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Old 19-08-2014, 06:42   #1
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Blade Jibs

I shredded my yankee jib sailing at night in strong conditions in the remnants of Bertha, in the middle of the Baltic.

One crewman told me that I have been oversheeting it, trying to get it flat, as we try to make progress upwind in 20 an 25 knots and more of true wind. His theory was that this is what caused it to blow out. Another thought it might be all the UV. Whatever it was, it's a real shame, as I thought to get more use out of this sail, which I just had recut last year and which the sailmaker said still have a good bit of life in it.

It is true, however, that it was getting fairly baggy and so not very good upwind.

So now I won't be able to delay new sails any longer; this winter I will have to find the money somewhere to do it. But meanwhile, I still have 700 miles or so to get home, and I don't want to do it without a principle headsail. I frantically searched all of the used sail exchanges and found -- lo and behold -- a blade jib in almost new condition (they claim), taken off an Oyster
53 when the owners decided to go with laminate sails. An exact fit.

The sail has a high cut clew and 5 meter long foot, so it will sheet inside the mast with almost a meter of clearance. It is full hoist with a 20 meter luff, so an extremely high aspect sail which I hope will give a lot of lift versus drag. Since it is sheeted ahead of the shrouds, I will be able to sheet it at any angle. Should be lots of fun to play with.

So now I will have that blade I have been thinking about for a long time. I will have to add new sheet lead car tracks in order to sheet it properly, but meanwhile I think I can barber-haul it into shape. I am hoping to see a dramatic improvement in upwind performance in strong conditions.

But now the question arises of what should the rest of my sail inventory look like. Should I have a regular yankee jib like what I blew out? Mine was about 120% with a foot of 7.5 meters. It was a good sail which worked well on any point of sail other than hard on the wind. It worked well even dead downwind without a pole. It was easy to tack around the inner forestay. But is it unreasonable to carry both a regular jib and a blade? Or should the blade maybe better be complemented by a gennaker or other sail better suited for work off the wind? Maybe the blade is all I will ever want for going right upwind?

I won't be ordering new sails right away since I have to find the money for it first, but I want to start thinking about it. So I will be grateful as always for thoughts.
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Old 19-08-2014, 07:10   #2
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Re: Blade Jibs

If it's high clewed it isn't a blade (aka Le Solent) jib. As its come of an Oyster 53 it's probably a staysail, which is relatively high clewed.
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Old 19-08-2014, 07:37   #3
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Re: Blade Jibs

Great! You found my staysail, I've been looking everywhere for it.

Ken
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Old 19-08-2014, 07:45   #4
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Re: Blade Jibs

Quote:
Originally Posted by sestina View Post
If it's high clewed it isn't a blade (aka Le Solent) jib. As its come of an Oyster 53 it's probably a staysail, which is relatively high clewed.
Yes, perhaps it's not an actual blade. But it is not a staysail in the sense we use the word (sail used on an inner forestay), as the luff is 20 meters long! It came off the forestay of an Oyster 53.
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Old 19-08-2014, 10:10   #5
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Re: Blade Jibs

A blade is good to have. But you should be looking for a heavier storm jib.
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Old 19-08-2014, 10:12   #6
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Re: Blade Jibs

I assume you are cutter-rigged with a staysail. Yankee-cut foresails are a compromise, of course, but you can roll them in more easily and arguably get some useful drive a little longer than with a blade (or No. 3) that is being reduced. The only change I would consider with such a foresail is to put in a tack pendant to get the tack clear of the rails. It gets more sail where the wind is aloft and tacking is even easier. You may not have the forestay length to do this, however.
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Old 19-08-2014, 21:08   #7
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Re: Blade Jibs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
A blade is good to have. But you should be looking for a heavier storm jib.
My staysail is designed to double as a storm jib, and it works extremely well for that purpose. It is made of extra heavy sailcloth and is on a heavy duty S400 Furlex furler, the same gear my regular yankee, which has three times the area, is on.

Two recent discoveries have greatly enhanced the usefulness of my staysail --

1. What a big effect on shape barber-hauling it has.

2. As long as heel angle is reasonable, I don't need to reef the mainsail even at all, when sailing without the yankee.


For the sake of sail balance, I used to never let out more mainsail than what would make the head of the main even with the third spreaders, if I was not using the yankee. It just "looked right", to have the head of the mainsail at the same level as the inner forestay.

Well, I have finally figured out that, on my boat, helm balance is all about heel angle, and sail balance has little to no effect on it. With no principle headsail, I have had no choice but to sail with staysail alone, and surprisingly, it works quite well with no balance issues even with all the mainsail out.

I have managed to point at 38 to 40 degrees off the apparent wind in 20 knots of wind or so with this rig, with no excessive weather helm, so only a couple of degrees less than I used to manage with the yankee in ideal conditions. I am very pleased with this; this is actually better performance upwind in 20+ knots than I am accustomed to. I think the staysail is sheeted further in than the yankee can be (because of shrouds), and so does better than you might expect.

The only downside is that with so much less sail area (the yankee was half the sail plan), you really need 20 knots to keep the boat moving at any kind of speed, and even with 20 knots, speed is seriously compromised -- hardly more than 7 knots when hard on the wind.

This is a fairly big knock since pointing well is all about speed.


And so I am really hoping that the new blade will give me speed upwind in strong conditions. Making progress upwind in strong conditions is my main sailing problem. Too little wind can always be solved with a little engine power, but when you need to go 700 miles dead upwind in 20+ knots, you are basically screwed on most normal cruising boats, because you can't make reasonable progress on engine power against those conditions, either.

If I can keep all that new sail up in 25 knots (dare I dream of 30 knots?), and if sheeting it inside the shrouds gives me a couple degrees at least more close-windedness, this will change my upwind life. There's enough power in the wind to make 8 or 9 knots in those conditions if the sails were right and the sea were not too high. If I could get my apparent wind angle to say 35 degrees (dare I hope for 34 or even 33?), and if I could make 8 or 9 knots at that angle, then by God I think I will be tacking at not much more than 90 -- 95 degrees, if the sea is not too high, and I think I could make VMG to windward of something approaching 6 knots.

This would make all the difference in whether or not you can actually get somewhere 700 miles away upwind, or whether you have to wait in port for the wind to change. VMG to windward of 5 knots would be enough -- that would be a realistic 100 miles a day, dead upwind, or a 50 mile daysail. We shall see. If the blade doesn't get me there by itself, then maybe the laminate mainsail will.
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Old 19-08-2014, 21:15   #8
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Re: Blade Jibs

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
I assume you are cutter-rigged with a staysail. Yankee-cut foresails are a compromise, of course, but you can roll them in more easily and arguably get some useful drive a little longer than with a blade (or No. 3) that is being reduced. The only change I would consider with such a foresail is to put in a tack pendant to get the tack clear of the rails. It gets more sail where the wind is aloft and tacking is even easier. You may not have the forestay length to do this, however.
The luff of this sail is 20 meters long, so more than 65 feet. It does occupy the whole forestay, and it puts sail area all the way to the top of my tall mast.

I never had any problem tacking the regular yankee and don't expect any problems here.

The other advantage of yankee jibs is that with the higher clew, the geometry of the sheeting angles is better -- you don't need such dramatic car movements when you sheet in or out or furl a bit.

I am hoping that with the much smaller sail area compared to the now blown-out yankee, this sail will not need reefing until the point where my staysail is all the headsail I need (about 30 knots true). If that's the case, then I might not ever need to reef it.
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Old 20-08-2014, 06:35   #9
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Re: Blade Jibs

'High clew blade' is still a great thing as long as you can sheet it properly. Flat.

I think you want a finely reefed main with a blade, most of the time. A well built main will have the cut that makes it flatter with each reef.

You want fine high tension on the stay that holds the blade unless it is a free flying one. Then you want plenty of halyard tension.

b.
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