Mailport: November 2012
In regard to your blog on options for reducing luff-slide friction on small boat mainsails (August 2011): Why use the full-batten sail in the first place? Our contention is that, for the most part, fully battened sails are grossly over-hyped and inappropriately recommended. Most conventionally rigged boats cannot take advantage of the additional roach that can be provided by a fully battened main. For that, you need a boat without a backstay, or be prepared to deal with a lot of chafe along the leech.
For most boats with a backstay, we recommend that the top one (sometimes two) battens are full, and the rest partial. When I say “partial,” I’m not referring to a short-leech battens like the old days. Our partial battens are a little longer than 50 percent of chord to preclude what I refer to as “hinge effect” wear.
With a fully battened sail, you actually give up some of the control over sail shaping to the battens. This means you can’t easily change the shape of the sail to suit the conditions. If you are overpowered with too large a headsail, you can’t de-power a fully battened main the way you can one with conventional battens.
Cruisers suffer from a lot more chafe with fully battened mains than one with partial battens. Full-batten mains add lots of weight and friction. All that translates into the need for a track system.
I get requests for full-batten mains from people with boats as small as 20 feet. We send everyone an article to read about the pros and cons of fully battened sails and about 70 percent change their mind and go with a partial-full-batten main.
We are happy to build full-batten mains and sell track systems, but we always recommend what we would put on the boat if it was our money.
Island Planet Sails,
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