Join Date: May 2002
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Re: Sails for light winds
Absent an adverse current, our race committees will usually start a race in any wind that is consistently 3 kt or more, and a 155 can be kept full and driving to windward in air that light. Chop isn't much of a factor in air that light, except chop that's generated by power boat wakes. After the start, everyone prays that more wind will fill in before we start the downwind leg, because there might not be enough air movement to lift even a light air sail. That's when we hope for a shortened course at the windward mark.
IMO, special sails that are useful in narrow wind ranges are of more value in longer races, but not so much in shorter, around-the-buoys races, because you have time to make sail changes in longer races. If the wind increases during a short race, I'll sail past you while you're struggling to change the sail, and you won't be able to catch me because you changed to the same sail as me.
I think those sails are useful for longer races and especially for modern ultra light designs that can glide on a whisper of air. For older, heavier boats, I think they're too expensive, considering how seldom you'll really need them, and they don't help a heavier boat as much as a lighter boat.
That's not to say they're not useful, as long as you can justify their cost.