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That Drunk Guy
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I need a new mainsail for my Monsun 31 and I just read an article extolling the virtues of going "un-battened" for a strictly cruising boat. Any of you guys have a contrary opinion? (hee, I made myself laugh there). Seriously though, I wont be winning any races (or entering any races)....should I consider going with no battens, with full length battens or somewhere in between?

(I do not currently have lazy-jacks...still on the fence)
 

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I have 2 full battens at the top, then the two lower ones are partial. For me, it is working very well. Partly, that is because I removed the lazy jacks. The battens used to catch horribly on them - but that might be considered a function of poor design of the lazy jack system.

If you have battens, you need to be able to stow the lazy jacks.
 

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Last year I replaced my tired full battened main with one with two full uppers and the lower two partials. It's a good compromise for the casual racer/cruiser. Absolutely no issues with the battens. I have a Dutchman system and it makes handling the main so simple. LIght years better than any lazy jack system. I would never consider a main without battens. Too much of a performance penalty for my taste.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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I think that it makes sense to have two full and two partial and a lazy-jack system that works (that you pull forward when you are not dropping the sail. I say that as someone with no battens and inmost furling. We have a big rig but I can tell that we would do better with some roach.
 

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If your really rich and like to give all your money away do get a full battened main. If your a regular guy like me get a batten less main and use all the money you save to get a nice new drifter which will become your number one sail as you cruise. I always hear people talk about how much better their boat sailed once they got a new full batten sail and attribute it to the sail. I'm no rocket scientist but I'm pretty sure any new configuration will give close to a full not over a crappy old sail. Think lift verse drag.
 

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I've had all three. Now with 2 full and three partial. Seems to work well offshore. No Batt cars to break, no batten pockets hitting the lowers, no broken battens etc.
 

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It isn't a question of whether or not to add to add something to your sail. Battens are there for a reason.

It's a question of how much mainsail you want. The reason that battens are added to a sail is to stabilize the roach. The reason that full battens are added is to retain shape across the sail. With no roach, no battens are needed. But as you add roach (i.e., sail area at the leech), battens are necessary. So if you want to have a smaller sail, go no battens.

With that said, when we ordered our new mainsail, 3 years ago, I asked the sailmaker for as much roach as possible. Why? I wanted performance. So the battens came with it in a 2+2 configuration as a necessity. Why would anyone ask for the smallest engine (sail) in their car (boat) when the gas (wind) is free?
 

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Another way to think about it is "would I be happier if my mast were 20% shorter?"

On my little boat the roach in the main sail adds about 20% additional sail area (200sqft vs 170sqft for a triangle). A battenless main would need to have a hollow leech, so it's probably more like a 25% difference in sail area.

I've read the same advice, but it is for long distance offshore boats, not coastal cruisers. If you are sailing with the trade winds and expect to have 20 knots every day then you can get away with the reduction of sail area. If you are coastal cruising that smaller sail might be the difference between sailing and motoring in 7 knots of wind.

The battenless main also moves the CLE forward, which could affect balance. It's pretty minor, but would likely require some adjustment to the standing rigging (more rake) to compensate.
 

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All very good points but you are forgetting that on a cursing sailboat the main sail is usually the most useless sail on the boat. "Why would anyone ask for the smallest engine (sail) in their car (boat) when the gas (wind) is free?" That sounds like something a sailmaker would say to sell a more expensive product. Flying an 8 ounce main on a 30' boat in 8 knots of wind is hell but add a nice light, well shaped drifter and you are in business. Roller furling has killed sailing all together. A well designed boat with a proper suit of sails does not need any roach or excessive roach, we are talking cruising boats here not racing. Where I live people always complain that you can't sail here in the summer but I have a friend who just did a two month cruise on less than $4:00 worth of fuel and hit every harbor between Canada and USA. He has a batten less main and hank on sails. His record trip was Port Townsend to Bellingham in 6 hours in a heavy displacement full keel 26' 13.000lb boat, thats almost 50 miles. If you want performance get rid of your roller and invest in a ver good head sails, like the sailmaker says..Why would anyone ask for the smallest engine (sail) in their car (boat) when the gas (wind) is free? :) I'm just saying
 

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I avoid battens, the cause off 60% of mainsail repairs.
Hmmm, making up numbers again, eh? You wouldn't happen to have a cite for that assertion, would you? C'mon, you can do better than that... How about something like "Battens are the #1 Destroyer of Cruising Dreams", or "Full Battened mains are a coordinated effort of the major sailmakers - conceived during a secret meeting between Lowell North and Ted Hood in an undisclosed location back in 1979, to deprive sailors of their FREEDOM..."

Hell, I'll bet if you found a servicable battened main in a dumpster, you'd give it a whirl in a heartbeat :)

Me, I'm very happy with my full-battened main and lazy jacks. Incredibly easy sailhanding, especially for singlehanding. I believe full battens can actually help prolong the life of a main, as flogging essentially becomes a non-issue... Of course, it is a more expensive solution, and if you go the full-battened route you'll really want to upgrade your mast track with something like a Strong Track, which will cost you... but in the long run, it will be one of the best upgrades you can make to improve mainsail handling, in my opinion...

I can't imagine going battenless with a boat like mine, the performance hit would be deadly...
 

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I think that you can run a full batten main without batt cars on a 31 footer (it worked on my 34 footer). The problem with battenless is the sail maker has to take out all roach to the point of hollowing it out a little. The problem with a convex leech is the leech cord does a lousy job of tensioning resulting in a tendency for leech flutter and a shorter life span. If all you want is something triangular and somewhat whitish then by all means go battenless. Note also the trend for furling sails is to go to vertical battens to fix the problems of a hollow leech.
 

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All very good points but you are forgetting that on a cursing sailboat the main sail is usually the most useless sail on the boat.
Yeah, I guess that's why the trend today is going towards fractional rigs with larger mains, non-overlapping headsails, deeply swept spreader rigs to eliminate backstays and allow more roach, and so on, eh?

Roller furling has killed sailing all together...

If you want performance get rid of your roller and invest in a ver good head sails,
But still stick with a battenless main, right? LMAO!

Well, it's probably high time somebody informed these guys of that, no?

:)

 

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Corsair 24
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having never enjoyed a full batten main, other than on hobies... my experience is still green with them , however I can say that I like dousing the main along with a lazy jack system....it saves me from hauling sail from the cabin top and honestly using many sail ties

I like the shape and the fact that it will keep its draft(shape) even in light winds.

time wil tell
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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All very good points but you are forgetting that on a cursing sailboat the main sail is usually the most useless sail on the boat. ...
That has been my boat on a few occasions.

To the substance of your reply. I disagree with a lot of it. I think it is not very helpful to say things like furling systems have destroyed sailing when there is so much evidence to the contrary. We have furling for main and genoa and doing 30,000+ miles without them would have been much, much harder. You would probably say our boat is too big but if you require a much smaller boat to make your idea of a cruising (almost said cursing) boat work then you are already giving up a lot of performance, comfort, and I would say safety for the supposed advantages of hank-on sails (we have a batten-less main but would not mind battens if they could work with furling - not convinced the various systems that have been tried make sense.
 
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