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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Main Sail
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Thread: Main Sail Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
11-24-2008 09:22 PM
Sailormon6 I think you guys are confusing terms. The choice you have to make is not between a loose footed main and a shelf footed main. The choice is between a mainsail with an attached foot and and one with a loose foot. A shelf foot is an option that you can get with either of those types of sail.

A sail with a standard, attached foot has a shape that's good for most purposes, but a shelf foot allows you to shape the mainsail with a very deep pocket along the foot, which generates more power in light air. As the boat's speed increases, you adjust the outhaul to gradually decrease the depth of the pocket.

Because the shelf foot is used in light air, most sailors won't feel or perceive a difference in the boat's speed or the sail's power, unless you're near another boat, where you can compare your speed.

I raced and cruised with a shelf footed mainsail for many years and loved it, but, it works best with a little more active trimming than a mainsail without a shelf foot. I can't think of any reason why either a racer or cruiser wouldn't want a shelf foot, but most people don't have them. I suspect it's just because most people don't know about them. If you get a shelf foot, I'd recommend you also get a flattening reef, for those occasions when you have a lot of wind and need to flatten the sail to the max. The flattening reef is especially useful with an attached footed mainsail. It might not be as useful with a loose footed sail. If you're going to buy a loose footed sail, I'd suggest you ask your sailmaker's opinion on that question.
11-24-2008 07:29 PM
Faster
Quote:
Originally Posted by NCountry View Post
So, does that mean that with a loose foot there's less heeling as the wind picks up and thus you don't need to reef as fast?
I wouldn't say that that is necessarily true... but you will find that with a new, flatter sail you'll end up reefing later because you'll get more drive/less heeling forces due to it's more efficient shape and adjustablility.

But you'd likely have the same issues with a "bagged out" loose footed sail as with an attached-foot main.
11-24-2008 06:57 PM
NCountry So, does that mean that with a loose foot there's less heeling as the wind picks up and thus you don't need to reef as fast?
11-24-2008 06:55 PM
sailingdog You're a very wise man...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
Proponents of shelf/footed mains will tout the "end plate" effect of the shelf reducing pressure loss around the "loose foot"... Personally I doubt that that effect is significant in the end.

The more uniform shape, easier outhaul loads and ease of bending and unbending the sail that comes with the loose foot (along with simplified reef line rigging, as per SD) come out in its favour for me.
11-24-2008 06:37 PM
Faster Proponents of shelf/footed mains will tout the "end plate" effect of the shelf reducing pressure loss around the "loose foot"... Personally I doubt that that effect is significant in the end.

The more uniform shape, easier outhaul loads and ease of bending and unbending the sail that comes with the loose foot (along with simplified reef line rigging, as per SD) come out in its favour for me.
11-24-2008 06:18 PM
bobmcgov One obscure advantage of a footed or shelf-footed main for cruisers/passage-makers is that you can catch rainwater with it. some cruisers even have zippers stitched into the foot so they could let the extra pootch out or zip it away.

A bolt rope spreads the forces most evenly, but when you reef all the downward/outward strain is on the clew anyhow. I should guess there's less spillage at the base of a footed main, but you can get a cleaner airfoil shape down low with a loose foot. Six of one, half dozen of the other.
11-24-2008 04:56 PM
NCountry The Cal 29 of the guy that suggested this has a bolt rope at the bottom so it is attached through the whole length of the foot. I notice that the main advantage for him was that even with little to no wind he seemed to be able to keep his boat moving a lot faster than anyone else. (We awarded him the nick name "5 knot" because of he could go 5 knots without the wind blowing) The "shelf" of his main must be the reason for the outstanding performance of his boat. Mel passed away after a bout with cancer a few months ago so I'm left with answering this question by inquiring here. I really appreciate the responses. Mel told me that other than the extra speed he was able to obtain the other thing he really liked about the shelf foot with full battens is that the sail is a lot quieter both when tacking and while reaching. His thoughts were that this translated into less turbulent air flow around the sail and thus better performance. Based on how well his boat handled under the conditions I had the pleasure of observing him in I would have to agree BUT I never got to see him reef the main OR handle the boat in heavier air (more than 25 knots). I suspect part of the reason for the outstanding performance of his boat was the fact that "5 knot" was just an outstanding sailor. I did note though that in winds around 20 knots I could stay up with him so it seemed to me that the majority of the improvement was in lighter air. Does this correspond with anyone's experience with this type of sail?
11-21-2008 03:48 PM
DrB
I have no slugs

on my loose footed sail from Hood. It attaches to the boom via the clew/which is attached to the outhaul. the second boom attachment is at the tack. Obviously, there are slugs that go up the mast for the luff.

DrB
11-21-2008 03:35 PM
sailingdog One major advantage of the loose-footed main is that you don't need to have slits cut to pass the reefing lines through. Another is that the loose-footed main may be easier to shape since it'll have less friction, since the sail only has two or three slugs rather than a full bolt rope connecting the foot of the sail to the boom—making using the outhaul easier.
11-21-2008 02:31 PM
SEMIJim
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
That is a fairly standard cruising mainsail arrangement.

The "shelf-foot" refers to a sail foot that is connected to the boom along it's full length.
Well, yes, but with extra material that unfolds if the outhaul is eased, thus creating the "shelf." There is also a footed main, which our boat's original main is, which simply has slugs, a bolt-rope or some other attachment mechanism for holding the length of the foot to the boom.

Jim
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