Hi Nightowl, What mainsail setup do you have? The boats I'm looking at have the mast furl system.
I have the furling main setup. I cannot say I'm happy with it...*ALTHOUGH I MUST STRESS THAT I AM IN THE MINORITY IN THIS OPINION* We've had trouble with the furling main ever since day one sailing. It jams on unfurling and now has started jamming on furling as well.
I suspect the issue is *NOT* the furling system on the main itself, but the sail. The OEM Neil Pryde sails are made with vertical batten pockets that tend to be a bit thick. The mast extrusion just doesn't have a lot of room for the sail to come out, so if you have a thick bulge, it just gets caught. The typical issue we've had is that the wrap of sail behind the leading edge coming out of the extrusion forms a "hernia" and causes the whole thing to jam up. No amount of refurling and unfurling will shake this loose. Another issue has just started...where the clew of the sail has a webbing bundle that attaches to the worm drive unit in the mast. It comes out of the mast and now refuses to go in without someone pushing it back in with a screwdriver...this makes it impossible to reef!
Also you have to be very careful with leech tension. If your leech flutters at all, it can cause a crease or a foldover at furl time...in which case you are screwed the next time you unfurl because it will not come out and the sail will bunch up. This is prevalent especially about 2/3rds of the way up the sail...just out of reach.
We've come to learn its "quirks" and can use it effectively now, but I simply cannot depend on it if the chips are down. If there is any danger of rough stuff, we rely on the genoa which is on a profurl furler. That has been rock solid and has taken us over 7 knots double reefed on Biscayne Bay.
I've taken to a couple of tactics to manage this system effectively. First, at the dock the night prior to going out sailing, I will unfurl the sail with no wind at all and refurl it *extremely* tight to make sure to minimize the hernia issue. The second is that I rarely bring the full sail out. I will always leave 1-2 wraps on the worm drive. This reduces my sail area, but to be honest, the Genoa does all the work on our boat anyway...the Main only stabilizes...and in heavy conditions, it causes me to round up a lot.
Sorry for the book, but this is my honest opinion on the setup.
When I get new sails, I'll be looking at sail cloth that is optimized for these in-mast furlers, thinner profile batten pockets and battens, and more thought given to the webbing loop that attaches at the clew of the sail. But thats still a few years away I hope!