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acmecoyote 11-23-2002 09:56 AM

Self-tacking question
I have read about some boats being self-tacking. And looked the definition up here on the sailnet to make sure it was what i thought. The definition gives me what i though. Now I am wondering has anyone had experience on a self-tacking vessel?

Or does anyone know first hand how this works and will to explain.

Thanks so much.


Jeff_H 11-23-2002 01:13 PM

Self-tacking question
To one degree or another most boats have self-tacking mainsails. In some conditions the traveller position needs to be adjusted after each tack, but by and large most mains will be fine with just tacking over.

On the other hand, jibs that lap the mast, shrouds or a stay, need to be tacked over. With most sloop sailplans, the normal sails that are used are a mainsail and a genoa of some size that will by definition lap the mast. So the first thing about a self, tacking rig is that it can''t have a jib that laps the mast. Typcially this means designing a boat with a larger mainsail and smaller jib than might otherwise be normal (most times these are also typically fractional rigs to allow the rig to be easily powered up and down but not always.)

There are several ways to make a jib self-tacking. Historically, the jib would be mounted on a boom and might have a traveler just like a mainsail. The Europeans seem to like self tacking jibs a bit more than Americans and they lean toward a transverse tack that the jib is sheeted to. (Look at the Hanse website to see what that looks like.)

The reality is that once you are willing to live with non-overlapping headsails, (or even minimally overlapping headsails), 110% or so it is gets very easy to tack a jib. (I can tack my 110% very easily single-handed without using a winch handle.) So I am not sure that a self-tacking headsail, with all of its clutter, cost and reduced efficiency really makes a lot of sense in most applications.


pirateofcapeann 11-23-2002 01:39 PM

Self-tacking question
In tight quarters and short handed, self-tacking is a great asset, provided as Jeff pointed out, youíre in no hurry to get anywhere. Once Iím set and under way, I can sail around my home harbor and into every little cove and cranny with out ever having to touch a sheet line. You can do this too but I would suggest that if youíre boat is not currently set up for a self-tending headsail, you forego it and sail under just a loose main when you need that added control. I doubt you would notice any great performance difference.

acmecoyote 11-23-2002 09:06 PM

Self-tacking question
I appreciate the info guys. If you do have a self-tacking (jib), is itstill possible to set it up to manual where you can set up the genoa or spinaker if youwish to?

- Gordon

geohan 11-24-2002 03:33 PM

Self-tacking question
Gordon: FWIW we rigged a 150 genoa as a self-tacking jib. It was a windy day(18 to 20 knots) and we had the first reef in the main. We were short tack beating up a narrow channel against the tide and tacking the genny was wearing us out. (My wife and I are 75 and just past our prime.) We couldn''t motor because we were racing and placing well. The roller furling jib made it impractical to change jibs and without a jib the weather helm was too much. We rolled the jib to about 80% and with a separate line sheeted it to the mast. The foot was pulled straight to a position on the mast just high enough to allow a moderate twist in the leach. From then on both sails tended themselves and all we had to do was steer, point high and go fast. What a relief! Cheers, George

acmecoyote 11-24-2002 04:32 PM

Self-tacking question
Sounds wonderful and inspiring George. A can''t wait to have adventures such as that here in my bay. Don''t know about any racing, but what they hey, maybe someday as well.

- Gordon

sprega 12-06-2002 04:40 PM

Self-tacking question
I have one of those European boats with a self tacking jib. It is a fractional rig with the working jib and the heavy air jib set up to sheet to a U shaped track. I also carry a large genoa which is tacked conventionally. As I sail the boat by myself for the most part, I absolutely love the self tacking jib. Being fractionally rigged and of good design, my boat sails quite fast in most conditions with working sails only. It is in fact often faster than simalar sized mast head sloops of the same general size which are flying genoas.

P.S. "Wings" is a Maxi Fenix

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