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Ask Sail: Choosing the Best Jib Sheets

With its high-tech sails, this Hallberg-Rassy cruiser would benefit from high-tech lines as well

With its high-tech sails, this Hallberg-Rassy cruiser would benefit from high-tech lines as well

CHOOSING THE BEST JIB SHEETS

Q: I need to replace the jib sheets on my 35ft performance cruiser. I keep hearing about how high-modulus line can benefit sail shape and wonder if I should maybe spring for something fancy. Or will good old double-braid polyester still do the job? I’m a bit of a tweaker, but not a fanatic, and I don’t race.

— Susan Hubbel, Los Angeles, CA

BRIAN HANCOCK REPLIES

This really depends on what type of sails you have. If you have high-tech sails, you need high-tech jib sheets to take full advantage of their performance potential. If, on the other hand, you have more low-tech sails, such as those made of woven Dacron, you can stick with polyester, especially if you don’t race. When you’re under sail, what happens is that when a puff of wind hits the sail things start to stretch. This includes your sheets, the halyard and also the fibers that make up your sail. As a result, as soon as there is stretch there is some distortion to the shape of the sail no matter what your sheet material. Ultimately, the idea is to complement the fabric and engineering of the sail by choosing the appropriate line for the halyard and sheets.

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