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Old 04-07-2010, 08:57   #1
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Reefing Headsail

A recent thread asked what you'd change on your boat to which I responded the roller furling headsail. As I follow up on that thought I face many obstacles not the least of which is short handed sailing and a lack of sail storage space on my trimaran. In years gone by it was not uncommon to see slab reefing headsails much as we reef our mains still today. What are the real world issues with such an arrangement? I visualise a 120% genny with 2 reef points. I don't like going forward anymore than anyone else but it seems that unforseen issues find me up there anyway. I see the advantages as simplicity, sail shape, windage at anchor and a bagged sail for UV protection. Does anyone have any knowledge or experience on this arrangement? Dave

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Old 04-07-2010, 09:15   #2
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I have used a hank-on, reefing jib. The sail shape is much better and it moves the CofE of the sail in a more appropriate direction, i.e. down.


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Old 04-07-2010, 09:48   #3
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I had a hanked on slab reefing jib on a previous boat. I second what Jackdale said regarding sail shape compared to roller furling.

Advantages I saw:

Better sail shape than roller furling.
Reduced sail inventory.
Much easier than changing sails.
No roller furling jam issues.


Must go forward and spend more time reefing than with roller furling.

One thing I found helpful was to tie a huge carabiner onto the jib sheets so that in rough seas, it was very easy to clip and re-clip the clews when reefing. Same with the tack. Also marking the jib halyard, so you know just how much to let out to reef.
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Old 04-07-2010, 10:10   #4

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Traditionally, the headsail is not the best place for reefing points due to balancing problems. Moreover, the sail weight (oz) is not of a size that will apply to all weather conditions and will result in wear and stretching issues.

A more normal place is as a staysail where a heavy #1 jib can be deployed. You can then reef according to conditions. This inner staysail could be on a roller, a removable inner, setup as a Solent, or run as a Spetra Luff. It will allow for better balance with the reefed main.
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Old 04-07-2010, 15:22   #5
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G'Day All,

A frightening number of years ago I was heavily involved with single handed ocean racing out of San Francisco. On my Yankee-30 I experimented with a reefing 130 % gennie. For me it was not a good solution at all. While you could indeed reduce the sail area, one was then left with a huge bundle of sailcloth (the old foot of the sail) flogging about. Tying it up with the reef points was NOT easy, nor did it seem to be a long term solution... eventually they came adrift. Doing all of this on a wildly pitching foredeck on the Potato Patch was NOT fun, and I soon abandoned the idea.

The solution then (this was early 80's and furling gear had not evolved very far yet) was a thing called a "K-Z" foil, made by Bob Graham in the Bay of Islands, NZ. It was a foil with two male "t-tracks" along it, and a gap at the bottom where a magazine (a short length of the foil track with a spring loaded bayonet and socket arrangement) plugged in. One had a magazine for each headsail, with alternate sizes loaded on the alternate sides of the magazine ie, #1 on the port, #2 on the starboard, #3 on port and so on.

So, say it was a light air start -- you plugged in the #1 and hoisted it with the port halyard and sailed away. When the wind got up a bit tacked to starboard, unplugged the magazine (now empty) and plugged in the #2, hooked up the starboard halyard and hoisted it inside the #1. One then could either drop the outside sail, or tack back to port and drop the #1 inside the #2, which neatly contained the big genoa, ready to be lashed on deck. This process could be repeated as required. Sounds complicated, but in fact was so successful that some years later when we bought Insatiable I (a retired IOR one-tonner) I fitted her with a K-Z to go cruising.

For those unwilling to go the furling genoa route this might be a good compromise. Bob is (I think) still in business in NZ, marketing a great bullet-proof furler called a "Reef-Rite".


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Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Bruny Is/Kettering, waiting for the damn Northerlies to abate!
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Old 04-07-2010, 16:43   #6
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Was on a cutter rigged boat once that had a reef point(s) for their club footed staysail. Seemed an ideal use of the concept for heavy weather.
Fortunately we didn't get to try it while I was on board.

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