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Old 30-10-2014, 12:56   #1
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Reef points for a cat - where should they be put?

I have an Island Spirit 401 - a South African 12m (40ft) cruising cat and I am purchasing a new mainsail. The old sail had three reefs at 197cm (6.4ft), 506cm (16.6ft) and 806cm (26.4ft) above the tack. I used the third reef in force 8 and it seemed to work well but I was never sure about the position first reef point. I tend to sail conservatively.

Does anyone have any thoughts about where the reef points should be put?
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Old 30-10-2014, 19:11   #2
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Re: Reef points for a cat - where should they be put?

We disconnected even our second reef point, made the sail harder to raise and if we need 2 reefs, we don't need to be sailing lol. On the other hand if we were full time cruising in big water wed go with it, a good sail loft should be able to advise.

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Old 30-10-2014, 19:32   #3
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Re: Reef points for a cat - where should they be put?

We too sail very conservatively (it's our house after all). We found that once it was time to put the first reef in the second invariably followed soon after. We ended up removing the lines from the first reef and don't miss it. The reduction in sail as a percentage of total sail area was almost negligible. We too are having a new main built and will only have two reef points on this one. The first will probably be just below where our second reef is now and the second will be where the third reef is. Our boat is 46' and the reef points are at 2m intervals.

Friends who circumnavigated with a bigger Schionning have removed all but the second reef. Their reasoning is that They can carry the second reef up to 40 knots and anything over that they are going to drop the main anyway.
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Old 30-10-2014, 23:26   #4
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Re: Reef points for a cat - where should they be put?

Forgot to add that our main 15.4m (50.5ft) on the I and 5m (16.4ft) on the J.

The advice of not using the first reef point is interesting. Certainly would uncomplicate life some and I probably would not miss it.

Regarding relying on the sail maker, we are in Turkey and the language barrier makes me want to be as specific as possible. It's just too easy to make a communication error.

Perhaps I should be asking the question in terms of percentage of sail area.
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Old 31-10-2014, 00:10   #5
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Re: Reef points for a cat - where should they be put?

Generally you see reefs every 20% of sail area, so the first reduces main area by 20%, second by 40%, and the third by 60%. At the third reef you have effectively reached tri-sail area (old ORC rules allowed a 60% reef in lui of a tri).

It is also pretty normal for cruisers to just eliminate the first reef and go strait to the second. The wind range difference isn't huge, and at these wind speeds typically there is little to be gained from keeping more sail area up. Except while raceing it just doesn't matter much if you give up .5kn in boat speed if you are more comfortable.
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Old 31-10-2014, 08:53   #6
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Re: Reef points for a cat - where should they be put?

Hi Ostinato,
Just wondering - on the old sail, do all reefing lines lead back to the cockpit?
Consider that the positions of the reefing points on the sail define the lengths of the reefing lines.
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Old 31-10-2014, 10:43   #7
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Re: Reef points for a cat - where should they be put?

Absent specific advice from the sailmaker, put them where the old ones were unless you didn't like their location. They can be anywhere you prefer, as long as they are sufficiently away from any battens. For a good idea of how far off a batten they should be, measure these distances off you old sail and maintain the closest distance. On a new sail several years ago I had the sailmaker put the second reef a bit lower (more sail area) because that's what it felt like the boat needed, based on my reefing practices. Good luck.

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