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Old 03-03-2011, 14:03   #1
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Masthead vs Fractional Mains

Hello Cruisers,

My boat has a masthead rig and I have been shopping for a used mainsail. I've found plenty of mains with the correct dimensions from a boat that has a fractional rig but I haven't been able to find mains from a masthead boat with the correct dimensions. I've avoided the fractional mains since the shape of the sail will be different and incorrect for my boat. As I get nearer to the time when I'll need a main sail though it's looking like my options will be to have a new main made or to buy one of these fractional mains and adapt it.

My boat is a Pearson 28-1 and the main has a luff of 32' and foot of 11'. The mains with these dimensions that I have seen pop up with frequency are from Etchells 22 sailboats. I've got a sewing machine capable of sail work, and some sewing experience along with an interest in learning sail repair and maintenance.

Can anyone shed light on how well, or poorly an etchells 22 main would work on my boat and how difficult/major the adjustments would be? Most of them do not have reef points so that is one alteration that I would need to make. They are also typically a bit lighter than I'd prefer but there are some that would be heavy enough for a few years of coastal cruising I would think.

Also, I have not sailed this boat yet so like the idea of getting a decent main on it with minimal investment so that I can get a feel for the boat before investing in having a sail made. It seems like I could buy one of these etchells 22 mains for $100 to $400 dollars pretty easily. At that price I won't be worried about ruining the sail as I attempt adjustments and use this sail as a learning tool as long as the adjustment process isn't too time consuming and difficult.

Opinions on what you would do are welcome, but experience on the differences between these sails and adjustments that would be needed would be most appreciated.

Thanks,

Jonathan
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Old 03-03-2011, 18:17   #2
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Re: Masthead vs Fractional Mains

How does a main from a masthead rig differ from a main from a fractional rig?
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Old 03-03-2011, 18:51   #3
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Re: Masthead vs Fractional Mains

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How does a main from a masthead rig differ from a main from a fractional rig?
1. The upper portion may have a different cut to allow for lack of flow from the fore sail. Amt of draft can be different and the position of max draft too.

2. The main may have different luff shape due to the fact that many fractional masts are built to be bent.

Maybe something else.

But I would just grab the sail and try it on. If it fits, it fits. Hard to say without knowing exactly what the two boats are and how they differ, or not.

b.
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Old 03-03-2011, 18:56   #4
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Re: Masthead vs Fractional Mains

As I understand it the mains on a fractional rig are cut to a shape that accounts for the bending of the mast. The mast in a masthead rig on the other hand will, or at least should, always be straight and the main is cut/shaped differently as a result.

I guess it goes back to how the sail was made and how much bending of the mast was expected in it's design etc. I'm going on information that may not be accurate in terms of how different the sails can be though which is why I would like to learn more.

My awareness of the difference probably started when I called Bacon about a main with the proper dimensions but was advised against buying it for this very reason. We didn't discuss it in detail but I was told that the sail wouldn't set well on my rig since it was off of a boat with a fractional rig.

Jonathan
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Old 03-03-2011, 18:58   #5
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Re: Masthead vs Fractional Mains

Hey Barnakiel,

I like the way you are thinking, and at the low prices I've seen may try one out to see. In case you, or anyone else is familiar with them the two boats in question are the Etchells 22 and the Pearson 28-1. I've got the Pearson and there are a decent number of Etchells 22 used mains for sale out there. I'm assuming that folks race fleets of Etchells and like to keep their sails fresh?

Jonathan
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Old 03-03-2011, 20:47   #6
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Re: Masthead vs Fractional Mains

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Originally Posted by JonathanSail View Post
The mast in a masthead rig on the other hand will, or at least should, always be straight
I'll buy Barnies first point about being cut for different flow.

But both fractional and masthead masts can bend - mast bend is how you control the depth of the top 2/3 of the main.

But this is all tweaky stuff - If you're after a 2nd hand main and an etchels fits, you'll be spoilt for choice if there is a fleet near you.
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Old 03-03-2011, 21:32   #7
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Re: Masthead vs Fractional Mains

Jonathan,

For the use that you describe -- getting out sailing and learning about your boat -- the differences in design between masthead and fractional mains will simply not matter much. It seems a very good way to get going,and teh knowledge that you gain will make it much better for you when you approach the sailmaker for the eventual new main.

Cheers,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Morning Cove, NSW Oz
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