Loose footed mainsails are a very old technology that has come back big time. It has a variety of advantages and in my mind few disadvantages. Properly made sails, either loose foot or attached foot, take most of their loads on most points of sail at the clew and the luff of the sail. Properly made attached foot sails have a shelf at the bottom that allows the bottom of the sail to achieve a proper shape when the outhaul is eased. In theory that shelf only comes into play on a reach when out haul loads are somewhat lower. The shelf is supposed to act as an endplate but really has little impact since it only as an endplate when eased which is the time when an endplate is of little use.
Hanging all of the load off of the clew is made possible by modern high strength low stretch dacron sail cloth (as compared to higher stretch cotton or early dacron sailcoths) Eliminating the shelf foot eliminates the need for a flattening reef. It also eliminates the hardware for the foot of the sail. It makes it easier to remove the sail from the boom (an important item when making repairs at sea or just plain taking the sail off for normal maintenance.) It makes it easier to tie in reefs and furls.
To a great extent I think loose footed or attached is only a matter of style rather than real substance but I do prefer a loose foot for the reasons mentioned.
I''d agree with above. We switched our main to loose footed this season (because the foot shelf essentially wore out, and it was cheaper to remove it than to repair it.) Sail shape was not affected, and having the whole boom available to tie reeflines, preventers, or dinghy/MOB tackle to was a great convenience.
Does this meane that removing the foot for the boom slot & reattaching to the clew, the sail could be used as a foot loose? It seems the sail shape would not be correct. Does this make sence, or am I lost again?
Does this meane that removing the foot for the boom slot & reattaching to the clew, the sail could be used as a foot loose? It seems the sail shape would not be correct. Does this make sence, or am I lost again? Thanks Ron
Correct. The foot of the sail, with a rope that fit into the groove on the boom, was removed and a new, curved-bottom piece sewn in its place. Clew and tack stayed in the same places, joined by the same kevlar tape that had been there before.