Going Loose-Footed with the Main

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  • May 18, 2012 1:32 PM
    Reply # 924588 on 922212
    Deleted user

    I noticed that I didn't really get much change when I tried to adjust the outhaul going downwind, with all the sail slides binding up with sideways pressure, it couldn't really move much. I tried to grab the sail and was able to get some belly, but it was funny shaped as the slides still stuck in places - only the area immediately above where I heaved was affected.

    I'll take a closer look at the reinforcements at the clew this weekend, and the bolt rope along the foot. I am pretty sure it is there, but I am going by memory.

    The local sailmaker suggested removing/replacing that bolt rope as over the years it tends to shrink and affects the shape. She also wants to put a foil (or something like that) across the foot to improve airflow, that would probably involve covering up or removing the grommets. I am going to try it first as-is and see how I like it.

    Winds should be pretty light over the next few days I should be able to get a good feel for it.


  • May 19, 2012 5:58 AM
    Reply # 925284 on 923245
    Stephen Wylie wrote:I'm talking about the main. My stays'l is standard issue loose-footed w/boom, which so far I have no problem with.

    I don't have a problem with my main either, just thought I'd give it a try.

    My local UK Halsey sailmaker (who is in the process of trimming my gennaker) says it'll be fine, although she could improve performance with some tweaking. 

    For some reason my reading comprehension must have failed that morning and I didn't read the entire title of your thread, i.e. Going loose-footed with the Main. 

    Sorry.  Wasn't my intent to hi-jack the thread to discuss staysails :)

    (closes door gently on the way out)
  • May 19, 2012 10:01 AM
    Reply # 925387 on 922212
    Deleted user
    No problem Mike,

    My original subject heading was vague, I edited it by adding "with the main" to steer the convo back where I wanted.

  • May 20, 2012 11:29 PM
    Reply # 926090 on 922212
    Deleted user
    So I went out with the sail slides removed, and I sure like the difference in the sail shape. A little tweaking with the outhaul now makes a big difference.

    I found that with the tension from the sail pulling up it made the the outhaul car bind when I tried to tighten it again. I need to keep a slide in next to the outhaul, or ...?

    When I bought my boat I had the sails resewn and extra reinforcing was added to tack and clew. I'll post pics once I have them uploaded.

    I'd like to see what others have done with theirs.
  • May 24, 2012 2:57 PM
    Reply # 929684 on 922212
    Late to chime in, I know...

    The short answer is that on our boats you're fine to pull the middle slugs from your main's foot. Leave the main slug or two at the clew, and it would be best if these are metal or at least metal bailed. You do not need slugs anywhere else on the foot. 

    As for the shape - it depends on how your sail is cut. Racing sails generally have a boltrope on the foot, then a "pocket" in the foot to allow draft adjustment, but without loosing the wind out the foot. Cruising style boats with slugs along the foot don't usually have this "pocket" and the shape of the sail is often flatter, if not entire flat right at the foot, whereas there is definite draft cut in to the sail several feet above the foot. That said, you definitely can get better shape with a free foot. 

    Foot slugs are mostly leftover from days when the foot was laced to the boom along its entire length, carrying the weight of heavy wooden booms. Also, they do help to keep the main in place when flaked if the outhaul is quite slack...

    FWIW, my main is cut for slugs - I took them out - it's better than it was.

  • December 26, 2012 11:53 AM
    Reply # 1166983 on 922212


    A couple questions about your last post on this thread, and in general about loose-footed mains. First, does removing slugs from the middle of the foot have any effect on weather helm (or rather, the position of the draft of the sail,) and if so, does this work with a battened main?

  • January 13, 2013 6:50 PM
    Reply # 1179059 on 922212
    Deleted user
    I am certainly no expert, Kern, Bud and Dave would be the best of answers.  All I can say is Glorious sailed to Hawaii with the main on the boom. While tied up at the Ala Wai marina several race boat sailors suggested that I would get better performance if it were off the boom. So we returned to the Northwest with it off  (except for the tack and clew).  I think the only difference I could notice was a little easier to reef with it off.  Also, I do not think I would enjoy dropping the main with out having lazy jacks either for sail attached or unattached (maybe worse for unattached). One last thing. The thought of having the clew come undone while underway with sail unattached was a little more nerve wracking, especially heading down wind.  So we applied a backup tie. 
  • March 05, 2013 8:21 AM
    Reply # 1234226 on 922212
    Deleted user
    I don't know if this is the proper thread for my question, but I'll give it a try.  I need a new main sail cover and am leaning towards a Stack-Pac type of thing.  I talked to a guy in the marina who has it on his catamaran and swears by it.  Does anyone have any experience with them on Westsails, and if so, do you like the setup?
  • March 06, 2013 9:25 AM
    Reply # 1235249 on 922212
    Deleted user
    Terry............I made up a stapak cover out of my old sail cover as an experiment to see if I liked it.  While not as efficent as a professially built one and certianly not as pretty it works quite well.  I was worried about the thing flapping around a lot but with the cover 'wrapped' around the front of the mast theres no real problem. The only issue I seem to have is putting it on and taking it off which is a pretty big pain.....not hard just a hassel.  You might want to check Sailrite.com, they have kits and instructional material.
  • March 06, 2013 5:30 PM
    Reply # 1235687 on 922212
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Terry: Here is a link to the first of 6 slides of what Aaron made for his main sail.

    Here is the finished product.

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