A lot of valuable comment here
. I upgraded the sail wardrobe on my 48 ft cutter
(not the vessel in my profile) last year, but the aim was racing rather than cruising. Nonetheless, my experience may be helpful.
I agree totally with all the comments about talking to an expert. I dealt with a yacht designer
(re some rig changes) and a sailmaker, and they came up with some excellent solutions that were beyond my limited understanding. I liked the cutter
rig so the sailmaker redesigned the jib
to make it far more efficient (its not a blade but its shorter and lower in the foot than it was) and suggested adding a lighter staysail for conditions below 15-20 knots, where our original heavy-duty Kevlar staysail was a bit of a dog (but we still use it for heavy weather). These changes massively improved our upwind performance and allowed us to use the lighter staysail to power everything up when a little off the wind
The new jib
is carbon-technora. The performance of these laminates is stunning! But be aware that they have NO GIVE. We had to replace all our running rigging
with top quality high tech lines, as the original lines just couldn't take the loads. Our boat is incredibly strong and high quality fittings, so these have withstood the new high loads, but you need to be sure yours will. And all these things are extra cost. And you can't let these laminates flap while you doodle around doing something else - if you do, something will soon break. It is like steel
sheet flapping. So for cruising, you may well be advised to go a little less hi-tech on the sail cloth for headsails.
- you have in-mast furling
, so our changes (square-top, fully-battened) are not relevant, but you have less issues with flapping and loads with the main, so go for a good laminate, if they work with furling
. You'll be stunned by the extra drive you get.
We also put a furling Code 0 on for light weather
. I love this sail, but prob not necessary where you sail. We now have two assymetrical spinnakers, both in socks, and both can be handled fine short-handed. We have a biggish one that can go from about 80 degrees to 180 degrees (but we never go below 120 degrees on the cat), and a small, flat cut heavy weather
spinn which is proving an immensely useful sail, and can be used quite close to the wind (50 degrees or less) in lighter winds. Off the wind, we can use it up to 35 knots.