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Old 13-07-2020, 13:34   #1
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Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

I have a Bayfield 29 Cutter. The inner stay is on the bow and the outer stay is on a bowsprit. Both sails are roller furling. Sail plan diagram is here: https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/bayfield-29

My questions are: when it comes time to shorten sail, in what order should I do them? A bit of each? The Yankee (forward most) and then the Stay sail? The other way around? Does it the point of sail change in which order to reduce sail? What about the main?
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Old 13-07-2020, 14:10   #2
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

On my Cutter the sailcloth on the Staysail is heavy and the Staysail is very much smaller than my Genoa, so I don’t reef my Staysail.
In really strong winds I have completely furled my Genoa and heavily reefed my main, but have never been in such severe weather that I needed to reef the Staysail. I hope of course to never be there. Winds that strong I’d assume I’d have my parachute out.

Right or wrong but I think of my Staysail as my storm sail, that is why I had it made with such heavy cloth.

Now I’m no Sailor but it seems the Staysail under normal sailing conditions is most effective when the wind is forward of abeam. Downwind I don’t unfurl it.

I reef my Genoa and main together usually, if I’m just a little overpowered I’ll reef just the Genoa mostly because it’s easier.

That doesn’t mean this is correct or incorrect for your boat, it’s just what seems to work for me, as I said I’m not much of a sailor.
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Old 13-07-2020, 14:47   #3
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

Quote:
Originally Posted by and4ew View Post
I have a Bayfield 29 Cutter. The inner stay is on the bow and the outer stay is on a bowsprit. Both sails are roller furling. Sail plan diagram is here: https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/bayfield-29

My questions are: when it comes time to shorten sail, in what order should I do them? A bit of each? The Yankee (forward most) and then the Stay sail? The other way around? Does it the point of sail change in which order to reduce sail? What about the main?
I'd guess (but you have to try this out and see).

Upwind or wind ahead of the beam.

When you first feel overpowered: Roll up the Yankee and sail with staysail and full main.
When weather helm begins to be too much reef the main.
Further wind increases Continue to reef the main.
Storm conditions partially rolled up stay sail and three reefs in the main.

Off the wind or wind aft of the beam

When you first feel overpowered: Reef the main.
When weather helm begins to be too much Roll up the Yankee partially at least, but you may need to reef the main again.
Further wind increases Continue reef the main and roll up the Yankee until fully rolled up
Storm conditions partially rolled up stay sail and three reefs in the main.

Heave To

Staysail sheeted to weather and reefed main (2 or 3) sheeted hard to leeward (even over center) and tiller alee.
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Old 15-07-2020, 04:14   #4
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

Pretty much what wingsail says, but I do think it depends a little on the boat.

For instance, on my boat, Iíve started stowing the main before I furl either the yankee or the staysail because:

a) my boat loves more power from the front
b) Iím a lazy sailor and like any excuse to avoid using the main.
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Old 15-07-2020, 05:54   #5
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

And4ew,

Part of the problem is with the word “cutter”. There are so many variations that are meaningful. You did a good job of describing your rig and that helps.

Your Bayfield has a rather large staysail and a Yankee out on a substantial sprit. So you have a 29’ boat with a 32’ sail plan. I can’t recall but I believe you also have a substantial main, perhaps split backstay?

I’ve been fooling with this myself on our larger boat which I find more difficult to balance than our smaller cutter.

I think it’s going to be difficult to answer your question over the Internet because there are so many variables in the sails performance. I have switched from a very heavy cloth Yankee down to a far smaller and lighter cloth working jib but I use the staysail even more. With the two up I completely fill my foretriangle and with the consistently strong trade winds I’m not giving up anything. But I can point better and have more manageable heel and thus weather helm.

More and more I am reefing the main more and more. Especially with the working jib. Balances better. And I found that I had gotten sloppy in setting my main, insufficient luff tension. That was not a big issue in the light winds of the Chesapeake but slayer in the Trade winds.

So I think the boat will tell you what to reef first and how much. Pay attention to the balance. Heel causes weather helm. Maybe a way to think about it, just an idea, is to consider LOWERING your sails, take away the heeling moment. Think I’ll try that idea myself.
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Old 15-07-2020, 09:13   #6
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

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Originally Posted by and4ew View Post
I have a Bayfield 29 Cutter. The inner stay is on the bow and the outer stay is on a bowsprit. Both sails are roller furling. Sail plan diagram is here: https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/bayfield-29

My questions are: when it comes time to shorten sail, in what order should I do them? A bit of each? The Yankee (forward most) and then the Stay sail? The other way around? Does it the point of sail change in which order to reduce sail? What about the main?

As going windward the haevy overlapping jibs won't do much good anyway, take away the Yankee, than start reefing the main, staysail last, maybe replace with a storm jib.
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Old 15-07-2020, 09:50   #7
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

On our Westsail without roller furling would first reef main down to third reef before striking the Yankee Jib. If I'd had roller furling would've partially furled the Yankee. Found running with just the triple reefed main and staysail cost a knot plus in boat speed. Really needed the slot between the staysail and Yankee to get power out of the headsails.
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Old 15-07-2020, 10:18   #8
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

and4ew:

Do you know what the forces are that "balance" a boat - cutter or any other rig - so she will sail with just a touch of weather helm when the wind is forward of the beam?

To come to understand those forces fully, print out the sail plan of your boat that is given in Sailboatdata. Then plot the Combined Centre of Effort for the various combinations of sail that are available to you, and see where that centre falls in relation to the Centre of Lateral Plane of the hull. Any sail combination that causes the CCE to fall about 10 of 12 percent of the waterline length forward of the CLP will be the combination to strive for. Having understood how that works, you can then progress to compensate for different wind strengths by reducing the area of the individual sails while maintaining the CCE in it's appointed place.

A rainy afternoon spent going through that little exercise will improve your sailing skills and confidence no end :-)

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Old 15-07-2020, 10:44   #9
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

On the wind or close reach: Here's what worked on my bigger cutters.
Both boats were amazing with a reef or two and staysail in 30+ knots of wind. Flat and full hull speed. One of my favorite situations:

A bit too much wind: Roll a bit of headsail in.
Stronger wind: One reef with that.
More yet: Headsail furled, reefed main and staysail
#0+ wind: Staysail and double reef.
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Old 15-07-2020, 12:14   #10
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

As others have said, optimal sail usage varies a bit between boats but getting the balance right is always fundamental. A simple check for correct balance is that the helm is only slightly off-center when sailing straight ahead; specifically the boat should have a small tendency to turn upwind.

When reaching (sailing abeam or upwind) the headsails create slots which accelerate the wind behind the next sail aft, and thus increase lift. The staysail is not designed to fly as the lone headsail - the slot effect is greatly reduced. When shortening sail try to keep some of the jib flying so as to keep the proper airflow. I can't speak to the usage of roller furling specifically as I don't have them. Instead I switch out the yankee (high-clewed sail that just laps the mast) for a spitfire, which is smaller than the staysail. Sailing into the trade winds a reefed main, staysail, and spitfire is very effective, whereas a reefed main with staysail-only is a pig. After selecting the headsails I reef to balance the helm as needed.

Downwind is where we see who understands what they are doing. You will see many boats that furl the headsails and leave the full main up - presumably because it is easier to furl the headsails than reef the main. The main-only is hugely unbalanced, requiring the helm to be hard over to offset the extreme weather helm, and this in turn acts like a brake. Worse, a gust can overpower the rudder and cause an immediate and uncontrolled rounding to weather. It is far better to reef or take down the main first, and in deteriorating conditions it is best to get that more difficult job done first anyway. On a broad reach it will probably not be able to set both headsails on the same side, so pick between the two by the size needed. On a run I will pole out the two headsails on opposite sides (again, no main). Headsail-only is a very stable pull downwind, but just as with a spinnaker it is important to plan ahead as this severely restricts maneuverability.

I strongly recommend either reading a good book on sail theory or taking a course with a lot of theory. Once you understand CE and CLR and can visualize the force vectors you can reason out solutions.

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Old 15-07-2020, 12:23   #11
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

In heavy winds Iíd want by center of force low and middle.

On my cutter it would be to zero my yankee, reef two on the main, reef two end up with the main being just as high up the mast as the staysail.
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Old 15-07-2020, 12:41   #12
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

I sailed a Bayfield 29 for 3 years, it is more like a solent rig than a cutter, I rolled in the yankee first then took in a reef in the main then the inner foresail then second reef in the main and rolled out a bit of the outer foresail.......

Love the interior of that boat, the biggest 27 opps 29 out there....
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Old 15-07-2020, 12:51   #13
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post

... I switch out the yankee (high-clewed sail that just laps the mast) for a spitfire, which is smaller than the staysail. Sailing into the trade winds a reefed main, staysail, and spitfire is very effective, whereas a reefed main with staysail-only is a pig...

Yes, for those boats which can change headsails a small jib and staysail combo ahead of the mast is good. The Bayfield has a large staysail so it may not be as bad as your experience dictates. I've sailed some Westsails with big staysails and in a breeze they are fine upwind.

It is far better to reef or take down the main first...

On a run I will pole out the two headsails on opposite sides (again, no main).

I do not recommend taking the mainsail down entirely. There are situations where you need to balance the boat, to say nothing of when you need to heave to, when you want the main. In most cases you need the main, even if deeply reefed, to balance the boat, and it will sail better.
As has been said, all boats are different.
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Old 15-07-2020, 14:06   #14
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

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Originally Posted by and4ew View Post
I have a Bayfield 29 Cutter. The inner stay is on the bow and the outer stay is on a bowsprit. Both sails are roller furling. Sail plan diagram is here: https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/bayfield-29

My questions are: when it comes time to shorten sail, in what order should I do them? A bit of each? The Yankee (forward most) and then the Stay sail? The other way around? Does it the point of sail change in which order to reduce sail? What about the main?
When I had new sails made for my boat I asked my sailmaker, Carol Hasse of Port Townsend Sails, to prepare a sail schedule for me as cutter sailing was new to me. She produced a one page schedule for the Beaufort Force wind scale for Beating, Reaching, and Running. It has been very helpful and I shared it with the crew on our round-trip to Hawaii. Ask your sailmaker for his/her sail settings on your rig.

Good Luck.

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Old 15-07-2020, 15:04   #15
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Re: Reducing Sail on Cutter Rig

A lot depends on how the sails are built. The staysail is generally heavier cloth and flatter cut so is better in strong winds. Her some stuff to try. As the wind gets up loose the staysail first and see how it goes. Often this widens the slot and reduces any overlap or eliminates it. This may de-power the whole rig and in effect be you first reef. As conditions get stiffer and you need to loose some main try first reef in the main but now loose the jib and get the staysail back up. When you reef the main it brings the center of effort forward so to keep the boat balanced you also want to move the foresails center of effort back hence swapping to the staysail.
What you should always try to avoid is sailing with both sails partly furled. The downside of rollers, despite there massive advantage in convenience, is that they kill the sails performance. To get good performance a sail need as clean an entry as possible and if reducing canvas you want to also be flattening the sail and moving draft forward. Rolling a furl does the opposite of both these greatly increasing drag and reducing efficiency. The benefit of a cutter is you can generally avoid that by completely furling sails.
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