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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: Roller Furling Staysail on Sloop

I apologize that my response to your PM on this subject was so brief that frankly it perhaps came off as being somewhat cryptic. I had written it on my wife's Ipad and its hard to be more than terse with that small keyboard and my old guy's fingers. Here is a more detailed explanation of what I was trying tp say.

You mentioned in your PM that the boat in question is an Island Packet 27. I know these boats moderately well. There was on in the next slip when they were introduced and I sailed with the owner trying to help him learn to sail the boat better. I recall sailing this boat in lightish air (around 5 knots) and in gusty conditions. This boat had what seemed like the standard sail plan for these boats which was a mainsail and single, roller-furling genoa that was probably somewhere around 130-140% and which was proportionately a low aspect, moderately heavy fabric, low efficiency proportioned sail. That was the only jib that I sailed with.

Probably the best way to address your question about the efficacy of the roller furling staysail is to discuss this relative to various wind speed ranges.

0-5 knots: This boat bearly sailed until the wind got over about 5 knots. At least on a reach, its performance would perhaps been improved with a light weight sail cloth sail with a larger overlap. In that windspeed range a staysail would not add a thing to performance since a staysail would have closed the slot, clogging air flow, and so actually hurt sailing abiility. But also even up to around 10 knots of wind, this was a hard boat to tack reliably. Adding even the stay for a staysail would have made it imposible to tack reliably without either furling the genoa or else motoring through the tack, which is what the owner of the boat that I sailed on would do in light to moderate air if he needed to tack reliably.

5 to 15 knots: The middle to upper end of this range is where this boat sails best. At those wind speeds the staysail might add a little on a close reach, but frankly since you can't remove the stay every time you needed to come up on a beat or fall off to a broad reach, you would probably want to remove the stay in those conditions.

15 to 20 knots: At that windspeed the boat started developing a lot of weather helm. My sense is that this came from heel steering resulting from the beamy hull form becoming progressively assymetric at greater heel angles. Experimenting arond suggested that as the winds approached 15 knots the best set up was the full jib and a first reef in the mainsail. That helped balance the helm since the boat did not heel as much and the center of effort moved forward. In those conditions, the staysail would not do much good and would add to heel so would increase weather helm. As wind speeds approach 20 knots the hot ticket would have been to have a 110% genoa and a reefed mainsail. In that wind range the staysail would be too small to fly on its own and provide sufficient drive, and too big to use with the 110% genoa jib.

Over 20 knot windspeed: While I did not sail the boat in that windspeed, my sense is that the bestf set up would have been a full hoist 110% genoa and a double reefed mainsail. Again, the staysail would be too small to use on its own until the winds were in the high 20 knot or even low 30 knot range, and would do no good when used with the proper 110% jib.

But here is the dillemna with a roller furling staysail on a boat this small. To be useful at all below 20 knot winds, it needs to be a pretty full cut sail made from a comparatively light fabric so it holds it shapes in lighter wind. In heavy air, it needs to be flat cut and a heavy fabric. At that point it acts as a storm jib and should have a high cut foot and be hanked on not mounted on a roller.

If someone said to me, "I am thinking of adding a staysail to this boat, what should it be?" I would answer, only add it if you plan on spending a lot of time offshore, and it should be a hanked on heavy weight storm jib. The stay should be rigged to be removable because boats this model is hard to tack and having a stay in the middle of the foretriangle greatly aggrevates this problem. Unless the furler and stay can easily be removed from the foretriangle, it diminishes the value of this boat as a coastal cruiser and so adds nothing material to the valuje of the boat.

If the installation is at all sloppy, then that further suggests that adding a staysail on a furler really removes value from this boat rather than adds value. If the plan is to sail the Chesapeake Bay, this is a dubious choice for a boat since there is so few decent sailing days for a boat like this, and the best place for the stay, and the staysail on the furler is in storage on shore where it can't hurt sailing ability.

Now then, I know that there are folks who believe heartily in adding staysails to sloops. This can work acceptably on bigger boats with more easily driven hullforms: where the slot if of a taller proportion and the slot is more open than this boat. But that is not the case here.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Last edited by Jeff_H; 06-23-2013 at 04:01 PM.
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