Sails

A Staysail for Racing

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Lawrie Yearsley of St. Paul, Minnesota asks:

I own a 1973 C&C 30. It came with a staysail, which I have never flown. We typically use a mainsail, jib and spinnaker. We race frequently, and I am wondering if the boat would be faster with the staysail on. The sail looks pretty old and grungy, but is usable, and I have noticed them being flown on the large Volvo 70s. Is there any advantage to me using one on my boat? 

Win Fowler Replies:

There are many flavors of staysail, and probably the most useful ones for increasing speed every now and then are those you see on the Volvo 70s you mention—lightweight sails with a full hoist, high clew and vertical leech. These work best at apparent wind angles close to a beam reach. On a broad reach or run, they are mostly eclipsed by the mainsail, and on a tight reach there is not much room for them in the slot between a spinnaker and mainsail. A planing boat like a V70 is more likely to sail in the staysail’s apparent wind range than a boat like yours, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never find it useful. The ideal place to tack the sail is 60 to 70 percent of the distance from the mast to the spinnaker tack. 

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