Are self-tacking headsails really a new invention - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-23-2016 Thread Starter
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Are self-tacking headsails really a new invention

It seems like such a simple concept and of course traveler rails have been around for so long maybe as long as people have been sailing. are these gizmos they basically just appeared to be traveler rails for a jib really a new invention and what's with all the fanfare because they're really so simple it's hard to believe that if they are new no one would've invented them until now and I'm wondering why that is
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-23-2016
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Re: Are self-tacking headsails really a new invention

No my 1967 Cal 28 has them and they work great for single handing!....Dale

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post #3 of 13 Old 05-23-2016
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Re: Are self-tacking headsails really a new invention

Self tacking jibs and staysails were quite common at one time ... usually fixed to a clubfoot or other type of jib-boom or staysail boom, etc..
What ended the era of self tacking headsails was the onset of overlapping headsails, jibs, etc. (LP greater than ~95%) where the extra length (LP) of the sail had too great an overlap beyond the mast.
As spinnakers and especially asymmetric spinnakers now fill the role of the extra large LP headsails, the return to shorter LP jibs, etc. inevitably, I predict, will encourage greater usage of self tacking headsails .... and for aerodynamic/efficiency advantages when going 'upwind'.

Quite a few modern boat designs use the Hoyt-Boom™, to good effect and sail efficiency. Carl Schumacher's Alerion-28 is one of the most notable sloops with a self-tacking jib.
Alerion Express 28 - Alerion Yachts
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post #4 of 13 Old 05-24-2016 Thread Starter
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Thanks for taking the time on that very informative post! Here's the website where I've been reading about them. I first saw them on a boat for sale. So you're saying that the change in headsail length was more of a modern advent? If that's the case why not design boats with a different mast placement as in further back? I guess the boats specifically made with these have that in mind, the ones on that website seem to.
http://www.windcrafthanse.com/self-tacker/
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-24-2016
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Re: Are self-tacking headsails really a new invention

Are there published theoretical dimensions for a self tacking rig? Looking at the Hanse specifications the foot of the main is 1.125 times the foot of the jib. Is this a standard measure? Does it produce the best operating speeds? Can it be used to compare other self tacking designs?
Interesting subject.
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post #6 of 13 Old 05-24-2016
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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.

Jeff
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-24-2016
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Re: Are self-tacking headsails really a new invention

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
Self tacking jibs and staysails were quite common at one time ... usually fixed to a clubfoot or other type of jib-boom or staysail boom, etc..
What ended the era of self tacking headsails was the onset of overlapping headsails, jibs, etc. (LP greater than ~95%) where the extra length (LP) of the sail had too great an overlap beyond the mast.
As spinnakers and especially asymmetric spinnakers now fill the role of the extra large LP headsails, the return to shorter LP jibs, etc. inevitably, I predict, will encourage greater usage of self tacking headsails .... and for aerodynamic/efficiency advantages when going 'upwind'.

Quite a few modern boat designs use the Hoyt-Boom™, to good effect and sail efficiency. Carl Schumacher's Alerion-28 is one of the most notable sloops with a self-tacking jib.
Alerion Express 28 - Alerion Yachts
I think there has been a trend towards short handed/solo sailing due to the difficulty to get a reliable crew to show up regularly nowadays. This makes self-tacking and non-overlapping headsails so much more desirable.

As RichH said, asyms are not only popular, with the advent of top-down furlers they are even easier to set and 'douse' which is critical when the winds are picking up and one is short handed.

In addition, the development of code 0's and smaller 'reacher' type sails which are also deployed on a furler when conditions are light are changing the game. These sails can also be used as all-around sails for upwind and downwind points of sail when the wind is light taking the place of large overlapping jibs. Even better, when the sea-breeze or heavier weather rolls in, one can simply roll up the code 0 and unfurl the jib literally without leaving the helm!

Last edited by weinie; 05-24-2016 at 06:34 PM.
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post #8 of 13 Old 05-24-2016
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Re: Are self-tacking headsails really a new invention

In ruff weather, my boom sail is self controlling and easy to put away: with the down haul and the boom, it can be held to the deck with out going forward. Making single handling a breeze!...Dale
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post #9 of 13 Old 05-25-2016
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Re: Are self-tacking headsails really a new invention

Sail plan design is so twisted by racing rules, and the cruising boat designers that follow the trends it's hard to discuss sail plans without understanding the historic rules.

Due to a rule set by the IOR overlapping headsails were not penalized, so up to a 150% J length jib was considered free sail area. This obviously pushed headsails to grow right up to the rule limit. At the same time IOR heavily penalized main sail size, so main sails got smaller. The effect of this rule is that masts moved backwards the J got bigger, booms got smaller, and so you wound up with heavily distorted sail plans.

It's bad enough that boats designed to the rule followed this trend, but cruising boats went along for the ride.

Today's race rules typically rate a boat based on total sail area without regard for where it is located so there has been a steady move towards large mains, and smaller minimally overlapping jibs or non-overlapping jibs. Simply because large mains are far more efficient per square foot than jibs are.

The downside to this move is that it leaves the boat lacking upwind power, particularly in chop. Which is why Code zero's were designed, to add horsepower at low wind speeds when maximum sail area is critically important.

Greg
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post #10 of 13 Old 05-25-2016
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Re: Are self-tacking headsails really a new invention

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
.........
Personnally, I find the Hoyt boom to be a lot of hype ............

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.

Jeff
It could be dangerous too. A boom that sweeps the entire foredeck sends shivers down my spine.

I think the only place a self tacking jib with a boom should be used is on an inner staysail on a double headed rig.
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