A ‘CLOUD OF SAILS’
With more than 90 square metres (close to 1000 square feet) of upwind sail area
– and 180 sqare metres (or close to 2000 sq.ft.) on a reach
– how do we handle all that sail?
The first answer to that question must be “with ease”.
It just has to be easy or, for many people, the entire idea of a sailing yacht will be wasted.
So let’s look at the question about handling more in detail:
First, what about an in-mast furling mainsail? Surely, that must be the easiest way of setting the sail, getting it out of the way, or fine-tuning the sail area?
1: The Old
For those who have not followed the question lately, this kind of sail may be what comes to mind:
This picture shows a boat from another era but take a look at the mainsail.
The aft side (the leech) has a hollow or concave shape which gradually goes into a very sharp top corner and disappears into almost nothing at the top of the mast.
Apart from the general loss of sail area, this means that there is a particularly painful lack of sailcloth at the uppermost part of the mast – the top 2 – 3 – 4 metres. And it must be understood that, when going to windward, the driving force comes primarily from the leading edge of the sail close to the mast. Such a sail plan is devastating for the performance, both upwind and downwind.
2: A Huge Step Forward
When we made the Fantasi 44 Pilothouse, 17 of the 20+ built were equipped with in-mast furling systems from Seldén – in addition, most of them also had an electric system for furling. But this was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and by then, sail making had taken a step forward. The biggest difference to in-mast furling systems of the past was that of sail making.
By then, a few sail makers had started experimenting with thin vertical battens in the mainsails and we used such sails throughout the series of F44’s, except for one which had a sail of the old type above. The performance difference was huge – regularly half a knot on all points of sailing, and sometimes more. And the average Fantasi 44 performed way beyond average. Another image, the same yacht, a few years later – you can see the shape of the mainsail, with its ‘roach’ – the convex curve of the leech:
3: A Final Leap
Now, fast forward to 2022: During the past few years, sailmakers have been trying out more radical mainsail cuts, with a good square ‘headboard’, providing ample sail area all the way to the top of the mast and a further boost in efficiency. Notably, Lundh Sails, local loft neighbouring to our office in Göteborg, has been at the forefront. Lately, somewhat more conservative North Sails have followed. This is what it may look like:
4: The Real Reason
It is a great relief to handle a relatively big sail with ease, also in trying conditions. As a bonus, you will always be able to furl and unfurl by just the right amount and always use the optimum sail area.
All this is good for performance.
It is often more fun.
And being able to handle your yacht with ease is sometimes vital for security.
This is the reason why we offer an in-mast furling rig as part of the standard specification for the PPH. With an electric furling gear, handled from the cockpit.
The PPH uses a furling + self-tacking jib.
In order to avoid clutter on deck, the furling gear from Seldén is electric and mounted under deck:
Handling couldn’t be easier. The sheet is led aft to the main winches on both sides but will often be idle as the jib looks after itself when tacking. Setting or stowing the sail is done via push-buttons and the arrangement will also allow a slight reef to be taken.
A Code Zero will typically be a furling sail, furling around its own luff, but setting or dousing the sail is not a walk in the park. Apart from the helmsman (who will likely handle the sheet while steering), getting the sail up will typically require one crew on the foredeck and another at the halyard. There is very little leeway for fiddling or making mistakes.
The PPH makes use of an unusual arrangement which offers full control and total ease of handling: A similar kind of sail, just as big as a Code 0 would be, sewn from the same kind of light laminate sailcloth, is instead set permanently on its own dedicated headstay just in front of the self-tacker. We call this kind of sail by another name: It is simply called a “Reacher”.
The Reacher is handled by the same kind of under-deck furler (although the hardware dimensions are one step lighter than those of the jib).
This huge, powerful sail is unfurled or furled from the cockpit at any time by just pushing a button and handling the sheet.
The clew of the Reacher is high up and the sheet is led way aft. It can be used in a very wide range of apparent wind angles.
To further improve the efficiency, the sheet can be led via the boom end, widening the slot between the two sails (for that purpose, the boom itself is fitted with a permanent preventer)
On a very deep reach and in light winds, a gennaker will certainly make a difference. Handling requires more hands on deck though. Even with a furling gear or a snuffer, it needs to be hoisted and taken down.
Also shown in the sail plan above – for the worst conditions, carrying a storm jib will take the PPH forward in a more controlled manner. The usual small red Dacron sail.
PPH – THE MOVIE
There is a little film sequence showing the rig and sails (click image!)
THE FINAL TOUCH
The first PPH will sport a white-painted rig from Seldén, and sails from North Sails.
(c) Heyman Yachts, Göteborg, May 2022