SAIL - - Contents - By Dick Everitt Dick Everitt has sailed thou­sands of miles in var­i­ous parts of the world. He has been an il­lus­tra­tor, jour­nal­ist and en­gi­neer for more than 40 years

Deal­ing with large main­sail roaches

A In the early days of cruis­ing, some skip­pers pre­ferred a straight leech that did away with the chafe and bother of bat­tens. The leech would even some­times be cut con­cave to pre­vent it hook­ing back on it­self. Ex­tra area could then be added by hav­ing a “bumkin” aft to keep the back­stay clear.

B The roach is the bit of curved sail stick­ing out be­yond a straight line drawn from the head to the clew. Bat­tens in pock­ets stop it flop­ping about, and the re­sult­ing ex­tra sail area was even­tu­ally al­lowed within some rac­ing rules.

C Aero­dy­namic re­search cre­ated beau­ti­fully ef­fi­cient air­craft wings, which prompted sail de­sign­ers to ex­per­i­ment with sim­i­larly curved trail­ing edges. Mul­ti­hulls and wind­surfers can have mas­sive roaches be­cause there’s no back­stay to con­strain them. With a back­stay, mod­est roaches are typ­i­cal. How­ever, many mod­ern rigs now have hor­i­zon­tal fully-bat­tened main­sails with roaches that over­lap the back­stay—and in light airs, the top bat­tens can snag the back­stay.

D If you have a mod­est rig and find your top bat­tens snag­ging while tack­ing in light winds, you could try chang­ing the bat­tens for shorter ones or ones made of a more flex­i­ble ma­te­rial that will slip past the stay more eas­ily.

E If the goose­neck is on a track, just lower the lot down. If, on the other hand, it’s fixed, hav­ing a shal­low flat­ten­ing reef sewn in might be cheaper than hav­ing the leech re­cut. I sailed on one boat with a small reef that im­proved the slightly saggy old sail shape so much the skip­per kept the sail for sev­eral more years.

F Ex­tend­ing the mast­head crane aft can lift the back­stay off the leech, but take care, as it might af­fect the way the mast bends.

G A flicker, or mast whip, is used on some mod­ern boats to lift the slack back­stay away from their gen­er­ously curved leech roaches.

H Some sail­mak­ers fit slip­pery an­tichafe patches at the ends of the bat­tens and claim they last for ages.

I Rac­ing sailors are al­ways fid­dling with their con­trol lines and reckon they can ei­ther dip the boom dur­ing the tack or slacken the back­stay and flip it past the bat­tens.

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