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Old 10-12-2012
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Re: Advice wanted: Tides Marine Track and Slide system

I've never hoisted or dropped one myself but I've seen it up close and personal on another boat and it was enviable. It was a day-charter catamaran and the captain just casually walked forward and released the halyard at the mast. The thing dropped like a $hit tonne of bricks into the lazyjacks and it was a roachy fully battened main. He then sailed up to his mooring and furled his jib as he got close and grabbed the ball with residual speed as he got close. It was an awesome sight to behold.

I plan to install it on my boat under the budgeting of safety gear. I want a scared, tired, wife to be able to lower, reef AND raise the main and mizzen easily in all conditions.

On the topic of full, partial or no battens I have gone around several times in my mind about that. I'd say that the advantages of each system are really dependent on the type of sailing you do, much more than most boat trade offs even.

No battens means less cost at the beginning, less time and cost maintaining the sail. Perfect sail shape can be attained, and some purists would say that better sail shape can be attained without the battens trying to dictate shape for you, but it WILL require a lot more pulling of strings. If you're sailing on the cheap and you like adjusting your sail frequently this is the sail for you. See also: Lyn and Larry Pardey.

Full battens give you more roach, which gives you small but measurable aerodynamic advantages that I still don't understand. These advantages are real though and are demonstrated by the fact that EVERY open class racing boat with an unlimited budget and no design limitations has a huge roachy main with full battens. As I said, I don't get the exact argument about what the aerodynamic advantage is, but I trust that it's there (see the racers) but I gather that it's small. For us cruisers the main advantage is that the fully battened main has a shape that is "darn near close enough to perfect" most all the time without as much pulling of strings. It also falls into lazyjacks more easily, and flogs less while reefing.

The disadvantages of full battens are: cost at the beginning, cost and time maintaining the sail because of batten pocket chafe and chafe where the battens meet the stays. Also they're harder to raise because of the compression loads the battens cause which turn into friction. This is partially mitigated by the Tides track, but not nearly as much as batten cars. Batten cars = more expense and more to maintain and more to go wrong. See also Steve Dashew

Partial battens are a bit of both in the advantage and disadvantage category. This is what I think I'll get with my next main. I like pulling strings constantly but I don't expect my wife to on a night watch. This means I would be happy with a battenless main but my wife might go crazy trying to get rid of leech flutter or worse yet might leave it along to flutter it's leech to death. I want the sail to fall nicely into lazyjacks but don't want to make it harder to raise with battens compressing on slides and I'm not willing to spend the coin on batten cars. I want the sail to flog minimally during reefing, but again I'm not willing to get full battens, so partial battens will help a little here too. See also: most sailboats.

Everything in boating is a compromise. The Tides track is one of those few things where the compromise is only one of expense vs performance. I don't think you'd find a sailor in the world that has seen, or used the Tides system that wouldn't take it as a gift, which is not something you could say for nearly any other trade-off decision we have to make.

If you've got the coin, get the track for sure. I seriously doubt you'd regret having it aboard. As for the battens, partial, full, or none, that really depends on how you sail.

Cheers mate!

MedSailor

PS Where on that island are you from? I lived in Melbourne for 5 years and did 2 months of hard time in "The Isa."
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Last edited by MedSailor; 10-12-2012 at 12:14 AM.
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