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post #11 of 16 Old 11-24-2008
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One obscure advantage of a footed or shelf-footed main for cruisers/passage-makers is that you can catch rainwater with it. some cruisers even have zippers stitched into the foot so they could let the extra pootch out or zip it away.

A bolt rope spreads the forces most evenly, but when you reef all the downward/outward strain is on the clew anyhow. I should guess there's less spillage at the base of a footed main, but you can get a cleaner airfoil shape down low with a loose foot. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

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post #12 of 16 Old 11-24-2008
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Proponents of shelf/footed mains will tout the "end plate" effect of the shelf reducing pressure loss around the "loose foot"... Personally I doubt that that effect is significant in the end.

The more uniform shape, easier outhaul loads and ease of bending and unbending the sail that comes with the loose foot (along with simplified reef line rigging, as per SD) come out in its favour for me.

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post #13 of 16 Old 11-24-2008
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Proponents of shelf/footed mains will tout the "end plate" effect of the shelf reducing pressure loss around the "loose foot"... Personally I doubt that that effect is significant in the end.

The more uniform shape, easier outhaul loads and ease of bending and unbending the sail that comes with the loose foot (along with simplified reef line rigging, as per SD) come out in its favour for me.

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post #14 of 16 Old 11-24-2008 Thread Starter
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So, does that mean that with a loose foot there's less heeling as the wind picks up and thus you don't need to reef as fast?
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post #15 of 16 Old 11-24-2008
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So, does that mean that with a loose foot there's less heeling as the wind picks up and thus you don't need to reef as fast?
I wouldn't say that that is necessarily true... but you will find that with a new, flatter sail you'll end up reefing later because you'll get more drive/less heeling forces due to it's more efficient shape and adjustablility.

But you'd likely have the same issues with a "bagged out" loose footed sail as with an attached-foot main.

Ron

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post #16 of 16 Old 11-24-2008
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I think you guys are confusing terms. The choice you have to make is not between a loose footed main and a shelf footed main. The choice is between a mainsail with an attached foot and and one with a loose foot. A shelf foot is an option that you can get with either of those types of sail.

A sail with a standard, attached foot has a shape that's good for most purposes, but a shelf foot allows you to shape the mainsail with a very deep pocket along the foot, which generates more power in light air. As the boat's speed increases, you adjust the outhaul to gradually decrease the depth of the pocket.

Because the shelf foot is used in light air, most sailors won't feel or perceive a difference in the boat's speed or the sail's power, unless you're near another boat, where you can compare your speed.

I raced and cruised with a shelf footed mainsail for many years and loved it, but, it works best with a little more active trimming than a mainsail without a shelf foot. I can't think of any reason why either a racer or cruiser wouldn't want a shelf foot, but most people don't have them. I suspect it's just because most people don't know about them. If you get a shelf foot, I'd recommend you also get a flattening reef, for those occasions when you have a lot of wind and need to flatten the sail to the max. The flattening reef is especially useful with an attached footed mainsail. It might not be as useful with a loose footed sail. If you're going to buy a loose footed sail, I'd suggest you ask your sailmaker's opinion on that question.
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