Mainsail Track Systems

Hi Steve and Linda: You may remember me as a contributor Surviving the Storm (RAMTHA Photos). We have purchased a Gitana 43 IOR-type yacht in order to undertake our planned extended cruise to the Northern Hemisphere starting 2004. The yacht is well proven with 5 Atlantic crossings and South Pacific passages since she was launched in Cape Town in 1981. We are now planning her refit. We intend unstepping the aluminium mast and closely inspecting the rig. This raises several questions as to how much we upgrade the mast systems and we would value your comments.

We intend keeping the slab reefing system but see potential in a low friction track system with Bat Cars. The mast currently has the original track where the slugs are flat and slide inside a track that is riveted on to the mast. The same system used for most trysails. The question is: Is there any major advantage or gain in upgrading to a low-friction track system with batten cars or should we continue with the existing system and be happy with the fact that the last third of the main needs to be hauled down by hand? The reefing is done at the mast. We intend adding lazy jacks and like the look of boom bags instead of a standard sail cover. Regards, Lindsay and Lynley Turvey

Hi Lindsay and Lynley: Good to hear from you and congratulations on the boat purchase. Re: The sail track issue. My own feeling is the Battcar systems are too heavy and too costly for what they do, and they make mainsail stack quite high. You can get 80% of the way to what they give you by carefully dealing with the batten and intermediate hardware. Two issues here: First, the sliders for the battens are typically too short and so rack in the track. We make ours 3 to 3-1/4-inches long (norm is about 2) which stops the racking. Second, the intermediate attachment points, between batten sliders, need to be attached in two directions–up and down, so the intermediate slides are never pulled off center. Even better is some Battslide/Schaefer intermediate attachment hardware which gives you a miniature gooseneck fitting which eliminates racking. This is what we use on BEOWULF. The Battcars will come down more easily than this system, but not enough to justify the weight aloft or increase in cost, in my opinion. Good luck–Steve

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)

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