Should I believe my sailmaker?
I've been struggling with the question of what size roller furling headsail to put on my Formosa 41. Sailmakers have recommended 110% all the way up to 140% with a staysail added on a separate stay.
So far all the sailmakers are telling me the same story that you can, with a foam luff, reduce the sail area of the sail by 25-30% and I've been basing my numbers on that.
My local (well respected) Neil Pryde rep claims that you can reef down the area of his sails by 50% and still maintain windward shape. I asked him about this directly and he said that Neil Pryde invented the multi-track foam and everyone else has tried (with less success) to copy it.
Should I believe him? If he's right I can have a larger sail for light air and still have it well reefed for heavy air all in one sail. Of course, compared even to some of the legendary sailmakers in the area it sounds too good to be true.
I've spoken with quite a few sailors and sailmakers...I don't think any of them say that a roller furled head sail will furl down more than about 30-35% and still hold a decent shape. I seriously doubt that Neil Pryde can do it either.
Besides, you really wouldn't want to do that IMHO. A good 140% genny designed for light air is going to be made of cloth too light to really survive heavy winds with the sail reefed down 50% without stretching out the cloth.
If you are trying to minimize your sail inventory, my suggestion would be to go with a 125-130% genoa that can be effectively reduced by 25-30%, and add a max-sized staysail of heavier weight material that can also be roller reefed. That should get you up to the point where you're thinking about bending on stormsails. Of course, the advice depends somewhat on where/how you plan to sail.
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