Well, the thread goes from stength to strength! Having benefitted from all this discussion I thought I’d check in with my conclusions
I’m assuming that anyone reading this has decided to go for furler reefing – no need to rehearse the general advantages – which seem to me to be significant.
In the end I opted for an aeroluffspar which I purchased just prior to the new aeroluffspars website going live. Why? It can be seen as a further development of the Helyar system concept and as such I feel it successfully gets round the problems of altering the luff entry profile when unreefed. This might seem a bit fussy for cruisers (which I’m not – yet) but I imagine there are plenty of situations where time is of the essence and if you’ve also got tide and waves to contend with you want your boat sailing as efficiently as possible. The Bartels system seemed – to me – to be way over engineered and over-spec for a small boat, and for anyone that drops their mast more than a handful of times a season I imagine it also must be pretty cumbersome and inflexible to deal with the forestay issues – but I may be wrong there. We step/unstep every time we sail, and the aeroluffspar actually makes this process easier rather than harder. It easily bends back on itself once over so you can bend it under the shrouds well within its tolerance. For storage and transport the aeroluffspar is not as flexible as the Helyar system – but the version without the built in furler doesn’t need detatching from the bow each time, and it lies happily along the length of the boat when not in use. I just support it either side of the washboard and pop the cover over everything.
I found that a CD suffices for keeping the forestay out of the way: but you need enough tension in the forestay once the rig is tensioned. On our boat we have two loops off the forestay wire, a long one with a small carabiner which we just clip on whilst we rig the shrouds under no tension, then, once we have the rig tensioned via the genoa/spar we change it over to a pretty tight shockcord loop. This means only taking the pin out of the bow fitting once.
You do need to make sure of your sail size is right and for most people there will be the need to move the cringles. An alternative to this is if you have an outer sleeve fitted to the luff (which I happened to have) this bypasses the need to move the cringles. [attachment=0:159va8k6]luff-tube.jpg[/attachment:159va8k6] (NB – this is it before the old luff-wire came out) I think this approach probably makes the reefed luff a bit fatter than it would be with the clamping system that is an option, but if you’re looking to adapt an existing sail cheaply that might be a way forward for you.
Lastly, in terms of customer service, as you expect with a member of the Wayfarercommunity, I’ve found Ralph Roberts very communicative and very helpful indeed. I think this is a really good technology which I would be suprised not to see on more and more boats – not just wayfarers – in the future.