Originally Posted by xort
Can you elaborate on the "lot of problems" you have personally seen with In-mast furling?
Or are you speaking hypothetically?
On a Tartan last summer, we had the in-mast furling jam in 25 knots of wind, and we weren't able to reduce sail or get the sail down. The problem ended up being the top swivel. To get the problem fixed, we had to send up the skipper's girlfriend up the mast in 30 knots of wind as she was the lightest. She was not a happy camper.
Another friend had it on a boat he had chartered, and it wouldn't unfurl after the storm had passed. I don't remember what he said the problem was, but they had to take the furling unit apart to fix it.
If a roller furling head sail has a problem, it is usually fairly easy to fix, as the sail isn't covered by a sheath, unlike a in-mast mainsail system. Most of the problems on a headsail furler occur at the lower drum, unless you've set up the halyard lead wrong or have the halyard too loose. Also, the lower furling drum setup on most in-mast furling systems is far more difficult to access, where the furling drum on a headsail is usually pretty accessible.
One other thing... with in-mast furling, it is often difficult to control the sail shape. This can make a big difference, especially in heavy winds. Having good sail shape controls means you can de-power the mainsail in heavy weather.
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