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Old 17-05-2017, 10:49   #1
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Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

Out of all the boats I've been on or otherwise seen in action (mostly on YouTube) all but one had a headsail whose foot actually cleared the lifelines. Is that because the sail shape is generally optimized for beating? The one boat I saw with the high foot was RAN Sailing's boat and they seem to do mostly downwind travel.

How much of a diff does it make while beating to have the foot high enough to clear the lifelines?
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Old 17-05-2017, 10:53   #2
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

You want sail area down low so you induce less heeling. Racers will use decksweepers to increase the 'end plate effect' that keeps the pressure from one side of the sail from leaking to the other.
You can always use shroud covers on the lifelines to reduce friction.
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Old 17-05-2017, 11:09   #3
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

I like a low jib... but you MUST maintain a watch to leeward if there is any traffic. All of my close calls have involved port tack boats with low jibs sailing in variable winds. There were crew on board that could have kept watch, but they couldn't be bothered.

No lee watch, either roll up some sail or stay home. I often roll some up when singlehanding in congested waters, just to keep things easy and safe.
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Old 17-05-2017, 11:14   #4
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

It is because they have ridiculous triangular mainsails that don't have any power, so they must make up for it in huge headsails. With a properly-sized gaff-headed mainsail, you can put high clews on the headsails and eliminate chafe on the lifelines.
It is a perfect example of one design flaw leading to a whole bunch of others.
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Old 17-05-2017, 11:32   #5
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

Those 'design flaws' are what allow them to make twice the VMG to weather.
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Old 17-05-2017, 11:44   #6
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

Plenty of cruising boats have high clewed jibs. It isn't hard to cut the sail that way when the jib furler keeps the tack two feet off the deck. Purpose rigged charter boats always have a jib that clears the lifelines.
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Old 17-05-2017, 13:08   #7
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

Yes a deck sweeper has an end plate effect that will give a little more lift and it makes total sense for racing but makes no sense for cruising. Apart from the chafe you ruin your forward viability which makes little sense as well. Cruisers should be flying a higher clewed headsail, in my opinion.
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Old 17-05-2017, 13:42   #8
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

Maybe where they sail visibility to windward is not important.

Our foresails are cut so that I can see forward below them.

The sailmaker will build as you ask, but you must ask. Otherwise the sailmaker will build to max out the sail area within your measurements.

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Old 18-05-2017, 03:23   #9
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

Quote:
Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
Those 'design flaws' are what allow them to make twice the VMG to weather.
very good sir, very good!!!

(& as to "forward visibility": in another thread both of them are doing sacktime together...)
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Old 18-05-2017, 09:48   #10
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

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Originally Posted by robert sailor View Post
Yes a deck sweeper has an end plate effect that will give a little more lift and it makes total sense for racing but makes no sense for cruising. Apart from the chafe you ruin your forward viability which makes little sense as well. Cruisers should be flying a higher clewed headsail, in my opinion.
This. When I have crew, sure, break out the decksweeping No. 1. When it's me solo, the No. 3 on a tack pendant (so I can see forward) is my choice.

On my cutter, I have a low-footed (but not deck-sweeping) staysail and a yankee-cut jib. I can see quite well forward.
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Old 18-05-2017, 10:18   #11
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

Unless you're a race boat just raise the clew so the foot clears the lifelines and you can see under the sail. The other benefit of a higher clew is that you're making the leech and foot more equal in length so when you let the sheet out the leech doesn't twist open as fast.
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Old 18-05-2017, 10:39   #12
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

Keep in mind that the difference in performance between a deck sweeper and a high clewed sail assuming the areas are similar is very small and shouldn't even be considered when cruising. If your racing and a sail cut could add a 1/16 of a knot to your speed you'd be crazy not to use it because with equal boats after a 4 hour race you would cross the line a 1/4 of a mile in front and that's a big edge but even crossing oceans for cruisers this edge really adds up to very little and the loss of your vision forward and additional chafe plus knowing your edge is only for windward work just doesn't make sense for cruisers.
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Old 18-05-2017, 15:02   #13
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

When I converted my boat from racing to cruising I changed from single Genoas to cutter rig with high cut Jib and lower (but not deck level) staysail. The interesting thing was that in all but the lightest air the boat went faster! I think that often we see arrangements on race boats and assume they are 'go faster' but often it is for better handicap ratings. If it slows the boat but gets you a much better rating you win!!! A classic for that is the 150% genoas, in the 70's they where the in thing, sail like a barn door but the rating rule only measured the size of the for etryangle, anything past the mast didn't count.
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Old 18-05-2017, 15:55   #14
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

Our racing headsails are tacked to the deck, somewhat lower than the seldon furler drum, they are cut so that their feet (foots, or whatever the plual of a sail foot is) are very close to the deck. For cruising we have a roller furling genoa that obviously is tacked to the furler drum.
The racing headsails, or at least the sails that do not have batons are cut so that they can be released from the tack on the deck and lifted up to the furler drum, to facilitate furling, this is done for storage only and is great timesaver when putting the boat to bed after twilight racing and getting back to the club to eat and imbibe. UV protection is provided by a sock that is hoisted around the sail.
The reason I say all this is that we have a bit of experience with the speed differential of the boat working to wind with the sail sweeping the deck and the sail about 18 inches above the deck. With sheeting position optimised for both positions the deck sweeping position is about half a knot quicker in around 5 knots of true wind, up to nearly a knot quicker when the true wind us around 13 knots, pointing ability is also degraded by around 5 to 10 degrees, granted that the variance might not be as great if the sail was specifically designed to be flown above the deck.
we race and cruise on Sydney harbour, where it is known to get a bit busy, so a good lookout to leeward on both port and starboard tacks is a necesity, while not the best weight configuration I tend to steer from the low side, especially on a port tack. But probaby more important is to have good spacual awareness, getting to be aware where all your problems are, before they become a problem, an 18 foot can seem to appear out of nowhere. Or a novice in a cherub can turn a safe
situation into a drama very quickly, it is just being aware of what may happen and being prepared
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Old 18-05-2017, 16:02   #15
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Re: Why are headsails generally cut so that the foot abrades on the lifelines?

When I started mostly singlehanding, I had my jib re-cut to raise the foot. I wanted to be able to see under the jib easily. I felt it was important to be able to see where I was going at all times. A low cut jib, or a deck sweeper are better for sailing and speed.
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