What Cruising Sailors Need to Know

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Beneteau First 435

Submitted on November 7, 2003 by Fredrick Feldbauer

Question: Dan, A few questions regarding the proper equipment selection and deployment of free-flying reaching sails, in particular using them shorthanded, as my wife and I are generally the only crew.

Last year we purchased a North Code 5A (Norlon 150 w/ step-up construction -850 sq.’) to supplement the two sail inventory of our Beneteau First 435 TM (the boat came only with a North 100% blade jib, and a North heavy dacron crosscut cruising main).

Before I hit you with the questions, I’ve got to say how pleased we are with the sail. We only had a couple of chances to fly it last season but we were amazed at how much drive it gave us in light winds, and also how close-winded it was!

When we ordered the sail I was under the mistaken impression that the deployment choices were either a line drive furler or a Snuffer. Having been warned off the line drive option by my friends, I opted for the Snuffer, which worked OK. But I don’t think it’s the ideal way to go.

So, this year we’d like to hoist the Code 5A via a furler. Would you have a recommendation as to which furlers are appropriate? I’ve looked at the Harken 1899 Maxi Staysail furler, the ProFurl EC 1500, and the Schaefer System 650. They all have about the same safe working limits, and they all seem like they would be adequate.

Next, I’m a bit concerned about the tack point. We have a stout deck padeye just forward of the anchor well and just aft (6») of the headsail furler (presumably for the spinnaker pole downhaul). Do you think that this would be sufficiently strong? I’ve read that the luff tension for these sails must be quite high to furl properly. Also, as this location gets some interference from being close behind the furled jib, is there an optimum distance for the tack position aft of the headstay to minimize this interference yet still be optimal for close reaching in light air?

In reading the literature for these furlers, some manufacturers suggest a dual luff rope construction for the sail with a provision to adjust luff tension. Do you think that our sail was constructed this way considering that we ordered it with a Snuffer rather that a furler? In other words, do you think that our sail will have to be modified to be used with a furler?

With regard to tacking, can we tack this sail flying when in light air, or should it be furled and then unfurled on the new tack? It also seems that the sail would have to be furled to jybe, or can you sometimes pull it around the mast in light air?

Sorry for the long-winded question and thanks in advance for your expertise on this. I also have to say how much I enjoy (and how much I’ve learned) reading Cruising Solutions. Keep ’em coming!

By the way, the Snuffer won’t go to waste. We just ordered a North G-AP2 Gennaker to round out the inventory for next season!

Best regards,


Frederick Feldbauer

Beneteau First 435

Answer : Hi Fredrick,

A Code 5A is not well suited for roller furling. The free flying sails that we make for roller furling are the Code 0 (for race boats) and the G-0 (for boats that do not have to comply with race rules). The Code 0 and G-0 are designed with very little roach on the luff edge so that the luff rope can be pulled tight. A Code 5A has significantly more luff roach area (positive curvature) than either of the 0 models. It won’t fly well with a tight luff rope and it will make a messy roll because there is too much extra fabric.

Most boats choose a tack point forward of the headstay. That works better because the spinnaker halyard is above the headstay. If you choose a tack point aft of the headstay you will have better luck with a halyard position below the headstay. The aerodynamic disturbance from the rolled headsail is less of an issue than physical contact between the rolled headsail and the free flying sail. If the free flying sail rubs on the rolled headsail it is very difficult to roller furl. It takes a surprising amount of rotation energy to overcome even a small amount of friction between the two sails.

You will be able to jibe the sail with either arrangement. If the sail is tacked inside the headstay you can tack or jibe it like any other headsail. If it is tacked forward of the headstay you have the choice of jibing with the clew going all the way around the front of the sail, or the clew going between the luff of the sail and the normal headstay. Both techniques are easy, but require a little practice on a moderate air day.

When you add a Code 0 or a G-0 to your inventory, you need to take a good

look at the strength of all the gear that will take the strain of the luff tension. That includes the tack bearing point hardware and backing, the halyard, sheave and the rope clutch. If you use a deck padeye it should be tied into a bulkhead below deck. The best arrangement of the halyard is to leave it on the winch while the sail is in use.

At North Sails we use a double luff rope for free flying furling sails. We have tried a number of different arrangements including torsion resistant single ropes and the double rope is the set up that works the best for us. The rope tension is adjustable at the head on most of the sails, including all of the cruising G-0s. Having the adjustment at the head allows you access to it when the sail is roller furled since the roll at the top is not as tight as the roll at the tack.

If you are set on converting your Code 5A to a furling sail, the first step would be to contact your North Sails rep. He will have the serial number of your sail and with that information any North sail designer will be able to access the sail design details and then let you know what shaping and hardware modifications are required to make the sail suitable for roller furling.

Beneteau First 435
Beneteau First 435
Beneteau First 435
Beneteau First 435
Beneteau First 435
Beneteau First 435
Beneteau First 435
Beneteau First 435
Beneteau First 435

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