Mailport November 2012 Issue

Mailport: November 2012

Full-batten Mains

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.

Dave Benjamin
Island Planet Sails,


Next: Thermal Cookers

Comments (3)

I am promted to write by a recent reader comment justifiably critical of 12-volt receptacles. I have replaced mine with Powerlet-style connectors as found on BMW motorcycles: the quality of much better, they are weatherproof, and a wide variety of styles and functions are available. Try Whitehorse Gear for a listing.
-Steve in Virginia

Posted by: Steven W | December 29, 2012 9:48 PM    Report this comment

I am wondering if the article in Nov. issue on fuel additives are for gasoline and diesel or are there different products for each type of fuel.

Posted by: Wayne %26 Kimberly E | November 12, 2012 10:40 AM    Report this comment

I must also add to my post on the Forspar Mini Galley that a friend has the same unit on his boat. He removes the propane canister every tome he stows the stove. He eventually tore the O ring inside the propane canister and threw the entire blazing stove overboard. I lubricate my O ring with spit before attaching it to the stove. The canister then stays attached until empty, reducing the possibility of causing a leak.

Posted by: GORDON T | November 5, 2012 10:04 AM    Report this comment

New to Practical Sailor?
Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In