Does my self-tacking jib slow me down?
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