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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 09-11-2006
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Sail Selection

I am a recent sailing beginner and wondered if there is a genreal rule for the selection of the appropriate head sail in different weather conditions.
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Old 09-11-2006
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General rule: How many can you afford to buy?

Seriously.

You "should" have enough sail up to balance that particular hull in those particular conditions and get optimum performance. For many people that means a 100 and a 150 or a 135 furling sail, and they make it do as needed.

If you want more performance and have more money...you can go with a light air #1, a heavier #1, a 135, a 150, an asymetric spinnaker...a couple of heavy weather storm sails with high cut clews to keep them above incoming waves....The only real rules are budget and storage space.

If you push any sail beyond the wind range it is designed for--you'll blow out the sail's shape and wind up with a rag. So...there goes the budget again.
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Old 09-12-2006
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so much for the old "the wind is free" philosophy...
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Old 09-12-2006
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Canibul-

The wind is free...sails are not.
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Old 09-12-2006
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This is way, way general, but anyway (assuming you're on a boat with reefable main, and several jibs), very roughly:

0-3 knots--doesn't make much difference, heel the boat to leeward and be patient.

3-12 knots--if you want speed, use the largest overlapping "genoa" jib, and full main. If you don't care, or want greater visibility forward, use the "working" 100% jib, with full main

12-18 knots--Full main and working jib

18-24 knots--Reefed main and working jib

Above 24 knots--try to be in port, but if not, you need a double-reefed main and a storm jib.

Your mileage may vary, depending on experience, type of boat, and of course, sail inventory. In a perfect world, you'd have 4 jibs--big overlap, small overlap, working, storm. Most mortals have only 2--medium overlap, and working jib.
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Of course, a lot of this depends on the boat. A 40' full-keel deep draft boat will require more wind before it has to reef than does a 24' J/24 or a 14' dinghy. Generally, the larger the boat, the more wind it can handle before reefing down the main sail or switching to a smaller jib.

The 40' full-keel deep draft boat will be pretty happy in 20 knots of wind with a full jib and main, where a Laser will be getting knocked down quite often, unless the crew is very, very good. YMMV, and it would help if you said what kind of boat you were sailing on.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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"so much for the old "the wind is free" philosophy..."
And the equally ancient corollary:
"You break it you buy it." [pun intended]
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Old 09-12-2006
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A good rule of thumb that we have used is this:

If you are wondering whether you should reef or change down, just do it. In most cases you are approaching being overpowered, for what ever reason, and reducing sail will not hurt performance at that point, and will quite possibly enhance it.

Most people wait too long to shorten sail. Newbies often come back with "Wow, great day - had the rail in the water and we were flyin'"... I beg to differ. If the rail is in the water you are likely not going full speed.

As SD mentioned, boats are so different in performance and capability that generalizations won't cut it. That said, nolatom's list is probably a good starting point for the average boat.
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Old 09-12-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster
A good rule of thumb that we have used is this:

If you are wondering whether you should reef or change down, just do it. In most cases you are approaching being overpowered, for what ever reason, and reducing sail will not hurt performance at that point, and will quite possibly enhance it.

Most people wait too long to shorten sail. Newbies often come back with "Wow, great day - had the rail in the water and we were flyin'"... I beg to differ. If the rail is in the water you are likely not going full speed.

As SD mentioned, boats are so different in performance and capability that generalizations won't cut it. That said, nolatom's list is probably a good starting point for the average boat.
Really? That's not what my GPS said nor the bow wave.
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Old 09-12-2006
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Most boat manufacturers will have a general recommendation for when you should reef and how much. For instance, the maker of my friend's boat recommends:

0-14 knots—Full main, Screacher
0-20 knots—Full main, full 150% Genoa
21-23 knots—Full main, first reef in 150% Genoa
24-26 knots—Full main, second reef in 150% Genoa or full Jib or
24-26 knots—First reef in main, first reef in 150% Genoa
27-30 knots—Second reef in main, second reef in 150% Genoa or full jib
30-35 knots—Second reef in main, storm jib
35-40 knots—Second reef in main, no jib

Of course, these are just recommendations, and YMMV, depending on the sea state and such.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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