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Old 05-27-2012
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Reefing while racing

How would you set a reef while racing? I tend to race short handed, so I don't have a lot of rail meat to balance the boat. In the past I have been in races where the winds started at 8 to 10 and ended more like 18 to 22. My boat sails better standing up so I would have liked to put a reef in but did not want to head up and lose time and position. So we just manhandled the rudder against the weather helm and rode the boat on its side. I have recently moved my main and reef lines to the cockpit. So it may be possible (I have not tried it) to pull the main down with the tack reef line, while it is still powered. Should I let the main out to de-power it and then reef? Most of the races I have been in are around 3 sides once or twice rather than point to point.

I am new to racing and mostly just daysail, so reefing early is what I do when out alone.

thanks,
Ron
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Old 05-27-2012
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Re: Reefing while racing

This is relevant to my interests!
Last week, I was leaving the local bay heading into LI Sound on a beam reach on a port tack when the wind picked up to the point that I was heeling beyond what I felt was comfortable. However, I did not want to risk running up on the lee shore to my starboard side should I run into any problems reefing. I was also single handed that day. So I simply let out the main and sailed far enough along, still practically exceeding hull speed, to a point where I felt safe enough to head into the wind and reef properly.

The downside to this tactic was that although I was not racing, I was passed by 2 other boats as my main flapped noisily in the wind.
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Old 05-28-2012
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Re: Reefing while racing

Why would you head up to reef? Luff the main and reef. Your foresail with drive the boat. A rudder hard over, fighting weather helm, is called a brake.
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Last edited by jackdale; 05-28-2012 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 05-28-2012
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Re: Reefing while racing

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
Why would you head up to reef? Luff the main and reef. Your foresail with drive the boat. A rudder hard over, fighting weather helm, is called brake.
Exactly... leave the headsail trimmed for close hauled, hold the course, ease the sheet and vang and let the helmsman carry on while the reef is put in, then trim and off you go, more comfortable and likely faster to boot.

There's often too much 'macho' non reefing action just because it's 'racing'... usually at the expense of actual speed.
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Re: Reefing while racing

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Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
Why would you head up to reef? Luff the main and reef. Your foresail with drive the boat. A rudder hard over, fighting weather helm, is called a brake.
Yep. I didn't know there was any other way
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Re: Reefing while racing

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Originally Posted by Faster View Post

There's often too much 'macho' non reefing action just because it's 'racing'... usually at the expense of actual speed.
honestly though, we rarely reef in a race. If conditions warrant, sure. Nothing macho, but so long as the bottom 1/2 - 1/3 of the leach is still working, most boats are faster with a full main. For us the crossover is somewhere around 25 kts sailing upwind depending on air temps. Of course racers are working much more actively at sail trim than when cruising, so reefing would happen earlier in cruising mode.
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Last edited by puddinlegs; 05-28-2012 at 02:16 PM.
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Re: Reefing while racing

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Why would you head up to reef?
Well, for one thing, when I am single handed, relying on the AP or wheel lock to hold her steady in a gust to wrestle with putting a reef in the main and standing on the foredeck is daunting!
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Re: Reefing while racing

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Originally Posted by weinie View Post
Well, for one thing, when I am single handed, relying on the AP or wheel lock to hold her steady in a gust to wrestle with putting a reef in the main and standing on the foredeck is daunting!
It's not only daunting, it's unrealistic, if you don't have a reliable means of self steering while you're away from the helm. I've been on a sailboat when a full race crew was barely able to get the sails down when she was caught in a sudden microburst. If you had been singlehanding at the time, and had to leave the helm virtually uncontrolled while taking down the sails, I have no doubt that the boat would have gone down, as did a bigger boat in the same storm. Regardless of whether you're singlehanding or fully crewed, and whether you're racing or cruising, you can't allow yourself to get into a situation in which the conditions are beyond your ability to cope with them. When singlehanding, you have to anticipate worsening conditions, and prepare for them while you are still able to do so. It doesn't really matter whether you're racing or cruising.

Last edited by Sailormon6; 05-28-2012 at 08:57 AM.
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Re: Reefing while racing

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Originally Posted by weinie View Post
Well, for one thing, when I am single handed, relying on the AP or wheel lock to hold her steady in a gust to wrestle with putting a reef in the main and standing on the foredeck is daunting!
I have single-handedly reefed at the mast without it being that daunting; I was tethered. Reef when you think about. If you do not have an AP you can also reef while hove -to. But that is not a good racing strategy.
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Re: Reefing while racing

I think another reason why reefing is not done racing as soon as cruising is the short legs of round the cans...
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