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Old 20-07-2015, 09:03   #1
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roller furling main

I am looking at two boats pretty much identical except for the main. On one we have the hank on main and the other is a roller furling main. I have never used a roller furling main and am worried about reefing the main. I am worried that when needing to reef a malfunction in the roller furling may prevent it or worse yet a malfunction allowing the full main to come out after it has been reefed. Anyone with experience can either confirm or alleviate my concerns?
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Old 20-07-2015, 09:11   #2
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Re: roller furling main

Hundreds of posts here on furling mains. Those that have them love them. Those that don't seem to hate them. By the way, do many cruisers still have hanked on headsails?

I have one boat with a furling main and one with a traditional rig. I much prefer the furling main.
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Old 20-07-2015, 09:27   #3
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Re: roller furling main

You are going to get two sides of the fence here which wont help. I'm in the "wont have another furling main" camp. Others are strongly the other side.
I've sailed for 40 years and we knew what we were doing. However the sail would jam going in sometimes, coming out sometimes (that means it furled but jammed going in likely), the mess of lines in the cockpit I didn't like either. In flat calm it furled fine, but you get the boat pounding or in rough water ... then the fun begins.
The is however, no debate though about a furling main losing a lot of power.
Furling headsails seldom jam, furling mains often do although some people report to not have that happen.
Your choice. My Passport 47 with the new furling main sailed like a dog and my Tanton 44 without was a great fast boat.
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Old 20-07-2015, 09:40   #4
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Re: roller furling main

We had a roller furling main on our old Whitby 42. There is absolutely no doubt that it hurt performance overall because of its shape. But it was also absolutely safer in rough conditions as we only had to go to the mast to set the furling "lock" after we furled, or when we wanted to unfurl some or completely. That was to prevent the sail from unfurling on its on which could have been a disaster.

We never had to turn in to the wind to change sail although I am sure it would have been a good thing for the equipment if we had sometimes.

But every furling system is different so each system would have to be evaluated on its own merits. We loved our system but wish we could have sailed better with it. I would have one again if it were a good, reliable system. A jammed system would be your worst nightmare.

Our mizzen had a different system and it jammed all the time so we just stopped using the mizzen. It would not have been nice to have to be out trying to unjam it in a big blow. In fact it was not nice having to do it in calm waters either. If we had kept the boat we would have gone to a non-furling system mast track.
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Old 20-07-2015, 09:41   #5
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Re: roller furling main

Having in mast furling is near the top of my wish list. Old baggy mains seem to be the cause of problems.

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Old 20-07-2015, 09:51   #6
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Re: roller furling main

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Originally Posted by SimonV View Post
Having in mast furling is near the top of my wish list. Old baggy mains seem to be the cause of problems.

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Yes baggy mains and folks that don't know how to furl.
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Old 20-07-2015, 10:12   #7
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Re: roller furling main

Secret to a happy life with a furling main, and by this I mean in mast furling, is to mark the kicker at the optimum angle for furling and to keep tension on the outhaul whilst you bring the sail in.

In an emergency, ie the wind picks up suddenly, you can reef in without setting the kicker height but be prepared to have to unfurl to get it back into the mast nice and neatly later on.

We have a continuous furling/reefing line from the mast back to the cockpit so we don't even have to leave the safety of the cockpit even if we do forget to flick the mechanism from free to ratchet (ratchet being the default setting as it stops the sail self unfurling). To do this takes an extra pair of hands but you basically keep tension on the furling/reefing line as well as the outhaul so the furling line does not slip off the mechanism.

Your basic in mast furling mainsail is a compromise but if you set it more like a genoa then you will get good performance out of it. We've had hull speed in moderate winds and frequently cruise along at 7kts plus, even overtaking similar sized vessels who are on the motor. There are vertical battened sails available and I have even seen adverts for high performance in mast furling racing sails with full roach and battens.

We like the infinite reefing positions, the simple nature of reefing and the fact it all looks neat and tidy when furled away. Nothing against traditional mains but even with a sail bag they do make the boom look a tad untidy. It's also easier to drape the duvet over the boom to air it with the sail away in the mast

Hope this helps in your decision process

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Old 20-07-2015, 10:13   #8
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roller furling main

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Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
But it was also absolutely safer in rough conditions as we only had to go to the mast to set the furling "lock" after we furled, or when we wanted to unfurl some or completely. That was to prevent the sail from unfurling on its on which could have been a disaster.
Wow, that sounds pretty unsafe to me. I have single line reefing on my slab main. All 3 reefs can be done from the cockpit which I never need to leave.

I sailed a roller reefer just before I bought my boat. I just could not get used to the sight of a negative roach, but that's just me

If the OP is on a tight budget and therefore may be willing to sacrifice sailing performance by keeping the sails as long as they can, then perhaps slab reefing is better since as mentioned old baggy sails tend to be a major cause of jamming. If the op has the budget to upgrade then, toss a coin?


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Old 20-07-2015, 13:29   #9
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Re: roller furling main

The big issue for me re reefing a furling main is when sailing downwind. The sail pushes hard on the edge of the slot and I worry that it'll rip. Too scared to broadside the boat in big seas and so take the pressure off. My solution furl early and sail with the the Genoa only. It' a 150 and drags the boat along quite well. Sometimes I get the gennaker out and have some real fun.
With only the clew corner sticking out and both inhaul and outhaul jammed off the sail won't move in any wind.
If you set your boom,halyard and outhaul tension correctly, you won't have a problem getting the sail in or out. I can get the sail in or out in less than 30 seconds and all from the cockpit. It amuses me that cruisers that are wannabe racers go on about sail aerodynamics and then surround their sail with masses of string and sail bags. I'm on the boat to get from a to b calmly and safely not for racing braggers rights. 7 knots and I start winding in.
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Old 20-07-2015, 14:09   #10
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Re: roller furling main

Keep the leeward sheet tight and bring her round into the wind until the main luffs but the genny keeps some drive then haul the main in.

Alternatively release the outhaul to increase the belly in the main then furl in the excess. Do this a few times and you can reef in from full out to #1 reef without changing course.

Failing that fire up the lump and turn head to wind and reef/furl that way.

It's not pretty but it does work

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Old 20-07-2015, 18:54   #11
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Re: roller furling main

I still love it. My seldom rf main on a fractional rig haven't given me any more grief in 10 years than the little rf jib.
Ps never marked kicker


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