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  #1  
Old 06-25-2003
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Mainsail Furling/Reefing Systems

Hi! Am in process of outfitting a new boat and trying to decide on mainsail systems. Have had my eyes on in-boom furling but the cost of everything is rather outrageous to me. I''m tired of taking a half hour to get sail covers off and on and standing on deck in big seas trying to put in a reef. Have seen "stack pack" and and other systems but would like input on how they work in the real world. I am NOT particularly concerned about speed/performance...ease of use in getting underway, furling and putting sail away are primary concerns. Suggestions??
Best...GB
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Mainsail Furling/Reefing Systems

You''ll get 12 opinions from every 10 people you talk to about this topic. When we bought this boat (43'' cruising sailboat), it had main furling and I really didn''t want it. I figured the complexity and chance for failure was not worth it. After almost 5 years with it, I love it. Often we unfurl the main on short trips where we would not have bothered otherwise. Like everything else, don''t stress it beyond design parameters and you are OK. Be very careful about using them as a reefing system--when partially furled under heavy air, there is a lot of stress on them.
Our system sits in an extrusion bolted to the back of the mast and is by Forespar. Not quite an "in-mast" system, since it was added later. Loose footed, no battens, hollow roach. For racing, I might object to the loss of sail area without battens. For cruising, the sail sets very well and I am very happy with the set.
In short, good experience for me and I would have it again.
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Old 06-26-2003
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Mainsail Furling/Reefing Systems

I agree. I didn''t want the in mast furler on my 43'' but it was standard equipment. It has performed flawlessly in over 1600 miles of sailing so far and I wound''t trade it for anything. It is different to trim than a coventional main and there is a learning curve. You must pay a lot of attention to leach tension due to the lack of battens. The vang becomes more important than you would be used to on a conventional main. The only loss of performance I notice is a slight disadvantage hard on the wind. The lack of a roach induces a lot of turbulence at the trailing edge of the sail which contrary to popular belief is the real reason for increasing the roach on a main. The added sail area is not the real advantage since most of it is higher up and only comes into play in very light air. If my main thrust was racing I wouldn''t have one but otherwise I wouldn''t go without.
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Mainsail Furling/Reefing Systems

Hi, mcain and Sailmc:

My opinion thus far was to avoid a furling main for many of the reasons commonly given. It was interesting to read your views. I had a question or two on what you wrote. Please comment.

Author: mcain
"Like everything else, don''t stress it beyond design parameters and you are OK. Be very careful about using them as a reefing system--when partially furled under heavy air, there is a lot of stress on them."

== You are reducing sail area by partial furling. So, how do you be careful about reefing with such a system? Please explain. ==

Author: Sailmc
"The added sail area is not the real advantage since most of it is higher up and only comes into play in very light air."

== Isn''t the wind speed usually significantly higher near the masthead than at the boom? I''m not sure why a roach on the upper portion of the sail wouldn''t be adding to your drive. Please explain. ==

BTW, we''ll be chartering a 37 Jeanneau in 2 weeks in the BVIs. The boat has an in-mast furler, so we''ll get to experience it for ourselves.

Thanks guys.
Duane
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Mainsail Furling/Reefing Systems

My system is a true inmast as opposed the the other poster''s. I reef the sail whenever necesary without any problems in all wind conditions. It is a quick and painless operation.
The extra sail area being high up on the rig also contributes to heeling which can result in excess weather helm etc etc. The roach is there to decrease the turbulance of the wind exiting the sail/foil. It is aerodynamically more efficient as this turbulace translates into drag. This is most noticeable going to weather. For charter purposes this is an insignificant difference. I regularly sail with another a boat with the exact same hull but conventional rig. I am faster on all points of sail except hard on the wind. I point as high but am about .075 knot slower. For racing purposes this is the difference between first and second. For all other purposes the benefits outweigh the negetives 50 to 1. These rigs have come a long way in the last 7 years and they work extremely well now.
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Mainsail Furling/Reefing Systems

Thanks, Sailmc, for your further thoughts. It will be interesting for me to see for myself on that charter boat.

Fair winds,
Duane
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Mainsail Furling/Reefing Systems

I will try to respond to the question about reefing vs furling my "nearly in-mast" system. I have reefed by partially rolling up the main in moderate air and it works well. However, on my previous boat and previous offshore trips in heavy air, I am used to deep jiffy reefing the main to balance the rig. When you deep reef the mast roller rig, there is a lot of pressure at the top of the sail, which is a fair ways down from the top of the mast. The furling system is supported at the top and bottom of the mast--not in the middle. So there are extra stresses when doing a deep reef in very heavy air with these systems. I am certain the furling systems are designed to handle it, but my engineering background does not like the inherent lack of support.

All that said, I admit that much of my experience is in racing and offshore, and I have been in some heavy weather. I will take NO chances on overstressing gear on my cruising boat. So, I have a largish trysail to rig in these conditions and the wind speed for the trysail to be deployed is much lower than normal for a trysail.

I want to repeat that this is only me. I am very much a belt and suspenders guy. But, I''ve been sailing for 35 years (gosh has it been that long?), and I am very cautious.

Also, to put it in perspective, even with the furling genoa, I have an oversized inner forestay and largish "storm" jib hanked on, and use the same philosophy on that. I think the storm sails set better in heavy air, better distribute the loads, and generally reduce stress on the furling systems.

I am a little sheepish about this extra caution on my part. I expect a bunch of follow-up from others deriding my overly cautious nature. But such is life. At least I come by it honestly, from personal experience.

All that said, I still love the furling main as much as the furling genoa. If I somehow got another boat (won''t happen--my current boat is my last one) that didn''t have a furling main, I would certainly add it. No doubt. As to whether in-mast or in-boom, I don''t know, since that decision is already made in my case.
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Mainsail Furling/Reefing Systems

Quick additional note on performance (see posting above).
I agree totally with sailmc about performance. As a former racing sailor, I also do notice some lessor drive from the main while close hauled apparently because of the lack of battens and roach. But especially in a cruising environment, it is not, in my opinion, at all significant. And I do believe the sail sets well loose-footed. It does take some learning to set well. I would not avoid mainsail furling systems because of performance if you are a cruising sailor.
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Mainsail Furling/Reefing Systems

Thanks for the good input so far folks...would like to hear from some who have other methods of mainsail control...i.e. full battens...stac pac etc. .
Best...GB
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Old 06-27-2003
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Mainsail Furling/Reefing Systems

Prior to having in mast furling I had a Dutchman system on my last two boats. It is the next best thing.
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