If the mainsail
is partially or fully furled you cannot drop the sail, that can only be done if the sail is fully extended.
When furling jibs/genoas first started being produced mainstream the arguments between hanked-on and furling went on much the same way as does the mainsail
argument, but in the years since then the furling genoa
has become the norm and few, if any, cruisers designed or built in many years have hanked-on jibs.
Once the mainsail gets old or blown-out, furling can become more difficult; so one is forced to replace or repair the sail rather than to continue to sail with a misshapen slab-reefed mainsail. This process of stretching and become unfurlable (new verb
) is a lengthy one with plenty of warning; but if one ignores those warnings one can get into a situation with a stuck sail. Similarly, when furling the main one needs to ensure that sufficient tension is on sail so that it furls nicely and tightly rather than baggy and loose; the latter with a potential for problems.
When I set sail I will usually put the furling equivalent of 2-3 reefs
in both sails
until I get away from land and see the true wind
, then it is as easy as letting the furling lines out a bit to remove those reefs
to put out exactly the amount of fore and aft sails that I want. Likewise, when the wind
freshens so that I want to reduce sail, I don't have to head
into the wind to do so, I just release the sail's tension so that the forces are reduced and roll in the furling line. I'm also not limited to 2 or 3 specific reefs with the mainsail, either.
The downside is that performance is quite a bit less than with a classic main. The lack of battens prevents an optimal shape to maximize speed and the mast is quite a bit thicker for a given amount of sail and thus causes the relative wind to be eddied about and turbulent close to the mast. But I'm not a racer
and the Jeanneaus (and, I believe, the Bavarias and Beneteaus as well) tend to use the 100%+ genoa
as the main driver with a mast set well back so I feel that this loss of performance is acceptable for me.
I'm sure others will add their experiences, both pro and contra. But in the end there's no correct answer as it is a matter of preference. Unless, of course, you want to race
- in which case the furling main is out.
I think that in-boom furling systems are getting better and better and are also becoming more mainstream rather than being reserved for the big and mega yachts. The in-boom has some advantages or in-mast: the mast is standard diameter and doesn't disrupt the airflow more than necessary and if the furling system malfunctions in any state of deployment one can always drop the sail using the halyard