Reefing 101: How to Keep Friends and Family Safe and Dry this Fourth of July

Good seamanship is about anticipation and planning ahead. When you see whitecaps on the horizon, throw a reef in the main to keep your friends and family having fun this weekend.

Taking your friends and family out for a day cruise is just about the best way we can think of to spend the Fourth of July weekend (or any weekend!). But dragging the leeward rail in the water, saltwater (or any water) spray mixed in with your favorite beverage, and chips splayed out over the deck isn’t fun for anyone.

Most people who sail in notoriously windy locals should have a reefable mainsail and headsail. The trick is to put to put the reef in before you need one. Your guests will have a much better time if they feel safe and stay dry, and your boat will be in a lot better shape at the end of the day if you plan ahead for the conditions.

To make sure everyone’s having fun, we put together a few best practices on when and how to reef:

Jib Reefing

An important feature of a roller furling headsails is having a foam or rope luff, that is, a tapered piece of material sewn into the luff that takes up the camber of sail when it rolls around the headstay, ensuring that the sail still has a clean flying shape when it’s rolled down. You can generally roll a headsail up to 30% before it loses its effective flying shape.

When furling, you don’t want to fight the sheet, so before you furl, follow good procedure and be prepared: Get ready to ease the sheet, luff up into the wind to take the load off the sail, take up on the furling line to wind the desired amount of sail onto the headstay, and then tack up slack on the sheet and resume sailing.

Good care and maintenance will protect your sail, make the job easier, and prevent loose sheets from flogging around and hitting someone in the face.

Mainsail Reefing

It is good tradecraft for a sailor to reef the mainsail before they have to—and a lot easier. When reefing, the most important thing is to protect the luff of the sail. Whether you have a bolt rope main or a slide main, something is likely to get broken if you don’t have the luff tension on first. Let the outhaul and the vang completely off, and then drop the main halyard down to the desired reef position. Get the tack of the reef fixed and then winch up the halyard to put good tension on the luff—this keeps the sail pulled forward. Once the luff is taught, you can take up the slack on the reef line on the clew, again making sure to put good tension on the foot of the sail.

If you have a loose-footed sail—most cruisers do—roll the reefed portion into itself and secure with sail ties or a heavy-duty shock cord. Take care not to tie the sail around the boom—it wouldn’t be the first time someone goes to shake out a reef and forgets a sail tie through a grommet and around the boom, ripping the sail down the middle. If you have a fixed foot, using one long shock cord to secure the sail (standard procedure on many racing boats) will help to prevent unnecessary damage. Once the reef is set and the sail is properly secured you can resume sailing.

P.S.—Furling mainsails can be reefed too. Just follow the procedure for your sail and system.

When & What to Reef

If the boat is heeling over and main is washing out, the first thing to do is roll the jib down, but smart seamanship requires looking at the conditions ahead and setting up the boat early before you get overpowered. You’ll see the water start to whitecap consitantly between 11-16 knots. If you see whitecaps ahead, you should be thinking about a reef in the main. Look to where you want to go—if the boats already there are well heeled over, put in a reef. Depending on where you live, other telltale signs may include kite surfers ripping across the waves, a low fog blowing in, or racing boats crashing and burning—you don’t want that to be you!

Don’t wait until the conditions are too much. Being conservative is not only good for the enjoyment of your guests; it’s also good for your boat.

Motorsailing Home

If the conditions do get to be too much and you’re ready to head home, you may want to furl the jib and motorsail home. Don’t go straight upwind; it’s not fast or good for the sail. Move the traveler to centerline, and sheet the main on fairly tight. Sail off the wind just enough to keep the sail just filled and have a slight heel. You’ll use half the amount of fuel and go the same speed making the engine more efficient. It’s okay to tack back and forth while motorsailing, and it will be a lot more pleasant than bashing straight upwind.

You don’t have to shy away from the wind, just follow these tips and your weekend cruise will be that much more enjoyable for everyone onboard! Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

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Sweeping Success at the 2015 J/109 North American Championship

Don Filippelli’s Caminos has placed second at the J/109 North American Championship three times. With the success of Quantum sails in the J/109 fleet, Quantum rep Terry Flynn worked with Filippelli this spring to outfit his boat with new Quantum sails. At their first regatta, Caminos not only won the J/109 North American’s, he also won Block Island Race Week, winning the Everett B. Morris Memorial Trophy for best overall performance.

Flynn connected with Filippelli through his son-in-law, Ryan Dempsey. “I know Ryan from the J/80 class, and was a customer of mine,” said Flynn. “We started talking in the spring about switching Caminos over to Quantum sails and me sailing the regatta with them. The timing worked out that I could do it, so he ordered the new main and class jib.”

Caminos raised the sails once before Block Island Race Week to make sure they fit and there were no issues. “I set up the boat to Kerry Klingler’s tuning guide, and it seemed really fast,” said Flynn.

Flynn said getting out to practice was key to their crew, who was sailing together for the first time. “It gave us time to get comfortable with our jobs and each other,” he said. “Sunday we had wind from 4-18, so we got to test different rig settings.”

The practice and sails paid off.

Caminos dominated the week, winning four of 11 races and never finishing below fourth. They easily took the win with a 17-point victory over second place and 27 points ahead of third.

Overall, it was a sweep, as Quantum-powered Rush and Storm took second and third, 19 points ahead of the competition. Quantum rep Kerry Klinger, who sailed on Storm, said the results were clear.

Rush and Storm are both top competitors in the J/109 class. Storm has won the North American’s three times and Rush has a very good record. The top three Quantum-powered boats were clearly faster than the rest of the fleet.”

Overall, it was a great week for everyone. “The Storm Trysail Club did a great job with the organization and the volunteers for the event,” said Flynn. “I haven’t been to many Block Island Race Weeks, but the weather was everything you could as for. After the week we had, I wouldn’t change a thing about how we sailed.”

Congratulations to all three teams on an amazing event!

J/109 North American Championship
1 – Don Filippelli, Caminos
2 – Bill Sweetser, Rush
3 – Rick Lyall, Storm

For full results, click here

To read more about Block Island Race Week, click here.

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A Memorable Block Island Race Week

Six days of various conditions made for an excellent Block Island Race Week at the Storm Trysail Club in Larchmont, New York. With some of the best sailing the event has seen in more than a decade, Quantum sails topped five divisions, including winning the week’s top honor.

Quantum rep Kerry Klinger said race conditions were some of the best he’s ever raced at Block Island. “It was a really good event this year. There was a little bit of everything, which provided a really good mix of conditions throughout the event.”

Block Island Race Week was home of the 2015 J/109 North American’s, which included 24 boats – the biggest fleet at Block Island. Klingler sailed on Rick Lyall’s Storm, which placed third in their division.

The top three J/109 boats all used Quantum sails, including the overall Block Island winner Caminos, who won their first J/109 North American Championship as well as the Block Island Race Week Everett B. Morris Memorial Trophy for best overall performance. This was Caminos first regatta using Quantum sails, and Klingler said the results were evident.

Caminos has been a runner up or in the top three at a bunch of North American events,” he said. “This year they switched to Quantum sails, and they were clearly the fastest boat out there.”

Other top finishers at the event included repeat winners Interlodge and Impetuous, who won the IRC1 and Swan 42 divisions at the 161st Annual NYYC Regatta earlier this month. Walt Thirion’s C&C 30 Themis took the top spot this time, improving from second at NYYC to first at Block Island.

Congratulations to everyone on another great regatta!

Block Island Race Week

J/109
1 – Don Filippelli, Caminos
2 – Bill Sweetser, Rush
3 – Rick Lyall, Storm

J/88
1 – Rod Johnstone, Jazz
2 – Iris Vogel, Deviation

C&C 30
1 – Walt Thirion, Themis

Swan 42
1 – Paul Zabetakis, Impetuous

IRC 1
1 – Austin and Gwen Fragomen, Interlodge
4 – Stephan Murray, Decision

IRC 2
4 – John Cooper, Cool Breeze

PHRF 3
3 – Steve Thurston, Might Puffin

For full results, click here

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