NOT FOR EV­ERY­ONE

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There was an in­ter­est­ing jux­ta­po­si­tion of ar­ti­cles with Gra­ham Snook’s Roll Play en­dors­ing in-mast furl­ing, im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing Squall Strate­gies (Septem­ber). With close to 40,000 blue­wa­ter miles un­der our boats’ keels, we find that reef­ing (if not dous­ing) our main­sail rarely hap­pens un­der the sunny, flat seas por­trayed in the pic­tures in Snook’s ar­ti­cle. More of­ten, it hap­pens with winds peak­ing and grow­ing seas. With slab reef­ing we have been able to reef in 10ft-plus seas and 20 to 30-plus knot winds, sail­ing down­wind and on both tacks. In con­trast, try­ing to head up­wind on a par­tic­u­lar tack, as is nec­es­sary for in-mast furl­ing, would have been dan­ger­ous if not im­pos­si­ble. We have all hal­yards and reef lines led to the cock­pit, so we can reef un­der all con­di­tions in safety. Bet­ter ad­vice would be to con­sider in-mast furl­ing for those boats that only sail in pro­tected wa­ters or near shore when dan­ger­ous con­di­tions are pos­si­ble, never for blue­wa­ter off­shore sailors. — Paul Horst, Ply­mouth, MI

I was some­what amused to read Mr Horst’s opin­ion about where in­mast fit­ted yachts should sail, mainly be­cause there are so many yachts in far-flung cor­ners of the world hav­ing got there us­ing their in-mast sails. Of the 42 yachts sail­ing around the world on the World Cruis­ing Club’s World ARC 2018, 16 boats (38 per­cent) have in-mast furl­ing. On boats over 40ft, close to 100 per­cent of Hall­berg-Rassy buy­ers go for in-mast furl­ing. Mag­nus Rassy says that un­like other sys­tems, it is pos­si­ble to reef sail­ing down­wind, which is an im­por­tant safety fac­tor. They have found it re­li­able and a good so­lu­tion to han­dling a big boat with min­i­mum crew.

Furl­ing sys­tems can cope with ex­treme con­di­tions, and while my ad­vice would help make it eas­ier, it’s nei­ther es­sen­tial nor nec­es­sary to fol­low. I’ve per­son­ally found it pos­si­ble to reef on port tack and off-the-wind; it’s just more work and would have been eas­ier on a star­board tack in the same way it’s eas­ier to reef a slab-reefed yacht with the wind on the beam than it is with the main­sail rest­ing on the shrouds.

As an aside, one of the pho­tos in the ar­ti­cle fea­tured a boat I tested in 30-40 knots true wind speed (and 5 to 8ft seas), taken off Italy in De­cem­ber—far from idyl­lic. — Gra­ham Snook

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