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Wind exiting a sail creates small vortices, and these vortices can set up a reverberation along the leech causing the leech to flutter. Although the leech tape goes a long way toward solving this problem, on most boats you will still need a leech-line installed down the very edge of the sail, i.e., a small-diameter, low-stretch line that can be adjusted and fastened off in heavier conditions. This way, when the wind increases and the sail begins to flutter, all you have to do to correct the problem is tighten the leechline. In light winds it can be eased off again so that the extra tension won't cause the trailing edge of the sail to cup inward when there is less pressure on the sail. On small boats where the boom is easy to reach, the adjustment for the leechline is normally at the clew of the sail. But on larger boats where trying to make an adjustment at the clew would be impossible or impractical, the leechline is fastened at the clew and led over the top of the sail and down a pocket along the luff to an adjustment point at the tack. This way

Special attention has been paid to the edges of this mainsail with reinforcement strips added above and below the batten pocket and at the point where the leechline enters and exits.

The head of a mainsail showing an overhead leechline running through a small block mounted just below the headboard.

you can make the necessary adjustments safely and conveniently. A leechline installed using this arrangement is called an overhead leechline. Some larger yachts will even have double overhead leechlines, one running down either side of the sail. This way you will always be able to make an adjustment from the windward side of the mast instead of having to reach around to the low side on a sloping deck. With this setup you will also have a backup in case one of the leechlines fails.


The size and number of reefs you need depends on your boat and the type of sailing you plan to do. There is really no point in having three large reefs in your mainsail when all you do is daysail on Long Island Sound since the winds are rarely that strong and there are plenty of places to find shelter in the event of a blow. The reef points add weight to the sail and expense. On the other hand, if you are heading for the open ocean you need at least two, if not three, reef points in case of severe weather. In fact, it would be poor seamanship to attempt an ocean crossing with a single reef. There are also other variables that need to be taken into consideration, for example, the stability of your boat and the way you like to sail. Some boats are very tender, i.e., they heel over easily, in which case a second or third reef would be important. Some sailors like to keep their boats on an even keel even when it is not blowing hard, so additional reef points will be important to them. No matter your preference, you need to remember that the reefs add weight to a sail, especially along the leech where it will affect your light-air sail trim. They also add cost to the sail. Making the reef patches and sewing them onto the sail, plus the tie-down patches running across the sail, requires time, effort, and additional materials.

Finally, bear in mind that the size and number of reefs in your mainsail will be influenced by the basic design of your boat and its sailplan, in the sense that the designer has planned the rig in such a way that you can reduce sail while keeping the center of effort where you want it relative to the keel. In other words,

each sail change or reef is calculated to keep the boat balanced. Some boats, for example, need a number of small reefs in the main to compliment the reduction of headsail size, while others, usually sea-kindly cruising boats, are not as affected by balance, so large reefs are quite acceptable. Most offshore cruising sailors will tell you that they like the first reef to be deep, since when the time comes to take off sail area, they really want the boat to feel the difference. But many racing sailors, especially those who race inshore, prefer smaller reefs because a small reduction in sail area will allow them to keep their boats from being overpowered without slowing them down appreciably. In fact, many racing sails do not have any reefs at all. These sailors prefer to change headsails rather than reef the main because the result is a more efficient sailplan. They are also able to depower the mainsail in other ways, for example, by bending the mast, until the next mark rounding when they can change head-sails. Knowing your boat and knowing your sailing plans will help you decide just how large each reef should be, how many you need, or if you need them at all.


Battens are another area of considerable debate among sailors with the result that it often comes down to personal choice. If you already have experience with and are comfortable with a certain batten configuration, then maybe that's the best solution for you. On the other hand, you may want to consider other options.

Conventional Battens

The simplest batten layout is one with four short battens equally spaced along the leech, with the length of the battens dictated by the amount of roach the sail-maker is attempting to support (Figure 7.1). As a general rule, the batten length is the amount of roach, times two, plus a little bit extra. Because there is less roach at the top and at the bottom of the sail, these battens will be shorter than the two in the middle. This layout is not only the least expensive, it is also the lightest, making it easier to trim the sail in light air.

Full-length Battens

Full-length batten mainsails have all the battens running from luff to leech (Figure 7.2 on the following page). There is one important thing to remember

Figure 7.1

The simplest batten layout is one with four short battens equally spaced along the leech, with the length of the battens dictated by the amount of roach the sailmaker is attempting to support.

A worker uses a mallet to bang in reef rings in a mainsail.


This traditional yawl has a mainsail and mizzen with conventional battens.

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How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.

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