This checklist helps with setting up the WindPilot Wind Vane. We will use the WindPilot to do a large proportion of the steering on long passages. We will use the Raymarine Autopilot if we are motoring or for brief periods to allow us to go to the toilet etc.

  1. Bring the boat onto course and check sail trim (minimise weather helm)
  2. Lock the main rudder in position
  3. NOTE: ensure that the boat sails straight once the main rudder is locked in position. It will normally be necessary to lock the rudder slightly off-centre to counter the persistent effects of weather helm etc.
  4. Lower the pendulum rudder into the water
  5. Fix the windvane hanger on centre with the red slider.
  6. Loosen main coupling (black knob) and pivot it aft until it is fully aligned and engage into the centre of the teeth.
  7. Retighten the coupling.
  8. CAUTION: check that the indicators on the two gear segments are aligned correctly.
  9. Release the windvane catch.
  10. Fit the windvane (the counterweight 120 should now be pointing into the wind).
  11. Set the windvane into the wind using the line round the knurled knob (it should stand upright).
  12. NOTE: the windvane is only properly centred if it is standing absolutely upright It is important to centre the windvane correctly as any errors here reduce the effective steering range of the system on one side.
  13. Fine trim the course by adjusting the position of the main rudder.
  14. Make large course adjustments by adjusting the Windpilot.


  1. First set the windvane shaft to the new course (rotate the shaft as quickly as possible). The windvane may be adjusted either by hand or using the remote control; the degree scale on the windvane shaft will help you find the correct position.
  2. Release the main rudder and turn it onto the new course as well. Using both rudders speeds up the turn considerably.
  3. Once the boat is on the new course, lock the main rudder in position again.
  4. Adjust the position of the main rudder until the trim is satisfactory.


  1. Weather helm grows more pronounced as the wind strength increases. Adjust the main rudder position appropriately as conditions change.
  2. The windvane should work evenly around the upright position most of the time. If it is permanently off to one side, adjust your sail trim or reef down.
  3. NOTE: weather helm slows you down. Sailing with too much weather helm is like driving with the handbrake on. You can tell if your trim could/should be improved just by looking at the wake. If there is substantial turbulence below the surface (wash from the keel), something needs to be done!
  4. CAUTION: larger, heavier boats may need to reach a relatively high boat speed before the pendulum arm starts to move through its full lateral range.
  5. The force generated by the servo system is always dependent on leverage, rudder area and speed. These factors are the product of physical laws, the consequences of which are inescapable!


  1. Set the windvane absolutely vertical for maximum sensitivity.
  2. The upright setting also provides maximum steering force with the wind fromastern.
  3. A strip of spinnaker cloth (‘windvane telltale’) on the upper trailing edge of the vane further improves sensitivity.
  4. CAUTION: you should not need to use a larger windvane in light airs. If you do use a larger vane, it must be exactly the same weight as the standard vane.
  5. This setting is particularly suitable for sailing with the wind aft of the beam, when the apparent wind strength is always relatively low.


  1. Set the windvane angled back 20 degrees away from the wind.
  2. This position is the general setting for sailing with the wind forward of the beam (relatively high apparent winds).


  1. Angle the windvane further back from the wind (more damping).
  2. If the windvane begins to vibrate in very strong winds, try angling it back even further. The vane can go as far as about 70 degrees back, which should improve damping and give smoother steering impulses (and hence better steering).
  3. This position is the general heavy air setting.


  1. The windvane should always be working evenly around the upright position.
  2. If all the movement is occurring on one side, i.e. between the upright position and one of the end stops, adjust the wheel position until the movement is more evenly distributed.
  3. If the windvane is permanently well over to one side, correct the course setting at the windvane shaft either manually or using the remote control (check the degree scale).
  4. NOTE: the reading on the scale at the windvane shaft 140 may differ slightly from the reading on your wind instrument. This is because wind conditions at deck level tend to be different from those at the top of the mast.


  1. Keep the pendulum rudder blade in the lift-up position.
  2. Remove the windvane.
  3. Centre the windvane hanger with the red slider.
  4. Pivot coupling lever forward (towards the boat) and tighten it down to lock the auxiliary rudder on centre.

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This page was last modified on: January 31, 2013

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