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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New Westminster, BC
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Equitas... FWIW my take on fracs is this.. A fractional rig, when well designed, manages sail area with a generally larger, more powerful mainsail coupled with the smaller foretriangle. If properly set up and adjusted, this allows a much wider range of wind conditions with reduced need to reef or furl. The mast on a frac is much more adjustable, allowing the larger main to be flattened and depowered prior to needing to reef.
In addition (and this is the big advantage IMV) the headsails are smaller, lighter, more manageable and much easier to tack than the masthead's long, overlapping genoas. Way less jib sheet length to drag around on each tack, less wear and tear on the sails themselves. In addition the spinnakers are similarly more manageable.
If you're the type of sailor that would rather just unroll a jib and leave it at that, the skinny main masthead rig might be the way to go. Many of the recent masthead designs are balancing the J and E measurements more closely, resulting in more balanced power between the two. The Catalinas are certainly not as extreme in the old IOR influenced long J short E area (although the original 38 definitely falls into that category)
Our boat is a rather extreme 3/4 frac, and we are running a non overlapping headsail. While we are certainly underpowered in drifter conditions from 6-8 knots true we beat at hull speed, and enjoy "zip-zip" tacks and frequently fly the smaller kites with just two of us.
1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"
".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)