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Multi-headsail Sloop/Cutter

Steve, Would you comment on the efficacy of the rig described below. Let’s say we are talking about a 70 – 75 ft sloop/cutter with a DLR of around 60 – 70 – and beam to LOA of around 22% (typical of your style of hull). It has a large foretriangle and fully battened deep roach mainsail. The rig probably needs to be only low aspect given the area in the roachy mainsail and with say a 130% overlapping genoa in a large foretriangle. There are 3 roller furling headsails (130% genoa, 90% jib, 60% jib) for the various wind ranges and an inner, probably permanently rigged, luff wire for a hanked on storm jib. There are no backstays or runners and the mast has 25deg swept back spreaders. Do you think this rig could work safely and efficiently? What would be the main problems of the rig – balancing luff(4)/shroud tensions? Thanks, Henry.
Hi Henry: You have part of the equation right. The roachy main, swept spreaders, and moderate beam are all good. In the forward triangle we would suggest a  hanked on storm jib/staysail/solent. Then on the outer headstay a rolled working jib of between 95 and 105% with a clew high enough to work when beam reaching. The third sail should be a code 0 rolling sail optimized for 120/150 degrees TWA on its own free flying furler. You can run with the code 0 to leeward and jib to weather on a short pole. This way it is easy to get mast tune right and you can store the code 0 when it is not in use saving weight and windage aloft.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (September 7, 2009)




6 Responses to “Multi-headsail Sloop/Cutter”

  1. Craig Says:
    It would seem to me, aside from Steve’s comment about the desired sails… that you are talking about a cutter rig with “3 roller furling headsails (130% genoa, 90% jib, 60% jib) for the various wind ranges” while you could use a double furler/headstay rig for the 130 and 90, you would want to have the 60 on an inner stay and not on the bow (to move CE back), in addition to another “permanent” wire stay for the “storm” sail. This arrangement presents several problems. While you could put up with the difficulty of getting the larger sails through the space available between the outer and inner “furling” stays (by furling or feeding the sail through during a tack), once the 60% sail is required, you will not want the third “inner wire stay” making tacking difficult (in addition to chafing the sail), as high winds and sea state are assumed, making the “third” “permanent” stay a bad idea. You would be better off with a wire luff storm sail to hoist on the (hopefully rare) occasions when you need it. Regarding the rig tune, having sailed the suggested arrangement, once you get it set, it works very well. If well thought out, the “60%” sail actually helps to bend the mast and flatten the main, as we are talking about a design where you would reef the main last after changing headsail gears (130/full, 90/full, 90/1 reef, 60/1 reef, 60/2 reef) it’s not until you approach the “storm” range that the flattening benefit of the 60 on the inner stay is gone. My 2 C, good luck, Craig

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  2. Henry Says:
    Craig, I haven’t heard of a double furling stay – I’ll have to check that out. My idea was to have each stay progressively set back from head stay #1 – the top of each stay would be secured to a hound at each spreader position – balancing each of these. So with the arrangement I proposed I’m talking about 4 spreaders. Having 4 spreaders also distributes the transverse compressional load on the mast. Tension in each stay could be adjusted by hydraulics as rig tension changes with which sails are set etc. Maybe this is all getting too intricate to set up and too much to manage? Tacking the rig might be problematic but if you’re not belting around the buoys I can’t see the problem with rolling in the sail to be tacked and then unfurling it on the opposite tack – presuming the boat will come around without it flying. As for the storm sail idea on a wire luff – I think, with 45 – 50 knots howling across the foredeck, it would be preferable trying to hank on a sail, enclosed in a tethered bag, to an already set wire luff rather than trying to hoist a wired sail. The 4th wire luff need not be permanent and, just as a wire luff sail could be hoisted, a wire luff could be hoisted well before things get too out of hand wind strength wise. Apart from the complexity, I like the idea of three furling headsails because the rig can be depowered quickly and the rig never be overpowered. Also, in light to moderate wind reaching conditions, the 130% genoa could be set with the 60% headsail. With a larger than usual foretriangle, I guess this would be possible. I know ketches have their advantages, but with two boomed sails to tack/gybe and maybe free flying staysails to manage, I’m thinking one boomed sail to tack/gybe and only fully stayed headsails to deal with (not discounting the code zero Steve suggested) life might be a bit easier. Henry.

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    Steve Dashew Reply:

    Henry – weight aloft and windage are detriments to performance and in heavy weather have an impact on security. When making your decision these factors need to be considered.

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  3. Henry Says:
    Steve, I guess everything is a compromise when it comes to yachts. The convenience of a multi-headsail yacht may have to be paid for with a bit more lead in the keel. At least the polar moments go up – probably not a bad thing for a light displacement yacht in heavy weather. In a severe storm you might have to toss out an extra tyre astern to balance the extra windage. :-) (Of course not a subject to be made light of). Henry.

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  4. Craig May Says:
    Henry, I think you may be missing what has been said, (in the same order as your reply): I was referring to two headstays and furlers, (almost like the double headstays we used to have before the advent of (double) headstay foils (so you could change sails without going bare headed)). The way that weight aloft is avoided in this setup is by eliminating the halyards, and just using “halyard locks” or fixed attachment (but you have to go aloft to set the sail) and you still have to deal with the windage (I prefer a single headstay). With 4 headstays (and hydraulics for each) you are talking about a system that is far too complicated to work well, you will not (ever) be able to tack the boat, nor will it be easy to “set” the rig (in my opinion) in addition to being overly costly and very difficult to maintain. As to the tacking issue, as a short handed sailor, I have on several occasions had to beat my brains out to get into a harbor (for various reasons), if you log enough miles, it will happen sooner or later (something will fail, the engine, the crew, or any other thing that Murphy has in store for you) you have to plan for the worst. I would consider any sailboat that can not be gotten into harbor without power under all but the most catastrophic conditions, to be unsafe. Look at Steve and Linda’s current power designs, they have an emergency sail backup in place, they have spent most of their lives foiling Mr. Murphy. You have me confused as to the 4th wire, if you intend to “hoist” the wire, then “hank on” the sail, why not just use a wire luff sail? You would have the same or less weight aloft (once you figure in the weight of the hanks (in addition to the other gear that would remain the same)). If you hoisted the wire when using the 60% sail, you would incur the tacking “chafe” issue I mentioned, and IMHO it is easier to attach the head and foot of the sail (two snap shackles) and raise it from the safety of the cockpit, than it is to hank on the whole sail, make the connections (with the sail in the bag (and the bag secured to the deck) make your way back and hoist. (just like a chute) (This is in reference to your last three comments) If you are building a boat with a flat top huge roach main, you are basically talking about a big windsurfer. The main is what drives the boat, the jib(s) are a complement, they act to keep the bow down, and give you pointing ability at the same time by controlling and helping the “flow”. You would not have a “larger than usual foretriangle” with this setup, the setup you describe in fact lends itself to a fractional rig. As Steve said, you would probably want a 105 as your biggest sail and a zero on a flexible furler for reaching. If you wanted to do something as complicated as you had suggested, why not do an inner and outer headstay, and add a sprit that you can fly the zero from, and/or any larger sails that you might want. Whatever you decide, imagine using it in the dark, by yourself, under the worst conditions you can dream up, then imagine the conditions WORSE…

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  5. Henry Says:
    Craig, See my comments below yours. “(but you have to go aloft to set the sail)” I can’t imagine anyone would seriously consider such an approach unless he thought he was Johnny Weismuller. :-) “With 4 headstays (and hydraulics for each) you are talking about a system that is far too complicated to work well, you will not (ever) be able to tack the boat, nor will it be easy to “set” the rig (in my opinion) in addition to being overly costly and very difficult to maintain.” My concerns also – not so sure about not tacking the boat – it would require some nimbleness – I’m talking about out at sea in light to moderate winds. “As to the tacking issue, as a short handed sailor, I have on several occasions had to beat my brains out to get into a harbor ” The 60% headsail could be easily short tacked (without the 4th headstay set) into a habour, in any but storm winds, surely?. “You have me confused as to the 4th wire, if you intend to “hoist” the wire, then “hank on” the sail, why not just use a wire luff sail?” To set the wire luff stormsail you still have to go forward. I can’t imagine the difficulty you would have hoisting the sail in 50 knots – it would flog itself to death and flay all over the place – let alone ever getting it to the top. I have relatively easily set a hanked on stormsail in 50 knots (and from a heaving wave swept bow), however that was in a forty footer not seventy footer. “You would not have a “larger than usual foretriangle” with this setup, the setup you describe in fact lends itself to a fractional rig” Point taken. However, given good area in the mainsail it would allow a low aspect rig – ultimate boat speed and flexibilty in different wind speeds I would think necessitates decent headsails though. “why not do an inner and outer headstay, and add a sprit that you can fly the zero from, and/or any larger sails that you might want.” A sprit seems one complication too many and more involved than having an extra stay inboard. “Whatever you decide, imagine using it in the dark, by yourself, under the worst conditions you can dream up, then imagine the conditions WORSE…” Hey, I’d like to go sailing, not have nightmares. :-) (but point taken of course). Thanks for the comments – you are far more experienced than I am so I appreciate them. Henry.

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