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  • #4528

    When a wind gets up do you reef the mainsail or the Genoa first?



    IMHO I would reef genoa first. This is very easy and quick as we have a reefing system on the genoa(well worth the money) and as others have suggested the genoa is more likely to tip you in than the main. It will be interesting to see what the consensus is. Happy New Year!
    Nick Giles 9922 LizzieB


    I have a nice slab reefing system on the main, with two reefs, and the lines led to the gooseneck. Quick and easy, and having two reefs means the first one can go in without much loss of boat speed, so it is an easy decision.
    By contrast, the genoa is a wire luff type and not hanked to the forestay. When you drop it underway it invariably goes in the water. Swapping down to the smaller jib is a bit of a pain, more knots to tie as you swap sheets, the genoa must be rolled and bagged, not pleasant when it is sopping wet!

    So I would tend to reef the main first, primarily because it is much easier. I also find the helm remains lighter than when I fly jib and full main.

    Next step would be to swap the genoa for the jib, then drop in the second reef in the main, and then get rid of the jib altogether. I have sailed on very gnarly days a few times like that (usually midwinter when desperate to get out on the water!) but upwind progress is a bit painful.


    It seems straight forward either way but if one wants to put a reef into a mainsail surely it would help to be hove too using the genoa! Is this one of those questions where the answer depends entirely upon the boat set up (roller reefing genoa) and the conditions. I think I would half reef the genoa then hove to I would slab reef the main sail. Now I bet there are hundreds of sailors who disagree with me:-)


    Dave Barker

    I would reduce sail at the front of the boat first. For me the question is what sort of sail plan I want to use while sailing, rather than what order things happen in, (but this sounds like semantics).

    The reason that the helm goes lighter when the mainsail is reefed first is of course that the standard sail plan (full main & genoa) deliberately gives the boat slight weather helm, even when sailed flat (with no heel), which means that by simply letting go of the tiller the boat will safely turn head to wind. Reducing sail area aft of the centre of lateral resistance (ie the mainsail) removes this safety margin. It may be a counsel of perfection, but a balanced sail plan (slight weather helm) is best.

    Similarly it seems to me to be a good habit to heave to before reefing the main, and I often find it practical to do this with a reduced foresail. This minimises side-drift whilst leaving sufficient sail to dissuade the head of the boat from crossing the wind. Again, a foresail reefing system makes adjusting the sail area almost ludicrously easy. (I would encourage anyone to use this sort of system if at all possible.)

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