Reason for A Genny and Detachable Forestay

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  • November 09, 2013 2:33 PM
    Message # 1431502
    Deleted user

    When we got our W32 in 05' it had a Hood furler, the sails were all in bags and after an initial inspection to see they were all in good shape I never really gave them much thought as the next number of years were going to be concerned with restoring the boat. Having a love for traditional boats the decision was made to return the furling Yankee to a hanked on sail. To my surprise when the sail was returned from the sailmaker and affixed to the headstay it is almost a 100% Genny. Evidently with the ability to furl the sail the prior owner could get the sail small enough to clear the staysail forestay without hitting the wire and beating the stuffing out of the sail. My solution to the issue was to find through this site an original Westsail yankee and have been sailing the boat in its true cutter configuration.

    I used to have a great book on gaff rigged boats and the author went into the evolution of the cutter rig evidently from England in the mid to late 1800's and at the time they were the fastest ships on the water, state of the art for the period. The author of this book went on to explain the reason for this increase in speed was the fact that the slots or spaces between the yankee and staysail and finally the main increase the wind speed over the sails and actually increase the drive of the boat. So I have a couple of questions regarding flying a full genny on the boat in place of the full headsail. 1: If the square foot area of the genny is comparable to the combined square foot area of the staysail and yankee and you lose the slots of the cutter setup whats the point? 2: In order to tack the genny it seems that it would make sense to set the forstay up with a  lever setup that will allow disconnecting it a moving the shroud out of the way. In my mind it makes me think that this loses the safety redundancy of both the headstay and forestay working in consort to support the mast as well as the increased chance of losing the mast due to unloading the forestay when sailing and instantly increasing the load on the headstay? 3: I did actually sail the boat on one occasion with just the genny, guessing winds were between 15 to 20knots and the boat went like a bat out of hell, (If that possible for a W32) so my thinking is that the full genny is actually larger than the sail area I get when setup with the two normal headsails and the idea is that this sail might be better for light to moderate winds, is this the correct assumption?

  • November 09, 2013 7:56 PM
    Reply # 1431570 on 1431502
    Deleted user
    When I got Tamzin she was rigged with a 130 (maybe bigger) jenny on a Profurl but still had the forestay in place.  And you're right with the right conditions and only the jenny up it seemed like she was flying.  But on the other hand with the main and jenny anything over 12-15 kts heeled her over and seemed to push the bow down in the water and rolling in the jenny didn't seem to do anything but mess things up.  Also She wouldn't tack worth a damn (probably my fault) and just didn't seem 'right'.  Finally I had  the jenny recut to Kern's specs and rigged the old stay sail I found in a locker.  What a difference.  The boat worked, it just felt better and although I don't have imperical data to support it I think she sails faster.  I personally don't think the boats were designed to sail as 'sloops', they're cutters and pretty damn good ones at that.
  • November 23, 2013 10:06 PM
    Reply # 1444928 on 1431502

    Just my two cents worth. Our boat came with a full sized genny and a yankee with staysail and boom. We changed it to a roller furling on both the jib and staysail. I have found the yankee and staysail combination to be perfect for us because both are small I installed winches for the staysail but normally don't need them. The yankee because its small tacks very easily and again because its small keeps the sheet forces very small. We have been very happy with this arrangement so far. I have not been in any really strong winds yet so can't speak to that.

    Hope you enjoy Sailing

  • November 24, 2013 7:21 AM
    Reply # 1445041 on 1431502
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Larry:  Do you know what Kern's spec are for the genny? 

    Pygmalion has a Kern Mail sail (luff 38'4", leach 39'2", foot 14'6"), a Kern furlering Jib (300SF) and a staysail (Luff 32'9", leach 24'8" foot 15'4" loose footed with a boom) in the sail inventory is a (hanks removed) genny? that measues Luff 40'6" leach 39'1" and foot 29'6" -  544 SF.


    What I would like is to also furl the staysail for easy handling and to remove the boom as it sweeps the foredeck making that area almost unusable.

    I sail in the SF bay so using the large genny is not common but I have gotten pretty good speed in very light winds with the genny using the spinnaker bail (I can't hank it on any more with the furler) and running off the wind.  Managing the sail single handed does prove a challange if the winds increase - so I don't use it much.


    I have seen a few Westsails with a detachable forestay using a large Pelican hook(?).  Looked functional.

    Last modified: November 24, 2013 8:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • November 24, 2013 12:10 PM
    Reply # 1445187 on 1431502
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Norm:  I have the spinnaker bail and block on the head of the mast .. agree that the usual mast block will have chafe...



    Link to Soletro -  that shows a boom less staysail - trimmed a little tight - also check Bud's manuals for the sheet setup. 


    Last modified: November 24, 2013 12:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • November 26, 2013 8:27 PM
    Reply # 1447171 on 1431502

    I have a few thoughts on this subject but remember that anything said here is just one persons opinion.

    First:  Dragging the headsail across the inner stay while tacking has never caused a chafe issue for me.  I've been doing it for 35 years.  On occasion I must go forward and help a headsail pass through but  I'm sure the time spent doing this is far less than the time it would take to set-up or remove a detachable inner stay.

    Kern used to say "Luff length is performance.  Foot length is crew abuse"  This is, of course, referring to going to weather.  With the wind forward of the beam the boat will perform better with more Luff length and less foot length.  That is, two sails instead of one. The Luffs are helping to "pull" you forward.  This requires about ten pages of explanation though because there are other factors involved.  The extra "pull" can be negated by a poor slot.  That is a slot that is choking down the air flow too much.  The picture of Soletro, though a nice picture, is showing a choked slot.  The boat would be faster with a smaller staysail, or smaller headsail, and/or different sheeting angles.

    As the boat moves toward a beam reach, then "square footage" comes more into play and the "pull " of the Luffs airfoil becomes less. At some point, as you approach a broad reach, then extra luff is not going to help in performance.  Square footage has taken over as the primary mover.  Once on a run, then square footage is just about everything. ("just about"), but of course that square footage must be projected to the wind, as on a pole.

    The Westsail 32 and 28 are low aspect ratio rigs compared to anything remotely modern.  This is not really a negative, but it is part of the explanation as to why the boats sail better with the two forward sails as opposed to just one big one.  (notice the small picture up by my name)  If sailed like a sloop when going to weather, there is too much space for the air to maintain a nice flow through the whole area.  The second sail just helps that air move along nicely and cleanly and making sure it hits the Mainsail correctly.

    Certainly a big genoa can and has been used free flying with some effectiveness.  It is then a big heavy drifter.  I think a more proper drifter using 3/4oz to 2.2oz material is more effective 95% of the time.  I consider such a drifter a good investment for the Westsail.  Locally, here on the river, A typical sail is upwind with the Working jib and Staysail, and then back home with the drifter.

    At any rate, get out there and sail.  Plan on being out on New Years Day.  It is tradition.

  • November 28, 2013 8:32 PM
    Reply # 1448199 on 1431502
    Thanks for that informative post Dave, it makes a lot of sense.
  • November 29, 2013 7:08 PM
    Reply # 1448596 on 1431502
    This is not directly related to this thread, but since someone mentioned halyard chafe with free-flying sails, I thought I would ask the following. I have been flying my drifter (head) from a swivel on the headstay, which in turn is connected to the halyard. Would this not prevent the chafe issue? I have been planning to add the bale setup, but I have not unstepped the mast yet and have been reluctant to install it with the mast up.
  • December 01, 2013 11:25 AM
    Reply # 1449222 on 1431502
    For those flying the large headsails from the spinnaker bail: How do you get the luff nice and tight for going to weather? It would seem that the bail would not withstand the significant force needed in order to get the luff very tight for better pointing ability. The loop would bend downwards
  • December 01, 2013 8:30 PM
    Reply # 1449475 on 1431502

    Ahoy Norm,

    Sheeting to a car on the Staysail track should work fine as long as the sail is properly cut for that position.  My staysail is reefed about 50% of the time.  As such, the leach is pulled more forward of the mast., much as you are suggesting.  It works for me.


    Ahoy Gary,

    What you are suggesting about the bail on the mast head is true.  It may or may not be strong enough to support serious downward tension, but it was not designed for that.  Most boats spinnaker bails could not support such a load.  That is, the load necessary to properly setup a headsail for going to weather in 12k+ or so.

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