Shopping for Sails - Questions

Seth

Sustaining Partner
All standard steel cringles are in place, but a LFR is attached by a short tether to each cringle as an optional path for the reefing line. If the LFR tether were to part, the standard cringle is the backup.
The OTH leech line runs in a sleeve up the leech, through a small block sewn into the head, and down the luff. At each reef point in the luff is a jam cleat for tensioning/securing the leech line. This lets you make this adjustment at the mast, instead if near the end of the boom - perhaps with the boom more to leeward than you might want to be reaching out to in some conditions. Also, I have a full-cockpit bimini, which makes it difficult to safely reach where a conventional leech line would be.
I'm relying on the sailmaker to decide optimal batten length and amount of tapering
For offshore work, or for people less physically inclined, having the leechline run to the head and down the luff is absolutely the right call! If the main is eased at all it can be quite dangerous to try to adjust the leechline at the back end of the sail, and even if trimmed in tight it can still be difficult and dangerous in rough seas to do this. Having the adjustment at the mast solves all of this
 

e38 owner

Member III
My experience shows it is all about priorities
Dacron sails lose their shape a little faster, are heavier but can be repaired and last a very very long time with decent enough shape

Laminate sails are a little lighter, hold a better shape longer but when that laminate starts wearing out and you start getting wear holes near folds, spreaders they just start coming apart and cannot be repaired

Day sailing headsail bought a laminate to be as light and strong as possible with a sleeve instead of a rf cover. I wanted a sail that would work in light air but not fall apart or loose its shape in 30 knots.

I like a low clew. Better sail shape and pointing. Disadvantage sometime have to run forward to foot the sail and harder to see around the sail

Mainsail Full battens will have a better shape longer. You will get more wear on the luff at the battens. Full battens are a little harder to raise. Need to be in the wind more. With Jacks they are easier to lower and fold
 

G Kiba

Sustaining Member
So much good advice given already. You might look into a woven laminate cursing sail. They claim to be a good compromise of both types of sails. They are a bit heavy.
 

PDX

Member III
Late to this. One point that hasn't been touched on (at least in a quick skim) is the loose footed main. If you are new to a loose footed main, make sure you have a strong out haul. The 3 to 1 internal that came with my custom boom was not sufficient. And I've heard J/105 people complain about the factory outhauls; think they are 4 to 1. They recommend 8 to 1 or higher.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
I guess you're racing. For my purposes, the outhaul is set it and forget it.

I couldn't agree more about loose-footed mainsails, which are it seems to me the only way to go.
 

PDX

Member III
The whole point of a loose footed main is to allow for more sail adjustment. So, I'm talking about any sailing situation where that adjustment is important, as is particularly the case in upwind/downwind sailing. Downwind I relax the outhaul to let the sail belly out. Upwind, with a loose footed main, there is no bolt rope to hold the foot on the boom. The outhaul is the only mechanism for keeping the foot tight and in a blow it needs as tight as possible. If you can't get it tight enough you will get a lot of drag, and heel, out of your mainsail. Hence the need for a strong out haul. Also, if you're going to reef a loose footed main, you need to get the foot really tight or you're going to end up with a mess. If you wait too long to reef, and the sail is all loaded up, a strong outhaul is essential.

Different strokes for different boats I imagine. For fixed bearing sailing, set it leave it and just steer, then main sail adjustment may not be particularly important. But we don't see such sailing on the Columbia River and I suspect other river sailing situations are similar. Also, my experience is with a big main rig (and would certainly be true for a fractional rig). For big headsail small main, IOR style rigs, mainsail adjustment may be less important. Just speculating, I really don't know.
 

G Kiba

Sustaining Member
The whole point of a loose footed main is to allow for more sail adjustment. So, I'm talking about any sailing situation where that adjustment is important, as is particularly the case in upwind/downwind sailing. Downwind I relax the outhaul to let the sail belly out. Upwind, with a loose footed main, there is no bolt rope to hold the foot on the boom. The outhaul is the only mechanism for keeping the foot tight and in a blow it needs as tight as possible. If you can't get it tight enough you will get a lot of drag, and heel, out of your mainsail. Hence the need for a strong out haul. Also, if you're going to reef a loose footed main, you need to get the foot really tight or you're going to end up with a mess. If you wait too long to reef, and the sail is all loaded up, a strong outhaul is essential.

Different strokes for different boats I imagine. For fixed bearing sailing, set it leave it and just steer, then main sail adjustment may not be particularly important. But we don't see such sailing on the Columbia River and I suspect other river sailing situations are similar. Also, my experience is with a big main rig (and would certainly be true for a fractional rig). For big headsail small main, IOR style rigs, mainsail adjustment may be less important. Just speculating, I really don't know.
I totally agree and would add that outhaul adjustment is important in light or heavy winds, on a river, on a lake, on the ocean, with a fox, in a box, etc.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
My experiences vary from other posters perhaps, but do reflect racing with a mainsail with slugs on the foot and sailing /racing with a loose footed sail. Because of the added friction of the slugs I noticed that this worked better with a 4 part purchase on our Ranger 20. We changed to a loose foot main on the later Niagara 26, and found that pulling out the foot was easier because there was no added friction from slugs.
The Olson has always been loose footed.
The one constant is the need for a multi part purchase for the outhaul. It's been a long time since I last took our boom apart, but I recall that we have a 4 to 1 factory purchase hidden inside. I does work smoothly, and when the TW is above about 18, we already would have a reef in, anyway.
 

Prairie Schooner

Jeff & Donna, new owners 7/21
The whole point of a loose footed main is to allow for more sail adjustment. So, I'm talking about any sailing situation where that adjustment is important, as is particularly the case in upwind/downwind sailing. Downwind I relax the outhaul to let the sail belly out. Upwind, with a loose footed main, there is no bolt rope to hold the foot on the boom. The outhaul is the only mechanism for keeping the foot tight and in a blow it needs as tight as possible. If you can't get it tight enough you will get a lot of drag, and heel, out of your mainsail. Hence the need for a strong out haul. Also, if you're going to reef a loose footed main, you need to get the foot really tight or you're going to end up with a mess. If you wait too long to reef, and the sail is all loaded up, a strong outhaul is essential.

Different strokes for different boats I imagine. For fixed bearing sailing, set it leave it and just steer, then main sail adjustment may not be particularly important. But we don't see such sailing on the Columbia River and I suspect other river sailing situations are similar. Also, my experience is with a big main rig (and would certainly be true for a fractional rig). For big headsail small main, IOR style rigs, mainsail adjustment may be less important. Just speculating, I really don't know.
Thanks PDX. We're planning to take our boom apart this winter. I'll look into that. We are going with a loose footed main, though are still in cogitating mode for other details.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Difficulty tightening a mainsail with a mere 3:1 outhaul? You let it luff or do it at the dock. Only if racing is it necessary to futz with an outhaul, cruising sailors will find very little, read zero, noticeable increase in speed.

As soon as it comes to reefing, the outhaul is the reef line, not the cascade, and is done with a powerful winch. The outhaul is then not even involved.
 

Prairie Schooner

Jeff & Donna, new owners 7/21
Difficulty tightening a mainsail with a mere 3:1 outhaul? You let it luff or do it at the dock. Only if racing is it necessary to futz with an outhaul, cruising sailors will find very little, read zero, noticeable increase in speed.

As soon as it comes to reefing, the outhaul is the reef line, not the cascade, and is done with a powerful winch. The outhaul is then not even involved.
A wise bard opines on the 'why we sail' thing and for me part of the fun is fiddling with sails. I'm essentially a B-type but after years of having skippers cajole me to 'mind that outhaul' and such, I've gotten in touch with my inner A-type. So yeah, not much more speed, but I enjoy it.
That whole 'what's in the boom' thing is a mystery I've only just begun to unpack, for now just online. We got a new line, which I'll properly install over the winter. For now it is just tied off to the old one and runs back through a rope clutch past a winch we can use to really crank the outhaul down if necessary. I doubt we'll need extra blocks, but I'll lube things up, maybe replace some existing sheaves. It's the nice thing about a sport/hobby like this, so many different ways to enjoy it.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
One of the first things I did was dig into the boom (where everything was jammed up). Naturally I increased the purchase of the outhaul, then never used it again after 2012. :)

 

PDX

Member III
A wise bard opines on the 'why we sail' thing and for me part of the fun is fiddling with sails. I'm essentially a B-type but after years of having skippers cajole me to 'mind that outhaul' and such, I've gotten in touch with my inner A-type. So yeah, not much more speed, but I enjoy it.
That whole 'what's in the boom' thing is a mystery I've only just begun to unpack, for now just online. We got a new line, which I'll properly install over the winter. For now it is just tied off to the old one and runs back through a rope clutch past a winch we can use to really crank the outhaul down if necessary. I doubt we'll need extra blocks, but I'll lube things up, maybe replace some existing sheaves. It's the nice thing about a sport/hobby like this, so many different ways to enjoy it.
If you're running your outhaul line down through a turning block at the cabin top, then to a deck or cabintop winch, there is no worry about purchase. Your effective purchase I believe is the sum of your internal block purchase and your winch purchase. So, if your internal bloom block arrangement gives a purchase of 4 to 1, and your winch is, say, 20, your effective would be 24 to 1, which would be plenty.

I was talking about a situation where the outhaul is controlled at the front of the boom by a block arrangement and stopper. For large boats, this requires not only a more powerful purchase than is customarily available through the boom, but also requires going forward to control the outhaul. Even so, I have been advised in favor of this arrangement by sailing experts, and advised against running it through a turning block to a deck winch. I'm not going to get into why on this forum.

Anyway, thanks for your response.
 

G Kiba

Sustaining Member
If you're running your outhaul line down through a turning block at the cabin top, then to a deck or cabintop winch, there is no worry about purchase. Your effective purchase I believe is the sum of your internal block purchase and your winch purchase. So, if your internal bloom block arrangement gives a purchase of 4 to 1, and your winch is, say, 20, your effective would be 24 to 1, which would be plenty.

I was talking about a situation where the outhaul is controlled at the front of the boom by a block arrangement and stopper. For large boats, this requires not only a more powerful purchase than is customarily available through the boom, but also requires going forward to control the outhaul. Even so, I have been advised in favor of this arrangement by sailing experts, and advised against running it through a turning block to a deck winch. I'm not going to get into why on this forum.

Anyway, thanks for your response.
You shouldn't need to winch an outhaul. And the calculation of a 4:1 with a winch providing 20X is I believe 80:1! To adjust your outhaul tension tighter, ease off the mainsheet before adding tension. Or head up and luff the main if you have crew. Just as you can head up to make it easier to trim a jibsheet. Same thing.
 

Prairie Schooner

Jeff & Donna, new owners 7/21
@PDX @G Kiba
Yep, it's overkill for sure and more a coincidence of how we've lead the lines aft than intent. The winch is just there. Though, I do find that as arthritis sets in I can't pull things as tight as I used to. For years I ignored people's advice not to wrap lines around my hand. Pretty much powdered the knuckle of my left pinkie. For you younger folks, a cautionary tale.
 

Prairie Schooner

Jeff & Donna, new owners 7/21
. . .
The OTH leech line runs in a sleeve up the leech, through a small block sewn into the head, and down the luff. At each reef point in the luff is a jam cleat for tensioning/securing the leech line. This lets you make this adjustment at the mast, instead if near the end of the boom - perhaps with the boom more to leeward than you might want to be reaching out to in some conditions. Also, I have a full-cockpit bimini, which makes it difficult to safely reach where a conventional leech line would be.
. . .
I’ve been thinking about this feature (overhead leech line), and reflecting back on the sailing I’ve done. I don’t remember adjusting leech tension on the mainsail much. Jib, quite a bit. This may be a function of having always been on friends’ boats with composite racing sails. Seems to me that leech tension is mostly adjusted with mainsheet or vang. Or, maybe my memory is faulty (always a reasonable concern). I’m wondering what other people’s experience has been.

We’ll ask the sailmaker how much it would cost to run the leech line over the head. It definitely seems more convenient and safe. If it costs a lot though, I’m not sure it would be worth it to us. Am I missing something?

Also, leech or leach?
Cheers,
Jeff
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Well, golly. I never adjust the leech line on the mainsail. When I have to adjust the genoa leech line to prevent flapping, I figure either the sail is worn out or I'd better change the lead.

I don't in fact fully comprehend the palliative role of leech lines. If you tighten the leech line of a flapping genoa, it just distorts the leech so as to stop the flapping. It hooks the leech to windward by virtue of the taut line inside the sleeve. This is good? This improves performance?
 

nquigley

Sustaining Member
Begs the question, why do sailmakers persist in putting leach lines in jibs and mains? Especially if when tensioned, it harms performance. .
Anyone ever ordered a sail and told the sailmaker, “I don’t need a leech line - you can leave it out. Does that decrease the cost of the sail at all?
 
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