know it’s getting near to Christmas, but this is turning into the Nine Lessons
jibs. Or Genoas,
the flat white sail at the front, attached to the fore stay. Except that being Millennium Carbon from
UK Halsey Sails, they are covered in fine black stripes (“stress mapped”) and
growing cream-coloured Kevlar anti-chafe patches as we go
J120 class usually only bother with a #1 and a #3, and sets the sails on a
roller furling gear on the forestay.
Note, roller furling not roller reefing. Unlike some sails, ours are not designed
to be used partly rolled – you either got ‘em or you ain’t got em.
is about 100% - i.e. it fills the whole of the fore triangle (space between fore
stay, mast and deck) without overlapping the mast. Easy to handle, no chafe from the
spreaders (crosstrees, to the uninitiated) and used in heavier winds. We
actually carry two of these. Graham’s old Dacron sail from North is used for
deliveries and cruising – it’s pretty bulletproof, doesn’t object to UV light
too much, and is easy for a small crew to handle. Horrible shape, and rather uncool. Its
replacement from UK sails is Millenium Carbon and very
cool indeed, but is still in its bag and has never been hoisted.
sails are often fitted with battens; both of ours are. The problem is, how do you get a metre
of solid fibreglass bar to roll up around the forestay? Two possible solutions:
The North has collapsible battens, which is a bit of a misnomer as they are
there to stiffen the leech (back edge) of the sail. Imagine two lengths of the
curved metal that tape measures are made from, laid face to face and sewn into a
webbing pocket. It feels stiff
enough, but will roll up from one end when you want it to, just like the tape
measure. Sounds fair enough but
they do go floppy with use, and ours are in need of the little triangular
UK Sails #3 has vertically rigged hard battens, which lay parallel to the
forestay and roll up with ease.
They last much longer, but are arguably a little less efficient as a
stiffening measure. Our only problem was how to fold up the bloody sail once we
had got the battens in, as they run at 90 degrees to the normal direction of
fold. We’ve fudged it, but do any
of you pro’s out there have any experience?
#1 is about 135%, overlaps quite a lot, and is used in light airs. You would normally expect to change up
to the number three at about 13 – 16 knots of wind, as a #1 is usually built
quite lightly to take advantage of softer conditions, and the boat should be
fully powered up by the #3 at those wind
Collins at UK Sails had ours built much more strongly, and we have carried it
successfully hard on the wind in 30 knots of breeze, although the rig and
helmsman were both complaining vociferously.
Unusually for a J120 we also carry a #2, at 120% of fore
triangle, which lives in the depths of a locker and is hardly ever used. On the last boat (a smaller J110) we
decided that the extra performance given by the #1 didn’t warrant the handicap
rating penalty it attracted, so Pete bought a lightweight #2 for use in light
airs, as well as carrying a heavy #2.
This was very successful, and we started down the same road in this
boat. However, the J120 is much
stiffer (accepts more power from the sails) so the #2 is really just a spare
only thing have been able to do to extract more juice from the #1 on a deep
reach (our only sail and point of sail used for the last 1500 miles, aargh) is
to take the clew (back bottom corner) forwards and outwards from its normal
position by means of a barber hauler, and no, I have no idea where the
_expression_ came from. We use a
spare sheet rove through one of our ubiquitous spare snatch blocks, attached to
one of the midships mooring cleats by means of a patent webbing strap
thingy. This stops the top of the
sail from falling away to leeward, and applies more
carried a pole – booming out pole, whisker pole, spinnaker pole, whatever – if
if if if - we could goose-wing the rig by having the mainsail boomed out on one
side and the headsail boomed out on the other. This is an old-fashioned rig for sailing
straight downwind in heavy airs. It is seen by cutting-edge sailors as a bit
wimpish, distinctly uncool, and almost smacking of oldgafferism. We would all have given our left b--- ,
well, given a lot, to have one on this race.
possible to goose-wing without a pole but only in flat water, as the slightest
roll collapses the sail. Not an
option for us here.
the moment we have given up trying to gybe the angles downwind under spinnaker
or genoa, and are sailing straight down the waves under full mainsail only. Believe it or not, this gives us our
best vector to the finish – we would go faster at an angle with a kite or genoa,
but would need to cover far too much ground that we would achieve less progress
in the desired direction.
back square rig and the brigantine, I say!! Clew up yer tops’ls in the bunt me
hearties, and all plain sail to the stuns’ls!! Ar
Excuse me, I have been told to go and have a lie down in
a darkened room. Fat chance.
for your next instalment, the storm sails.
As Eric Morecombe would say, “You’ll enjoy this, but not a