I need to buy a new main for my 28 foot Magnum yacht (Australian design). I was intending to buy a fully battened sail but have heard some negative comments particularly when sailing in light airs. Any comments would be appreciated.
I have a lot of time sailing boats with fully battened mainsails, normal battened mainsails, no battens, and mainsails with one or two full length battens. I strongly prefer mainsails with one or two full length battens at the head of the sail and a couple slightly longer than normal lower battens. Having full length upper battens has all of the advanatges of full length battens, namely; allowing additional roach, reducing flogging in heavy air and better sail shape for beating.
Only having only upper full length batten(s) eliminates or reduces the problems normally associated with full length battens. The mixture of long and short battens means that you have less friction raising and lowering the sail than you would with full length battens. You don''t have the problems of chafe and broken battens when reaching and jibing. It is easier to see what is going on with the sail so that you can trim the sail more precisely. In light air it is easier to get a properly powered up sail.
A couple other suggestions, having the battens parellel to the boom makes reefing, and flaking easier and reduces slug friction at the mast. Consider using higher quality and longer sail slides at the full length batten position. Consider a loose footed mainsail. Make sure that your reef tack and reef clew cringles are properly reinforced and has high quality leech line cleats at both reefs that are automatically released when tensioned from the cleat(s) below. Make sure that the sail has chafe patches at the spreaders. Make sure that the slugs either side of the reef points are spaced to permit you to tie in a reef without opening the sail tracks.
We sail Long Island Sound, notorious for its lack of wind, with a full battened main on our J/36. The full battens help hold optimum sail shape - or at least some shape- when the sail would otherwise be slatting around from the powerboat wakes. With a 28'' boat, there shouldn''t be too much of a problem with them sticking; you just pull a little harder if it does, and make sure the batten isn''t pushed too tightly into the pocket.
Agree with paulk on sail shape. I also have a fully battened main and would advise that you pay careful attention to the batten retention technique. My preference--after a warranty issue with North Sails--is to insert the battens from the luff end and have the batten pocket closed at the leech.
My first main had a double overlap velcro flap scheme at the luff, which worked pretty well. I replaced that with a new North sail that had a single velcro flap retention scheme at the leech end. It did not retain the battens so North subsequently closed the batten pockets at the leech and provided a clamshell device at the luff, which also allows for adjusting the compression load. It has worked like a charm.
Another caveat: The fully length battens tend to provide a slight projection--or at least a hard spot--at the leech and can catch lazy jacks when raising thesail--if you haven't pulled the lazy jacks forward.