My first sailboat was a Buccaneer 18. We had a great racing fleet here in the Phoenix Arizona area and there was a pretty good amount of “local knowledge” about the boat. I began to notice that I seemed to do really well upwind on starboard tack, but was loosing on port tack. After doing some rig tuning and matching with some other boats, I was able to confirm that I wasn’t crazy. My boat was set up correctly, but starboard really was favored.
Then my buddy Dave looked at the boat on the trailer one day as I was rigging up. I had put the rudder on but hadn’t pulled it up yet. The rudder wasn’t on center-line. No one else had noticed it but it was a good 5-7 degrees off. After an afternoon of filling holes and drilling holes, she was fixed, fared, and from then on she sailed true.
That was a pretty extreme situation, but there are other reasons your boat might favor one side or the other. Sometimes you may even have to set it up differently on the fly for a given set of wind and wave conditions. In this article, Quantum Sails’ David Flynn explains what to do if you find yourself thinking you are performing better on one tack than the other.