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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 04-15-2011
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When to reef?

OK. I like sailing when the wind is blowing. In my Dufour Arpege, I rarely feel like I'm being overpowered or headed-up. However, I've noticed in the odd race, when its blowing over say 20 kts. that other boats are putting in a reef... and seem to sail faster. So, at what degree of heel should I consider reefing to increase speed? I hope this question makes sense. I know a lot is contingent upon design. I guess it would be wise to set up a short course and race it in various set ups to see which is fastest.

L.
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Old 04-15-2011
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Healing angles in much in excees of 20-25ļ slow a yacht and generate leeway that must be made up for by heading up, bringing the wind even further forward. Moreover, at large heeling angles one must apply rather a lot of rudder to prevent rounding up. Dragging ones rudder through the water somewhat sideways makes one slow. Ideally one wants no more than about 5ļ of rudder and if one cannot achieve that by flattening the main and dropping the traveler to leeward, and then, if necessary, moving the headsail lead aft somewhat, reefing is indicated.

FWIW...
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Old 04-15-2011
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So keep the heeling under 20-25 degrees by flattening the main or trimming the traveler. Great. I can do that. In fact I just rigged my traveler with lines for adjusting.
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Old 04-15-2011
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As you say, design probably has something to do with it. Maybe your boat sails stiffly, enabling it to carry more sail, longer. You should easily be able to figure this out by recording readings from your knotmeter and inclinometer. Note where your speed drops off, and then put a reef in and try it again.

At 20 and 25 knots, are you flogging the hell out of your main sail when you ease the main to keep the boat on it's feet? If so, you should be reefed.

Apparently there are some folks who feel that reefing is un-manly (not saying you do) and are reluctant to do it. I reef without hesitation when it's called for because I definitely sail faster and more comfortably than when I'm carrying too much cloth.

As a point of reference for you, I reef somewhere between 15-20 kts of true wind speed. I'm 25 feet and only displace 2 1/4 tons, and my main sail has a tad more roach than the original spec sail, so I'm probably doing it a bit earlier than I otherwise might.

Hope that helps.
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Old 04-15-2011
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On my mono I used 15* heel as an indicator to reef. Some folks like sailing on thier ear, but it adds stress to the boat, and me...lol........i2f
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Old 04-15-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawsonmitchell View Post
So keep the heeling under 20-25 degrees by flattening the main or trimming the traveler. Great. I can do that. In fact I just rigged my traveler with lines for adjusting.
Flattening the Main and Dropping the traveler. One flattens the Main by increasing outhaul tension, increasing luff tension (with a cunningham if necessary), increasing vang tension and increasing sheet loading (offset by dropping the traveler). Once all are at their maximum, you've used all your bullets and the Main should be dropped to the first reef.
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I got svHyLyte. When I say trimming the traveler, I mean windward or leeward as needed. For flattening... I use the cunningham and the outhaul. But the vang? Wouldn't increasing my vang tension cause my leech to cup/curl? In heavier winds I always thought I was trying to increase the twist in the leech to spill off the stronger winds up top. No?
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Old 04-15-2011
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Generally if you're sailing along and the thought occurs "maybe I should reef" that's probably the time to do it.

There are definite performance benefits to 'keeping a boat on its feet'.
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When to reef may also be a function of who is onboard. Newbies can get freaked by any heeling. If you wish your friends would continue to sail with you, reef early.

Some boats also have tables for optimum heel angles. Downwind, you want to be flatter than upwind.

You might also consider moving railmeat around. Get the crew to windward on a close hauled / close reach, that will flatten the board and reduce weather helm. Going downwind get the crew aft.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
You might also consider moving railmeat around. Get the crew to windward on a close hauled / close reach, that will flatten the board and reduce weather helm. Going downwind get the crew aft.
If I had to ask my wife to sit on the rail I'd have to start looking for a good lawyer. . .
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