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Discussion Starter #1
Would be interested to know at what wind speed do you reef your main and jib? Please provide boat type and length.

For myself I normally put in a reef at 20 knots as the wind will be gusting to 25 knots and I sail somewhat conservatively. Boat S&S 34.
 

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Cape Dory 330 likes to reef @ 15 2nd at 22 or so. It can handle more but sails best when reefed early.
 

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C & C 25
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I reef about 20 also depends a little on what point of sail but usually 18 to 20 kn. i usually reel in the genoa first and then the main if i need less sail. I am in a C & C 25 MK1 sometimes I reef earlier if the little woman is getting sprayed (happy wife =happy captain we are usually just sailing around without a destination.
 

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C&C 35 Mk III
Upwind 18-20 apparent 1 reef. 25 apparent Furl jib to about 100%.

Also depends on sea state, whether racing and who is onboard.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Hallberg-Rassy 40. I reef on the helm, not wind speed. Wind speed varies with aspect angle but the helm angle doesn't.

With a 100% jib on the furler I reef the main every time I get weather helm consistently above 10 degrees. After the third reef in the main I furl the jib entirely and fly my staysail.

With a 135% on the furler I roll up the genoa to about 90% first and then start tucking in the main. Again, the threshold is 10 degrees of weather helm.

When things get really sporty I drop the main entirely and wrap the reefing line tails hard around the sail to reduce windage and sail on the staysail.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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I need to reef because of weather helm at around 15 knots with my 100% jib but try to reef well before that. With the 160 Genny it's more like 10 knots. Singlehanded, I need to be very conservative because I don't have everything back to the cockpit. With someone at the helm I would wait a bit longer. The gymnastics needed to get up at the mast and wrap up the sail if the wind is blowing hard is definitely not worth waiting too long.
 
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Upwind at 17 knots if its going higher. or when the AP has more than 10 degrees rudder.
2nd reef at 25.

I don't believe in silly rules like "if you think about reefing you should have". I think I am always looking at the weather and always its in my mind.

Mine is a light boat.
 
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8.5M (28') S2. Two answers: I reef when logic tells me to, ie. when she is overpowered and I can tell it. I reef when I am worried. 2nd reason applies more often.
I find that if I am worried about lack of control, a few minutes with too little sail won't hurt anything and when I get more confidence I can put up full sail. However, having roller furling jib helps a lot in this regard as if I think it is too much wind or not comfy, I unfurl less jib but full main. If this doesn't help I go to reef. If it seems ok, i go to full jib.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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I reef pretty much by feel and experience (Bristol 45.5, about 40,000 lbs but with a generous sail plan). The older I get the earlier I reef, probably because the boat is old too and I can't see any point in putting undue stress on anything. It also depends on the type of sailing. Most of what I do is long distances (a few to many days) and discretion makes sense. I have also noticed that there is little if any difference in speed and the boat just feels more comfortable.

i reef the main (furling so I can control the amount of sail area fairly precisely) first and quite a bit before furling the 135%. This reduces any weather helm and makes life much easier for Morley the Monitor. If Morley is happy, I'm happy.
 

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islander bahama 24
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In 24 reef main about 15 and douse jib (only have a 135 now) at a out 20 then set my home designed "cutter" jib it uses the topping lift as the halyard its self tacking at about 30 I take the second reef.
 

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I have reefed when my crew thought I shouldnt and I think I am correct. Going from Green Turtle to marsh harbor, I went below and took a nap while crew sailed. About an hour later, looked out and noticed we were really moving dead downwind. Glance at the GPS, WTF, 8 kts? Not possible for a 28' boat but then I look at anemometer and it reads 28 kts from dead astern. HOLY CRAP, REEF NOW. Fortunately we were under only main, Sea of Abaco choppy but not much height because wind was blocked by land. I knew that if we accidently jibed, it wouldnt be pretty and that although my rigging is relatively new, the boat is old, so time to reef. Crew was having a ball and didnt want to reef but I insisted and we muscled the main down to the 1st reef and then down all the way when I realized that the anemometer was reading from only 10' above deck (on a pole on stern) and that I needed to add boats forward spd to the wind spd and then we sailed under partial jib. We finally settled into only 6.5 kts in a clear blue sky with 30+ kts wind.
 

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Since I re-started racing, we reef a little less frequently than about 10 years ago. Not because we're harder-core, but because we know more now.

As other have written, we reef when there is too much weather helm. But how much is too much? Over several years we developed an empirical measure used by many in the fleet that is all based on angle of heel. To elaborate, our boat likes no more than 24 degrees of heel (as identified by the manufacturer). After that, the boat slows dramatically and weather helm increases. So when the heel gets above 22 degrees, we start thinking about what can be done:

1. ease traveler
2. ease sheet to open the main top
3. move genoa car aft to open the genoa top

When these don't work, then it's time to reef. So there is no set answer.
 

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Bombay Explorer 44
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I have learned that reefing the first time I think about it works for me. If the boat starts to feel pressed or and this is the most likely one for me to say "that was a good decision" when I see something upwind that concerns me.

I would rather put 10 in unnecessarily than 1 in the middle of a 40 knot squall with horizontal rain.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
When things get really sporty I drop the main entirely and wrap the reefing line tails hard around the sail to reduce windage and sail on the staysail.
\

Can you sail up wind with just the staysail? I find with just a jib (and say a 5 foot swell) I can only sail effectively at about 90 degrees to the wind. I really need some main up, even a well reefed main to make head way in a stong wind.
 

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Because I'm cutter rigged I need to reef early 15-18 . Main first then stay sail then Yankee .It took me awhile to get that straight . As my first boat(O'Day 23) did not mind at all if I just furled the Jenny .
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Can you sail up wind with just the staysail? I find with just a jib (and say a 5 foot swell) I can only sail effectively at about 90 degrees to the wind. I really need some main up, even a well reefed main to make head way in a stong wind.
Yes. I have a removable inner forestay and can point much better with staysail alone on that than a partially furled jib on the forestay. It's better yet with some main up but weather helm increases significantly on my boat if heel angle gets too high.

Just for reference, I was in the English Channel once in a storm and handed off to the relief watch with guidance that "France is over there. Don't hit it. England is over there. Don't hit it either." We can make reasonable ground to windward hauling in the backstay and using the running backs with just the staysail. Sometimes not hitting anything is good enough.
 

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There are too many variables to tie this down to a single number.

I put on my working jib (200sqft compared to my genoa's 300sqft) if wind speeds are currently much over 10 knots and forecast to stay there.

I reef the main when close reach speeds give me an apparent wind speed of around 20 knots, or when the rail is getting wet. If I'll be spending all day downwind then it would take a higher wind speed to get me to reef.

My new main has a second deep reef (about 40% up the luff), but I've never used it.

I rarely get to sail in winds over 25 knots (true, so 30+ knots apparent), so I don't have a prescribed approach for handling them.
 

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Oh, and boat speed. As soon as it hits hull speed I reef.
My hull speed is meant to be 7.96 knots so faster than that I am either surfing or adding pressure somewhere to something.

So at 8 I slow down :)
 

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Master Mariner
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Many down here seem to keep a reef tucked in the main most of the time. When we set sail to cross a channel on a normal trade wind day, the main is usually reefed to the upper spreaders (see pic above). Rarely is that insufficient, but at times it is too much, and it's easy enough to put up a bit more sail, by unreefing the main a bit, or putting up the mizzen or staysail.
We are fortunate that this boat will sail very close to the wind and maintain a good speed, under Yankee alone, so a lot of times when the wind is 25+ we'll just sail under that sail, alone.
I have heard it said often enough though, "If you are thinking about reefing, then you probably should already have done it."
 
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