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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well the season is long over here in the northeast so I thought I would share an experience from late in the season and maybe get some dialogue going on reefing roller furling sails.

My last Block Island trip of the season was mid week in early October. We were one of the few boats there. It was a record trip out (~3 hrs) in beam to broad reach conditions with a big following sea. Unfortunately we broke the record on the way back for the longest trip!

The wind was blowing 20+ the previous day from the NE. Overnight it built to 25-30 and shifted more Northerly, essentially coming right from our destination (Newport). Since I only had 2 inexperienced (and hungover) crew onboard, I set the boat up with highly reefed main (in mast roller) and roller reefed jib. I purposefully set up with a fairly neutral helm to allow active steering without having to ease the main. The plan basically worked. The boat road well and I could steer around the larger waves to smooth the ride. The problem was the progress to weather was bad. For reference, she goes just fine upwind with no reefing of the sails.

I've done plenty of racing and know exactly how to handle the conditions with a good main trimmer. Of course this is also with dropping to smaller headsails and conventionally reefed mains. I'm curious on any experience from folks out there with experience reefing roller fulling sails. Thoughts from all you single handers out there would be great also. I'm trying to get my mind around if the lack of performance was due to:

1. Poor sail shape with the RF sails
2. Not powered up with enough main to maintain some weather helm.
3. The reality of sailing upwind in a cruising boat in big wind and seas without active trimming. Oh, I forgot to add that the tide was against us also!
4. All of th above

I would just love some input on what others have found sucessful. Overall I'm glad we did the trip. We had fun on the way out and on the island, then gained some good experience (only our second season) going home. Maybe the takeaway is that if you plan a trip to Block when the forecast is calling for all the elements to be against you, it's going to take awhile getting home!

Any thoughts?
 

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With roller furling sails and attempting to sail above a beam reach - once you roll-up more than 25% to 30% of the sail (area), .... all those 3D curved surfaces and where that 'point of maximum draft' is located, all that makes a boat 'go' ....... are all rolled-up on that foil; what you have left flying is nothing but 'flat' .... even to the point of dead flat (like a piece of plywood), especially if you dont release/ease some clew tension.

A dead-flat sail is going to develop very little POWER to 'punch' into and through BIG waves.
When reefing (any kind) its always better (IMO) to 'power up' with a slightly released/eased outhaul ....... double-line slab-reefing, roller reefing ... doesnt matter (impossible with single line reefing!). Reef very deep if you need; but, add some power by controlling (not overcontrolling) and easing the clew to 'power up' what you have flying.

Rx: When going above a beam reach, if all have up is 'dead-flat', youre going to be dead-slow and your keel/hull will have 'zilch' lift to windward.
For upwind, reefing really is to ONLY reduce heel and to regain helm balance ... most go too far and also tighten up on the outhaul which further reduces POWER. FLAT is a speed shape (for flat water), full draft even when reefed or deep reefed is for POWER in BIG waves.
Those who have 'conventional' non-roller reefing, can control their helm balance with halyard tension.

:)
 

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Sounds like you were on a schedule. A day later or so, the front would have moved through and you'd have east or SE winds etc, and you would have timed the current better.

If you're intent to sail vs motorsail in those conditions and don't have a working jib or storm sail, I would think falling off a bit and sailing faster might be a good strategy, if the seas allow you to do so comfortably. Hangovers don't lend themselves well to beating to weather in a seaway.
 

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I'd say the major takeaway from your description is that you need to have an appropriately small headsail to set when you know you're heading out in such conditions.. and I don't think the RF mainsail helped you out much..

IMO reducing sail by rolling is mainly a practical tactic off the wind, with the possible exception of a good in-boom RF main.
 
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We have in boom furling and have no problem going to wind reefed. I start reducing main when we hit 20 kts to keep the boat on it's feet. The sea state will dictate how high I try to go. I always crack off a little to keep the boat powered up. I regularly see other boats pointing to high hobby horsing and we go by them like they're parked.
Jim
 

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As on of my favors poster is want to say
"It depends "
Most recent vintage boats are faster when sailed flat.
In mast gives control of depth of chord but not placement. In higher wind speeds most sails do better if maximum depth is moved forward.
Most mains will develop most of their power from forward third of the sail when going close hauled. An overly full main will not maintain laminar flow in higher wind speeds if too full and be slow. Wind will eddy on leeward side of aft two thirds of sail. Sail should flatten and draft move forward as wind speed increases. In mast furling may have trouble doing this. Although in mast gives good control of fullness.
Mandrill of in boom dictates to what degree sail flattens when rolled. (Same is true for mandrill of in mast but in vertical axis). It may be perfect or not depending on degree rolled, wind speed and angle of attack. Point of max draft is built in to construction of sail and mandrill and not controllable by operator.
Only when you have full control of all three corners of the sail can you get most control of sail shape.
For most boats given lift increases dramatically with increase in wind speed there is no reason to have a poorly shaped sail ( too full) as plenty of power exists. The fuller sail will not point as high with loss of vmg.
Most modern ( non IOR) boats are driven by their mainsails. Roller furling headsails cannot be furled much beyond 20% without losing their effective shape. Sail wil also deform slot decreasing effectiveness of the main unless nearly completely rolled up.
Ability to comfortably go up wind in a seaway is not only a function of when the sails will stall but also beam of boat, lift of appendages, fineness of bow, diagonals, rocker, weight/inertia etc. Reefing mechanism is just one small factor.
Ok now pick me apart.
 

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Lastly, I've noticed some experienced helmsmen pay to much attention to the screens. Yes as wind speed increases boat speed increases so apparent wind angle decreases and you need to foot but as long as the sails are drawing well going close ( not pinching) gives best vmg. I rather wind angle be the last adjustment after backstay, vang, out haul, halyard etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks everyone for all the responses. My thought when out there was that it would have been great to have a 90-100% jib. From the feedback, I also think that more main would have been better. There are reef lines from the sailmaker. I use the Beneteua logo as a loose reference. That could be better. I did have the jib rolled in past the 2nd reef mark. I think I would try that at the mark next time. The sail has foam built into the luff to take up extra material and maintain some shape. Exceeding the marks may have undermined that benefit.
As for the other comments, we were on a schedule and the next day was calling for the same weather. No delivery crew available! ��
 
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