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Reducing sail on Catalina 320 with roller furling main
I own a 1986 Catalina 22 with conventional slugs on the main and hanks on the jib. I've recently been sailing on a friend's new Catalina 320 with roller furling main and headsail, and am unfamiliar with the ability to reduce sail with the rolling systems, would like to be a more useful crew when sailing shorthanded and am asking for comments.
We sail on Port Philip in Melbourne Australia, which is shallow and wide, and recently found ourselves out in winds gusting to 25 knots near a lee shore, giving us a big, short chop, and beating to windward.
The headsail we're carrying on the 320 is reasonably small and factory fitted (I think a high cut 130). There is some reluctance by the owner to roll in the sail to reef, as it may stretch the sail and affect sail shape, so it seems to be either all out or all in. Furling is done by sailing just off the wind so the sail has some tension on it, rather than have it flog while rolling in. Any views on rolling in to reef? Is it bad for the sail?
The main rolls into the mast which is foreign to me. Clearly this is meant to be reefed, simply by rolling in to whatever position is desired. Again, I suspect this is done by sailing just off the wind so the sail has come tension on it rather than heading directly into the wind. Is this your view? Anything else I should know about the roller furling main system?
Finally, I understand that with the masthead rig we are better off beating into 25 knots and a short chop on a full headsail and reefing the main, and taking the traveller to leeward. This gives us speed off the headsail and pointing ability with the reefed main, and with the traveller down reducing the heeling angle. Makes sense to you?