Furling Headsails

  • 67. Top Tips Tuesday - Wild Weekend With Storm-Bag


    There were not many out over the weekend, what with the strong winds, and of those who ventured out I wonder how many of them managed to make sensible progress to windward with well furled genoas. But showing my age.... in the ‘good old days’ we always had a quiver of headsails, no 1 light, no 1, no 2, working jib and storm jib. The down side, apart from the storage on board of all these sails, was that it meant time on the foredeck changing headsails as the wind strengthened, the big advantage of course being that one’s pointing ability did not fall off as you reduced area and sensible progress to windward could be maintained!

    Nowadays with roller reefing headsails, to reduce area all we do is luff to take the load off the sheet and then pull the furler line, however the big downside (even with a well shaped genoa with foam luff to aid flattening) is that the ability to claw to windward dramatically falls away the more you furl and if the wind is of a strength that only a pocket handkerchief of a headsail is required and we want to beat to windward what do we do then? Crawl forward and rig the inner forestay (assuming one is fitted) return to the cockpit and once again crawl forward this time with the storm sail bag in our teeth, remove sail from bag and then hank on (having watched the empty sail bag disappear overboard) attach sheets, assuming you managed to take them forward at the same time! Time spent out away from the security of the cockpit 25 mins minimum? Or take a Storm-Bag forward (jib sheets are part of the ‘package’ and already attached) attach tack of sail, wrap storm bag round furled genoa, attach spinnaker or spare genoa halyard to head of sail, retreat to security of cockpit and hoist. Time spent on the foredeck 5mins max, and as for pointing ability, excellent!



    "....We studied the installation of a removable inner forestay: hard and heavy, with the building of a structural fixing point on the deck, on the mast, a halyard and probably the adding of runners... We then thought of long and exhausting manoeuvres with two crew handling a bag on deck, finding the sheets... The choice was simple, we opted for the Storm-Bag: we did not regret it..." Capt. Blind

  • 32. Top Tips Tuesday - Protect Your Headsail Reefing Gear With A Foil Saver

    P1060296With the excellent Indian summer we have recently been enjoying, thoughts of laying up have, in most cases, been put on the back burner, however, with yesterday’s strong winds and driving rain I have no doubt that for a lot of us it will be a case of battening down the hatches in the near future!

    Once you have lowered the headsail, check it for any damage to the stitching, especially on the leech, and for signs of UV degradation on the sacrificial strip. If you are not into DIY sail repairs, sail makers need your work now, not at the hectic start of the season! Apart from making sure they are stored dry* and free from salt its worth running a foil saver up your headsail reefing systems. The foil saver helps stop, in strong winds, the vibration that can loosen the joints thus preserving the furling system. It prolongs the life of the standing rigging and should you be spending a night in the boatyard it will make life a lot quieter and sleep will come quicker. Each foil saver is custom made to suit your furling system, to order we need to know the make and model of your system and the diameter of the bolt rope.

    *If storing sails in a garage or attic, suggest a loaded mouse trap placed nearby. It’s surprising how many sails we get into our sailloft for repair at the beginning of the season that have been damaged by vermin.

  • 22. Top Tips Tuesday - Storm-Bag, The Best Storm Sail For Boats With Furling Headsails...

    As the breeze builds we pull the ‘string’ and with a bit of effort the surface area of the headsail is reduced with little or no effect on the performance of the yacht PROVIDED you are on a beam or close reach. However when beating to windward that’s another story as no matter how well designed the headsail is, yes I know its been built with a foam luff and is constructed from good quality sailcloth from Contender, but your ability to claw to windward falls off rapidly the more you furl. What’s the solution, well a lot of the guys I met at the Southampton Boat Show the other year said ‘they never go out in windy weather’ so don’t need a storm sail!

    However for those that do or perhaps get caught out:

    • You could fit an inner forestay and tensioner, that is of course after modifying the mast and strengthening the deck to take the anchorage point. The downside is the cost of strengthening the deck/tying  in to a bulkhead, the inner forestay and the tension lever (extra weight and windage) plus the cost of the storm sail and as it’s set aft of the furled genoa, the turbulence from this obstruction has to be considered . Don’t ever forget, of course, the 25 or more scary/seasicky minutes spent up on the plunging foredeck away from the security and shelter of the cockpit!
    • Another option that isn't as expensive is to buy a storm sail that you wrap and hank or lace around your furled genoa. Very, very time consuming to attach, and once it’s out of the sail bag the little matter of trying to tame it as it billows around as you attempt to shackle it to the bow fitting, then attach the spare halyard, add your sheets and pray it will hoist smoothly whilst the other crew member hoists from the cockpit assuming, of course, there is another crew member.
    • However with the Storm Bag, you take the self contained bag forward, open it out then wrap it round the furled genoa, close the bag, attach the self contained tack line and  your spare halyard. Then take your sheets aft (supplied as part of the package) and hoist from the security of the cockpit, job done in 5 mins flat. The sail forms an aerofoil envelope round your furled headsail, pointing ability is not compromised, plus when going to windward in confused seas, it’s easier to keep the yacht in the groove.


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