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Old 27-12-2013, 09:00   #1
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Foresail Management on Cutter

Hi all: I'm not experienced on a cutter, but I am considering buying one for the ease of singlehanding. Been reading a lot about them, though, and I am confused by something (make that: a lot of things). For one, it seems like the usual first step in reducing headsail area for high wind is to furl the jib (in my case, it would be a yankee) and use the staysail. Is this correct? It seems to me that this would move the center of effort aft relative to the center of resistance (full keel, in case you are wondering), which would increase the tendency to round up and thus increase weather helm. Why not douse the staysail and use the jib? A second related question is in regard to using a storm jib; if I understand what I am reading (and I may not...), it is generally hoisted on the staysail stay. Is this simply because most of these boats have roller furling on the jib, or is further aft the preferred position in any case? Any input from experienced cutter sailors, especially those using a yankee cut instead of a genoa, would be appreciated. Best, Pete
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Old 27-12-2013, 09:41   #2
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Re: foresail management on cutter

Pete, I have owned a Bayfield 32C (cutter rig with yankee and staysail), a Cartwright 36 Pilothouse Cutter (that I converted to a 'Solent' rig with furling genoa and a detachable staysail stay with a highfield lever). My current boat, a Solaris Sunstream 40 catamaran is also a cutter rig, although I am also thinking about converting it to a Solent rig.

Even on a cutter, the first reef should typically be in the mainsail for precisely the reasons that you advance - keeping a balance in your sailplan and to avoid weatherhelm. Lets face it, most people with sloop rigs and a roller-reefing headsail also tend to reef the headsail first, but this is because it is typically easier to roll up the headsail than reef the main.

If a single reef in the main is insufficient, I then reef the headsail and put in a second reef in the main. When conditions are too brisk for this, I may furl up the staysail and beyond that, when one is in need of a storm jib or equivalent, I furl up the headsail (or yankee) and furl out the staysail while putting a third reef in the main.

A storm jib should be moved in from the bow of the boat as it tends to balance with a triple reefed mainsail (as the main is reefed, the Ce of the main moves both down and forward and Ce of the jib should likewise move down and in). Furthermore, by moving the storm jib back, there is less of a tendancy for the bow to be blown of by gusts as there is a reduced lever effect.

Brad
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Old 27-12-2013, 09:46   #3
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Re: foresail management on cutter

Thanks a lot Brad: I think I follow you (would still like to hear what others have to say). I omitted to mention the mainsail just for simplicity, but of course a reef in the main would come first. On my former boat (sloop), I would frequently sail with a greatly reduced main and still use a full 120% genoa with really nice balance, but cutter strategy will take some getting used to.

Appreciate your input, thanks again! pete
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Old 27-12-2013, 10:04   #4
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Re: foresail management on cutter

pete, each boat will be a different depending upon the relative sizes of the main, yankee and staysail and, of course, how well balanced the boat is carrying full sail. Unless your boat has lee helm when carrying full sail, so long as you reef the main before or concurrent with each reduction in the foretriangle and, so long as you have only your staysail/storm jib up when the main is triple reefed, you should be fine.

I like cutter rigs so long as the gap between the yankee and the staysail is sufficently large so as not to cause too much interference with the yankee during tacking. This interference (and the increased wear on the yankee) is one of the reasons I tend to favour a Solent rig - you only have the staysail stay up when conditions are sufficiently heavy that you want to furl up the headsail completely. The other reason, of course, is having the ability to carry a larger and more efficient headsail in lighter air.

In any event, I suspect that the greatest diffence you will notice in sailing on a cutter versus a sloop will be in tacking - keep in mind that you may have to backwind the yankee, especially in lighter air, during tacks.

Brad
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Old 27-12-2013, 10:13   #5
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Re: foresail management on cutter

This is a great book, chapter 9 will answer all questions you ever want to know about cutter rigs.



The Gaff Rig Handbook: History, Design, Techniques, Developments - John Leather - Google Books
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Old 27-12-2013, 10:22   #6
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Re: foresail management on cutter

Brad: I've considered a Solent rig on a sloop, I am not sure how to go about finding a rigger and sailmaker who know enough about them to do the job right. But it would accomplish what I want, which is more flexibility and easier single handing. Of course, there is the other problem, which is that I am head-over-heels in love with a particular cutter...deeply concerned about this infatuation, frankly, since she does have her faults...
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Old 27-12-2013, 10:23   #7
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Re: foresail management on cutter

When the winds high enough to have to reef, the Yankee jib is the first to be furled, don't want to be caught out on the end of the bowsprit when the winds start to pick up, next we start to reef main, boat can be sailed under staysail alone. Never have had to fly the storm sails, hope never to have to.
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Old 27-12-2013, 10:24   #8
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Re: foresail management on cutter

Pete, I will take a stab at the storm jib/staysail question. You are right on both counts about why the storm jib is usually hanked onto the staysail stay. If the headstay is roller, you dont want to be out there on the bow changing sails as the wind pipes up, and by the time the wind requires a storm jib, you should already have your main double reefed, so the center of effort is moving towards the center of the boat. I dont know what type of boat you are looking at, but many cutters have a permanently rigged inner forestay, but the one I owned (Peterson 44) had a removable inner forestay, so I considered the staysail only as a passage making sail. When I had it cut, I wanted it made with reefpoints so that it was one less actual sail change as the wind picked up, but the sailmaker talked me out of it. I should have changed sailmakers. OK, I will go ahead and give you my whole 25 cent opinion on going to weather in a cutter rigged boat. Assuming a modern foam luff roller yankee, light to moderate air,full main, staysail and yankee, wind picks up, drop and tie off the staysail, wind picks up more, !st reef in main, more wind roll yankee by whatever amount it will keep a good shape, more wind, 2nd reef, roll yankee up and hoist staysail up again, more wind,reef staysail or change out to storm jib, More wind, 3rd reef or trysail. Having used trysails a few times I have a great dislike for them, so when I had a new main cut, it was with three reefs. This way you only have one actual sail change(or none if reefable staysail) and few trips to the foredeck. There is much debate on CF about reefable headsails, and good arguments both for and against, so it is personal preferance. There is even great debate about using roller headsails at all, but having done it both ways, I think roller jibs(if you have a staysail) makes life much easier. I have written about going to weather,but if reaching or down wind the order of reduction would be much more towards reducing the main first. There is NO ONE WAY to sail a boat, and I am sure other people will have different experience than me and different methods. Thats what makes CF such a great learning place. Good Luck. _____Grant.
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Old 27-12-2013, 10:25   #9
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Re: foresail management on cutter

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Originally Posted by cburger View Post
When the winds high enough to have to reef, the Yankee jib is the first to be furled, don't want to be caught out on the end of the bowsprit when the winds start to pick up, next we start to reef main, boat can be sailed under staysail alone. Never have had to fly the storm sails, hope never to have to.
So you furl the yankee completely before any reefing of the main?

Agreed about hoping to never have to use the storm jib, but it's better to have it than not!
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Old 27-12-2013, 10:30   #10
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Re: foresail management on cutter

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I dont know what type of boat you are looking at, but many cutters have a permanently rigged inner forestay, but the one I owned (Peterson 44) had a removable inner forestay, so I considered the staysail only as a passage making sail.
Thanks Grant: great info. The boat is a 1987 Cabo Rico. I'm not sure whether the inner forestay is removable or not (I can check next time I see it). I do know that there are no running backstays, which I thought was odd.
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Old 27-12-2013, 10:46   #11
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Re: foresail management on cutter

Usually by the time you furl some of the headsail (especially if you have a Yankee or 115% like I did) you have reefed the main. so the center of effort is not an issue. By the time you get to two reefs in the main you are down to staysail and main only and the balance on both my cutters was superb that way... some of the most enjoyable, flat sailing was in 30-35 knots of wind with double reefed main and staysail alone.
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Old 27-12-2013, 10:46   #12
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Re: foresail management on cutter

Boats are different so there is no one way to reduce sail. we sailed our W32 with a reacher/full main in light air. As the wind picked up, handed the reacher and went with a yankee, staysail and full main. From there usually soon reefed the main till we got to the 2nd reef point. If winds picked up more, handed the yankee and sailed with double reefed main and staysail. From there it was third reef in the main and staysail. Fortunately, never had more than that combination would handle. We sailed this boat without roller furling on the yankee. Today, would have a roller furling Yankee so I could gradually reduce its size till it disappeared. Striking the the yankee usually cost us a full knot in boat speed when we lost the slot between the jib and staysail. We most commonly sailed with two reefs in our three reef main, staysail and yankee in the tradewinds.
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Old 27-12-2013, 10:48   #13
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Re: foresail management on cutter

If the rig was designed correctly without runners, the mast should be just fine. Runners allow for a lighter mast section (less weight aloft, and a little less windage). It makes for a better performing boat, but a little less simplicity. I dont think you will often hear of a Cabo Rico having its mast fold up. On my Peterson I usually sailed it without the inner forestay and only set a runner if I was pounding into a head sea, and the mast pumped a little. The runner quieted it down. ____Grant.
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Old 27-12-2013, 11:21   #14
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Re: foresail management on cutter

Pete, if you find the gap between stays to be too small for your liking, you can always convert your cutter to a Solent rig. It is much easier than converting a sloop as:

1. you already have a properly engineered chainplate for the inner stay.
2. the rig has been stayed to permit use of a detachable innner stay without the need for runners.

Apart from making tacking the headsail easier, this conversion also allows you to purchase a headsail with greater overlap for improved performance in lighter air.

I have never had a cutter/solent rig without roller reefing for the yankee/headsail and, frankly, I wouldn't want one. As cburger points out, when the wind and seas pick up the last place you would want to be would be out on a bowsprit taking down the yankee! My current rig has roller reefing on both the yankee and the staysail and IMO it is the most flexible and safe rig for cruising - I can move from full sail area to a proper storm jib (a staysail reefed by only 30%) without the need to go forward in rough conditions. That being said, when I order a new headsail I am still tempted to convert to a Solent rig for the advantages in light air performance and ease of tacking. Yes, when conditions are bad enough I will have to go forward to attach the staysail stay and hank on the storm jib. Howver, at least on my boat it will be on the foredeck rather than the front cross-member; and, at least I can leave the sheets for the storm jib pre-rigged (as there is already a separate track, blocks and winches for the staysail).

Lets face it, all rigs are a compromise. However, having a staysail/storm jib that is made for heavy air, that has a separate stay where it should be (in from the bow) and which has separate tracks, blocks and winches designed for proper sheeting angles is much better than just reefing the headsail of sloop: apart from the risk of blowing out a light-weight sail, a heavily reefed headsail generally moves the Ce of the headsail forward - precisely where you don't want it to be in heaqvy conditions.

Brad
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Old 30-12-2013, 05:54   #15
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Re: foresail management on cutter

I've ordered a new Yankee and staysail for our Tayana and was surprised that the sailcloth for the staysail was 9.3oz and the Yankee was 8.3oz. Should have thought harder as the sailmaker said the staysail is used as the storm jib.
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