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Jotun 02-07-2007 01:43 PM

What is the difference between a partially battened sail and a fully battened one?

sailingdog 02-07-2007 02:04 PM

The length of the battens. On a fully battened sail, they go from luff to leech, on a partially battened sail, they stop short of the luff.

Jotun 02-07-2007 06:05 PM

Sorry, I guess I should have clarified. Why is there a difference? Is one kind better than another?

BarryL 02-08-2007 01:53 PM

As I understand it (and I am not an expert), a fully battened sail will offer better performance because the battens will support the entire sail instead of just the end.

A fully battened sail will cost more and may require special attachment to the mast. The sail will also be heavier and more difficult to raise.


SailinJay 02-08-2007 04:39 PM

Yes, the battens, which are flexible, provide curvature to the entire sail when filled with wind, allowing for better performance.

I'm not sure what you mean by "special attachment to the mast." Unless the main is a gaff rig, the sail has cars attached to the luff which are inserted in a slot on the aft side of the mast. The cars "slide" up the slot when the sail is raised. This is the standard protocol for the typical fully-battened mainsail.

Most cruising sailboats these days have a mainsail that is pulled out of and rolled back into the mast. This type of sail cannot have any battens.

There is a more recent technological advance that allows a sail to have full battens and also be furled completely. This is the boom furler, a boom that is much larger than the standard boom, to allow the sail to be rolled down into it, battens and all.

The principal advantage of a fully-battened main is better shape and thus better performance. The principal advantage of an in-mast furling main is that it has "infinite" reef points. The boom-furling main would seem to cover both of these items.

sailingdog 02-08-2007 05:00 PM

Most full battens have a special car or sail slug that allows them to articulate a bit at the luff. On the Harken system, the battens actually go into the Battcar.

A fully battened main with an extended roach can have better performance than an unbattened main, and a bit better shape than a partially battened main.

Some cruising sailor swear by fully-battened mainsails, as the battens can help you with flaking or reefing the main... but others swear at them...

tomaz_423 02-08-2007 05:53 PM

I sailed several sailboats (mostly chartered, range from 33 to 47 feet) with furling and full batten mainsail and a few with partial battens. My conclusion is:
1)Furling: easy to "hoist" (unfurl) and "reef" (furl) until you have a problem. A problem always happens at the wrong time (strong wind with big waves, night, ...). usual problem is that the sail can not be furled as the sailcloth is jammed.
On many boats you have to furl/unfurl the sail at the mast and often the winch is mounted so close to the boom that you hurt yourself hitting the boom, if you are not carefull (also with the shorter winch handle). Sailing performance is not the best, sail shape is not the best, sail size is not the best. You end up motoring more. Benefit: you can unfurl and reef even if you are not heading into the wind.
2) Full batten: best sailing performance, more canvas on the given mast/boom but more work to hoist it (specially if you have all lines lead to the cockpit it is a lot of friction if you have old lines. Reefing: not really a problem, all can be usually done from the safety of the cockpit. Lowering the full batten mainsail is a piece of cake (if you have a lazy jack with the cover bag, which you normally do): you just drop it and in falls into the bag. No work at all. Hoisting: If you are not facing the wind the battens may get into lazy jack lines, so you have to face the wind (more or less) to hoist the sail
Partial battens: It is a compromise between the two systems. One can have enough canvas (if you have a big roach the shape is terible after the sail gets older), but one have the same problems with getting battens into lazy jack lines and in addition it can not be lowered so quickly as someone have to go up and flake the sail onto the boom.
Booom furling: no experience, but I see it as something good (usually it is seen on expencive boats). I heard that the material have to be replaced more often (rubbing in the boom beteween sail cloth and battens, ...) but this may as well be the envy talking from us not having that system.
My preference: full battens. Not only for better sailing performance, but also because the clasic hoising and reefing is so much more "the right way to do it" than furling. And taking in a reef feels more "salty" than fuling a few turns. I am not sure that "added weight high in the mast in the furling systems makes any noticable difference. But again - who am I to judge. Partial battens: only advantage I see is the price (you really want to have good cars on a mast track for full batten mainsail).

Gary M 02-08-2007 10:09 PM

Tomaz that was a great explanation, I have a new main being made right now and it will have full battens. Looking forward to trying it out but launch is not till May 5th. :(

I am with you, not a big fan of reefing systems even for the jib. I like to keep it simple and be pretty darn sure I can get a sail up or down when I need to.


Jotun 02-09-2007 08:12 AM

My current boat has partial battens, and the boat I am planning to buy has full. Maybe I won't even notice the difference. But thanks every one for the explanations.

Giulietta 02-09-2007 09:14 AM

OHHHH My!!!! Jaysus, Mary, and Joseph, the Saints and Our Lady Of Fatima!!!!!!!! (All together at least 4 times)........

I am amazed....

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