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Old 02-02-2011, 14:30   #1
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Triple Reefed Main vs Deep Second Reef

I'm looking into buying new sails and wanted a triple reefed main, since I plan to sail offshore.

However, the guy at UK recommended I stick with two, but make the second one really deep, more or less where a 3rd reef would have been. His rational was that the 3rd reef added so much extra weight aloft that it really hurt performance and wasn't worth it.

Does it make sense to only have 2 reefs if the second one is really deep? He said each additional reef pointed added around 15% to the cost of the sail.
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Old 02-02-2011, 14:36   #2
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We sail offshore but the boat would be hard to rig with a storm trysail.

We actually have 4 reefs in the main and the time we were out in 45 gusting 55 knots I wished I had the 4th reef rigged as the deep 3rd was a little too much in the gusts...200 sq ft on a boat that weighs 30 tons.

No affect on performance as far as I can see, but then I have 13 oz cloth. I bought mine from National Sails in Florida, they are agents for Rolly Tasker in the Orient and it is the best built sail I have ever owned.
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Old 02-02-2011, 14:39   #3
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I've had triple reefed sails and I must say I prefer them as in 95% of sails I've come across that sad little 1st reef is a waste of space for a cruiser....
I go straight to 2nd reef... 18inches of sail less at the foot is a waste of time and effort when shorthanded... fine if your racing...
Most times I leave the 1st reef in permanently...
Guess what I'm saying is make the 1st equally deep...lol
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Old 02-02-2011, 14:41   #4
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Well, what does this chap think you should do when you needed that normal second reef? Don't know what sort of reefing system you use, but if one doesn't put in the intermediate reef points complete with lanyards the additional weight aloft on a cruising boat would not "really hurt performance". The cost argument may be true (he should know what he is gonna charge you) but sometimes you just gotta pay the bills and grin!

We've always gone for three reefs in cruising mains, and have used all three of them all too frequently. I wouldn't skimp here.

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Old 02-02-2011, 15:48   #5
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What are you planning to do with this mainsail? Are you racing or are you cruising?

For cruising, I prefer to have 2 reefs that each take away significantly more sail than a normal one does. This provides adequate adjustability and usually doesn't require re-rigging a boom. Usually when people decide to reef, they should be putting in more than a single conventional reef (this obviously doesn't apply to everyone).

For racing, 3 would definitely be the way to go since having more fine tuning is necessary. It also may make sense if you occasionally go offshore and want an extra reef for those times but otherwise would like to only use the other two. Keep in mind that a lot of people don't rig the third reef and then when they want it, it is too rough to rig. If you have it and you might encounter wind requiring it, it needs to be rigged ahead of time.
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Old 02-02-2011, 15:52   #6
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For cruising, I prefer to have 2 reefs that each take away significantly more sail than a normal one does. .
I agree with this. We have use two deep reefs on our sail for quite a well.
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Old 02-02-2011, 15:57   #7
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4 reefs...Coastal cruising we rig 1,2 and 3...Off-shore we rig 2,3 and 4...

Gives me a main that will work up to 60 knots after that we will have to sail on the stackpack!
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Old 02-02-2011, 16:07   #8
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No racing, just cruising, mostly singlehanded.

Based on what you've all said, I guess 2 reefs would be okay if the first was deep enough. Currently, with 2 reefs, I still have a lot of sail up -- though I can't tell you how much off the top of my head.

Is there a good rule of thumb on how much each reef should be? I've got a Luders-33.
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Old 02-02-2011, 16:17   #9
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I with boatman on this, cruising mostly have 1st reef in. Offshore I find I used the 3rd reef gets used a lot just where you wouldn't expect it - close to becalmed. 3 reefs in main and the mainsheet / preventer tight would take the slatting down to a level which though annoying was at least closer to bearable.
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Old 02-02-2011, 16:38   #10
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3 reefs works great for just about everything,
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Old 02-02-2011, 16:41   #11
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We have 3 reefs.
For harbor racing we run 1 reef line, or 2 if the forecast predicates
For coastal racing we run 2 reef lines, or 3 if the forecast predicates
For offshore racing we always run 3 reef lines
For cruising we run 3 reef lines
We always carry a trisail too, and have set it a couple of times, just so we know how.
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Old 02-02-2011, 16:48   #12
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Is there a good rule of thumb on how much each reef should be? I've got a Luders-33.
For two reefs, one normal method is to remove 15% of the hoist with each reef. This makes the first reef about 70% of the full mainsail area, and the second reef about 50% of the full mainsail area.
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Old 02-02-2011, 16:50   #13
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If I had just two reef points I'd make them about equal in height and the total the same as whatever the standard triple height is.
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Old 02-02-2011, 17:09   #14
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I do exactly what Weyalan does. In Chesapeake Bay I dont rig the third reef because in wind that heavy I just find a place to hide. Down here in the Caribbean I am sailing most of the time with two reefs in - the third is very deep and is what the rigger called my "oh sh#t reef". Out in the ocean I am happy to have all three of them.
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Old 02-02-2011, 17:13   #15
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Is there a good rule of thumb on how much each reef should be? I've got a Luders-33.
I singlehand, cruise, and race. The mainsail is set up with 3 reef points, each takes out 25% of the mainsail surface area. A more typical reef might remove 20% of the sail area.

I do not agree that two deep reefs is better than three more moderate depth reefs; you want options if you can have them, and the more control you have of mainsail area gives you more options. This does give you have extra set of reef lines to contend with, verify the deck layout will handle the extra line(s) before building the mainsail.

I leave all reef lines in the sail, and the sail does not have bunt line points (the mainsail is also loose-footed, makes it easy to adjust reef lines along the boom as needed). The reef lines themselves are 5/16" Samson Warpspeed spectra, reasonably light, which could be made lighter by stripping the covers. There is a noticeable hit to mainsail shape in very light air (less than 5 knots) plus the additional drag of the reef lines trailing along the mainsail leach.

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