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Old 21-01-2013, 12:36   #1
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Head Sail Size

Im a SF bay sailor and mostly sail the 28 to 34 foot racer s cruisers. I have always had 135 % head sails on my boats and would reef them or reef my main in a blow over 20 knots. Latly I have been sea trialing a few boats im interested in buying and they are all flying 100% or smaller and the performance of the boats seem better than using the big head sail for " speed". Have I just learned something?
Any thoughts on this out there.
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Old 21-01-2013, 12:42   #2
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Re: head sail size

Are the 135% on masthead and the 100% on fractional rigs with bigger mains by chance?

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Old 21-01-2013, 12:47   #3
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Re: head sail size

Hard to tell without boat specifics. But if the winds are the usual strong SF bay winds, quite possible a smaller jib performs better.... too many variables to tell. I know that when caught out in 30-35 winds, both my cutters seemed to move very well, although severely heeled, with a 110-115 jib. At 35, when I furled the headsail with staysail and small jib area.....the boat jumped in speed, flattened out, got rid of weather helm and all that turbulence behind the boat from dragging the rudder sideways disappeared...
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Old 21-01-2013, 12:54   #4
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All mast head stock " plastic classic" boats. I guess what im thinking, size dosent always equate to speed and performance. These guys iv been sailing with are just pressing their boats trying to go faster.
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Old 21-01-2013, 13:00   #5
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Re: Head Sail Size

A smaller, properly set sail will drive stronger than a bigger one, reefed down to the size of the former.

In any case, avoid large and (too) heavy fore sails - these tend to be next to useless when the wind allows to fly them all out. Waste of material, money, and a pain in the skipper's lower back. Within the same boat, the bigger the sail, the lighter the cloth. Pretty messy advice ;-) I guess - if you happen to have a furler AND to sail in an area with alternating strong and light winds ;-)))))))

I noticed too, that many original sails (as designed in by the boat's designer) are pretty good at their jobs while many an 'improvement' by an owner who thought they knew better are a failure of some sort.

Another take is to look at the fleet and adjust accordingly. But this implies there is a fleet.

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Old 21-01-2013, 13:17   #6
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Re: Head Sail Size

In the early days of handicap racing, a boat was rated in terms of 100% of total sail area. Hanking on a genoa added sail area without changing the rating. The downside is that this often decreased performance, especially in stronger winds.

SF bay is my home port. In the summer, I usually carry an 85% jib, which I switch to a 110% lapper during the winter, when I need a bit more power. This way, I seldom need to reef in the summer, and I'm able to out-point boats that have reefed mains and semi-furled genoas.

I know people in SF who leave their reef in all summer, even when the sail is doused, but they keep sailing with a genoa because they don't seem to know any better. Maybe they don't know how goofy they look? Meanwhile, I'm able to hit hull speed with my 85% high-clewed jib, a sail that gives me significantly better visability, is easier to handle, points higher, stretches less, lasts longer, and cost less initially.

Hmmm.

One objection to doing things the way I've outlined above is that a 110% jib might not provide enough power off the wind in light air. While I admit that a genoa might be superior in such circumstances, this is when I tend to put up a gennaker anyway.
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Old 21-01-2013, 13:31   #7
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Re: Head Sail Size

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
In the early days of handicap racing, a boat was rated in terms of 100% of total sail area. Hanking on a genoa added sail area without changing the rating. The downside is that this often decreased performance, especially in stronger winds.

SF bay is my home port. In the summer, I usually carry an 85% jib, which I switch to a 110% lapper during the winter, when I need a bit more power. This way, I seldom need to reef in the summer, and I'm able to out-point boats that have reefed mains and semi-furled genoas.

I know people in SF who leave their reef in all summer, even when the sail is doused, but they keep sailing with a genoa because they don't seem to know any better. Maybe they don't know how goofy they look? Meanwhile, I'm able to hit hull speed with my 85% high-clewed jib, a sail that gives me significantly better visability, is easier to handle, points higher, stretches less, lasts longer, and cost less initially.

Hmmm.

One objection to doing things the way I've outlined above is that a 110% jib might not provide enough power off the wind in light air. While I admit that a genoa might be superior in such circumstances, this is when I tend to put up a gennaker anyway.
Test sailing these other boats have tought me a lesson that will save me money and effort in the long run. I guess you never stop learning in this sport.
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Old 21-01-2013, 13:52   #8
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Re: Head Sail Size

Older boats will, in general, have been designed with a sail plan that included overlapping headsails... overlaps as big as 150% were not at all uncommon (these large headsails were often paired up with a relatively small mainsail). More modern boats, particularly with swept-back spreaders, tend to be designed with smaller, non-overlapping headsails (but relatively large mainsails).

Obviously, how much sail you put up is largely determined by how much wind you have (and the direction from whence it is blowing), and "more sail" doesn't necessarily equate to "better", but just because modern boats are optimised to use smaller headsails doesn't mean older boats will perform equally as well if they were originally designed for big headsails, particularly in lighter winds.
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Old 21-01-2013, 14:13   #9
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Re: Head Sail Size

Quote:
Originally Posted by tommyh View Post
I guess you never stop learning in this sport.
That's absolutely true. I thought I was going to have SF Bay to myself yesterday, what with the 49ers involved in the NFC championship, but there were actually quite a few other boats out there.
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Old 21-01-2013, 14:36   #10
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Re: Head Sail Size

Me too, but the lack of wind might also have had something to do with it!

My experience fits in very well with Bash's. The boat came with a 150%, and soon after I bought a 100%. Now I've downsized to an 83% for the summer, in the slot.

What did surprise me was the performance with the 83% - in the 20+ kts wind in the slot, the boat goes like stink - I saw the highest close-hauled boat speed I've seen - 6.7 kts, with it. The drawback is that when you get back to the other side of the bay bridge, and you are running, the small jib is hopeless. Time to get the gennaker out.

This is a masthead IOR boat with the larger jib/smaller main setup.
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Old 28-01-2013, 12:17   #11
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Re: Head Sail Size

Im no sailing expert on my first season here but here's what I've observed... I have a 150% genoa that came with my boat.

The big sail in strong winds especially close hauled makes for a lot of heel and messing around with the sheet tension. You will go faster if your boat is only moderately heeled because your catching all the wind and not spilling it over the top and wasting energy on tilting the boat instead of driving it forwards.

Roller furling a genoa alters its shape in a bad way for sailing. I cant count how many experienced sailors including my sailmaker have told me not to furl the genoa to reef it with exception of in an emergency situation such as where the wind just really picks up unexpectedly. I have had to do this once (forecasted 10-15kt wind turned into 20-30 gust 50) and the shape of the thing was awful - and for me in my first season to notice how bad the shape was is certainly telling.

When I was out doing lessons on my boat with my sailing instructor and we double reefed the main and adjusted the traveller to reduce heel again we noticed a speed boost of 2 kts once the boat was more righted.

I do like the 150 genoa though for convenience. I often sail with just the genoa and leave the main down. It's so big that it can push the boat just fine both upwind and downwind while pointing well upwind. Genoa alone though can be a pain to get the boat pointed in the right direction at low speed though as off the beam it can push the nose of the boat the wrong way and turn you off course.
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