Join Date: Jul 2000
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Re: mainsail roach and size of genny
An extended roach with full or long battens will cause several problems for long distance cruising.
1. chafe and wear at the batten pockets and leech abrasion .... and since the leech is the most vulnerable for ripping/splitting, you really should consider chafe patches at all the contact points with the backstay. Chafe is the absolute bane of the long distance sailor.
2. With an extended roach you will have problems in light winds, especially with the batten system is set up with full batten compression to keep full 'powered-up' sail shape for ocean sailing. You will possibly have to 'pop' the mainsail when trying to tack in light conditions ... the sail being restrained by the backstay will have the propensity to not 'invert' its shape between tacks and you may have to manually 'punch' the sail for it to change shape for the next tack - too much overlap of the backstay will certainly have to be discussed with the sailmaker to prevent the sail from 'locking' into a portside shape when tacking over onto starboard, etc. when sailing in light winds. The only way to do this with a fixed backstay is to run low batten compression in their pockets .. and that will lead to a FLAT shape overall and not good for sailing in light winds with 'left over slop' and swells where you need a power / full drafted shape.
I think what Dashew is advocating is a simple UHMWPE split sleeve attached up high on the backstay in the area of the roach interference to provide 'lubricity' to the backstay ... just a snap-on 'shroud cover'.
If you have a SSB antenna as integral with the backstay (w/insulatiors), how will you provide the 'lubricity' across the prominent insulators? A folded dipole, slip-on, backstay SSB/HAM antenna system (eg. GAM antenna, etc.) which is constructed of UHMWPE could provide the 'slippery-ness' for such needs, but the GAM, etc. antenna would tend to 'rotate' each time the roach is pressed to the backstay.
Since you will not have a dynamic backstay system (bendy mast and rapidly loosened backstay) a backstay whip will be useless, unless you dont mind constantly loosening/tightening the backstay at each time you gybe/tack in light winds.
I think youd be best served by a sailmaker who has actual extensive long distance blue water experience rather than an around-the-buoys type - a vastly different world. If passagemaking is your goal, you'll probably be reaching or running most of the time, so a large roached main on a mast headed boat is not all that important ... just put up a larger jib/genoa. When beating is required, to avoid storm centers, and 'stink', etc., you'll probably be reefed anyway.
Also - FWIW.
Vektron is (was) subject to rapid UV damage, at least it was 10 years ago when I tested it, although I believe it now has an integral UV protective scrim. For the mainsail, certainly a robust woven dacron (Bainbridge or Challenge, etc.) will withstand constant folding and 'reefing', and the all important leech can be reinforced (triple stitched, seams additionally glued, and reinforcement patches placed at all leech intersection seams). With a dacron main you can easily also add an 'over the top' leech control line with which you can control leech tension from the base of the mast or even back to the cockpit .... instead of hanging over blue water (one hand on the boom, one hand doing the adjustments, one foot on the rail and one foot dangling in space) to adjust leech tension - a safety concern for deep water sailing.
With respect to the mainsail, 'good' dacron is more robust, and is more 'adjustable' to meet varying wind conditions, and can take a better 'beating' than any of the laminates; doesnt require 'precise folding'/rolling, etc. and can take more abuse when reefing (think of the clew lines that tighten around the 'bunt' when deep reefed - chafe!!!).
Sure, laminates and extended roaches will give better performance, but do you really need several more inches per mile when passagemaking, and when most sailing is (or should be) reaching? .... especially when sailing in the trade winds.
Just my opinions. ;-)