Originally Posted by btrayfors
This statement is misleading. Most modern sloop-rigged boats will sail very well to windward with the genoa alone, including being relatively close-hauled. You don't necessarily need to have any mainsail out. Once in the BVI I sailed past a 50' ketch with a professional crew and flying all sails beating to windward, in a Pearson 10M with the genoa alone!
While you can reach OK with just the main, most boats will do better (sail faster) with just a genoa. And, as you've noted, it's much easier to roll in or out to set the area needed for the wind conditions and point of sail.
When going upwind, most boats will go very slowly under main alone. They really need a headsail in order to make the main an efficient contributor to boat speed. The difference is really dramatic. Try it yourself: set a course closehauled in a decent wind, note your boatspeed, then drop (or furl) the headsail, leaving the full main. Your boatspeed will fall off to almost nothing. By the way, this isn't a bad way to sail up to a mooring in a strong wind.
Bottom line: for your trip I'd start out with just the genoa and see how it works. If the wind falls light and you need more sail area, then put up some main. Of course, an alternate strategy would be to tuck in a reef in the main before setting out, and unroll enough genoa to get your boatspeed up.
I don't necassarily disagree, but I don't think my statement was was misleading. You can't hold close-hauled in really heavy air (though you might be able to close-reach), without some sail area aft (meaning a reefed main, or a storm trysail) and a foresail too. You just won't make it around unless you have both a mainsail and storm jib, no matter how small. With no jib, the C/E is just too far forward without any headsail, and the CLR just too far aft, to bring her about without some headsail. If you don't have to tack, fine. But if you do, in order to stay off a lee shore, then you have to have some sail in the aft half of the boat in order to head up, and you have to have some headsail to get you through a tack.