Reefing a Mainsail

Slab reefing is not an especially difficult maneuver provided the different steps are carried out in order. Go about reefing the wrong way, however, and you may find yourself expending a lot of energy unnecessarily.

The first thing you need to do is be sure that the mainsail halyard is flaked and can be eased without getting caught on anything. Second, make sure that the boom vang is eased, since the boom needs to be able to rise up to the outboard end reef point when it comes time to take in on the outboard line. The actual reefing process begins by easing the mainsheet and halyard at the same time, ideally lowering the latter to a pre-marked position so you won't be left guessing with a squall staring over your shoulder. Mark the halyard at each reef location with waterproof marker, or even whip the halyard with a light line so you can feel the mark in the dark. If you have lowered the halyard to the correct mark, the inboard end will be at just the right position. If, on the other hand, you are lowering the sail down to a bull

Reefing a mainsail on a large yacht can be a difficult experience especially when the weather is rough.

horn, snap shackle, or similar device, you will need to lower the halyard beyond your mark so that the person at the mast can secure the inboard end. As soon as it's secure, raise the halyard until there is sufficient tension on the luff of the sail. After that it's time to take up on the outboard reef, which is basically a matter of cranking in on the reefing line until the reef point is at the boom and the foot of the sail is tight. While you are doing this make sure there is plenty of slack in the mainsheet, otherwise you run the risk of seriously damaging your sail. If the reef is at the boom and the foot of the sail is still slack, you will need to change the position of the reefing line since the foot must be tight so than the sail has a flat shape when it's reefed. Once the outboard end is snugged up tight, you can take up on the mainsheet and vang if necessary.

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