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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
10,218 Posts
This all comes down to how your boat is rigged. I am a strong proponent of being able to reef on the fly, without changing course and from the cockpit if you are single- or short handed. To me reefing should be quick and easy and only require one person to leave the rail, and ideally not move thier weight and windage forward.

It should not be a complex process. In my case I start by releasing the mainsheet (which I can't do at the mast). I typically mark my halyard at the proper drop point for each reef with a whipping so I can feel it in the dark or a hurry. I drop the halyard to that mark. The downhaul for the reefed tack is set up 2:1 and both pulls down the reef tack, keeping the kringle at the gooseneck and acts like a cunningham which tensions the luff at the same time. Then I release the vang and bring in the clew which requires a bit of winching. Then I set the mainsheet and take the slack out of the vang. Its only once we are settled in and fully back to speed that I finish tensioning the vang and cleaning up the mess. The whole process should take less than a couple minutes start to finish.

Now then, in the discussion about 55 mile an hour downbursts, ideally you should see them coming, insert hatch slides, reef ahead of time and have the sheets ready to run ahead of time. But that luxury does not always exist in a downburst, so it may simply come down to flogging the main, which is hard on the sail, and rig, but may be the only way to avoid a knockdown sufficient to cause downflooding on many boats.

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