Martin 16

M16 Tuning Guide

The Martin 16 Fleet continues to grow and refine over the seasons. The double-handed sailing format has really caught on in the past three seasons and there are active double-handed fleets and events in Canada, US, UK and Italy, as well as annual North American and European Championships now.

The top-performing teams have begun tuning measurements and we’re recording them here. Please share your go-fast secrets with others in the fleet. Send them in and we’ll post them here.

Mast set-up; George Barker, UK RYA Sailability Coach

The rake of the mast and spreader settings are important on your Martin 16, especially for upwind speed and pointing. These figures are based on measurements of the fast boats at the front of the fleet, taken at the 2005 European Championship, October 28, 2005. The sailing waters were very flat for the winds experienced and the maximum wind did not exceed 15 kts

Mast Rake

Mast rake is measured taking a tape measure attached to the main halyard up to the top of the mast. The distance to the top of the top transom edge was recorded.

Spreader length and deflection

The spreader length was measured from the intersection of the shroud through the end of the spreader to the side face of the mast directly on top of the spreader.

The deflection was measured by placing a straight edge between the shrouds resting on top of the spreaders and then measuring the distance from this straight edge to the rear face of the mast track.

Mainsheet traveler – half length

This was measured from the point at which the strop emerges from the deck to where it was attached to either the pulley or the hook at the start of the mainsheet.

Mast Rake
Mainsheet traveler
half length (cm)
length (cm)
defection (cm)
126 605 90 39 11.2
131 608 77 39 12
129 606 85 38.5 11.6
111 595 90 40 12
113 619 ? 38.5 ?
Basic Sailing Tips

The Martin 16 is a breakthrough in keelboat design — the only boat of its kind in the world! Its easily driven lines and high-tech keel foil and bulb shapes were derived from the International America’s Cup Class (IACC) yacht design. It was even designed and computer-modeled using the same AUTOShip computer design systems!

It is extremely safe and very easy to sail. Its centerline seating and keel bulb make the boat stable in all conditions, even for sailors with severe physical disabilities. There are no lines to strangle you, no boom to hit you in the cockpit area. Both sails are self-tending (go the “right” side on their own) so the boat is always controllable, even in a large seaway and heavy winds.

The Martin 16 is a KEELBOAT! Although it is small and nimble to sail, take some time to get used to how it sails in different wind strengths and in open water. Here are some things you need to know about sailing your Martin 16:

The Martin 16 weighs about 900 lbs. with you in it, has very little windage and moves easily through the water.

Like most keelboats, at very low speeds it has limited steerage. Due to the action of the “joystick” steering system, it has a limited “turning circle” at low speeds.

And when it is going, it has a surprising amount of momentum — especially when approaching the dock! It will “shoot” or coast 3 – 10 boat lengths into the wind. So practice “shooting” into the wind away from the dock until you get a feel for it.

The Martin 16 and depends upon the submerged keel bulb (330 lbs / 150kg) for its stability. While under sail in all conditions, the Martin 16 keel is meant to be fully lowered. Even at the dock, you should not step onto the deck of the boat with the keel raised.

“Ganged” Sheeting: The sheeting of the Martin 16 is unique and very convenient. The sheeting system is designed so that you can make coarse adjustments to both sheets at once, using one hand. Then you can fine-adjust each sheet for best performance.

“Over-sheeting”: The most frequent error is over-sheeting — pulling the sails in too tightly. The Martin 16 sail plan is relatively small for the boat’s mass, so it is easy in lighter winds to get impatient and pull on the ropes. In general, in light winds, you want to sheet the Martin 16 “freely.” You’ll get used to it.

When sailing upwind, the mainsail should be set so that the boom-end is about over the lee gunwale (aft corner of the boat). It is easy to over-sheet the mainsail.

Look up and make sure that your boom vang and outhaul are set so that the three leech telltales on the main are breaking evenly. (Top one breaks first = need more vang; bottom one breaks first = ease vang)

When sailing upwind, the Jib Boom should never be further in-board than about 10 – 12″ from the mast under most conditions. It may be closer in heavy winds when the jib “twists” more (see below).

Adjusting the Rig Tension: Very few boats have the degree of jib sail shape tuning that the Martin 16 has. First, the jib boom maintains the shape of the sail even on very broad angles to the wind (most jibs/genoas are useless on broad wind angles). The rig tension is used to adjust the “twist” of the jib, just the way the boom vang adjusts the twist of the main sail. If the jib appears to be twisting too much (free at the top), pull on more rig tension by increasing the tension of the Jib Halyard (port shelf). If you really want to “Go Fast!,” you will find that you can make frequent adjustments to the rig tension in puffy winds.

Sailing the Martin 16

By Steve Alvey
This is a special section that I’ve written for sailing know-it-all folks like me. I thought I knew everything before the Martin 16. And it breaks a lot of very sacred “know-it-all” rules! So I constantly answer questions and address concerns about certain things about the Martin 16 not being right.

I know personally how much time, thought, discussion, testing, revision, water-testing, swearing, re-testing and experience that has gone into the design of the Martin 16 Sloop. The Martin 16 is a “breakthrough” design in many respects and, just like any breakthrough product, there are unique and perhaps unfamiliar features that may appear to be wrong from your perspective. Below are quotes of Frequently Said Things (FSTs) about new Martin 16s — you might say them too! So that you don’t have to call me I’ve briefly answered each FST below. Enjoy!

Things said during unpacking and first-time commissioning

“I pulled out all of the lines (and coiled them neatly) — now I can’t figure out where they go”!

(You’ll do this once—but probably never do it again!) The Martin 16 has a sophisticated and highly functional set of running rigging lines. They are all within arms reach of the sailor, minimize the loads, and allow very fine adjustments to be made in any condition. They’re (generally) pre-rigged and checked at the factory or by your dealer, and they’re designed to be left in place. So don’t de-rig any control lines or sheets, now or ever! I know that you’re going to anyway, so if you need to re-rig them, call your dealer!

“Oops — what’s the right hole for these shroud pins?”

I know, somebody (else) removed them without marking the hole they were in. The first time you rig the boat, put the shroud pins in the fourth hole from the bottom of the shroud adjusters (count 4 up, or 6 down).  The shroud adjusters set the “rake” of the Martin 16 mast.  The correct rake for the mast is 12 – 15″ in most conditions, so that the tip of the mast is in line with the chainplates.

When you get to know your boat better, you can fine tune the rig as you wish. If you don’t know what you’re doing, always put them in the fourth hole.

“I’ve got the shrouds hooked up, where does the forestay attach?!”

The first time you go to put the mast up, you’ll be there with your friends and the forestay is going to seem to be too short. Don’t panic! It’s not. Honest. The forestay tang is attached to the bow of the boat with an 18″ grey Spectra lanyard (comes through a hole in the foredeck). You just tie the lanyard to the foestay tang wiht a couple of half hitches.  Pull it as tight as you can, and then tape the knot.

If you have a spinnaker rig, there’s also a short length of shock cord led through the end of the jib boom. The “free end” of that cord has to be tied into the lanyard know as well, using an extra half hitch. Now tape the knot.

“Now that I have the mast up, it looks like it’s leaning to one side.”

The upper shroud ends have a “twist lock” fitting, that is loose in the mast receiver. When you’re putting the mast up, these twist locks can get cock-eyed and stick straight out from the mast receiver, with the shroud sharply bent. If you leave them that way and go sailing, they will bend under load and eventually the shroud may break. All it takes is a quick look aloft to make sure that they are “laying down” beside the mast.

Things said during the FIRST sail (light wind)

“Boy, this joystick is SLOPPY!!”

Well, then adjust the steering lines! The steering lines can be adjusted to make the steering very sensitive. It takes just a minute to check and adjust the lines before you go sailing.

“Boy, this steering is STIFF. I’m tired!”

Similarly, if the steering lines are too tight, the steering is stiff and requires more effort to move. Let them off ever so slightly!

“Hey, this boat doesn’t turn very fast (bump)”

Again, the Martin 16 is a keelboat, yes, even though a small one. Keelboats do not respond to the helm quickly in very light winds. So leave yourself room to maneuver!

“Boy, this steering is VERY heavy!”

The Martin 16 rudder blade must be pinned down in it’s vertical position when sailing. If not and it tilts back just a small amount, the steering becomes very heavy!

“I pull on the sheet (ropes) and it doesn’t seem to go any faster”

The sail-plan of the Martin 16 is small for the weight of the boat. This makes it safe; allows you to sail with full sail in higher winds; and makes the boat slow if there is very little wind.

The most frequent sailing error made in a Martin 16 in light wind is sheeting too hard. If you do, you just go slow. So relax and sheet the boat freely in light air. Fortunately, the Martin 16 is the world’s most comfortable boat so take a good book to read.

“Hey, I bet if I RAISE the keel, it will go faster!”

Don’t do it! The Martin 16 is a keelboat and depends upon the submerged keel bulb (330 lbs/150kg) for its stability. While under sail in allconditions, the Martin 16 keel is meant to be fully lowered.

Things said during the FIRST sail (heavy wind)

“Boy, this joystick is SLOPPY!!”

Well, then adjust the steering lines! The steering lines can be adjusted to make the steering very sensitive. It takes just a minute to check and adjust the lines before you go sailing.

“Boy, this steering is VERY heavy!”

The Martin 16 rudder blade must be pinned down in itís vertical position when sailing. If not and it tilts back just a small amount, the steering becomes very heavy!!

“Whoa, will this boat TIP OVER?!!”

Your Martin 16 is made to sail heeled over. With you sitting in the middle, the boat has to heel over to gain stability. no matter how far it heels over, it cannot tip, founder or sink … trust me … (or ask your local naval architect for a technical explanation). No Martin 16 has ever tipped over, filled up with water, or foundered. Most Martin 16 sailors become high wind experts and enjoy sailing in conditions that few boats venture out in.

“Ya, sure. But what do I do if I think that it’s GOING OUT OF CONTROL?”

Well, if you don’t believe me, any time you feel out of control, let go of the helm (joystick), and release the sheets. The Martin 16 will take care of itself, generally turning into the wind and then hove to, trust me. If you really hit big winds (over 30 knots), this procedure will ensure your personal safety, but the sails and rigging may sustain damage if left flapping in high winds for long. If you can, return to shore or at least lower the main sail if it is safe to do so.

“Hey! This is FUN!”

The Martin 16 comes into its own in heavier winds. The small sail-plan drives the boat to hull speed quickly, and the boat becomes very agile under way. One Martin 16 owner in Connecticut calls the boat his “Miata.” The first time you sail the boat in a breeze, you’ll know what he means.

“The jib sail always seems to be too loose it doesn’t look right.”

The rig tension is an important control on the Martin 16. This will show up in higher winds. Very few boats—even Olympic classes—allow the degree of jib sail shape control that the Martin 16 has. Using the jib halyard tension, you can control the twist of the Jib Sail and tune it very finely to match the shape of the Main Sail. When you pull the jib halyard on harder, it tends toflatten the jib sail. If you free the halyard slightly, it allows the jib totwist. The Jib Halyard acts like a vang on the Jib Boom. I know, I know, this is tech talk. But we have to tell you these secrets. Otherwise you’ll get your butt kicked by the veterans M16 sailors! And they’re not going to tell you!

“Sometimes when I pull the two sheets (ropes) together, the sails seem to come in just right. Is this an accident?”

No, this is not an accident. The sail sheeting systems were designed tosheet the sails in unison, with one hand. Pretty smart eh?

“Sometimes the steering is very hard to hold the boat on course – it wants to turn into the wind”

It’s possible to sail the Martin 16 without ever “fighting” the helm. In heavier winds, it becomes apparent that sail trim affects the feel of the helm. If the boat wants to turn upwind, you have too much power in the mainsail. So you’ll have to learn something about the finer points of sail trim. Use more boom vang to flatten the sail. Free the main sail out a few inches. Not easy to explain in words, but you’ll know when you’re doing it right. The boat will be moving well, and the steering will be light and responsive.

“In heavier winds, sometimes it’s very hard turn away from the wind (bear off)”

As above, if you want the Martin 16 to turn easily, you use the power in the sails to assist you: If you want to turn away from the wind (bear off),let the main sail (or both sails) out first , and then turn. You’ll find that the boat will respond quickly and easily. Got it? let the main sail out first, and then it will turn easily away from the wind. (So you’re learning even more about the finer points of sail trim).

“Man, sailing my Martin 16 in BIG WAVES is wild!”

With big waves, sailing the M16 can be a lot of fun, but in really big waves, it starts to be something like skiing the “big moguls” and does require some skill and finesse. The rules are: don’t fight the boat too much if possible. Get the feel of the waves and steer with them. If you really want to enjoy it, get some coaching from the “big bump experts” in your area.

“When I came into the dock, the boat just keeps on going (and then I hit the dock…)”

Surprise! The Martin 16 has a very easily driven hull and 330 lbs. of lead lurking under the water, on top of the weight of the hull and your body weight. All of this together probably tips the scales at close to 850 lbs. So once you get the boat moving it tends to keep going when compared to a similarly-sized dinghy. Generally this makes the boat easier to sail, except when you’re near stationary things and want to stop quickly. Brace yourself for a bump! Better yet, try “shooting” into the wind five or ten times out on the water away from stationary things and get used to the momentum of the boat. Then come into the dock!

Things said when putting the boat away for the first time

“Man! Is it hard to LIFT THIS KEEL—I’ll just PULL HARDER
(ccrrrunncchhh! $$$$$)”

Whoa!!! Always uncleat the main and jib sheets and pay them out before lifting the keel. This will make it much easier and will not rip the sheet fairleads through the splash deck.

“These crunchy sails don’t fold very well”

Then don’t fold them! Martin 16 sails are made of Mylar, an expensive plastic material that lasts a long time if cared for. The sails are meant to berolled. Just fold them in half by taking the head of the sail to the clew of the sail to keep the battens parallel. And then roll them from the center, down. Keep them in the tubular sail bag and store them without bending the tube. They’ll last forever.

“Do I take the sails off when I put the boat cover on?”

The Martin 16 cover is designed so that you can roll and leave the sailson the boat, ready for sailing. Most of the wear and tear on sails occurs when they’re in the back of your car or being dragged across the parking lot. buy the cover. Leave your sails on the boat.

“What do I have to do to prepare the boat for trailering home? How much do I take apart?”

Not much. The Martin 16 is made to be quickly de-rigged and trailed anywhere.