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Old 06-04-2010, 17:09   #1
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Can a 150% Headsail Be Too Big ?

I am getting a new headsail for my Benteau Oceanis 281. They came new with a 140% sail that is cut at a high angle for non-skirting and visibility. I often find that I am underpowered in light wind with this set up and was looking at going with a 155%, but decided to go 150% max. Has anyone tried this with a model of boat and found it to be too much? Or should I assume that if that is what the manufactuer put on it, then that is what should be kept? Or should I maybe try a lower cut sail, with the trade off of having to skirt? It is a fairly tender boat that needs to be furled in 15-16 knots of wind.

PS- I have a roller furling, but do not want to sail with it furled too much either, as it would defeat the purpose.

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Old 06-04-2010, 17:22   #2
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A 155 is too much in big air. Offshore a wave could hit the sail and pretty much trash it. In light air it's what you want. While a roller fueler will let you reef some, it won't let you reef a lot and have sail shape left. In higher winds your pointing ability will drop dramatically.

A factory sail is a general purpose design to work well across the broadest spectrum. The key is what winds do you sail in and what winds don't you sail in? Do you do long trips and require the ability to sail in varied conditions. Lake Superior isn't all that friendly when it isn't. You want to have the sail match the conditions you sail most all the time. The larger sail extends the light air range but shrinks the higher wind range. being over powered is never good. Being overpowered in strong wind with a 155 is more than overpowered.

It's always a trade off. Having two sails would let you switch but then switching is not easy when you have to and it is blowing strong.

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Old 06-04-2010, 18:38   #3
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When It was time for me to replace my headsail I went down to a 135 from a 150 and have been very happy. My boat tends to take a reef early. I may have lost a little light air performance, but I feel that being able to deploy my full headsail longer without having to partially roll it up, makes up for the downside.
The boat feels more balanced through a greater range of wind speed, sails flatter, and the sail shape is so much better when fully deployed.
I don't have a deck sweeper, nor is it cut unusally high and rarely have to skirt..

To be honest, if I'm on a trip and the air is that light I'm probably motorsailing.
If I'm out for a daysail and in not trying to get anywhere and the wind drops, I take the opportunity to have lunch, or jump in for a swim.

A reaching spinnaker adds to the arsenal for light air, if I have an extra pair of hands I might pull that out of it's bag.
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Old 06-04-2010, 18:53   #4
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If you are thinking of using it as a furled sail, remember that a furled sail goes to "crap" in design at about 30%.. meaning, you can take a 135 and furl it down to about to about 100 and still keep somewhat of a shape.. anything less goes out the window for shape..
If going to a 150%, you would lose sail shape at 120%... your furled sail has a foam luff or should have and as its rolled up, it takes more fabric out of the center of the sail than it does the ends, so in theroy, you decrese the size of the sail and also decrese or change the shape of the sail. a 110% sail is not only 25% smaller than a 135%, its also a different designed sail.. The foam luff system does somewhat of a change in design..
For a furled sail, I wouldnt go any larger than a 135% as you lose to much design in the smaller sail..
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Old 06-04-2010, 20:03   #5
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It all depends. If you sail in SoCal or Long Island Sound, you can't have too large a sail. In SF Bay, a working jib can be all you need. The boat also effects the sails needed. An IOR design with a small main and big 'J' NEEDS a 150 while a big main, small 'J' boat works fine with smaller headsails.

As others have said, assess the prevailing winds in your area, how much of a problem it's going to be to downsize. I'd reccomend changing a 150-160 genoa when you feel the need to reef. If things get worse and you reached the furling shape limit of the sail, it's going to be a whole lot easier to do it at 15 knots of wind than even 20 knots. You can go with a lighter fabric for better lightwind performance that way as you'll not have the be leaving it up and furling it in 30 knots when you should have changed it out long before.

Also, you might think about an Asymetric chutw for reaching and running in lighter conditions. You can put up a lot of square footage with an Asym and cover a lot of the sailing spectrum. With an ATM sock, it's a relatively easy sail to handle. Won't get you to weather if there is much of a breeze, unfortunately but is surprizingly close winded when its light out.
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Old 07-04-2010, 09:57   #6
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Thanks people, I actually have an asym on order. I will probably keep the 140%. I am sure a new square weave will be a noticeable upgrade from an old 15 year old well used dacron anyway. I may bring the leech down just a bit lower (6" or so) to give a few more sqaure feet to the sail, without having the problems mentioned above be a factor. Once again, great to have input from people with experience!
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:52   #7
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My experience has been that a proper headsail roller/REEFER can and does reef my 130 down to less than 100. I can beat to windward just fine with no mainsail in 30+. the luff needs a foam tape and the sheet leads need to be moved forward as you reef. No need for more than one headsail and that stays up all the time so no storage problems or issues changeing headsails in a blow. what's not ot like? Take a big slug of salt wihen reading that a roller/reefer headsail can't be made to reef and maintain a decent shape. It ain't been true for quite a few years now..

Cape Dory 25D Seraph
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Old 07-04-2010, 12:11   #8
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I use a high cut 135% for offshore sailing and carry a yankee in reserve. As the boat is cutter rigged, this head sail gives me all the sail options I need. A "deck sweeper" is good for racing in calmer waters but with any bordings seas, the sail will be destroyed.
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Old 12-04-2010, 13:36   #9
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I agree with the previous posters. I have a 150 and it is good in light air, but anything above 12-15kt of wind requires rolling it up. It does not hold shape when reefed at all. I was thinking about replacing it with a 130-135. I do have a tall rig version of the Catalina 30, so the sail area is bigger than a standard rig. I am not sure if the same holds true on the standard rig, but judging by the other posts I'd say it is.

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