One obscure advantage of a footed or shelf-footed main for cruisers/passage-makers is that you can catch rainwater with it.
some cruisers even have zippers stitched into the foot so they could let the extra pootch out or zip it away.
A bolt rope spreads the forces most evenly, but when you reef all the downward/outward strain is on the clew anyhow. I should guess there's less spillage at the base of a footed main, but you can get a cleaner airfoil shape down low with a loose foot. Six of one, half dozen of the other.