Mainsail Reefing

Leisure furl

Mainsail reefing is an important part of mainsail trim. Too much mainsail for the wind conditions can be dangerous. This article compares the various methods of reefing the main sail, specifically mainsail reefing systems. We look at each type of main reefing systems, describe the mainsail reefing equipment, describe reefing techniques, and mainsail reefing tips. We then look at the Pros and Cons of each system.

At the Annapolis sail Boat Show 2008 one of our readers asked an easy question. Which is the best mainsail reefing/furling system? Easy question but not a simple answer.

We decided to look at all the sailboats specifically keel Boats, at the 2008 Annapolis Boat show and do a survey of which system is the most popular.

Mainsail reefing & furling Survey

The Annapolis sailboat show has many racers and cruisers on show. We took the opportunity to see how each type, cruiser or racer, tackles mainsail reefing.

Types of main sail reefing

The survey is based on all boats over 28ft. The boats using In mast furlers are the larger production builders, Catalina, Hunter, Beneteau, Island packet etc.

  Survey Annapolis Boat Show 2008  
Reefing type # boats
In Mast Furlers 54
Boom Furlers 14
Slab reefing bolt rope 28
Slab reefing sides and Lazy Jacks 37
Slab reefing sides and Dutchman system 11

In mast furling is the most popular method of main sail handling as its found on most of the major production Boats, but if you add up all the slab reefing options you have 76 ie the most.

Note; As of 2010 two years after the 2008 show, there has not been any major change so we continue to see results similar to the 2008 survey.

Mainsail Reefing  Types

In mast furling is the most popular method of main sail handling as its found on most of the major production Boats.

Roller furling Booms are typically found on high end and larger boats and most used the Leisure Furl from Forespar. Boats in this category are the Trintella, Morris, Hylas, Friendship etc. Hylas had the GMT boom.

Slab reefing systems incorporated 3 types. Bolt rope and slides, lazy jacks and Dutchman systems. The performance cruisers use systems to capture the mainsail when it drops, like the Dutchman and lazy Jacks systems. I was surprised to see so many lazy Jacks as IMHO the Dutchman system is the better system, as it flakes the sail as its drops, but it is also more expensive.

The performance orientated boats including the racers tend to go with slides or bolt rope and slab reefing.