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Old 14-09-2019, 04:06   #1
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Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

Hi, I'm starting the process of having new sails made and I'm trying to make the best decision on sizes.

The headsail would be hanked-on and I was wondering if getting a 130% headsail for low to fair winds would be best. And when the wind would pick up and get rough, drop the headsail and hoist the 100% staysail. With also having the benefit of being able to have both sails up in good conditions. In very rough weather, both sails would be removed off the deck, and a storm stay sail raised.

Any issues with my plan or anything that could be done better?

P. S: I removed the furler and I'm not interested in furling sails any longer. Thanks!
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Old 14-09-2019, 04:37   #2
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Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

Most cutters Iíve met work best with a yankee/staysail combo, making use of the slot effect for best results.

Bigger foresails just tend to mask the staysail and make it fly like an old sack.

I have a high cut reacher and I find that if I fly it with the staysail I just get more lean and less drive.

I get much better results with the yankee, which is just what the designer intended.
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Old 14-09-2019, 04:49   #3
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

My cutter came with the Yankee and staysail combo which was fine with a good breeze but wasn't enough sail for light air. I went with a 130 but kept the Yankee for when it's needed.
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Old 14-09-2019, 04:53   #4
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

You should show us your rig. The answer to this can be very different depending on the relative size of main and jib, aspect of the rig, placement of the inner forestay.


My cutter rig is pretty high aspect (75' mast vs 20' "J" dimension) with mainsail smaller than the foretriangle size.


The rig was designed for a 120% yankee, self-tacking staysail, furling main.


When I had sails made a few years ago I ordered BOTH a 100% blade jib AND a 120% yankee, figuring I would use the blade just for long upwind passages. Both made of carbon laminate.



But in the event I found the blade to be so useful and so versatile that I use it at least 90% of the time. The blade seems to have 90% of the power of the yankee with 50% of the drag and heeling.



It works very well with the staysail, which is about 1/2 of the area of the blade. The staysail can be used with the blade even hard on the wind (not possible with the yankee).



So if I had it to do over again, I would save the $10 000 (or whatever it was; even more) I spent on the yankee, and would have a cruising Code 0 for light wind instead, with the blade as the principle everyday headsail.



You might get different results depending on your rig, so take with a grain of salt. But in general I don't like overlapping jibs so much. They are impossible to trim really well sailing upwind, and they're no good very deep without a pole, either. I had a 140% genoa on my last boat, and I remember marvelling how much better the 120% yankee on this boat worked. Well, the 100% jib is even that much better again.



It seems to me that you give up a lot of drag and heel with an overlapping headsail, to get a relatively small advantage in a very narrow set of conditions. They are especially bad when you start to reef them, so that's yet another advantage of the blade. I literally never reef my blade jib -- once the wind is too strong to use all of it (30+ knots apparent), it's already strong enough to take away the jib altogether and use the staysail.
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Old 14-09-2019, 05:03   #5
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

I agree that to make a useful answer we would need to see the boats profile, a side photo of the boat, and some dimensions. But a side photo or plan view or at least boat type so we can look it up.

In a perfect world (ha) it would help to know
Does the boat have a bow sprit?
Length from sprit to mast
Length from staysail to mast
Length from bow and stern to mast to mast
Bow and stern overhang
Mast height
Keel configuration

It would also be useful to know your sailing area and your sailing type. A weekender during summer in the Chesapeake and Caribbean live-aboard are different.
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Old 14-09-2019, 08:27   #6
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

With our 115% Yankee and 100% staysail we could not use the staysail inside the Yankee to advantage close hauled until we added a padeye for the staysail sheet on the edge of the coach roof inboard of the sheet track on the side deck. With the new lead the staysail flies in the middle of the slot and adds a half knot with 35-40 deg apparent wind.
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Old 14-09-2019, 08:29   #7
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

Thank you for the replies everyone.

So for information about the boat, it is a 1980 Choate 40.

And here are some pictures of an identical boat with a similar rigging except that mine doesn't have the furler on the head stay and the forestay sail is a cable.

https://imgur.com/a/TzuEM5z
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Old 14-09-2019, 08:34   #8
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

I agree that a yankee headsail is the way to go but have found the best solution is a 100% headsail plus a 120% staysail. This give an effective overlap with both sails up then opens the slot by dropping the staysail as the first sail reduction. I find it is worth carrying a heavier weight flat cut headsail for when the wind heads towards the 30's. Once I am down to the second reef the next step is then to loose the headsail in favour of the staysail which keeps the centers of effort balanced, a well reefed main plus headsail takes the power to far forward and keeping the power balanced is a big plus with cutter rigs. The overlap on the staysail enshures enough power in rough going to push through the seas and means I can still make to weather. Without the overlap I would need more sail area to get the same power so would heel more and feel overpowered. I do also cary storm sails but not used them.
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Old 14-09-2019, 08:45   #9
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

We essentially had that sail inventory on our Westsail 32. Instead of the 130 genoa we had a high cut light dacron reacher/drifter. The R/D wasn't much good going to weather but really worked for reaching in moderate winds. The high cut of the sails clew allowed it to be sheeted to the main boom which opened up the slot and added a full knot to boat speed over sheeting it to tracks on the cap rail. If we had had the money to buy it, would have liked a 130 or larger genoa for light air windward work.

For trade wind reaching and windward work went with a yankee and staysail. Worked well on a reach till about 30k when we had to strike the Yankee. That really hurt as we lost more than full knot of speed when we lost the slot between the staysail and yankee. Wished we'd had a roller furling jib/genoa or smaller jib when the trades were particularly strong.

The staysail was loose footed sheeted to tracks on the cabin top like a jib. Tried an overlapping staysail that really helped light air windward performance but the sheet fouled forward lowers as it was eased. Would have had to reroute the sheet around the lower the forward lower as the sheet was eased depending on point of sail. Explored going with a baby stay and eliminating the forward lowers to solve the sheeting problem but time and money cancelled that idea. Sold the sail before we left. In any case, have the largest staysail that you can fit on the boat. If you have a club footed staysail, ditch the club and sheet the staysail as you would a jib.
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Old 14-09-2019, 08:56   #10
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

I always like about a 115-120% on my cutters. Clew a bit high cut , but not a true yankee. Clew just reachable from deck. On a pendent at the tack. You can see under this sail fairly well and seas don't douse it a bunch on the pendent. This sail worked well in a pretty brisk wind. (see my avatar) For local sailing I might go 130% though.
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Old 14-09-2019, 09:23   #11
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

Talk with your sailmaker. Having hank on sails rather than roller furlimg gives you the advantage of versatility. If you are crossing oceans, a large sail inventory can be nice. On my cutter rigged trimaran i have a 130% genoa that i use without the staysail. I also have a 100 percent jib that i use without the staysail. Both are relatively low cut. Those are my downwind or reaching sails. I also have an asymetric spinnaker.The yankee and storm jib both work well with the staysail for beating to windward or reaching. Obviously I change sails a lot. Kinda thinking to make my life a bit easier and go with a furlimg headsail but not sure i would be happy with the lack of vetsatility.
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Old 14-09-2019, 09:32   #12
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Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

My boat came with a 110% headsail, I wanted a light wind solution as my boat is heavy and a little underpowered, so I had a 135% Genoa made, kept the Staysail the same size but went up in cloth weight for heavy weather.

It was a mistake, in the light winds that I wanted the 135 for, the standard cloth weight is too heavy, plus even a 135 isnít big enough, so I got a cruising code zero. I lost some pointing ability even with the foam luff in the 135 because without furling it just a little it contacts the spreader and the 110 didnít.
I can carry the code zero to well above the point to where the 110% headsail would be fine, so I have no need for the 135, not really.

Now Iím contemplating getting the 135 cut back to a standard 110.

Funny, it seems the boat manufacturer knew what they were doing.
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Old 14-09-2019, 10:34   #13
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

I have had a few cutters and have found I prefer a high cut 130 for a headsail and 100% staysail.

To me this is an ideal rig, I rarely fly them both at the same time, but as the wind comes up I get rid of the headsail and roll out the staysail.

In light wind I use a symmetrical chute. I carry 2 poles as it is easier on a cutter than having to switch the pole from side to side.

I used this rig on an 80' Frers I took around the world and was very happy with it. The high cut 130 was perfect on a pole and was a real puller downwind in a good breeze. Easy rig for two people or single handed.

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Old 14-09-2019, 11:21   #14
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

Historically speaking the cutter was a very narrow beam hull that had a deep draft. and was rigged specifically for going to windward. Typically heading west down the English channel out into the Atlantic.


Just as gliders in Aviation have very long narrow wings. The principle from our experimentation decades ago; Was that effective windward performance is achieved by rigging maximum luff length presented to the on coming air flow.


Thus the Most practical way to achieve this without getting capsized, is to keep the individual sails relatively small in area. We used to fly three.



The most essential requirement is to be able to keep the slots between them open. which is probably the origin of the invention of the bowsprit.


In contemporary times matching hull shape to rig is not seriously practiced.
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Old 14-09-2019, 11:43   #15
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Re: Ideal sails for Cutter rig. 130% headsail + 100% staysail?

I think a lot depends on where you intend to sail. We bought our sloop rig (with convertible baby stay) in Asia, and she came with a 150% deck-sweeper....and it was needed for the predominant light winds we saw there. In the Medd we converted to a permanent cutter rig, with a 135% H/S, then a 115% with a raised clew....and we still sailed alot with some reef taken. Now in the Caribbean, we just fitted a 100%, with a not-quite Yankee raised clew, so we can see under it. It really depends!!! But, we do sail way better with both the H/S and S/S out-the slot really does make a difference
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