Just came back from a charter in Croatia, Europe. Seems like every single charter boat has in mast furling
there. I sailed on a variety of boats with mast furling
systems and find them pretty easy to use. They have advantages... pulling the mainsail out and furling
it up again is no effort at all. Interesting enough I experienced this from 36 ft to 55 ft boats. Size apparently doesn't matter :-).
However, there are three things that I don't like... or make me feel uncomfortable in a way.
1. What if the main gets jammed during reefing and you can't pull it out nor furl it up. I can't think of any other solution as to cut the sail from the mast. Well, in a high wind situation that is. Or is there another solution to it?
2. I had occassional "nearly" jams in winds over 25 knots when reefing. I tried everything imaginable. Different points of sail. Easing the sail, keeping it tight, letting it go all together. I always had troubles - but only in higher winds. The smaller the sail becomes (i.e. reefed) the better it furls up.
3. The third thing is the sails performance. I couldn't find a furling
main that was better than a "traditional" mainsail. You can't seem to get them flat in a blow and their profile in general is always kind of "suboptimal". This is not only for performance reasons but also for safety reasons (in blow for example).
I personally would spend the money somewhere else. That is only for me and I do see the advantages of an in-mast furling system - they are just not for me.