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doubleplay 05-26-2003 12:34 PM

best way to reef a main
do you think it is better to go closehauled and luff the main or head to wind while reefing on a fractional rigged boat?

Jeff_H 05-26-2003 06:37 PM

best way to reef a main
It really depends on the set-up on your boat. If you have slab reefing with a reef tack line as well as a reef clew line you can often reef on the fly on any point of sail. In that case, close reaching is certainly preferable to being head to wind in that you maintain control of the boat and do not flog your sails as badly. Depending on the conditions, rigged so you can reef on the fly, even though there can be a lot of friction, reefing with the boat almost dead downwind can sometimes make sense because you have less aparent wind and you don''t have to flog the sail at all. Again it all depends on the conditions, the size of the boat and how she is rigged.


paulk 05-28-2003 07:58 PM

best way to reef a main
If you luff head to wind to reef, you''ll stop and lose the race. It also makes the reefing more difficult because you''re bouncing around and spashing more than you''d be if simply hard on the wind with the jib still pulling. (If the sea was flat and there was no wind, you wouldn''t be reefing!) In the rough conditions present when you''re likely to be reefing, getting into irons and losing steerage way could be dangerous. When we reef the fractional main on our J/36 we maintain our course and let the sail luff for the 20 or so seconds it takes to put the reef in. Then we trim the sheet, and away we go.

jjrsn 03-17-2004 07:41 AM

best way to reef a main
What''s the best way to get sail ties around the slab? In 20-25 kn wind, I''ve found it impossible to stay pointed head-to-wind long enough for the crew to tie up the slab. And if the boom is outboard, then the crew can''t reach it. A double slab hanging down doesn''t look pretty.


jbanta 03-17-2004 08:01 AM

best way to reef a main
You might look into adding a main sail reefing system. You can look them over in the West Marine catalog for 2004 on page 1062. As far as I can tell that should take care of your problem... Sailnet I believe has something too so check them out.....

pirateofcapeann 03-17-2004 03:52 PM

best way to reef a main
When I''m crewed up, I can usually tuck a reef on the fly. Get on Starboard tack, (which is why the mainsailís controls are traditionally located on the starboard side of the mast) and have my helmsman round up briefly while I lower or hoist. Single handed, I can either heave too, drop all or motor into it under autopilot (not recommended) while I tend to the main.

Jeff_H 03-17-2004 05:15 PM

best way to reef a main
I never tie sail ties through the nettles. It is too easy to damage the sail should the reef clew line ease out.

bob_walden 03-18-2004 07:46 AM

best way to reef a main
It''s interesting that most of the responders to this nearly year-old question assumed it was in a racing context. If not racing, I like to heave-to on starboard to reef. That way the boat is stable, you have rights over most other sailboats, and the helmsperson can help reef if needed.

As for sail ties to tidy the loose slabs, definitely must be careful here as it''s real easy to tear the sail. Like Jeff, I don''t do this for the first reef, since there''s not much of a slab hanging down. On the 2nd reef there is, and it''s noisy and blocks my view, so I tie it up real loose with light string, which will break long before the sail ever tears.

If hove-to, you usually can''t reach the boom to tidy up the slab, so we do this after getting back under way.


WHOOSH 03-18-2004 10:05 PM

best way to reef a main
I see more and more loose footed mains these days, including the first one I''ve ever sailed with on my own boat. One advantage of this set-up is that the reef can be tied in without risk of harming the sail.

We don''t race but I''m curious: is there a penalty assessed for such a mainsail in a typical set of race rules? I''m able to get substantially better sail shape and would guess it would be viewed as something to penalize.

I really appreciated Bob''s comment about heaving to on stbd tack to reef; I''ve read this before but it didn''t sink in and I''ll have to give that a try when we finally get sailing again this year.


Jeff_H 03-19-2004 01:50 AM

best way to reef a main
Loose footed mainsails are not penalized under the rating rules. There is a limit to the size of the skirt permitted.


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