Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Alameda, San Francisco Bay
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A couple of thoughts. The new vertical battens are super thin and can be a part of a replacement sail construction. You would need to talk to your sail maker first to find out if you have enough room inside your mast for the additional material. They should be able to tell you this. I was fortunate enough to take a C355 out for a test sail here in SF Bay this past summer so I got to experience the new sail. Catalina no longer makes their sails in-house and I cannot recall at the moment which sail maker is doing the C355 sails. In any case, a major improvement over the “old” ones.
Masthead vs. Fractional Rigs. First, some basics. Both rigs have CE in the same position for a given sail plan. And that CE is over the CG. The frac rig does this by moving the mast forward in relationship to the CG and mast head moves it aft. Ideally, The jib/genoa fairlead needs to as close as possible to centerline in order for the boat point really high and have a narrower tacking angle. Because the frac boats have smaller jibs, their fairleads can be placed inside the shrouds whereas the masthead boats outside. On masthead boats, most of the drive is from the headsail and frac’s get it from the main. Frac boats allow for bending the mast. The head stay at the mast acts as a fulcrum allowing backstay tension to pull the bend. Race boats go one step further and have adjustable inner forestays to pull the lower portion of the mast forward. The ¾ frac boats are better than the more common 7/8 boats in doing this. Frac boats can be a little bit faster around the buoys because of this coupled with the fact that they go to their spinnakers for the reaching and downwind legs. Mastheads are better in the JAM classes.
The big difference is in how you intend sail the boat. In raising and lowering wind conditions, you reef the main in a frac boat whereas you change headsails in a masthead boat. Likewise mainsail trim is more important on the frac boat and headsail trim for the masthead. IMHO, the big three builders do not take advantage of all the potential of the fractional rig in their cruising boats. You tend to have more sail inventory on a masthead boat. I have three headsails, 130, 110, and 90. These give me options from below ten knots breeze to over 40. I am fortunate insomuch that my local winds blow very consistently and I swap sails maybe every other month or so. I am not impressed with the B&R rig at all. Those boats do not have the best mainsail controls, no ability to bend the mast and lack the deep downwind angles. I used to race against a 40 footer B&R boat in my masthead 34. I can’t remember a time that I got beat by him and we usually considered it a bad day if we weren’t faster on straight time.