Re: Tacking a Genoa?
Rollers definitely help. I have rollers on my lifelines so the foot doesn't catch on the stancheons as you grind in to close-hauled, which reduces the number of times you have to "skirt" the sail. When tacking from close hauled timing of the release is very important. release too early and the sail flogs, making it very hard to get the sail across smoothly. Release too late and the sail backwinds too much, trying to poke the spreader through the sail. When we tack, the first thing we do is "squeak" a bit of sheet out in preparation for the tack, which serves to get the sail away from the spreader a bit, and gives the boat a bit of acceleration going into the tack. As the boat turns we hold the sheet until the headsail begins to backwind, but release before it plasters against the rigging. That way the wind blows the sail through the foretriangle quickly. That also helps to push the bow around on the new tack. It is also important to minimize the number of things that can foul or snag the sheets and sail. Tape up all cotter pins and split rings. If you use bowlines on your sheets, keep the loops small; a big space between the knot and the clew will catch on shrouds and stays every time and drive you crazy!
Genoas are built for the abuse of tacking, but if you are concerned about damage, you can have reinforcement patches sewn on to the areas that contact hard points like spreaders and stancheons. (this is more common on laminate sails than dacron, which is more tolerant of the abuse). In my opinion excessive flogging does more harm to a sail than dragging across smooth rigging. Learn to tack with minimal flogging and you will do your sails a favor!
1979 Santana 30 Tall Rig