From time to time we read in the yachting press about problems with fully battened sails on long down wind passages. We’ve been using these sails for almost two decades now, and have found that with the right approach they are less of a problem than conventional sails.
There are two key ingredients: first, you must have a good vang to keep the sail from twisting off and putting excessive load on the spreaders. If your boom vang to the mast isn’t strong enough, rig a vang to the rail on those long tradewind trips.
Second, chafing gear must be done correctly. We’ve found that thin UHMW plastic (usually 1/32″ thick) can be sewn onto the sail in all vulnerable points (at the spreaders and where each batten crosses a shroud – both need to be done for full hoist and reefed positions). The UHMW lasts for years and does not allow the sail to chafe.