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Re: Full or partial battens?
I design, loft and make my own sails.
My preference for a cruising Cross-cut or 'radial' cut high aspect dacron mainsail is:
1. two full batten + 2 long tapered battens + 3 auxiliary battens ( between two full battens and the head).
The full battens will lessen flogging at the top section, where the proper amount of twist is already 'set'/designed into the sail.
The long tapered lower battens makes it easier to reef and are subject to less chafe when reefed.
The short aux. battens help support the sections between the head and battens #1 & #2 & #3 'when' the leech inevitably become stretched (from aggressive mainsheet pressure as when 'power'-pinching, etc.). Chafe cover 'under' all reef clew position. (chafe patches along where the main hits/rubs on runners and aft shrouds.
2. "over the top" leech line control - leech line along the leech to a cheekblock on the headboard to a sleeve along the luff ... jam cleats at ALL possible reef positions: allows the all important leech tension to be adjusted from the base of the mast (can be arranged for adjustment from back in the cockpit). No need to hang over the side when the boom is 'out' to adjust the leech.
All the reef position luff and leech 'cleats' so arranged/angled so that any tension 'from below' that position automatically 'releases' the 'above' cleat. - a safety consideration and "sail life" consideration --- if the leech is fluttering its destroying itself and its stitching.
3. "Extra length" (10-12") of luff boltrope, 'stored' at the headboard - enables easy DIY boltrope adjustment when the boltrope inevitably shrinks (hysterisis) due to cyclical halyard loads (the chief cause of 'baggy'/blown-out mainsail) ... such will enable easy restoration of sail SHAPE, by cutting the sail twine binding, remeasuring to the 'as designed' luff, hand sewing with sail needle, palm, and sailmakers twine. Dacron sails when used 'hard' typically need boltrope adjustment at ~200 hrs. or at least 'seasonally'. Dont do this and you wind up with a draft-aft, over-drafted, sail with a too tight leech. Sail lofts dont like to do this, as they sell far less mainsails because of this.
When buying a 'new' dacron sail ... affix the head to 'something fixed', slightly raise the tack and hang a ~15lb weight to give constant tension to the luff .....'carefully' measure and record the luff length, so you know how much to adjust that bolt-rope when ultimately that boltrope shrinks.
4. Triple stitching on all seams with GoreTex Tenara PTFE thread - immune to UV damage, costly but cheaper than a 'restitch' job.
5. Reinforcement (small) triangular 'patches' at all panel seams at the leech -- thats where all stitching begins to break. Lessens the potential of having a 'zipper' occur during 'blammo' wind conditions. I also prefer to use PECO double sided sailmakers seam tape 'between' all the panel seams (belts and suspenders, in case the stitching does break - the PECO tape 'may' hold the sail together until proper repair).
All the above will double or even triple the working service life of a woven dacron sail used for extensive cruising. My preference for distance cruising is high mod. woven dacron in a cross-cut config.: for more shape adjustability and 'service life' and is much easier to 'correct' when a 'restitch' is needed.
Last edited by RichH; 10-15-2012 at 01:04 PM.