The toughest question I had to face recently when buying a new Passport 470 was whether to get in-mast roller furling. I am an ex-racer and the ability to critically shape a main is important to me. But I had sailed extensively on my friend's Swan 48 and had learned the hard way that even with great bat-cars, lazy jacks and a good person on the helm, handling a huge heavy stiff main is always hard work, if not almost impossible for one person, and in rough wind and seas can be dangerous. I decided against boom furling because I know of masts that have broken at or near the hole one must drill through the mast for boom furling. And although I know of no one who has had a jam in a reputable in-mast furler, I do know of problems sailors have had with furling booms acting up. I finally decided that the design of the boat itself and the manufacturer of the mast and its furling system are critical. I consulted with two sailmakers and one marine architect about the sailplan for the Passport. On ordering my boat I rejected the previous mastmaker of choice and insisted on Selden because of a new design it had just come out with that more easily accomodates the thickness of large mains, has a beefier mast, incorporates a seemingly fail-proof furling system, and I can get into the mast easily to fix something that might go wrong. I lengthened the boom two feet to compensate for less sail area in the roach, which has proved more than enough. I now love this system and would never go back, no matter how small the boat. Last weekend we were sailing along in 8 knots of wind when out of the blue the windspeed increased to nearly 25 knots and stayed there. With only two of us aboard it was a simple matter for one person to furl the main without changing our course. Doing it all with a push-button electric winch made it embarassingly easy. I cannot get the exact shape in the main I prefer when going to weather in higher winds, but in reality I doubt better shape would add to boat speed because at that point I'm maxing out the hull shape. I was longing for a sailmaker that could guarantee me their vertical battens would have a marvelous effect on performance, but the truth seems to be that vertical battens greatly inhibit easy furling and two owners I know oif have discarded their battened mains for battenless. Our boat is fast, fast, fast with that untweaked main and I can't imagine pulling another quarter knot out of it with a traditional main.
Last edited by petranek; 07-17-2007 at 04:02 PM.