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Last weekend we were swapping stories with some local sailors and one with a Catalina 34 spoke highly of a very large lightweight drifter type sail.
He said he bought his for $200 and it lets him sail when he would have had to motor without it.

He said it was very large easy to deploy as it was not a spinnaker but was only a few feet smaller than a spinnaker.

Does this sound right?
 

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Last weekend we were swapping stories with some local sailors and one with a Catalina 34 spoke highly of a very large lightweight drifter type sail.
He said he bought his for $200 and it lets him sail when he would have had to motor without it.

He said it was very large easy to deploy as it was not a spinnaker but was only a few feet smaller than a spinnaker.

Does this sound right?
I plan on getting somthing like that.

A used one from an ex racer. recut if needed.
 

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The term "Drifters" can mean a cruising spinnaker type sail, or simply a very light, usually nylon genoa - often a 170% or more of the foretriangle in size.

I once saw an interesting variation - a two ply nylon genny that was used as a genoa if you joined the clews, or they could be separated and the sail spit and flown "wing-on-wing" for DDW.
 

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Cal 9.2 SilverSwan
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For my Cal 9.2, I have a light #1, 155% 1.5 oz dacron cross cut deck sweeper that is on its own internal halyard. I'll hank on a regular 150% and if the wind is light tie the heavy to the life line and fly the light #1, if the wind picks up, raise the 150 and drop the light #1.
I also have a light high clue 2.2 oz that I use for cruising, again on its own halyard, easy up, easy down.
 

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ASA and PSIA Instructor
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I had a drifter in a racing inventory, it was a good sail in anything under 4 MPH wind - good in the sense that it would provide drive good enough for 1-3 knots versus just floating in a circle. But a pretty limited sail for a cruising inventory - if you have six good sails on your boat, it would make a sensible seventh. I'd bet for most sailors who want to maximize their sailing and are willing to spend some money, that installing a sprite and buying a good (read big) asymetrical with provide ten times more sailing...
 

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We use our drifter on our 2nd head stay (hanks on) whenever the wind is under 15kts. It is a 150% tri-radial design made of 1.5 oz. nylon. It definitely moves us along in light winds! I've never used a spinnaker, but the drifter is very easy to use.
 

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I also have a 155%, 1.5 oz deck-sweeping drifter that has seen a lot of use this season as summer winds around here are pretty pathetic. It has its own sheets attached with a lark's head, and they're much narrower than the sheets on the other jibs I carry (probably 1/4"). I suspect the larger sheets would just collapse the sail in the wind regimes it usually sees.
 

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I was recently given a hank on drifter from a Pearson 32 by someone who had converted to a roller furling headsail (150%). I haven't measured it yet, but I suspect it's around 220%

It fits the forestay of my Hunter 27' perfectly, the clew comes back and will actually touch the center of the headsail winchs so I had to rig the sheet line through the stern cleat as I didn't have a snatch block that would fit back there (soon to be fixed). The clew of the main is even with the clew of the drifter.

A couple weeks ago I was coming back from Fairfield after staying in Captains Cove for the night with some friends, and the winds were 5-8kts, and coming right from where I needed to go (isn't that always the case?). got out of the harbor and after about 20 minutes of doing 2-3kts (didn't want to listen to the engine that early in the morning) I swapped out the 110% genoa that came with the boat when I bought it earlier this year and tried out the drifter for the first time, and was immeaditly doing a very comfortable 5.5-6kts with very little heeling. It was such a pleasant and relaxing ride I handed the helm over and took a nap up on the foredeck.

Asked my dad his thoughts about drifers (he was a delivery skipper captaind race boats for about 10 years in the 70's with 2 single handed trans-atlantic crossings under his belt). He said that for crusing it was his single favorite sail and found that he'd often fly a drifter over a spinnaker when he wasn't racing because the spinnaker was "not conducive to relaxing and or drinking a beer" (when crusing)
 

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Like this?

Drifter Sails - UK-Halsey's Encyclopedia of Sails

Or is it a Dazy Sail

The most common racing staysail is the "Dazy Staysail", which is a tall, narrow, very light sail used under a spinnaker when the apparent wind direction is within a range from 5 or 10 degrees forward of the beam to 20 or 25 degrees behind the beam. The sail is intended to have its tack set on the center-line of the foredeck about one quarter to one third of the way back from the headstay to the mast. Its luff length is as great as will fit between that tack position and top of the foretriangle. Its width, or LP, is about 80% or 85% of J. A wider sail would have greater area, but would not be as effective over as great a wind speed range or within as large a range of apparent wind angles.

The Dazy is effective not only because of the area it adds to the sail plan, but also because it increases the air flow along the leeward side of the main, thus improving the efficiency of that sail as well.
Both of these staysails are set flying, meaning they are not attached to or supported by any stay. Consequently, their luff ropes must be made of a non- stretching wire or, in some cases, Kevlar.
A bit of trivia: The Dazy staysail is named after the boat that popularized it. On her way to winning the 1975 Canada's Cup, Golden Dazy used a tall narrow staysail.


I have used dazy sails on race boats. They are literally finger tip control.
 

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I have a not sure I would call it a drifter or reacher, as it is a 130, slightly high on the clew made of Bainbridge .75 spin cloth. WOrks great in winds under 6 to maybe 8 knots upind. Gets the zephers my 155 Fiberpath will not get. But from about 6-8 on up, the 155 fiberpath is the way to go to about 20 knots, then down to a 110 or equal, depending upon the reefs in the main. My drifter you blow up in 20 knots, unless going down wind only. Upwind it would be shot really fast, really quick!
 
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