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Old 09-11-2013, 15:38   #1
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Sailing a Cutter With a Genny

When we got our W32 in 05' it had a Hood furler, the sails were all in bags and after an initial inspection to see they were all in good shape I never really gave them much thought as the next number of years were going to be concerned with restoring the boat. Having a love for traditional boats the decision was made to return the furling Yankee to a hanked on sail. To my surprise when the sail was returned from the sailmaker and affixed to the headstay it is almost a 100% Genny. Evidently with the ability to furl the sail the prior owner could get the sail small enough to clear the staysail forestay without hitting the wire and beating the stuffing out of the sail. My solution to the issue was to find through this site an original Westsail yankee and have been sailing the boat in its true cutter configuration.
I used to have a great book on gaff rigged boats and the author went into the evolution of the cutter rig evidently from England in the mid to late 1800's and at the time they were the fastest ships on the water, state of the art for the period. The author of this book went on to explain the reason for this increase in speed was the fact that the slots or spaces between the yankee and staysail and finally the main increase the wind speed over the sails and actually increase the drive of the boat. So I have a couple of questions regarding flying a full genny on the boat in place of the full headsail. 1: If the square foot area of the genny is comparable to the combined square foot area of the staysail and yankee and you lose the slots of the cutter setup whats the point? 2: In order to tack the genny it seems that it would make sense to set the forstay up with a lever setup that will allow disconnecting it a moving the shroud out of the way. In my mind it makes me think that this loses the safety redundancy of both the headstay and forestay working in consort to support the mast as well as the increased chance of losing the mast due to unloading the forestay when sailing and instantly increasing the load on the headstay? 3: I did actually sail the boat on one occasion with just the genny, guessing winds were between 15 to 20knots and the boat went like a bat out of hell, (If that possible for a W32) so my thinking is that the full genny is actually larger than the sail area I get when setup with the two normal headsails and the idea is that this sail might be better for light to moderate winds, is this the correct assumption?
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Old 09-11-2013, 16:12   #2
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Re: Sailing a Cutter With a Genny

I believe the genoa will out-perform a yankee plus staysail, even if the sail area is the same. The yankee loses a lot of drive because of the huge gap between the foor and the deck. I can't prove this though.

We have permanently-rigged genoa and staysail, both on furlers. Tacking the 120% genoa can be difficult in light air, but in moderate breezes it blows through the slot pretty easily.
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Old 09-11-2013, 16:31   #3
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Re: Sailing a Cutter With a Genny

I love my cutter but if it was faster than a typical genoa rigged sloop I'm sure I'd see them in the America's Cup.

Tacking a genoa (or drifter, or anything bigger than a yankee) is indeed a pain in the ass. If you have a furler you can furl it closed then re-open on the other side, but hanked on it's more or less impossible.

I think the value of a cutter really shines when you spend a lot of time in reefing conditions. The staysail and reefed main are much better balanced than a partially reefed jib will ever get. It's also easier to hove-to, but that's got a lot to do with hull shape.

Having a lightweight genoa on a roller for the outer forestay would work well I think. If the wind pipes up enough to overpower that, you can just run with the staysail and stay plenty balanced.

The only thing that you'd lose out on there is good pointing performance in strong wind, but who the hell beats into strong wind anyway?
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Old 09-11-2013, 16:48   #4
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Re: Sailing a Cutter With a Genny

A cow hitch or brummel spliced permanently attached sheet for the genoa will make the sail way easier to tack. Especially a brummel spliced sheet won't hang up on the staysail stay and shrouds like bowlines will.

We had a Yankee and maximum sized loose footed staysail, no boom, on our W32. That was the combination we ran with 75% of the time we were cruising. Had a 175 mile day, through the water, with that combination on our boat and did over 180 miles in a day on two W32s we delivered from SF to Newport Beach. Wish we'd had the Yankee on a furler as the few times I had to drop the Yankee because of too much wind, boat speed suffered badly. A partially furled sail would have kept us at hull speed. The double headsail rig is more efficient than a single headsail once you crack off a bit. The extra slot really helps. I experimented with a genoa staysail. Really helped light air but the sheet had to be moved around the forward lower shroud asit was eased so sold it. Seriously thought ofdoing away with the forward lowers and adding a baby stay to make it more practical to use the genoa staysail as it worked so well pointing in light air.

I took the dacron Reacher/Drifter off my Morgan 35 for light air and was the sail we used for anything from a close reach with winds under force 5, Don't remember what the foot length was on that sail but probably 20' or so. It was high cut and sheeted it to the main boom for broad reaching. Opening up the slot by sheeting to the boom gave us a full knot of extra speed.

A yankee has a larger sail area than the stock working jib. The PO with that 100% jib/genoa probably never took that sail off. He'd just furl it as the windspeed increased. A real lazy man's headsail. FWIW, you can always partially furl the genoa when tacking to get it past the staysail stay. Oh, that's right, you ditched the furler. Could understand that if it was one of the old Hood type. Had furler envy real bad when we had our W32 and love the ProFurl on our current boat.
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Old 09-11-2013, 20:44   #5
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For day sailing and coastal cruising, a removable inner forestay is hard to beat, along with your big genny. A furler would be a nice addition, but you have a lot of options with hank on sails. I don't know that boat well but I bet it does benefit from some sail forward after the first reef. A 110 Yankee or partially furled genoa with staysail and reefed main would be a good combo at 20+ knots.

I think there could be some benefit on a beam reach with a genoa and staysail. Hank on sails will allow you to try different combos

Carrying that first reef sail combo has left me a little over powered before in gusty conditions, laying me over a little more than I would have liked, then rounding up. That was on another 5 ton boat though, and you for sure have displacement on your side.
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Old 17-11-2013, 12:53   #6
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Re: Sailing a Cutter With a Genny

Drawbacks of a yankee are high center of effort leading to more heeling moment and lousy performance to weather. On cutters with a fixed stays'l stay, they get used a lot to make tacking easier. We'll usually recommend a removable synthetic stay made with Dux to allow use of a more efficient headsail. On boats where the owner doesn't want to leave the cockpit, we can go with a foil-less furler for the staysail which accomplishes the goal of being able to clear the deck so an efficient headsail can be used.
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Old 14-12-2013, 06:21   #7
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Re: Sailing a Cutter With a Genny

Quote:
Originally Posted by islandplanet View Post
Drawbacks of a yankee are high center of effort leading to more heeling moment and lousy performance to weather. On cutters with a fixed stays'l stay, they get used a lot to make tacking easier. We'll usually recommend a removable synthetic stay made with Dux to allow use of a more efficient headsail. On boats where the owner doesn't want to leave the cockpit, we can go with a foil-less furler for the staysail which accomplishes the goal of being able to clear the deck so an efficient headsail can be used.
I should have no concerns then about unloading the forestay to use the genny and the additional load this now puts on the headstay, thinking I would use the genny as a light air sail 10-15kts.
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Old 14-12-2013, 16:12   #8
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Re: Sailing a Cutter With a Genny

Correct. There won't be any problem flying the genoa with the inner stay detached.
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Old 14-12-2013, 17:51   #9
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U may find more specific information at westsail.org! Happy sailing!
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Old 14-12-2013, 20:23   #10
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Re: Sailing a Cutter With a Genny

I have always owned sloops and have been wondering about the sailplan for the Compass as it is a cutter. On my last boat (S&S34), I ran a hank on 143% genoa and a 105% blade for headsails. As I was always sailing solo or with a small crew, I used the 105% the most and really liked the setup. At the moment, I think I'm leaning towards a 110% yankee and a low clew staysail at first and then when I can afford it, maybe add a larger(130%) headsail for lighter stuff. Still debating on this one Though.
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Old 14-12-2013, 22:12   #11
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The upside on the cutter is the ease of sail options. I run a 135 genny that can roller furler in 35 to 40 percent and still keep shape. Then I maybe it's out with the staysl. If the wind increases the genny goes away. In light winds unless its ideal direction the staysl does little.
I would go with the bigger head sail.
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