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Old 15-05-2007, 13:39   #16
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Hi,
I once decided to convert the mailsail on my Cal 40 to a roachless main. I would guess that it cost me about 5% in performance. I wouldn't do it again. Actually, the huge roaches on catamarans and America's Cup boats are WAY more efficient from an aerodynamic standpoint than the triangular shape. On my Sceptre, I have full battens with so much roach that it brushes the backstay when tacking. I love it.
regards,
Richard
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Old 15-05-2007, 13:43   #17
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Lathe is what they used to use to make lathe and plaster walls with. It is long thin strips of wood (batten width) that you can buy at most lumber outlets. Might even have them at Home Depot or Lowe's.
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JohnL
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Old 15-05-2007, 13:46   #18
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Oops!! I added an e to it that shouldn't be there. Where are the spelling police when you need them? Should be "lath."
Sorry mate.
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Old 16-05-2007, 18:16   #19
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Battens

I stopped using roach and battens after my first ocean crossing from BC to New zealand . The sail was wreck due to battens by the time I got there.. The sailmaker said it was done. I insisted he cut the roach off, and sew a tape the full length of the leech, I got another 3000 miles in squally conditions out of without poping a stitch. 80% of mainsail repairs are from batten pockets, which is why sailmakers are such strong advocates of battens. It's a make work plan for them. John Lecher ,who wrote the book on self steerning,and is an aircraft engineer, calculated that battens give an improvement in windward performance of betwen zero and 3%. You need battens on a cruising sail like a chicken needs Colonel Saunders
When I buy a sail the first thing I do is cut the roach off and sew the piece, with the seams staggered, back on to eliminate the chance of tears starting at the seam ends When I was in Fanning in 2,000 a couple of friends had full length battens. I asked what they thought of them and they said "Battens suck". After going to New Zealand and back to BC asked one "Now what do you think of battens. " He said " battens still suck.".
Brent Swain
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Old 16-05-2007, 23:39   #20
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Just to offer a different opinion, I had battens, sailed 40,000 miles without a problem till the main exploded from old age sailing back into Auckland harbour, battens still firmly in the pockets. The pockets were overbuilt on separate patches to isolate them from the sail and the ends were sewn shut.
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Old 17-05-2007, 00:38   #21
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If you're looking for a figure .. then 10% is a good one.
I had battens on my old boat .. and no battens on the new one !
I really dont feel to have lost very much in speed .. but to have gained a lot in risk of breaking sails.
Hope it helps
Manlio
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Old 21-05-2007, 11:38   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louis Riel
I stopped using roach and battens after my first ocean crossing from BC to New zealand . The sail was wreck due to battens by the time I got there.. The sailmaker said it was done. I insisted he cut the roach off, and sew a tape the full length of the leech, I got another 3000 miles in squally conditions out of without poping a stitch. 80% of mainsail repairs are from batten pockets, which is why sailmakers are such strong advocates of battens. It's a make work plan for them. John Lecher ,who wrote the book on self steerning,and is an aircraft engineer, calculated that battens give an improvement in windward performance of betwen zero and 3%. You need battens on a cruising sail like a chicken needs Colonel Saunders
When I buy a sail the first thing I do is cut the roach off and sew the piece, with the seams staggered, back on to eliminate the chance of tears starting at the seam ends When I was in Fanning in 2,000 a couple of friends had full length battens. I asked what they thought of them and they said "Battens suck". After going to New Zealand and back to BC asked one "Now what do you think of battens. " He said " battens still suck.".
Brent Swain

Excellent post, Brent! I agree 100%.

I concur. We don't have the open ocean to compare, but we found the battens were all but useless as well. We just did 100 miles (I know... just one day) in 15 knots under a "small craft advisory" and had not a single problem from a lack of battens.

Our battens are short (longest 3 ft), but when the sail was trimmed properly, there was no luffing at all. I noticed no loss in speed, but I was in 15 knots doing 7 knots the whole way... normal speed for this boat.

Thanks for the post... I have a lot to learn from your posts... keep 'em coming!
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Old 26-05-2007, 12:24   #23
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For what it’s worth, I was a sailmaker/designer for nearly 10 years. I had the good fortune of designing and building a huge range of sails, for: dingys, small weekenders, coastal and world cruisers, Americas Cup, around the world race boats, mega-yachts etc. First, let me say that the idea that idea sailmakers make batten pockets on the cheap for the point of good repair revenues is off the mark. To some extent, you get what you pay for. Buy a cheap sail and you get cheap sailcloth, with fewer hours put into it and less skilled construction. Unfortunately, you can also get this with expensive sails (on this point, trash the sailmaker by all means!).

I think the original post had to do whether you can sail without battens for a short period, due to batten breakage and no spares. Yes, but at some cost. As has been pointed out, the roach will fold over and flog; making the sail inefficient and suffering wear and tear. In addition to supporting the roach, battens also distribute the highest loads, between the clew and head. If you MUST sail without battens in a sail designed for battens, be careful not to load up the sail to much or you will permanently distort the sailcloth. Then it doesn’t matter if your sailmaker is a genius or an idiot, your sail will always look bad. I would try and make something temporary as some suggested.

Getting into a more general discussion about battens/roach; it’s a no brainer that removing the battens/roach on a mainsail reduces the efficiency of the sail. Whether the loss is 2% or 20% depends on a lot of variables.

Does the boat tend to be underpowered, spot on, or overpowered in your typical sailing conditions? If the boat tends to be underpowered then removing the battens/roach comes at a high cost.

If the boat has a lot of weather helm, then reducing the roach may actually improve performance. When the rudder is off centerline just to keep you going straight, it’s like putting the brakes on.

The affect of battens/roach is also somewhat different between upwind and downwind sailing (who really wants to sail upwind?). Upwind, the battens help to define sail shape. A mainsail with battens/roach and really round exit (leach) can be slower then a mainsail with little or no roach that hold a nice sail shape. The further downwind you sail the less important sail shape becomes. Instead, projecting sail area is the key. Battens help to carry more sail area; however if you remove the battens/roach you can make up the sail area loss elsewhere. In lighter air, carry a bigger headsail, cutter rigs can carry a staysail, and as the breeze comes on you may reef at a slightly higher wind speed.

The point is that there is no cookie cutter answer. If you choose no battens and it works for you then great. In this case, I recommend making sure that the sail is designed with leech hollow (the opposite of roach). This will reduce leech flutter; but more importantly the sailcloth panels will be oriented to the leech hollow. The strongest yarns must be on axis with the highest loads. If you take a sail designed with roach and recut it with hollow for no battens, the cloth orientation can be off by 20 degrees and more. When the sail loads up, especially when reefed, you have a high chance of permanent distortion.

Battens and batten pockets create problems. The marriage of rigid batten to soft, always changing, 3 dimensional sail either works well or it does not. Anything less then the right design with good construction and the later case applies. Sailmakers will often use cheap/soft/stretchy cloth to hide the challenge of a well built sail, especially on “cruiser sails”.

The weakest points on a batten pocket are the inboard end first and then outboard end. It does not matter if the pocket contains a short batten, full length batten, is perpendicular to the leach or is parallel to the foot. The batten is getting pushed towards the luff.

Non-full length battens: The pocket ends should be made from multiple plies of appropriate weight material. Long distance cruisers may want to have heavy webbing sewn on to cap the ends of the pocket. I don’t like plastic caps because they rot in the sun (yes webbing will to, but it lasts longer and doesn’t shatter when hitting rigging). Between the pocket and the sail must be one or more additional layers of sailcloth of larger area to distribute the forces of rigid batten on soft sail. This reinforcement should be sewn enough to become of the main body of the sail (not just around the perimeter). So often the inboard end of the batten has no reinforcement; the sail gets wrinkly and the pocket will fail. On important detail often missed is that the pocket should have a pucker sewn into it before it gets attached to the sails. The pucker accommodates the thickness of the batten. When you put a 3 dimensional batten into a pocket sewn flat it contributes to the wrinkle factor.

Full length batten: The inboard batten end is held captive in a way that batten pocket failure is usually not the issue. Instead the compression and twisting forces on the batten can cause the luff hardware (or rope) to bind on the mast. In addition to frustration and extreme cursing this can lead to breakage of the batten, batten end fitting, universal linkage, luff hardware, or all the above –I’ve seen it. If hoisting your mainsail in no/little air is hard, then there is a problem. If in light air, you release the halyard and the force of gravity does not overwhelm the sail resulting in a downward motion, then you have a problem. Take the time to get your mainsail hoist/drop working great in the best conditions before trying to do it in the worst conditions. If you have full battens, invest in good batten end hardware and you’ll be amazed at how well it works.

My personal preference (not for all people, boats, conditions etc.):
-Top 2 battens, full length – They make more a nice sail shape and can usually support enough roach to just kiss the backstay. Also, they dampen flogging (during raising/lowering/reefing) and make flaking the sail easier.
-Bottom 2 battens, 50% to 75% (but not full) and oriented parallel to the foot – The longer the batten the more compression/twisting/binding, so by ending them short of full you eliminate this issue. You reduce the cost of the batten end hardware (2 ends instead of 4) and the battens themselves. The battens are still long enough to dampen flogging. Full battens and the sailcloth around them suffer from extreme forces when at or near a reef point (when reefed). Less then full length battens are much more forgiving. The sail is easier to flake when the battens are parallel to the foot.

Lastly, carry spare battens (at least one). They also make great splints, but that’s another story…
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Old 26-05-2007, 17:36   #24
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Totem:

Thank you for that informative post. I absorbed a lot reading it. I can contribute to your comment that the batten does help with the sail's shape going to windward. I hadn't really had to sail close hauled until the other day on this trip and it was a challenge to keep the roach from flogging around. I did as you suggested not to do (hadn't read your post yet!) and put a little extra tug downward on the boom to keep the sail shape. It worked, but wasn't ideal if there is a potential to "bag out" the sail from doing that. Luckily it was only a single day of windward work. The rest was all downwind, as we were sailing "down East" in Maine.
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Old 26-05-2007, 19:18   #25
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ssullivan:

Glad it all worked out. Sorry my 2 cents were a little late -I'm new to this board. I cruise in Puget Sound with my family now, but am from Old Mystic CT and enjoyed great sailing in Maine many times (and pea soup fog once or twice.).

Jamie
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Old 27-05-2007, 04:04   #26
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Ahh yes... the pea soup fog... ha ha!

Of course we had a day of it from the Isles of Shoals to Richmond Island. Fortunatley, I grew up sailing around here too. The old instincts came back.
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