Optimal Headsail Percentage

Nick_S

New Member
I have a 1985 Ericson 353 and looking to have a new set of sails made.

I currently have two headsails - a 150% and I believe a 130%. The 150% is the main headsail I use but the sailmaker suggested a 135%. Someone I sail with regularly said the 150% might be a touch too big because the cars couldn't come back far enough to get a good angle when close hauled, but he admitted the sail could have just stretched to like a 155%, creating the less than optimal sheeting angle.

Any way... What is the best headsail percentage for beer can racing and general cruising in the Chesapeake area, which is shallow so pointing a couple degrees can be the difference in tacking or just missing the shallows.

Thanks,
Nick
 

Navman

Member III
I also am on the Chesapeake and just received a new 140. I though it was a good compromise as did the sailmaker. I really like it so far and it holds its shape well when rolled down to a 110 due to the foam luff.
 

Nick_S

New Member
Thanks! Talked with the boat's previous owner (who purchased the 150) and he said it had to be trimmed down some to accommodate the rigging. So it is likely already actually a 145 or something in that ballpark.
 

Brad Johnson

Member III
I have a 135 and a 105 with battens, both on fueler, I have been using the smaller sail most of the time with little speed loss but a ton easier to handle as well as more comfortable.
 

Hagar2sail

Member III
Blogs Author
We have a ‘83 35-3. During purchase we negotiated a new Genoa with the seller. He recommended going from the 150 he had to a 135. Having sailed her for 3 year now with a 135 I can’t imagine having a bigger headsail. She balances well with the Genoa with out much if any main, so the design certainly is biased toward a large Genoa, but I wouldn’t opt for bigger than what we have today.
 

csoule13

Member III
Take this with a grain of salt, but on the Ericson 30+ the family has came with a 150 or 155. It was lovely the first time we sailed in 8-10 kts. From that first sail onward, I have loathed the sail with the heat of a thousand suns. The cars on the track do not have the range of motion to properly trim it, it weights roughly as much as the boat, give or take a few pounds, and absolutely beats the hell out of the mast on tacks. And god help you if the wind picks up and you have the slightest issue getting it rolled in.

The boat was until recently on the Chesapeake, and at no point in time would I ever take whatever performance bump we got from the sail for effort it took to sail with it. I'd rather have a dedicated light material light wind sail than to have to deal with this beast again. It should be carved up and sown into beach bags or something useful.

My Cape Dory 27, hardly a speedster or light wind champ, has a 130 on it. I'm on a lousy lake with light shifty winds. The sail handles it as best as can be expected, and is far, far easier to handle.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
I'm with your sailmaker--135 seems about right. Or smaller. Big genoas are powerful off the wind, but there are a-syms for that role nowadays.

Far as pointing goes, a small headsail probably points better than a 150 anyhow.
 

Filkee

Member III
Agree. Retired my ripped 135 last season and pressed the 155 into service. It’s a king sheet on a Queen boat. 145 is pretty perfect.
 

Nick_S

New Member
Thanks all for the great replies!

Hope to go out with the sailmaker one day before making the final decision but good to get a second opinion that he's in the right ballpark.

I went out this weekend with the smaller headsail - which actually might be more of a 110 or something, it was small. Felt like I couldn't point as high, though could be the cars just not being fine tuned yet, but man was it easy to tack!

Being able to actually see to leeward was an added benefit, too...
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Another factor from experience, which may or may not apply.

I spent years in Chesapeake summers with enormous genoas trying to sail in 7 knots of wind in motorboat chop in 90 degrees, asking the guests to sit on the leeward side to keep the sails at least hanging. A big genny is lightweight cloth and no good to furl in April, when it blows 25. And tacking drags it around the mast every time. Whereas the Soling we raced had a tiny jib and under the same conditions was just much more at home.

Nowadays, I have a 120 overlap on the E381. The boats sails fine in light air. When boat speed drops to the level where a 150 genoa is required, I turn on the engine. I don't miss banging around in light air. I like now to hear the roar of the diesel instead of the clattering and flopping of the rig overhead.

For what it's worth.
 

kiwisailor

Member III
Blogs Author
The other issue not mentioned with having a big 150 genny is the furling drum has a hell of a lot of furling line to wind up and in my case more than the furling drum could hold so would jam up occasionally. My 135 genny with a foam luff is a perfect size in my opinion.
 
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