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Ask Sail: Flying Jib

When sailing my Baltic 35 I usually fly a large 140 percent genoa on a roller furler. When the wind gets too strong, however, I find it is too big to roller-reef efficiently. The boat also came with an 80 percent working jib that I’ve never used.
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Phil Krieger of Marathon, Florida asks:

When sailing my Baltic 35 I usually fly a large 140 percent genoa on a roller furler. When the wind gets too strong, however, I find it is too big to roller-reef efficiently. The boat also came with an 80 percent working jib that I’ve never used. I’m thinking of having a sailmaker put a new high-modulus luff on the small jib so I can hoist it flying straight out of the bag when it’s too windy for the genoa. Do you think this will work, or does it need to be hoisted on a stay? The rig is fractional, and it’s not a very big sail.

Win Fowler replies:

In theory, there's no reason you can’t set your 80 percent jib flying with the proper luff modifications. However, there are two issues to consider—the loads involved and the behavior of the sail as you set and douse it. 

You will need a low-stretch halyard and luff rope and a good winch to create the tension to keep the luff from sagging too much. The combined length of the luff rope and halyard will be nearly double the length of the headstay, so even if both are made of material that is as stretch-resistant as the headstay and can be loaded as heavily, they will stretch twice as much. Therefore, you might have your sailmaker add some hollow to the luff when they install the luff rope. You must also make sure that the spot where you tack the sail is strong enough to carry the load. 

Since it will be windy when you want to use this smaller sail, it will thrash around a bit as you are hoisting or dousing it. You may want to have your genoa unfurled to help support it during this transition.

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