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Howdy,

A question for anyone reading: I have a 16' Topper Sport dinghy. It has a mainsail and a jib, but since I'm still learning I usually just use the mainsail.

I know that if the wind is really blowing hard, many of you chose to reef the mainsail to reduce the amount of wind on the sail. As far as I can tell, my boat can't do that. I use the halyard to raise and lower the sail, but if I lower the sail, it just collapses the boom and falls into a heap in the boat. On a second note, how do you know if your boat has the capability to reef the mainsail?

Is it at all possible to rig some kind of system to be able to reef if I wanted to? I know the golden rule is: "If you are thinking about reefing, it's too late"
but I don't have that option.

Thanks,
Mike
 

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This google image search result will give you lots to consider..

https://www.google.ca/search?q=main...jpigKfooDoAw&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1701&bih=862

It's unlikely that Toppers come with reef points.. but there's no reason you couldn't add them if you really think you need them. Is the Topper a laser-like sleeve sail? or slugs/boltrope on a track? If a laser type with no stays and a sleeved luff you can 'reef' by rolling some of the sail around the mast, but you need a way to pin the mast to keep it from unrolling under pressure. You'd also likely need to rig a strap to keep the clew close to the boom (google 'clew strap' for ideas there) Even if it's a regular bolt rope/track system, if it's a free standing mast you may be able to disconnect the boom, roll up some sail and reattach the boom...


If you can 'reef' this way it may be less than ideal, esp if you're not using the jib, as it may shift the center of effort to the point where steering is difficult, but it may be worth a try (over the added complexity and cost of rigging standard jiffy reefing as in some of those images I linked to above)

If it's not a sleeve sail or 'rollable' setup then all you'd really need is a reinforced reef cringle added to the luff and leech and some small lines and cleats. Any sailmaker could modify the sail for you.
 
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Toppers are a sleeve sail not going to be easy to reef. rolling the sail up does not work well because it tries to unwind in heave air. keep practicing and you will not need a reef even in 25KTS. pull in very hard on the vang to flatten the sail, sail with a little luff in the leading edge of the sail, boom at the corner and pinch up and hike hard.
 
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