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Different styles and methods of Reefing sails

Modern yachts are similar to dinghies in that they are light and often fun to sail. That does mean that they can capsize, which is nothing to fear, as you will discover by the end of a Level 1 Introduction to Sailing Course.

We do not want to make early outings to exciting and if the wind is freshening on your first sailing sessions, your AY Instructor will reduce the power of your yacht by Reefing the Mainsail.

The majority of cruising yachts have roller reefing. Here the sail is simply rolled around the boom or forestay, or by the in-mast furler until the sail reaches the required smaller size. For the sports enthusiasts who prefer jiffy reefing you must first take a tuck in the front end of the main sail (near the tack) and stretch the sail out towards the end of the boom (clew) using the reefing line, so that the latter doesn't droop. When pulling it out, try to ensure that there are no wrinkles. If you are taking in a large reef you may have to remove the bottom batten and stow it securely in the yacht.

Larger yachts have other systems, known as slab reefing. To take in a reef, first pull down the mainsail directly at the mast or by the front reefing line (the tack pennant if applicable) and make it fast at the gooseneck, then the rear reefing line (the clew pennant) and thus take in a whole slab of mainsail. The loose bag of unused sail can be rolled up and secured neatly with small ropes called Reef Points. You may have to change to a smaller jib or genoa and in some cases even dropping the jib completely after you have reefed the mainsail, in order to restore the balance of the rig.

For off the beach yachting enthusiasts its always easier to reef ashore than have to do it afloat in a rising wind. Similarly, if you reef ashore and later find that the wind has dropped down to light, it is quick and easy to shake the reef out again.

The popular single-handed dinghies are reefed simply by rolling their sails around the mast, rather than around the boom.

Dinghy reefing 1.JPG (12114 bytes)

Dinghy reefing 2.JPG (15272 bytes)

Sailing without a centerboard
Back to Introduction to Sailing Syllabus

Accepting that a centerboard is vital to some yachts efficiency, the aim of sailing without one is to minimize the loss of pointing ability.

To a certain extent, hard chine yachts respond to being heeled to leeward so that a chine is immersed for extra grip on the water. This technique is obviously useless on round-bilge boats. Try moving crew weight well forward to immerse the v-section of the bow.

To make windward progress, accept that you're not going to point high so sail fast and free to minimize leeway. Try to establish just how much leeway you're making and plan your route accordingly. Make the most of windshifts and any tidal differences but above all make extra allowance for obstructions, if in doubt sail to leeward or downtide of any hazards.

Once the basic techniques are mastered, this can be one of the sailor's most satisfying skills. In the early stages, prepare the boat and choose your weather well.

Effect of sails.JPG (11607 bytes)

Sailing without a rudder

The basic principle of sailing rudderless is to use the effects of sails and boat balance to steer. You'll find it much easier to do if you reduce the number of variables to a minimum.

1. Tell your crew to sit motionless on the boat's centerline and well forward, only moving if you decided.
2. Knot the jib sheets together to make them easier to handle and if you are sailing in light winds, reduce the number of purchases in the mainsheet for more positive control.
3. Raise the centerboard by a third to move the center of lateral resistance aft. This will reduce the sensitivity of the boat to your movements

Sail to a clear stretch of water then, with mainsheet in one hand and jib sheets in the other, you're ready to start. Begin on a reach and find out how changes in sail trim affect the course sailed.

Every type of boat responds differently, but you'll find that the mainsail has far more effect in causing the boat to luff than the jib has in helping to bear away, hence the centerboard position.

You will also find that sheeting in the mainsail alone will be enough to make you tack, but that bearing away will require the combined effect of the jib and windward heel. With practice, you will be able to handle the boat on any point of sailing.

To a distant observer, it should appear that the rudder is still in place, so positive is the boat handling. You should have no difficulty in either sailing to windward, tacking or gybing.

Effect of heel.JPG (14095 bytes)

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