle is 25*. At 25* the rudder is using 1/4 of any turning effort to drive the sterns down . With the barn door style rudders this creates a heavy helm. At double digit speeds this is quite tiring and makes for much higher loads for an autopilot. With the balanced rudder the steering is finger or toe tip. This provided much better control in reverse. It also enabled the boat to tack much easier. They will tack without a headsail up quite easily.  The boats still track exceptionally well.

 On our 48' Ariki we have the barn door rudder with a 5* stern post. We have put a much larger auto pilot on to deal with the high loads involved. The AP is rated for a boat more than twice as heavy.  

Tacking a small Tiki (or any well balanced boat for that matter) is quite simple as explained above, save one addition:

When you are ready tack, spill the jib. This puts all of the effort on the main and the boat will simply turn. This works in calm or heavy seas.

Of course, it is important that you have speed on before you try to tack. Sometimes this will necessitate bearing off a few degrees before starting your tack. But as you can see, there is nothing wrong with the boat; it is the captain that is the issue, but that is just part of the experience.

Start your tack from close hauled or close reaching with good speed.  Tacking from a beam reach is not easy, especially in waves.


Main tight and jib sheet tight.  Tight Jib sheet  allows the jib to be backwinded sooner as you head up.


Just after the bow crosses head to wind, ease the mainsheet a bit.  This allows the bows to fall off the wind, and helps the boat to gain some steerage speed on the new tack. 


Make sure you hold the tiller over until the boat comes around, and you don't accidently center the rudders as you walk across the boat.  Many people get into irons because they are unknowingly centering the rudders too soon as they handle sheets.  ( Unless of course if you lose speed, and the boat starts reversing, then you have to reverse the rudders to "back out".)

Once on the new tack after you bring the jib across, you can then trim the main back in, and come back up to close hauled.


Go out and practice sailing the boat backwards.  In San Diego we have so much kelp, we frequently head up, purposely to put the boat into irons, then sail backwards to clear the kelp off the rudders, and then sail off on either tack.  You'll notice the boat likes to stay head to wind and "hove to" with the main tight and centered.  As you ease the main, you will even have trouble holding the bows into the wind.  The boat naturally wants to sit beam on to the wind with no pressure on the sails, so the mainsail sheeted tight is really what holds the boat in irons.


Please don't alter Wharram's beautiful design.....smart guy that got it right the 1st time around.

Thank you all for the advice, I'll get some practice in and let you know how I get on. Thanks again for the advice. Ken

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