Does my self-tack­ing jib slow me down?

Yachting Monthly - - ANY QUESTIONS -

QI own a Hunter Chan­nel 323; a bil­ge­keeler with a self-tack­ing jib. I’ve been think­ing about how my sails are con­fig­ured and con­sid­er­ing re­plac­ing the head­sail. I en­joy the ease of the self-tack­ing jib, but won­dered whether the smaller sail are has a detri­men­tal ef­fect on my per­for­mance? Would my boat be slower than a sim­i­lar boat that was car­ry­ing a genoa? Bryan Jones

APeter San­ders of San­ders Sails replies: The short an­swer is yes! To make cruis­ing safe and en­joy­able there has to be com­pro­mise, and where there is com­pro­mise there is al­ways a neg­a­tive ef­fect to con­sider.

The first com­pro­mise to the per­for­mance of your yacht, ig­nor­ing the bilge keels, is the fit­ting of a roller reef­ing sys­tem. In the past a yacht of this size would have had at least four head­sails of vary­ing weight and size and the cor­rect sail would have been han­ked on to suit the con­di­tions at the time. With the ad­vent of the roller reef­ing sys­tem, these four sails were re­placed with just one; the re­sult was a com­pro­mise in per­for­mance but an im­prove­ment in con­ve­nience.

Your self-tack­ing jib is tak­ing this de­sire for con­ve­nience a step fur­ther, which re­sults in more com­pro­mise. When com­pared with an over­lap­ping roller reef­ing genoa the self­tack­ing jib on your Hunter Chan­nel 323 will suf­fer in the fol­low­ing ways: Lack of sail area in light winds Lack of sail area when reach­ing In­abil­ity to move the sheet­ing po­si­tion for­ward when re­duc­ing the size of the sail

No con­trol of the sail shape when not on the wind un­less a bar­ber hauler is fit­ted

In­abil­ity to boom out ef­fec­tively when go­ing down­wind

How­ever, when cruis­ing, con­ve­nience is of­ten far more im­por­tant than per­for­mance and be­ing able to tack with­out hav­ing to touch a sheet or a winch can of­ten save a mar­riage.

Self-tack­ing jibs, like the one on this Hunter Pi­lot 27, are a com­pro­mise be­tween con­ve­nience and sail area

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