by Westaway Sails
Impalas are still competitive in strong winds. Upwind you need to perfect the art of feathering to Windward. Once you have managed this you will be able to carry a large sail plan. Try to avoid reefing until absolutely essential, the mainsail drives the boat, change down to at least the No3 before reefing. If you need 2 reefs you should go home. Use maximum halyard tension, maximum vang, moderate backstay, maximum mainsheet (with a strong trimmer) and traveller down the track as necessary.
In flat water, change straight from a No 1 Genoa to a No 3. In waves a No 2 is worth using up to about 25 knots if possible. Crew weight should be as far outboard as possible and a little further aft. Downwind in very strong winds crew weight should be well aft (on the pushpit). With Spinnakers up steering can be difficult reaching, try pole up and aft a little, and downwind pole forward to keep the centre of the sail directly in front of the bow of the boat. This is not fast but is easier to steer, if this fails try a smaller spinnaker or reach up just a little.
Other general tips include: – use minimum diameter rope like 8mm spectra for all halyards and sheets, the rope will run easier, causing less snags.
Launch the Spinnaker from the companion way, this will keep a crew member off the bow as much as possible. Weight in the bow is especially bad on the Impala. Sail with a heavy crew! Especially in strong winds