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Old 06-12-2006
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Working Jib

So after blowing out my just-repaired 150 genoa in 20-25kt winds on the lower Chesapeake Bay on Saturday (yes, it was exciting, but that's another story) I'm ready to go to a smaller working jib. I'm thinking in the 90-100 range. This will be on a Schaefer furler, as was my genoa, and my intention is to use it pretty much full time. I don't want to be swapping out the headsail on a frequent basis. That being so, I have two questions for y'all. For those familiar with sailing on the lower bay, does a 90-100 sound about right for typical conditions? I would be looking for a furling sail, designed to be reef-furled when needed without losing its shape and function. Second question: Can anyone recommend a good sailmaker for such a product, preferably within reasonable driving distance from Norfolk/Hampton, VA? And if I may toss in a third question: Should I consider a used sail, or am I asking for inherited troubles in doing so? My genny was an original sail ('89. I've had the boat three years) and was beginning to show the strain of age. But I'm thinking a good used sail with plenty of life left might be a good option ($$). Thanks for any input.

Jeff Sheler
s/v Windsome
C27TR #6594
Hampton, VA
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Old 06-12-2006
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Unless you are lucky, I'd call a used sail a stopgap measure. Unlikely to still be in shape, even if you get one with the right dimensions. Although with all the hurricane losses last year, who knows, maybe there are a lot of used sails on the market after salvage.

Sailing with one headsail in all wind ranges is problematic. If you want a sail that performs in light air (1-5 knots) it will be too light and lose shape in 10-15 knots. It will be ruined at 25-30 knots, regardless of size. And if you use a heavy cloth so the sail isn't ruined in 20+ knots, it will hang too flat and stiff under 5 knots.

It is not just making the sail so it won't tear--but making it so it can hold the right 3-D shape. So the question is first, what wind ranges do you have down there? Or plan to sail in? If you're not racing and you don't care to hang around in 2 knots, you don't need a light air sail. If you read the weather right and strike the sails about 20 knots......less fun but again it can save the shape of your sails.

Anybody can hoist rags, but putting sails up with good shape in them, and replacing them before it is entirely gone, that's something else. You might want to compromise and have two sails made up, one for 0-15 knots, the other for 12-30 knots, something like that. Maybe a 140 for 0-15 knots, and a 130 for 12-30 knots, where you can use less sail area and more strength. Two sails isn't a totally unreasonable compromise. If you have a headfoil with two slots, making the changes isn't that big a deal.
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