Common Faults.

This page lists the majority of common faults that newcomers to the ISO usually succombe to whilst sailing in moderate wind conditions. It also briefly mentions possibly cures. Have a read and see if any seem familiar to your boat. If there are any I have missed off, then please let me know by email.


  • No communication – if you don’t talk, you will never know what the other person is going to do;
  • Pulling ropes from the wrong places – people still insist on pulling the kite up and or the pole out direct from the bullseye at the front of the boat instead of from the pulley block. This makes hard work for yourselves;
  • Not taking up the slack – Always take up the slack in your windward jib sheets (upwind) and windward spinnaker sheets (downwind) be ready for a tack or gybe, also it is less to pull through on the other side
  • Also when pulling the tail of the spinnaker sheet into the boat, DO NOT reachover the side and pull the sheet into the boat, this will cause a loop to fall over the ratchet block then when you next sheet on from that block you will be tangled! Instead, pull all the slack through the ratchet block itself;
  • Heads buried in the boat during manouvers – get your head up, see what the boat is doing, see if you need to move your body weight quicker or slower, see what your going to hit, see any gusts / lulls coming in. Basically heads up enables you to see, you don’t look at the pedals when you are changing gear do you?


  • Unable to stop the boat – due to you sitting down. If you sit down, you have to pull the sails in to stop the boat tipping over to windward. Pulling the sails in makes the boat go faster! So both of you stand up and let the sails out. Watch the top boats on the start line and see what I mean;
  • You miss the start – if at sea, it is usually because you didn’t realise the tide was taking you away from the race area and ended up too far away.
  • Boat tacks whilst hovering – the crew should have BOTH windward and leeward jib sheets in hand with the slack taken up on both of them. If the boat is getting in irons (head to wind, no steerage), the helm will call for the jib to be backed, the crew then immediately pull on the windward jibsheet and back the jib, forcing the bow away from the wind and back on course.


  • Jib too loose;
  • Jib Barber off – usually after crew has caught it;
  • Not enough kicker – open leech loss of power;
  • Main not pulled in far enough – fault only when crew weight not right out and boat is flat;
  • Swatcher off – allows mast to bend and opens top of main;
  • Boat heeling to leeward – boat will feel as though it is pointing high, but will be slipping sideways aswell as going slowly;
  • Tiller behind the helm – this leaves only one hand to sheet the main in and out. Bring the tiller across the body and use both hands.


  • Not enough roll in the light to moderate conditions – prevents power up out of tack aswell as preventing the popping of the battens;
  • Helm or crew or both go accross the boat too quickly – prevents any roll that might have been;
  • Battens don’t pop – see above;
  • Helm doesn’t look up after every tack to check the state of the battens and therefore sails on with battens inverted wondering why they are going slowly up the beat;
  • Big oversteer on the tacks – usually caused by the helm burying his / her head in the boat during the tack and not knowing where the boat is in the tack and where abouts it is in relation to the wind;
  • Helm drops the tiller on the tack – causes oversteer;
  • Helm tacks with the mainsheet cleated – not good if a gust arrives as you complete the tack! If you have it in your hand out of the cleat and that same gust arrives, you just ease the main out;
  • Jib flaps – because the crew didn’t take the slack up in the windward sheet before the tack. Once a tack is completed, the crew should always be ready for another at any moment;
  • Too much tiller – this applies the break to the boat, causes excessive drag and stalls the boat on the exit of the tack.

Windward Mark / Hoist:

  • The boat is born away with leeward heel on it instead of windward heel. This is caused by the helm not easing the main and or the crew coming in too early without letting the helm know;
  • Too much tiller is used on the bear away – due to the boat being heeled to leeward;
  • Helm too slow to bear the boat away – this will allow other boats to nip inside you;
  • The bear away is also not usually deep enough – normally because the helm and crew are still sat on the side and as we all know you have to point higher with your sail in to allow you to stay sat on the side;
  • Kicker not eased before during or after the hoist – bad sail shape for the offwind leg, resulting in lack of power;
  • Helm standing up with tiller between legs hoisting the kite – unless the crew is weak and unable to do the hoist, it is best if the helm does the pole with one hand and the other pulls the pole out, this gives better control of the boat especially in waves or big packs;
  • Kite flaps on host! – It shouldn’t flap. Wilst the crew is hoisting, after the helm has pulled the pole out, the helm should then grab the WINDWARD, yes WINDWARD not leeward, kite sheet, direct from the clew of the kite not through any blocks. This will set the kite and start the boat accelerating. The clew of the kite will be touching the jib luff wire but we are not after perfection setting of the kite here. Once the crew has finished hoisting, he can just reach down to the LEEWARD ratchet, take up the slack and a bit of communication, the helm lets go and the crew snaps up the rest of the kite slack. A lot quicker than the flappy kite method!
  • Crew sits or kneels when hoisting kite – this will lead to knots and tangles due to small pulls of the kite halyard. If you stand up you can do longer pulls and the halyard is less likely to get tangled;
  • One track minds when tacking – when the call for a tack has been made, usually the crew but the helm is guilty aswell, the blinkers go on, head goes down and you must get to the other side at all costs! If you put your head up and look around whilst tacking, you will probably nitce the wind has eased going into the gust and you are not required on the other side, or ther eis a large gust about to strike very soon after you tack, in which case you can tell the helm “Gust on” with this info, the helm will be ready to ease extra mainsheet to compensate. Get your heads out of the boat!


  • Kite flaps – fair enough if the crew gets distracted by some gorgeous bit of stuff on the bank, but even so, the reactions of the crew to the kite flapping go along the lines of “Flap, flap, flap, ooh the kite is flapping, flap, flap, I think I will pull it in, flap, pull, flap, pull, set”. What should happen in the event of the kite colapsing is the helm shouts “KITE!” the crew, doesn’t look at the kite to see what the helm means, he just pulls as fast and as hard as he can on the kite sheet, to set it, then appologises!
  • Both helm and crew too far aft in the boat – creates drag in lighter days, must concentrate on crew weight forwards;
  • Both helm and crew want to sit on the same side in lighter days – to allow this, you must point higher, but the aim of downwind is to get downwind and point lower. The helm must stand in the middle of the boat, whilst the crew either stands at the mast or sits right up at the front of the wing, whatever, the crew must be able to see the kite.


  • Not enough role in the gybes – lack of role prevents the battens popping, the kite not blowing through and acceleration out of the gybe. Obviously when the wind starts to pick up, the role should be reduced, but in light airs, the gunwhale / wing should just skim the water;
  • Battens don’t pop – can be cured by as the boat is rolled over to windward and the boom comes over, the helm should grab all the mainsheet strands that come down from the boom and guide, the boom over. On the new side as the boom goes across, the helm can flick the main whilst putting all his weight on his windward leg so to pump the boat upright and flick the main. Both of these actions performed together will pop the battens;
  • Kite folds round itself – this is due to the crew letting go of the old kite sheet and not pulling on the new one
  • Helm sticks tiller extension up in the air just as the boom comes across – can be fatal. If the tiller extension is up in the air, the boom will whip it out of your hand, the boat will broach and screw up into wind resulting in a capsize. Helms fault!
  • Helm lets go of tiller to swap hands – again can be fatal if a gust strikes or the wind shifts, you cannot bear away due to you not having the tiller in your hand! Helms fault!
  • Both helm and crew bury their heads in the boat – you don’t know where you are going, the crew doesn’t know what the kite is doing. Only duck your head when the boom comes across, then pop it back up again;
  • Knots in the boat – check the ropes before you gybe for any tangles;
  • Too much tiller – this will spin the boat round so quickly, your crew will fall over. Think of the boat as alever with the rudder being the fulcrum, the further forward you are in the boat, the further the boat moves compared to the transom. It also applies the brakes, slows the boat down, loads the rig up, trips the boat over and capsizes you!

Leeward Mark / Drops:

  • Kite flaps during drop – it shouldn’t flap. As the crew moves into position for the drop, he passes the kite sheet back to the helm who continues to fly th ekite. If a gust hits, the helm just bears away. This is done in ALL weathers. Once the kite starts to come down, not collapses, the helm MUST let go of the kite sheet else he will prevent the kite going into the chute;
  • Kite trawls in the water – probably due to the crew not taking the slack up in the downhaul before letting go of the pole and halyard. If you take the slack up first, it will give you a head start before all the slack disappears. If the kite trawls big style ie under the boat, never let go of the downhaul. The helm should then round the boat up head to wind, push the boom out and reverse off of the kite, whilst at all times, keping tension on the downhaul;
  • Wide, very wide roundings – these happen because the helm is busy watching the crew struggle getting the kite into the chute. Once the kite is down, the helm can start to round up, he should sit down, get into the toe straps and hike hard, whilst pulling the main in enough to balance the boat with him in the toe straps. The crew continues to do his job;
  • Crew sits or kneels whilst dropping – quicker to drop when you are standing.