As has been said, the roller furling
is an addition to your headstay, not instead of it. Stays and shrouds tend to have trouble at the fittings, not very often in mid span. The upper fitting is visible for inspection
if you climb the mast
. The lower one is usually buried in the furling
drum and not accessable without taking down the furling gear
Thank heavens I could see the upper Norseman fitting. I went up the mast
to check the anchor
light and discovered one of the strands of the headstay broken at the fittings. Don't know how old the stay was but it wouldn't have been all that long before it failed. Once I got it down and stripped the furling gear
off the stay, discovered the beginning of another strand failure at the head
. The lower fitting was fine as was the rest of the wire. I wouldn't do away with the furling because it hides the wire, but will definitely take it down and inspect the wire on an annual basis.
On a sloop
, wouldn't want to sail without roller furling
. Schlepping 3 or more headsails forward and back every time there is a significant windspeed change has never been my idea of fun. Also, storing that many sails
leaves little room for anything else, especially when the sails
get stuffed in the bag after a change.
Having said that, I wouldn't want to have to change a roller furling headsail when the wind
is blowing. It's not easy to get the sail in the groove and the bead running up the foil as you try and raise it by yourself. Add a significant wind
and possibly waves trying to send the sail coming off, and the unsecured sail going on, overboard
as well as torquing the tape and jamming it where it enters the foil and you have an 'interesting' session. That's 'interesting' in the meaning of the Chinese curse, 'May you live in interesting times.' On my sloop
, have a light 150% genoa
that will come down as soon as the wind starts to build so, hopefully, won't be too much of a problem with a sail change. After that, it will be reefing the 130% genoa
with the furler
. When things get really, really 'interesting,' I'll be hanking on the 'Gale Sail' which I've found isn't all that easy but doable. I'll only be making one sail change using the foil as I don't think I could do a sail change by myself with much wind or wave action.
From my experience, a true cutter
like our old W32 or the Hans Christian can get by with only one jib
change. We had a reacher/drifter that we used when winds were light. That sail or an overlapping Genoa were the only sail changes on the headstay that would have to be made. The staysail/Yankee combination worked up till I had to drop the Yankee which I left hanked on and gasketed to the stanchions and bow pulpit. Reefing the staysail took the place of a storm jib
. I had very limited requirements to go forward as the wind piped up and no reason to go out on the bowsprit
when the wind got serious. In any case, a sail with hanks is very easy to change single
handed. The sail can be secured and contained while you are snapping on the hanks. Raising it, once it's hanked on is not a problem. That is not the case with foil and tape system.
Still might like to have roller furling on the headstay of a cutter
. When the winds got strong enough that we had to douse the Yankee and leave the headstay bare, it cut our boat speed by at least a knot
. The ability to reef the jib
to maintain some kind of a slot between the staysail and jib would have kept up boatspeed and kept me off the bowsprit
. An asymetrical spinnaker
with a sock might the sail to handle the light air needs.