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mainemandean 12-20-2006 10:35 PM

Roach or not
I am a cruising sailor, not a racer; I own a Cape Dory 31. I am getting all new sails, and the guy at the loft convinced me to get a main with a substantial roach. I have never had a roached main before. I am having second thoughts, and I think that I could stil make a change at this point.

My misgivings have to do with how the sail will interact with the topping lift. It seems like it will get hung up every time we tack.

I am used to finding a position for my topping lift which holds the boom just below where the raised sail holds it. I find that spot and I leave it there all season. When I go to drop a sail, I do not want to have to adjust the topping lift.

But it seems that there are a heck of a lot of boats out there with roached mains, and I am wondering what the routine is. Should I be concerned about this?

camaraderie 12-20-2006 11:21 PM

Maineman...another approach if you like the idea of a roached main would be to add a strut between the mast and the boom to eliminate the need for a topping lift. I love the CD's for their style and seaworthiness...but even for non racers that extra sail area should be handy as long as you can reef her back down.

Faster 12-20-2006 11:37 PM

There is a considerable performance advantage to the shape and extra sail area of a roached main. Even though you are not a racer, getting that extra bit of speed for given conditions can make the difference between getting that last mooring buoy, prime anchoring spot or marina slip at the end of the day's sail in the crowded season.

You are right to be concerned about the complications with the topping lift - they are a nuisance to set just right, and a constant source of chafe to the sail.

The various rigid vang designs are really worth the cost in what they provide for boom support, allowing you to get rid of the topping lift once and for all. The spring action makes for better sail shape in the light stuff as it can support the weight of the boom and let the sail take the proper shape and avoid closing the leach.

You'll be able to maximize the benefits of your new sail too!

Giulietta 12-21-2006 07:31 AM


My advise to you, is GO with big roach, in terms of performance it is way better. The jamming with the toping lift is minimal as it satys to one side of the sail, and altough you said you didn't want to adjust it all the time, its well worth the shore.
I have mine with a very very large roach, and still use a topping lift, (I don't want a rigid vang for other reasons) . My TL is marked where the boom will be when sail is not on, and all you have to do is lock it before lowering the main. For the increased performance its well worth having to ease the TL and after pull it!

But if you can get a rigid vang you're "golden".:)

TrueBlue 12-21-2006 07:54 AM

My main has a slight roach, but still gets hung up on the topping lift whenever tacking - pain to yank the TL free from the battens with each tack. If I don't, this is what it looks like:

We use a Selden rigid boom vang, but am considering replacing it with a boom kicker to eliminate the topping lift.

Giulietta 12-21-2006 08:02 AM

TB, I don't understand why you have the TL AND a vang?

If you release the TL, the boom falls? the vang is not used to keep it up?

TrueBlue 12-21-2006 08:16 AM

The Selden rigid vang we have prevents dropping of the boom onto the coach roof, but will not lift the boom when we need to adjust trim or reef the main. This is where the topping lift has a benefit - but the TL still interferes with the battens when tacking.

I may be wrong, but it's my understanding that a rod kicker, has a pnuematic feature for extending the piston - thereby lifting the boom without the need for a topping lift.

camaraderie 12-21-2006 08:20 AM

TB...yeah...a kicker works like a vang but uses either an internal spring OR is gas loaded to provide lift to the boom. Forespar, for example uses springs.

Giulietta 12-21-2006 08:30 AM

I thought your vang had a spring inside, and was allways pushing the boom up. And a parallel boom jack for sail shapping.

I guess I was wrong, your vang is just a preventer that limits the fall of the boom, right?

mainemandean 12-21-2006 08:30 AM

I appreciate the feedback. I totally agree with Faster that "getting that extra bit of speed for given conditions can make the difference between getting that last mooring buoy, prime anchoring spot or marina slip at the end of the day's sail in the crowded season." I do want to sail my boat as fast and as well as I can just for the satisfaction of it too.

I just spoke with my sailmaker, and we are going to go with a slightly higher clew on the main. The idea is that the boom end will be just above horizontal when the sail is up, and just below horizontal when supported by the TL. The sailmaker says that that will give me enough slack to keep the TL on one side of the sail in most conditions. He says that when i raise the sail it could hang up, with the top of the sail trying to go on a different side than the bottom, but he says that once I flip the TL around to one side, it should then stay there. He is now talking about a 10 inch roach.

Does this make sense to all of you "roachers?"

Thanks, everyone.

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