Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Re: Are self-tacking headsails really a new invention
As others have said, self-tacking jibs are nothing new. They existed in the late 19th century if not earlier. They were generally used on the forestaysail of a multi-headsail rig. As others have noted they were typically mounted on jib boom or jib club (a boom which was shorter then the foot of the sail and generally hung from the clew end of the foot of the sail, or mounted vertically.
There is no idea ratio of the mainsail foot to the jib foot length, but a boat which is intended to only use a self-tacking jib needs a very large sail plan to perform decently in light air since a non overlapping headsail is less efficient than a minimally overlapping headsail and of course smaller in area.
Generally you would expect that a boat that relied on self-tacking headsails would have an L/D that is greater than 26 or so if it is expected to have decent light air performance. That kind of L/D requires a lot of stability. Generally that results from a deep draft, fin with a bulb and a high ballast to disp ratio. Even so its hard to have enough sail area reaching and downwind without being overpowered when sailing upwind.
Personnally, I find the Hoyt boom to be a lot of hype that screws up an otherwise good sail plan. I seriously doubt that Carl Schumacher would have been pleased to see one on his Alerion design.
The reality is that minimally overlapping jibs are so easy to tack and so much more efficient that it is really hard to justify a self-tacking jib.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay