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A pennant in my experience has two uses: 1) To get the sail off the deck to faciliate visibility forward and a full range of movement, such as when fully eased; 2) To get a bit of sail area higher in the case where you are expecting a wide range of wind gusts and want to sail with reduced sail area forward, but not completely kill your drive.
I typically have only used them when I rig a No. 3 and sail solo in 20 knots or so. Too high and the sail cut to sweep the deck (such as a 100% working jib) doesn't perform well, which is probably why I've never seen them higher than just under the pulpit rail.
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