Thursday, 30 April 2015

The benefits of self-tacking headsails

Sailing is all about smartness. We, the sail makers and sailing hardware innovators always brainstorm on how to make things simpler. A self-tacking headsail is highly recommended for those who love to sail alone or for yachts that have limited number of crew members.
Without self-tacking, your crew will have to take one jib-sheet off and wind the other.

Now that’s not so easy for those who are new to sailing. By using the self-tacked headsails you can cut the hassles.

How it works 

A self-tacked headsail has one jib sheet and the hardware installation is so done that when needed you can automate the process. 

The jib-sheet will move from the clew to the stand-up block that is mounted on the self-tracker track. The sheet will then be back down inside the mast and will go back to the winch. 

It will be like sliding from one side to the other on its own.  


Any kind of automation does come with a set of benefits and there’s no exception with a self-tacker. 

  • You can move the headsail in no time without keeping any crew member engaged with the process.
  • If you are sailing alone then you must have a self-tacker.
  • If you have a yacht boat full of inexperienced crew members, you won’t have to train them or scratch your head to make them learn how to move the headsail.
  • For small family yacht sailing, a self-tacker is highly helpful. One of the adults can keep an eye on the children while the other will keep the boat running.
  • With a self-tacker you can make your headsail last longer since there’s no chance of getting it caught on the guard rails.
  • You won’t have to ask your friends or crew to move out so that you can grind the winches.

What is a Storm Jib?

Those who are new to sailing should have a knowledge about the sails that are used during storms. Even if they don’t have any plan to head toward zones that are prone to high winds, they should at least learn to differentiate between a storm jib and a trysail. Both are storm sails but are different. 

A ‘Storm Jib’ is a typical storm sail that is engineered to withstand extreme wind conditions. 

The basic features of a storm jib are—

  • It has a high clew
  • It has no foot round
  • It’s made of a heavy fabric, ideally heavy Dacron
  • It weighs between 280 gm to 400 gm approximately
  • Behind each hunk, there are reinforcement patches
  • It has oversized corner reinforcement patches
  • It has got a set of sheets spliced to the clew
  • It should have a strop spliced at the tack
  • The sail is always raised off the deck so that waves can pass without any obstacle
  • It is set either on the forestay or on the inner forestay
Sometimes sailors try to cut a storm jib out of an old sail. We shall recommend not to do that. Ordinary sailcloth is not strong enough to withstand gusty winds. 

It is not only the shape of the sail that matters, the strength of the cloth and all the other related features mentioned above are all important. Maybe highly experienced sailors can choose an appropriate piece of cloth and can build a Jib on their own but new sailors should never think of trying anything of that sort.

They should always ‘buy’ a storm jib. If they have budget issues, they can look for used sails.

While buying a Jib, pick one that has got fluorescent color. Most sailors prefer fluorescent orange as it glows in the dark and the other boats nearby can identify the vessel. 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Choose the right Mainsail for your cruising boat

Are you planning to buy a mainsail? Are you surfing through the web in search of a good deal of mainsails for sale? But mainsail cannot be bought just like that. Not only mainsail, no sail should be just added to cart. 

Before purchasing or placing order, you first need to find what is best-suited for your boat and also for your sail plan. 

mainsail -

The latter is more crucial since your sailing itinerary will determine the kind of weather the sails will be exposed to. In our previous post we discussed about the wind conditions and type of sails to choose. 

At this post we shall focus on the size of the boat as a vital determinant of the type of mainsail you would require for your cruising boat.

Find the common mainsail cuts and their corresponding boat sizes below—


This one is ideal for the smallest cruising boats. To keep the boat in balance, the mainsail should have less stretch and this cut conforms to that. 

Besides this cut is perfect for in-must furling system where the mainsail goes without battens.

Vertical Cut 

This too is ideal for battenless mainsails. This is meant for small to medium size boats. Load-bearing seams are eliminated from the leech edge. 

Cross Cut

This one is the most popular of all the cuts and frequently used by small to medium size boats. Although this kind of mainsail has got lower stretch than the other cuts, still that is higher than the full-radial cut. 


A cut that suits medium to large boats. The sailcloth is heavier along the leech section and lighter in foot-luff. 


This is meant for large boats. The radial shape allows the flexibility of using sailcloth of different weights. Here the overall stretch is kept as low as possible. 

Lighter cloth is used in the center and heavier cloth in the corners.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Symmetric Vs Asymmetric Spinnakers: The debate is on

Sailors often differ in their choice of spinnakers. Symmetric spinnakers are convention but asymmetric spinnakers have rapidly become favorite of many post 1980.
In every racing championship or in every GT of sailors, this eternal debate is kicked off. We think debates keep us healthy.

  • The basic difference is the difference in shape and that has made them generate lifts differently. A symmetric spinnaker does it from the top while an asymmetric does it from the left. 

  • For day sailing and cruising asymmetric is the best option since it doesn’t need a pole and helps in light air reaching. 

  • Heavier keel boats prefer asymmetric as it helps to sail faster. 

  • From the sailmaker’s point of view, asymmetric is better than symmetric. Let us explain. While designing the latter we need to compromise on what is optimal. In case of asymmetric we can make optimum luff curve and optimum leech exit. In symmetric the luff and leech are often switched between each other. 

  • Previously people thought that asymmetric spinnakers can’t sail as low as the symmetric ones which is not true. With the use of a pole and a squared back there is more speed control with the asymmetric spinnakers. 

  • Downwind oscillation of day sailing and light cruising boats can be solved with an asymmetric spinnaker. 

  • For racing boats also asymmetric sails or A-sails are great since these sails can make sailing faster. But at the same time these sails need tighter apparent wind angles. Less experienced crew members can hardly pull off a good jibe. This is a handicap that prevents lot of sailors not to prefer A-sails. 

  • For downwind sailing, most sailors opine that symmetric spinnaker is far better in performance than asymmetric ones. 

Everything said and done, your boat length, design and sail plan are the factors that determine whether you need a symmetric or an asymmetric. Ideally you should keep both in your inventory.