Welcome to the UKWA Home Page Forums Technical Roller furling headsail

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    Being new to the Wayfarer, and not being as agile or boat shaped as I once was, I considering fitting a roller furling genoa to Wicked Way.

    I would be grateful to hear from anyone who has fitted roller reefing, what is the best system to fit, can I use my existing sail, would it need to be recut. Are there any major pitfalls other than the obvious one of being less efficent to windward. 😀


    Hi Popeye (odd name for a Wayfarer sailor),
    I have had both roller furling and roller reefing systems. Both are well worth the expense.
    Roller furling means the genoa is right out or right in (although it is possible to use a very small section of genoa in strong winds). The best system is the Harken high load. http://www.sailboats.co.uk have an offer on furling drums at the moment.
    I now have the Holt reefing spar. It meant a new sail with a rope luff instead of a wire luff, but I managed to sell three sails to finance it. Works very well, brilliant for single handing with the line led back to the back of the centreboard case and has only a small effect on performance. Another good system is the plastimo system – slightly bigger spar.
    Any sail will furl without being recut, but obviously the greater the dish at the bottom the more it will crease.
    Hope this helps.


    I had the Harken highload furling system on my World and it was great. I also had a luff tube so that it could be reefed. The problem with a plastic luff tube is that it will twist so you will not be able to reef properly. Since then I have now got the Plastimo reefing spar and the sail does reef properly.
    As for costs, My Harken set up was more expensive than my Plastimo one! You can adapt your current sail and fit it with a rope luff so that it will fit the Plastimo reefing spar. It’s a bit of a fiddle but saves on the cost of a new sail.
    As for efficiency to windward, You don’t see many boats in front of Matt!


    Thanks for your advice guys, I appreciate it. I shall investigate all the systems you have suggested and take it from there. 😀

    Dave Barker

    Another system worth considering is the Bartels version (reefing, not furling). The drum is stainless steel and quite nicely proportioned – doesn’t look too big for a Wayfarer foredeck. The luff spar is a nice teardrop shape and although quite slim it doesn’t twist under load. I can give you more information if you’re interested, but I should mention that it is fairly expensive. (However, there is no good, cheap reefing system!)



    Thanks for reminding me of the Bartels system. Wish I had known about it before I got mine. I like the enclosed drum on yours.
    Just how expensive was it? Or is that a secret not to be revealed to the crew!

    Dave Barker

    Hi Matt,

    Yes, it’s a nice sensible system. The furling drum is a bit of a tardis – you could use quite a heavy line and still not overcrowd the drum.

    Cost – approximately the same as 2 Mike Mac genoas, or less than one new mainsail. 😉

    I might as well add a couple of comments now I’m thinking about furling gear. We omitted the fitting at the bottom of the photo (green arrow) on Swiebertje’s advice. It isn’t strictly necessary, and would raise the foot of the sail even more than with the drum alone. However, this wasn’t as simple as you might think and I had to re-model the shroud adjuster that was already serving to elongate the bow fitting (separating drum from forestay on old system) to make it all fit. The pin arrowed red fits through the extended bow fitting, retained with a ring to replace the split-pin illustrated.

    The ring arrowed in blue is a standard modification to receive whatever you choose to use to hold the genoa tack. Our genoa has cloth tape loops at tack and head and these are tied in place with thin rope/line.

    On both counts the sail is therefore as low as it can be within the contraints of this system. It is still higher off the bow than would normally be the case with no reefing or furling system and this means that the sheet fairleads have to be right back to the aft end of the tracks (ideally further!) if the full genoa is being flown.

    The absence of the green arrowed fitting limits the amount of aft movement of the luff spar when rigging/unrigging the boat, as the drum is already fairly close to the deck in its normal position. The mast could not for example be dropped with the system in place, so it might be worth considering accepting a slight loss of sailing performance for the convenience of extra flexibility, if planning a cruise involving bridges.

    I’ll mention the safety stay issue another time.


    Had any difficulty furling ever? I ask because the drum centre seems small diameter. The adventage I suppose of the Holt system is it’s large drum (or possibly disadvantage).

    Dave Barker

    Never noticed any problem with furling, but I suppose you get used to the system that you use.

    Theoretically the smaller diameter must give the furling line and cleat a slightly harder time too…


    Hi, I was planning on doing something about my present genoa reefing arrangement, so this thread is invaluable, thanks. I wonder if you could answer a heap more questions, that probably demonstrate that I’ve missed the point somewhere along the way:

    I presume you dispense with a separate forestay?

    Can you then shoot bridges? I presumed that if you used a safety chain to the top of the spar then you can’t drop the mast on the move? (At present my foresay is led back for this purpose)

    Do you leave the sail on the spar (assuming that you don’t drop the mast in a dingy park) or fit a halyard?

    many thanks

    Dave Barker

    Howard, I think you have hit most of the nails on the head.

    Yes, the separate forestay becomes more or less redundant, as an extra strong one is enclosed within the luff spar. This is a boon, as the possibility of wrapping the stay as you furl is removed from the equation.

    The bridge-shooting part is where the head scratching begins, for me at least. The safety stay doesn’t have to be a problem from this point of view though. I started off by using the spinnaker halyard as my safety stay. This means that you can lower the spar without dropping the mast (having unclipped from the bow fitting first). As I mentioned previously, the drum sits too low to lower the mast with spar in situ, but I anticipate no problems once a temporary extra spacer/link is inserted below the drum. The sheeting angle would be only slightly compromised by this.

    Because the luff is a very snug fit in the spar on “Cockle”, I leave the sail on the spar, to avoid wear to the sail. However, several other forum regulars have genoa reefing with a halyard on the spar. (I couldn’t realistically do this without changing to a thinner luff bolt rope.) Before I had a tubular cover for the genoa I used to remove the spar/sail combo to keep it out of the sunlight (distant memory!). I now have a cover, but of course this needs to be hoisted and lowered, so the spinnaker halyard is now used for this and is therefore no longer available for safety-stay duty. (In fairness this was never intended to be a long term solution, as the spinnaker halyard has a more interesting purpose. Instead I’m planning to fit a block to the forestay attachment point on the mast and use this to lead a safety line up from the top of the genoa spar, and back down the mast).

    Leaving the sail on the spar is not ideal – the sail has taken on a slight curl, but in anything above very light conditions this isn’t noticeable. There is a foam strip about 100mm wide, tapered towards each end, sewn into a “blister” pocket along and just behind most of the leading edge of the genoa to take up the fullness in the sail when it is furled or part-furled, to try to minimise creasing. This has also taken on a distinct curl which is more noticeable on one tack than the other. On starboard it follows the natural curve of the sail quite well, less so on port, to the extent that the tell-tales tend not to settle. 😕

    The other slight complication to consider is transporting the spar without bending and damaging it. We sling ours under the mast without any problems.

    One last point – I’m finally getting round to sorting out a second set of tell-tales further back from the luff for when using the genoa part-reefed.


    You seem to have covered everything.
    I too was concerned about the lack of second wire at the front to hold the mast up, but when you look around there are an awful lot of boats the same. I have a short strop from top of forestay to mast as a safety feature.
    Like Dave I also hoist a cover up the furled sail to protect from sunlight. I found that it does tend to flog in wind though. I cured this with a couple of bungees rond it as high as I could reach. The alternative is to have a sail with a sacrificial UV strip added to the leach.
    I did my first bridge shooting with the reefing spar this year – no problem at all. You don’t need a line to lower the mast, just undo the forestay from the bow fitting and get the crew to lower the mast as you swing the reefing spar down with it. The spar will lie along the mast with a bungee to secure it.

    Dave Barker

    Matt – How does your system attach to the bow fitting? I’m still working out the best way to shoot a bridge, for example.



    Three little points:

    Firstly you didn’t tell me it was a Reefing Spar Maiden Bridge shooting attempt!

    Secondly, you didn’t mention the problems associated with picking up a buoy;

    and Thirdly you didn’t mention the importance of carrying a spare drop nose pin (http://www.sailboats.co.uk/Product~Seasure_Drop_Nose_Pin_6mm_x_20mm_NonStocked_item_36-06-20.html
    ) to replace the one we dropped in the water!

    Otherwise everything went fine!


    Dave Barker


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