Loose Foot vs. Attached—What's Best? - Page 2 - SailNet Community

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Old 03-17-2011
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We've had reef ties on several boats over the years. I have the grommets for them on my 35' sloop, but don't use them and don't even have them installed. Now that we've retrofitted single line reefing (led to the cockpit), we'd rather not go on deck for reef ties, anyway.

We had a catboat (with a boom longer than the LOD) for 15 years and would use the ties if we had more than one reef. The need here was to gather a lot of sailcloth: didn't want to catch anything in a gybe and also wanted to minimize visual blockage. The key here is to have long enough reef ties so they could be tied loosely, as the previous commenter indicated.

Going back to the sloop, we opted to eliminate the shelf last time we ordered a new main. We have lines in the leech and foot to minimize flutter.
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Old 05-18-2011
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I am plenty happy with my attatched foot main and mizzen. I feel that the bolt rope at the foot of the sail distributes load far more fairly than points at the tack and clew, with less reinforcing needed at these two connections. The complaint regarding outhaul adjustment does make sense, the extra friction due to the boltrope is certainly a hinderance to tightening, yet this is not a problem I can remember encountering. I feel that my attached foot sails have better shape insofar as their draft, they also make a great hammock when running from the wind!

Sailing a '74 Challenger 40' Ketch rig out of San Francisco
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Old 05-18-2011
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You are probably right that you would not notice the difference between a shelf foot or a loose foot main vs. a traditional attached foot mainsail, if you are sailing a low performance boat like a Challenger 40 ketch, especially in a high wind venue like San Francisco.

But for the rest of us, the reality is that a shelf foot or loose foot, allows the lower portion of the sail to have a closer to proper shape all the way to the foot, whereas a traditional attached foot flattens the lower portion of the sail reducing the performance and increasing heel by over-flattening the largest portion of the sail. This ability to shape the lower portion of the sail offers a real advantage on higher performance boats.

Once you start trying to shape the lower portion of the sail, there are two contradictory arguments that get made; a shelf foot acts as an end plate increasing efficiency by preventing 'pressure leakage' and decreasing tip vortex but loose foot sails have more area and theoretically generate less turbulence at the boom.

In terms of your comment that the bolt rope at the foot of the sail distributes the load far more fairly than points at the tack and clew, with less reinforcing needed at these two connections, that is only true on a low performance sail which lacks a shelf foot. Once the sail has a shelf foot, there should be no load distributed to the bolt rope, and so the load distribution and corner reinforcing is virtually the same between a shelf foot and a loose foot.


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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay and part-time purveyor of marine supplies
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