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There could be a couple different possibilities here.
If you were sailing dead downwind, the mainsail would mostly blanket the genoa. Normally, dead downwind is not the most desirable course. Most folks prefer to reach a bit higher, and work their way downwind by jibing. But you were in a narrow channel and didn't have a choice.
So, under those circumstances, sailing downwind wing-on-wing is probably your best bet. Forgive me if you know this, but "wing-on-wing" means setting the mainsail and genoa on opposite sides.
This is easiest to do if you have a spinnaker or whisker pole that can hold the genoa out and prevent it from collapsing. But it can also be accomplished without a pole for the genoa. If you have a pole, it is best to set the genoa on whichever side is slightly favored as "windward". If you don't have a pole, it is better to set the mainsail on the slightly "windward" side.
In either case, you should always secure the mainsail with a preventer. This will help to hold the mainsail out at full extension, too. Another reason you may not have been able to get your main all the way out, is if the vang was too tight. In light air, you may need to ease the vang until the mainsail is fully out, secure the preventer, then snug the vang back up to help hold the boom down.
In light air, when sailing deep downwind, there is always the problem of apparent wind. The boat's speed is subtracted from the windspeed, making conditions feel even lighter. This takes pressure off the sails, causing them to collapse, and making the boat seem listless. It feels worse than it is, as evidenced when you discovered that you were still making 4.5 knots good. Sometimes, positioning some weight to leeward will restore some list and help the sails set better.
Another trick you can try with a roller furling genoa, is to take a few turns on the furler and "shorten" sail somewhat. This works especially well if you don't have any way to pole it out. Sometimes the weight of the big genoa alone, unsupported by a full breeze, causes it to collapse more easily. Shortening sail a bit leaves less weight and material to flop around.
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Pacific Seacraft Crealock 31 #62
NEVER CALLS CRUISINGDAD BACK....CAN"T TAKE THE ACCENT
Last edited by JohnRPollard; 10-12-2010 at 03:53 PM.