Originally Posted by CarlF
I fear another reason that in-mast furling
is so widely accepted is that few know how to trim a mainsail
for upwind power - regardless of shape or even on a ketch
. The headsail's doing all the work. But if you get close to hull speed
, who cares?
The implication here is those who really know how to trim a sail would never opt for in-mast furling
. Let me begin by saying that, back in my racing
days, at least during the period when I was still crewing
for other people, I was usually assigned the position of main trimmer. It's what I do best. As a mainsail
trimmer I've won six yacht-club overall championships, I've placed in the silver in five different national championships, and I've won the Windjammer. But I still own a boat with in-mast furling. How could this be?
There is a certain point where the sails
become too big for a shorthanded crew to safely handle in a blow. This is especially true if the crew is a husband and wife past the age of 50, on boats where the total sail area is 1,000 sq ft or more. At that point you've got two options (other than to go with a smaller boat): you can spit the rig or you can go to a mainsail furling system. Either option involves a compromise in performance, at least in some points of sail.
I took a hard look at this situation when I purchased my present boat. We were already in our 50s, and we wanted to set this boat up as the one we'd cruise
once we retired. In essence, we wanted as much waterline as we felt we'd be able to handle throughout our 60s and hopefully even into our 70s. For us that ended up being 46 feet LOA
The in-mast furling system is less additional weight aloft than I'd have if the boat were rigged with a second mast
. The boat points higher than it would with a ketch
rig. It's far easier to get set and strike the sails
. Even with just my wife and I aboard, we can go from being under full sail to having both sails completely furled and stowed in under two minutes. It used to take us longer to put on the sail cover
, after the main was already flaked, than it now takes us to put both sails away completely.
The fact that we have in-mast furling doesn't mean that we're idiots who don't know better. It means that we've found a way to sail shorthanded into our retirement
years without becoming dependent on crew. Twenty or thirty years ago the only way we could have done this on a boat with significant waterline would have been to go to a ketch rig. Now we have another option.
In-mast furling doesn't have to be slow. When I first got this boat I beer-canned her a few times just to see how she'd do. I'll admit I had an unfair advantage in that I'm the faculty adviser to my university's sailing team, and I was able to recruit some fairly impressive crew to grind the winches. We entered the boat in maybe 10 races the first year we had her--races in which 20-30 boats would participate--and won four of them. I will admit that the windier it was the more likely I was to win. But the fact is that a liveaboard/cruising boat with 300 ft of chain, in-mast furling, a wind generator
and a BBQ grill
on the rail was able to kick some serious butt.
A lot of the fellows we beat had to open their minds about in-mast furling while they were being rolled to weather
. I wish you could have been one of them, Carl.