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Old 27-06-2014, 09:08   #1
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Blade Jib

Last month, I transited the entire Baltic Sea from Kiel to Eastern Finland, hard on the wind the whole way.

It really drove home to me once again how important windward performance is on a cruising boat which is expected to take you any distance in a non-tradewinds environment.

I was unsatisfied with my boat's windward performance this time. The bottom was dirty which really hurts disproportionately upwind, since it increases drag and leeway ("to sail high, you have to sail fast"). It was frustrating. I could hardly get a tack less than 100 degrees, often only 110 degrees, which is just not right on a boat with decent D/L ratio, tall rig, bulb keel, etc.

Of course my sails have seen better days, and maybe next year I'll finally be able to buy that set of laminate sails I have been dreaming about for so long.

But I also find myself often -- in Northern Europe, especially in the Channel, where we are very often sailing in winds over 20 knots -- that my primary headsail, a 120% yankee jib, is too much sail for the conditions. It loses its shape, obviously, when I reef it.

I wonder if it makes sense to have this sail cut down into a No. 1 Blade, when I have a new yankee made? Wouldn't this be just the ticket when trying to beat upwind against a 20 to 30 knot wind? Such a sail will have a higher aspect ratio, so should be more efficient, should backwind the main less, should offer less drag and thus less heeling. Shouldn't it? Should be possible to sheet it further inboard (if I add tracks or use a barber hauler).

I also like the idea that it would work very well together with my reefed mainsail. I have a roller furling mainsail which gives up a lot of performance compared to a full batten main -- in normal conditions. But roller furling mains keep their shape as you reef them -- sometimes I even think the shape gets better. I have a fantasy of sailing like a knife through the water in a typical English Channel 25 knot breeze, 30 degrees off the apparent wind, under blade jib and reefed main, hardly heeling, bow wave throwing up a fine spray as we romp along at 9.5 knots.

What do you guys think? Wet dream, or achievable reality?
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Old 27-06-2014, 09:18   #2
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Re: Blade Jib

The effectiveness of a blade headsail will be effected by where the sheets are led. If the jib sheets can be brought inboard you should be able to get some better pointing in high winds. If they are still relatively outboards through the genoa cars, you probably won't get as much out of the investment as you would like. A sailmaker can help you figure out how effective it will be.

I am thinking of a similar approach but the cost of adding jib cars to my cabin rooftop, and possibly additional winches, is making me reconsider how much I really want it.
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Old 27-06-2014, 09:19   #3
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Re: Blade Jib

it is the ticket but more importantly you need to be able to sheet the blade in at the correct spot .. usually inboard on a track but you could also use a dedicated thru bolted block on deck. i agree the reefed roller furling sails never work as well as a 90% or 100% working jib aka blade.
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Old 27-06-2014, 09:46   #4
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Re: Blade Jib

You kill your pointing with roller reefed sails, much more than the average sailor realizes. Blades are great for upwind work but as others have said you need to be able to have inner fairleads to really make them work. Going upwind in 20-30 knots might work well with a properly set up solent rig on a cruising boat.
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Old 27-06-2014, 10:03   #5
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Re: Blade Jib

What about rigging a line to a block and winch to pull the sheet inboard for a better angle? Any reason that wouldn't work?

Dockhead, what about the main trim? Do you have adjustable backstay so you can flatten the main? And how much might that help with pointing?
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Old 27-06-2014, 10:05   #6
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Re: Blade Jib

A blade of about 100% or so is a great sail upwind for sure. I don't think a Yankee will be correct cut down though. A used blade might not be hard to find. I'd want a 95-100% not high cut type, but not a deck sweeper either. Almost square/right angle at the clew.
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Old 27-06-2014, 10:25   #7
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Re: Blade Jib

I have a 100% high-cut working jib, and an 83% high-cut blade.

When the wind is over 20 kts, the blade actually performs better - probably because it is flatter, and stays flatter in the gusts.
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Old 27-06-2014, 10:57   #8
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Re: Blade Jib

You're talking exactly what I want. But I will go with a smaller Yankee to pump the slot on the blade that is already on my inner forestay. That combination forward and just the mizzen aft. I have seen 7.5 knots with the apparent wInd at 30 degrees, only 10 degrees of heel. I will never point like your Moody but its cool to be trucking along calmly while others are thrashing with the rail down.
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Old 27-06-2014, 14:10   #9
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Re: Blade Jib

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkSF View Post
I have a 100% high-cut working jib, and an 83% high-cut blade.

When the wind is over 20 kts, the blade actually performs better - probably because it is flatter, and stays flatter in the gusts.
This matches my experience as well.
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Old 27-06-2014, 14:38   #10
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Re: Blade Jib

Not sure what everybody considers a blade but this is what I consider a blade:
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Old 27-06-2014, 14:52   #11
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Re: Blade Jib

The blades I have used have been racing sails and included a couple of top battens for great shape but you could not make use of a sail like this on a furler.
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Old 27-06-2014, 16:00   #12
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Re: Blade Jib

This is just what I'm going through. I added a solent stay and furler and I added pad eyes to the cabin top for the sheets. However I still only have an old Genoa and rolled up it does not work for squat. The sailmaker in the Rio wants me to install a track and build the sail to fit. I think I will stay with the pad eyes, money and hassle etc.
One question, does a track setup use only one winch?
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Old 27-06-2014, 16:09   #13
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Re: Blade Jib

I have a mylar blade (20%)

I never use it. Came with the boat guy who put on all the deck hardware was a hardcore racer, works rigging boats for americas cup now, did an amazing job on this boat, apparently he won all he rvyc races with it.

Winds here are very high, squamish bc. Not uncommon to see 20-30 kt winds on a sunny day. I use the 150 genoa winched tight sail about 15-20 off the wind on a close haul, main down. Columbia 26mk2.

But heres a picture of the car tracks he installed for the blade.

And yes shes dirty as hell.
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Old 27-06-2014, 16:52   #14
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Re: Blade Jib

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Not sure what everybody considers a blade but this is what I consider a blade:
Looks correct to me, except maybe even smaller.
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Old 27-06-2014, 16:58   #15
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Re: Blade Jib

Well, coincidentally we have just taken delivery of our new Solent "blade" jib. This is a replacement for the one that was destroyed on our voyage northward from Tasmania, and we've only had a short test sail but it seems a big improvement. With our swept-back fractional Solent rig it has proven quite difficult to get good tension on both forestays, and the previous sail wasn't cut properly to compensate for the sag. The new one looks much better! In general, it will be a great sail to get us to weather in a bit of wind.

At any rate, the Solent sheets inboard of the shrouds and to the cabintop tracks. We use the primary sheet winches for that sail, since with the Solent rig using a double headsail does not work well. If you sheeted it outboard to the genoa leads it would not point very high at all.

And Dockhead, I also doubt if your old yankee would convert well, but a chat with a good sailmaker would likely clear that up for you.

Cheers,

Jim
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