Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dashew: Bought the Encyclopedia and read it cover to cover. It is truly the best boat book around, or, more accurately, an entire library. I've got a Pearson 424, one of the ones sold as a sloop, really a ketch w/o a mizzen. It also has a Hood Stoway main with no roach, so we are a bit short on sailpower esp. to windward. Recently I've seen references to a vertical batten main built in England (www.maxiroach.com) that seems to be getting good reviews in boat tests on British boats. The roach they show looks modest by your standards, about that of a standard full-batten mail. My question is this: If these folks have in fact solved the chafe and jamming problems of putting battens on a roller-furling main. Do you think it would be possible to put a really big roach on this type of sail? With my mast in the ketch mast position, and the boat designed for the sail area of a mizzen, I've got plenty of clearance at the backstay. Roller-furling main has to be flat anyway. I'm having a little trouble figuring out if the vertical full battens would support the roach area any differently than horizontal battens do. Local sailmakers here in Annapolis don't really want to talk about this. Thanks for your thoughts on this–Quent
Hi Quent: Vertical leech battens for roller-furling sails have been around a while now. We've just had them added to our working jib. As to how much roach they will support, this is very much a question of experience, and how the sail is shaped.
I would check with the guys in the UK and see what they have been able to do. If you want to push the edge of the design envelope, inquire about being more agressive, and if it turns out you've gone too far, find out what is involved in recutting the sail.
That's usually how progress is made with sails–you push as hard as you dare and maybe a little beyond, and then back off if it doesn't work. Often you can find a sailmaker who will work with you on this as they are interested in more efficient cruising sails.
Let us know what you find out. Regards–Steve Dashew