Precision Sails Blog
The Rundown On Mainsail Features
When selecting a new mainsail there is a huge range of sail-making technologies available to customize and tailor your new sail, much more so than just fancy sailcloth. A host of options exists for batten configurations, multiple reef points, stitching, luff attachments, radial or block reinforcements, numerous line and cleat options for leech and foot lines... the list goes on!
Today, we will be looking at four key features to consider when selecting your new mainsail:
Size & Profile
While there is minimal room for alterations in the size of your mainsail due to the existing rigging, your sailmaker will be able to give some suggestions for features that can be included in the overall profile of the sail, based on its intended use. Whether you’re a coastal cruiser, a club racer, or planning your next ocean voyage, professional advice on the intricacies of your sail’s profile of will not only improve its performance but will ensure a durable sail that is easy and safe to use as well as being perfectly adapted to your vessel and sailing experience.
One of the most critical aspects of a sail’s profile is the roach. The roach is located at the part of the sail which generates lift when sailing upwind, already making it very important. In addition to that, more roach means more sail area, and therefore, an aggressive roach will improve a sail’s performance both up and downwind. The limiting factor for roach on most boats would be the location of your backstay, unless you plan on replacing your sail annually, it will need to clear the backstay. Sails with a larger roach will interfere with the backstay when tacking, causing chafe damage over time.
Spreader patches can be used to help prevent chafe damage from the rigging. We have put a handy guide together on installing spreader patches for you to use.
A Mainsail And Headsail Design. The Yellow Line Marks The Back-stay Location
There are options to have partially battened mainsail, a fully battened mainsail, or a combination of both. Battens offer stability to a sail, creating a smooth shape, supporting the roach, and in turn prolonging the life of the sail. With full-length battens stretching from luff to leech, there is less likelihood of the sail becoming flogged when tacking and reefing, therefore, reducing the wear and tear on the fabric over time. Full-length battens also make it far easier when using a lazy jack system, as they allow the rigid sail to have support along its entire length and therefore can fall effortlessly into the sail bag.
Batten length is a hotly debated topic and there are sound arguments for shorter battens alternately. Some find full-length battens add compression on the luff hardware, creating friction and making it difficult to raise and lower the sail when it’s not in perfect alignment. Others dislike the constant stiff shape of full-battens as they can chafe against the rigging when sailing downwind, damaging the batten pockets. Some prefer partially battened mainsails or a combination of both as it gives more control back to the sailor to create the best shape by trimming rather than relying on the full-length battens to force the shape.
You can read more about full battens vs partial battens and two-by-two configurations in a prior post.
We also have put a informative blog together on installing a lazy-jack bag system.
The quantity and distance between reefs on a mainsail will be completely dependent on your boat and the conditions you plan to embark on. For those happy taking short day trips in mild weather conditions, one or two reefing points should be more than adequate. For those looking to do ocean crossings and run the risk of tackling severe weather conditions, two or more reef points will be needed. Similarly, if your boat heels over quite easily, having two or three reefs can significantly reduce an overpowered mainsail in a strong blow.
Reef dimension should be considered with the overall design of your boat. Boat builders often use a particular reef size in order to keep your boat’s center of effort balanced, just another example of why it is best to consult your owner’s manual as well as a sail consultant before making your selection. There is room for personal preference though too. If, for example, you are a coastal cruiser you might prefer a deeper first reef in order to reduce your sail area quickly for the overall comfort aboard. A club racer, on the other hand, might prefer smaller reef points so they can fine-tune the amount of sail, maximizing performance. Reef locations can be customized to whatever your needs are during the design process.
Sailing Uma has produced a great video on their reefing system. You can check out that video in our Reefing 101: How To Reef And When To Do It post.
S.V. Gudgeon. Note The Two Reefing Points On This Cruising Mainsail
Reinforcements and materials are key to your sail’s longevity and customizing these features to your intended use are critical. For those looking to cross oceans, larger and more durable corner patches will help to spread the load across the sail. Additional reinforcements could include double tapes on the outer edges of the sail, wider seams, more rows of stitching, leech seam wedgies, double-ply layers on the corners, reef and eyelet patches as well as reef reinforcement belts to strengthen your reef points and the foot of the sail when reefed. For fair weather lake sailors, a basic block reinforced corner will suffice. Radial reinforced corners are an excellent middle-ground upgrade, as they have near double the number of sailcloth layers at the corner, increasing the strength and durability, without any premature material failure.
Darryl recently did a video where he talked about the Offshore/Blue-water Reinforcement Package, check it out here.
Ultimately, a mainsail is a lot like a tailored suit; unique to you. And just like a tailored suit, you leave it to the professionals to do what they do best. At Precision Sails, we make the selection process easy, by speaking to you directly, to help determine exactly what you need from your next sail. Click here to request a quote, or book a time to chat with one of our sail consultants.
How To Read Your Quote From Precision SailsWatch Ron McInnis Break Down Your Quote Breakdown of a sail quoteIntroduction and A Brief Message Whether you already requested a quote or are curious as to the layout and information found on our quotes this article is for you. When you first receive your quote you will have two options [...]
Get Your Sailboat Ready For Spring - Checklist And Infographic The sailing season is almost here! But with all the joy that comes with sailing comes the monotonous task of prepping the boat for the season. Unwrapping the boat, cleaning the hull, checking your rigging... there is so much to do, and for most casual cruisers, [...]
Introduction Matt and Jessica from MJ Sailing are going to dive into the Precision Sails Spinnaker Measurement form and show you how easy it is to measure for a new spinnaker by taking measurements for their boat, Elements of Life, a 1983 Trisalu. "...we have done both our mainsail and headsail through precision and although those forms are [...]
Paul Britton S.V. Rodeless Traveler Jeanneau 379 Sun Odyssey The Harvest Moon Regatta Around 150 boats took part in the Regatta this year but one in particular stuck out and performed exceptionally, bringing home some new trophies for the trophy case! S.V. Rodeless Traveler had a wild ride with varying winds, and a blown mainsail but ultimately they took [...]
Sail Graphics and customization One of the most exciting parts of ordering a sail is the customization. It is your opportunity to emblazon your team logo, a symbol that represents your family, a play on your boat’s name, your boat’s insignia, or to match your Dodger or Bimini to your sail.Sail Color CustomizationColored Dacron The oldest form [...]
This past weekend the Precision Sails team headed over to Pender Island, a portion of the Southern Gulf Islands, for some training, and relaxation. This 34km2 island is a beautiful spot nestled in between Mayne Island and Saturna Island on the Westcoast and offers up lots of opportunities for sailing, kayaking, and hiking. Sadly, many of [...]
Introduction A spinnaker is downwind sail set at the bow which billows when it catches the wind. Lightweight and custom made for the wind range you plan to sail in. All of our spinnakers are radial designed and stitched together expertly to prolong their life.Symmetrical A symmetrical spinnaker, as it sounds, is balanced and proportional. Both sides [...]
Jib Vs Genoa Jibs and Genoas are triangular sails which are affixed to a stay in front of the mast. Typically they run from the head of the foremast to the bowsprit. Jibs and genoa's are used in tandem with a mainsail to stabilize the vessel and are usually measured by their Luff Perpendicular percentage, that is, how [...]
Francois Hebert S.V. Trioomph Corsair F27 R Trimaran Francois Hebert works as the General Manager and head coach at the Whistler Sailing School. He recently went through the process of ordering sails from Precision Sails for his Corsair F27 R trimaran, "Trioomph". Trioomph's mainsail and furling jib were made using Warp Drive sailcloth from our Precision Tri-Radial Series. The [...]