Roller furling for Jib

Moderator: GreenLake

Roller furling for Jib

Postby Bob Damon » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:43 am

On the DS Facebook page, there has been some recent discussion regarding use of roller furling for the jib. While roller furling is permitted, it cannot be used during racing. I am interested in hearing feedback on whether or not the Class should consider allowing it for racing. Give me pros and cons. Thanks!!
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Postby GreenLake » Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:22 pm


I don't race in class sanctioned events, but I do race in a local "race what you brought" style race, where I have participated both with my DS and another boat that has roller furling.

From that experience I cannot see that the furler would give substantial advantage during a race, but it's a nice way to depower the boat while milling about the start. For the actual start, you probably want the jib out to be sheeted home, so I'd say furler or no makes no realistic difference.

Sailing with furled jib, that is with main alone, changes the sailing characteristics of the DS in a generally not beneficial way, and I would not elect to furl a jib in trying to race except perhaps in "survival" conditions.

I know you had some fun races with really high winds, but, I for one, would not have started in them :)

Partially furled jibs wouldn't seem to be attractive either, because typically, what people have for small boats are furlers, and not roller-reefing. If you were to install the latter, you would probably sacrifice performance when not furled.

While it would not affect me, I'd suggest to the class to allow this, as I cannot see any tactical or performance advantage where people would feel obligated to mount this to stay competitive.

My 2 cents.
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Postby jdoorly » Fri Sep 28, 2012 12:40 am

PRO: It makes ploying and deploying a headsail easy easy easy!
PRO: They used to be for cruising, but now racers use 'em (code 0 et al)
CON: Potential for jamming requiring crew to go forward and fix. Some of my fixes took 20 minutes to re-thread the spool.

I agree with GL, doesn't really help or hinder, but the jamming can be a safety issue, and some classes prohibit crew going forward.
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Postby jpclowes » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:06 am

Hi Bob.

Personally, I think they should be allowed. I don't think the offer much advantage in racing and they may in fact be a detriment. They also offer additional safety.

A roller furler gives you a small advantage because it allows you to easily get your jib out of the way when flying a spinnaker. It is my belief, (and I am not claiming to be an expert on this sort of thing) that this advantage is offset by the need to cut down the jib to make they system work. My understanding is that for a roller furling system to work properly you need to remove the deck sweeping part of the foot of the jib.

I think there are also some safety advantages. Roller furling allows you to quickly and safely shorten sail in an emergency, from the safety of the cockpit. While most Day Sailers can drop their sails from the cockpit, securing the jib in such a way that it isn't flopping around or falling into the water can be a problem.

Most small boat systems are pretty inexpensive. And, if my beliefs that they don't offer any advantage in racing are correct, it won't spark an "arms race" among racers to allow them.
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Postby talbot » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:04 pm

I agree that roller furling would offer no advantage in racing. The reason to allow it is to encourage more people to race. A person who uses a furler for cruising might be reluctant to race because they don't want to rerig their boat for occasional events.

Note that you don't need a furler to strike the headsail quickly in high winds or to prepare for a spinnaker run. A number of us on this forum use a dousing line along the luff that runs through a tack block back to the cockpit. It's a low/no-cost modification that should have no effect on sailing performance.
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Postby GreenLake » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:30 am

I think Bob wrote in his opening post that the question is not whether you are allowed a rig that can be furled, but whether to also allow you to furl the sail during a race.

A downhaul for the jib is dead simple, and would allow the jib to be dropped nearly as quickly, or as quickly as it can be furled. If being able to down a jib is considered an advantage downwind under spinnaker, then just make sure the downhaul isn't prohibited in the class rules.

That would seem enough to prevent furlers from becoming an item that might drive up costs, and puts them back into other categories of rigging flexibility that's the hallmark oft the DSA (in contrast to many other CAs).
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