knurd

Another reef

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How often do you use your second reef?

I have a Tartan 28 with a single reef point in the main. I usually reef around 16 knots and if it's 25+ I go out another day. Summers in Boston generally aren't that windy.

I'm wondering if I'm missing out by not having a second reef point.

Realistically I'm day sailing 90% of the time and racing the other 10% but the forced lack of activity due to Covid right now has me planning a couple weeks of coastal cruising and a couple of distance races for next summer.

In the two seasons I've owned the boat I haven't missed the second reef but I'm wondering how fast that would change if I did more cruising or a couple overnight races.

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If you do, or plan to do, any racing outside of sheltered waters, then I would suggest 2 reefs minimum

If you plan to do any extended cruising outside of sheltered waters, I'd go for 3 reefs.

(The above is from experience sailing my 40' cruiser/racer... your mileage may vary on a 28 footer)

 

I guess my thinking is that if it gets too windy for your 1 reef, what you gonna do? You probably ain't realistically going to motor anywhere (except downwind) and you'll struggle to make way to windward with just a jib... so 2 reefs and smallest jib gives you options to control your own destiny

Cruising 2 up, on a 300 NM open water passage, we experienced 12 hours of wind around 30 knots, with seas up to 15'... we were glad of our 3rd reef

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We used to have 2 reefs, and never used the first one.  After getting rid of the sail, it occurred to me that the first reef (which didn’t reef much)  was mainly there so the sail wasn’t banging into the top runners (when they were set) tacking and jibing.  Kind of a lazy reef) Doh. :huh:  it didn’t change the feel of the boat in higher winds much- the second was for that.  So reef points have different reasons for being. Figuring out what you want a reef to do?  You’ll learn something about your boat, your sailmaker, and yourself.  I keep hearing that experienced yachtsmen like deep reefs.  I like deep reefs.

 

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I have only used a second reef a handful of times. You need to be preparing for cat 1 races to consider a 2nd reef. 

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6 minutes ago, IMR said:

I have only used a second reef a handful of times. You need to be preparing for cat 1 races to consider a 2nd reef. 

You, sir, are a dangerous idiot.  You may indeed hold such stupid views personally, but please refrain from recommending them to others.

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17 minutes ago, Weyalan said:

I guess my thinking is that if it gets too windy for your 1 reef, what you gonna do? You probably ain't realistically going to motor anywhere (except downwind) and you'll struggle to make way to windward with just a jib... so 2 reefs and smallest jib gives you options to control your own destiny

Cruising 2 up, on a 300 NM open water passage, we experienced 12 hours of wind around 30 knots, with seas up to 15'... we were glad of our 3rd reef

If I were going to bermuda it would be a different conversation but so far I've just been picky about weather. I sailed the boat from CT back to Boston when I bought it and there was probably 4 hours where I was overpowered with the reef in. It was mid twenties off of block island.

You've convinced me that the right next step is a call to the sailmaker so they can finish convincing me to stop being cheap and just do it.

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You know your boat and your sailing plans better than I do. 

My experience has been that occasionally, even with good planning, you gonna find yourself on a lee shore and its blowing dogs of chains. I've experienced 50 knots gusting 70 (not in the forecast) in supposedly sheltered waters. I've seen boats with 1 reef rounding up / rounding down and washing their windgear, while we sailed along (relatively) happily with 3 reefs and a heavy weather jib. In a pinch, I don't want to be rescued, I want the tools on hand to rescue myself.

Put it another way... I doubt you'll ever regret getting a 2nd reef, but I sincerely hope you never have occasion to regret not having a 2nd reef.

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Get the second reef and go sailing when you want. Do it for the safety factor too.

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My boat's main came with 3 reefs, because the prior owner took it offshore.

I've used the first reef maybe 15 times over the past 5 years, the second reef three times.  The times I've gone to the second reef, I've been glad I had it.  And that's "just" on the relatively sheltered waters of Puget Sound.

For me it is a fairly simple mental calculation - would I rather reef and be comfortably in control, or not reef and be overpowered (and potentially break something).  Since I'm usually singlehanded, I go for that first thing, and usually before I really "need to"

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Make the second reef a really deep one.  When you don't need it it's lighter than having three.  But when you do, it's good to get really tucked down. 

And if you're seriously going offshore, get yourself a trisail and storm jib, and practice setting and using them.  A torn mainsail or a broken boom can land you in a whole pile of crap.  A trisail may help you out of it.

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57 minutes ago, P_Wop said:

Make the second reef a really deep one.  When you don't need it it's lighter than having three.  But when you do, it's good to get really tucked down. 

And if you're seriously going offshore, get yourself a trisail and storm jib, and practice setting and using them.  A torn mainsail or a broken boom can land you in a whole pile of crap.  A trisail may help you out of it.

We have a trisail and storm jib. The problem for us was that we did not have a separate track for the trisail, the logistics of getting it hoisted when short handed (ie cruising) were "interesting" even without allowing for the sort of weather conditions predicating the necessity (i.e. we needed to remove the whole mainsail and get it down below prior to fitting the trisail) So our compromise was to make the triple reefed mainsail the same area as the trisail, and we were pretty competent at putting in the 3rd reef 2-handed even in heavy seas and big winds

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Get a 2nd reef. Adding a 2nd reef is typically only a few hundred $. The first time you really need one you will find it money well spent.

Our first cruising boat had 3 reefs. Never really needed reef #3 but it was there should we needed it. 

2nd cruising boat had 2 very deep reefs. Think of them at the 1.5 and 2.5 position. The first reef really depowered the boat around 18-20 knots upwind. The 2nd was used quite a bit in 25-30 upwind.

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What's the downside? An extra block or two on the boom.....

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8 hours ago, Recidivist said:

You, sir, are a dangerous idiot.  You may indeed hold such stupid views personally, but please refrain from recommending them to others.

He said he has a tartan 28, it weighs in at almost 7,500 pounds in 28 feet. If you need a second reef on that boat it’s going to be wicked up. 
 

the op said if it’s over 25+ he stays at the dock and goes out another day. So from what he said a second reef is not going to get that much use. I would see getting a #4 jib first. 
 

now if he said, I have a f27 tri and am thinking about a second reef, we would all be saying get a second and a third reef. 

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9 hours ago, knurd said:

How often do you use your second reef?

I have a Tartan 28 with a single reef point in the main. I usually reef around 16 knots and if it's 25+ I go out another day. Summers in Boston generally aren't that windy.

I'm wondering if I'm missing out by not having a second reef point.

Realistically I'm day sailing 90% of the time and racing the other 10% but the forced lack of activity due to Covid right now has me planning a couple weeks of coastal cruising and a couple of distance races for next summer.

In the two seasons I've owned the boat I haven't missed the second reef but I'm wondering how fast that would change if I did more cruising or a couple overnight races.

I go with no reef points, just more backstay

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13 minutes ago, CerveloR5 said:

I go with no reef points, just more backstay

agree with the more back stay, on some boats, frac. J-30 good example ,

On my J-37 , when I had a new main made , only 1 reef , but  split the difference of reef one and 2 , figuring if I had to use reef 2 , I should be at the yacht club having a Mt Gay 

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I only have one reef in my new main. Never used the reef in my old one.  We do some distance stuff on Lake Ontario, so I felt it best to have one. We also carry a J4 that I'm pretty sure is made out of the same material used to make Carhartt jackets. My tuning guide says something along the lines of "If you have to reef, go home. They will probably race tomorrow."

 

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It depends on the predictability of weather in your intended destination. Here in SF day sailors and cruisers use first reefs all the time. If you normally day sail in the central Bay then a first reef is probably your standard configuration since it is blowing 18+ almost every day all summer long. On the other hand, a second reef is useless. We never have un-forecasted breeze over 30 because we don't get squalls or the like. We only get that in winter storms which are predicted days in advance. I have been racing and cruising around here for 49 years and have never used a second reef. There has only been one time I even considered one. On the other hand, if I went North from here I would get one in a heartbeat.

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I had 2 reef points sewn into my new main and a reef point in the new staysail so there are choices when the wind is going to pick up.

D76958E1-CFC0-4F8F-BD2B-A9B5188D81A6.jpeg

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11 hours ago, sledracr said:

My boat's main came with 3 reefs, because the prior owner took it offshore.

I've used the first reef maybe 15 times over the past 5 years, the second reef three times.  The times I've gone to the second reef, I've been glad I had it.  And that's "just" on the relatively sheltered waters of Puget Sound.

For me it is a fairly simple mental calculation - would I rather reef and be comfortably in control, or not reef and be overpowered (and potentially break something).  Since I'm usually singlehanded, I go for that first thing, and usually before I really "need to"

^ wisdom ^

IMHO of course, standard disclaimers apply

FB- Doug

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12 minutes ago, Sail4beer said:

I had 2 reef points sewn into my new main and a reef point in the new staysail so there are choices when the wind is going to pick up.

D76958E1-CFC0-4F8F-BD2B-A9B5188D81A6.jpeg

That is a beauty- what is she?  Looks like kind of a European between the Great Wars vibe....   2nd reef gets the head of the main right to the jib hounds? We have a 3/4’s rig, and when the reef’s in, that’s where it sits.  Really nice, snug, powered up feeling.

 

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40 minutes ago, SF Woody Sailor said:

It depends on the predictability of weather in your intended destination. Here in SF day sailors and cruisers use first reefs all the time. If you normally day sail in the central Bay then a first reef is probably your standard configuration since it is blowing 18+ almost every day all summer long. On the other hand, a second reef is useless. We never have un-forecasted breeze over 30 because we don't get squalls or the like. We only get that in winter storms which are predicted days in advance. I have been racing and cruising around here for 49 years and have never used a second reef. There has only been one time I even considered one. On the other hand, if I went North from here I would get one in a heartbeat.

There was a boat built down there (Swenssons? Swendsens?  I think Bruce Schwab worked in the yard...), anyway, sexy, skinny, 30er- the pic I saw of her had a LOT of reef points.  Got the impression that was optimum for the area?  But with Pacific NW eyes, a lot of boats down there look under sailed- 

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I appreciate all the responses. My take away is that if the way I use the boat now doesn't change then I don't need it but given that I want to expand my horizons I'll be calling a sailmaker.

Sail4Beer, she's a beauty.

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29 minutes ago, Amati said:

There was a boat built down there (Swenssons? Swendsens?  I think Bruce Schwab worked in the yard...), anyway, sexy, skinny, 30er- the pic I saw of her had a LOT of reef points.  Got the impression that was optimum for the area?  But with Pacific NW eyes, a lot of boats down there look under sailed- 

It is certainly true that a boat that is properly canvassed for the PNW or Chesapeake would be hugely ovepowered in the central Bay on a normal summer day, so your average Islander 36 or Catalina 34 or whatever will normally sail around with a reef and a small or partially furled jib. A proper race boat (say an Express 37 or J35) with full crew on the rail wouldn't reef in 30 knots.

Svendsen's is still around although it has changed hands and moved to Richmond. I remember when Bruce worked there and think I remember the boat you are referring to. It had a big main? Maybe that could make sense for shorthanded ocean racing which is a thing around here. Reefed mainsail on the way to the Farallons then shake the reef out for the run home sort of thing.

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I've got a C&C 29mk2 with two reefs in the new main. I spend a lot of time tucking and shaking the first reef but I've never put the second one in. First reef and the #3 get me reasonably comfortably to 25kts but I'm glad I have the second reef just in case.

My second reef is deeper than usual because I didn't want a third reef. I think it's in the ballpark of 30% but I would have to check. 95% of the time I don't even have the 2nd reef line rigged. If I think I might need the first reef I'll rig it but it's rare.

One thing you can do is look at the Notice of Race safety requirements for races that occur where you plan on using the boat. Generally they'll refer to an OSR Category which will define what heavy weather sails are required for the races and you can use it as a guideline. My local races in Vancouver/Strait of Georgia require Cat 3 (I think it was due to a knee jerk reaction after 2010 Southern Straits) which requires a 40% reef or trysail and a heavy weather jib (#4). I think 60% of boats around here aren't compliant - at least with the 40% reef.

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59 minutes ago, stinky said:

Rumbleseat, a much modified 30 square meter.

http://www.josephoster.com/sss/transpac96/schwab.html

As much as I love that boat, I don’t think that was it- the picture I remember was modern  white with a blue cove stripe, blue cushions inside- Wylie-ish - and Svendsen’s was building it, but not spending much time marketing it besides a few pics.  Around ‘96-‘97.  I was interested, but even talking to anyone about it was difficult.  

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23 minutes ago, climenuts said:

I've got a C&C 29mk2 with two reefs in the new main. I spend a lot of time tucking and shaking the first reef but I've never put the second one in. First reef and the #3 get me reasonably comfortably to 25kts but I'm glad I have the second reef just in case.

My second reef is deeper than usual because I didn't want a third reef. I think it's in the ballpark of 30% but I would have to check. 95% of the time I don't even have the 2nd reef line rigged. If I think I might need the first reef I'll rig it but it's rare.

One thing you can do is look at the Notice of Race safety requirements for races that occur where you plan on using the boat. Generally they'll refer to an OSR Category which will define what heavy weather sails are required for the races and you can use it as a guideline. My local races in Vancouver/Strait of Georgia require Cat 3 (I think it was due to a knee jerk reaction after 2010 Southern Straits) which requires a 40% reef or trysail and a heavy weather jib (#4). I think 60% of boats around here aren't compliant - at least with the 40% reef.

For stuff like that, the only way to really ensure compliance is to require boats to start, or round a given mark where there will be an RC observer, under "storm sails." And this can be kind of fun. When I was racing a small-ish keelboat regularly, I exercised my crew in setting and shaking out a reef. It paid in one race, where we made a big gain shaking out a reef for a downwind leg then tucking it again before the next windward leg. The boys I sailed with also went cruising and later said that they were the only ones who knew how.

As many have said, the area and your expected range of conditions are a big impact on how to do this right. On the US East Coast I like a shallow first reef because it's nice when things are just a little too boisterous for comfort... or for best speed, if racing. OTOH it is not good to be underpowered in a chop. Then a 2nd reef taking out 20~25% for serious heavy weather. Many boats only have rigging for two reefs available on the main. Personally I have never sailed with a trysail but I have used storm staysails... also used old clapped out dinghy jibs as storm staysails but they did not prove durable :(

I like to see things like emergency steering and storm sail requirements. At times past, I've written into SIs that we would hold a man-overboard drill at a time 'to be announced' during a series. IMHO good overall skills and seamanship should be part of the game of racing, even inshore.

FB- Doug

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42 minutes ago, Amati said:

As much as I love that boat, I don’t think that was it- the picture I remember was modern  white with a blue cove stripe, blue cushions inside- Wylie-ish - and Svendsen’s was building it, but not spending much time marketing it besides a few pics.  Around ‘96-‘97.  I was interested, but even talking to anyone about it was difficult.  

 

@Haji?

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1 hour ago, Amati said:

As much as I love that boat, I don’t think that was it- the picture I remember was modern  white with a blue cove stripe, blue cushions inside- Wylie-ish - and Svendsen’s was building it, but not spending much time marketing it besides a few pics.  Around ‘96-‘97.  I was interested, but even talking to anyone about it was difficult.  

That's Rumbleseat & me, yes.  From long ago.  That particular aerial shot was from the 94 DH Farallones race, with my friend Hans Kaufman along. The attached shot was on the way back from the Farallones.

Rumbleseat 1994a-C.jpg

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4 hours ago, Amati said:

That is a beauty- what is she?  Looks like kind of a European between the Great Wars vibe....   2nd reef gets the head of the main right to the jib hounds? We have a 3/4’s rig, and when the reef’s in, that’s where it sits.  Really nice, snug, powered up feeling.

 

It’s a 40 foot one off composite c/b ocean racer built in Quebec in 1949 for the Newport Bermuda race. Cedar on oak frames with steel floors and centerboard trunk. 
 

I was talked into extra reef points since the boat is offshore capable. The main is very powerful and a deep reef should  tame it down when it gets ugly. Hopefully, I get to skip the second reef 

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What's a first reef? Never heard of it. (Warning: Minority Opinion Alert)

In all seriousness, if I'm reefing at all, I'll usually go straight to a 2nd reef. If I'm slightly underpowered I'll increase the blade of furled jib. If the wind fails to build more and I'm more consistently underpowered, back to full main. It's usually some kind of small blade of jib/reefed main combo that gets the boat steady and making good headway in heavier winds or chop. Even a tiny blade of jib will steady the bow, help the boat track, and add a bit of speed...up to a certain wind strength. If it's getting really gusty I'm happy that the main is already 2nd reefed. 

In short, for me at least, it's easier to fill the gap between 1st and 2nd reef performance than it is to reef twice in building or gusty conditions, especially shorthanded. In general, these decisions are going to differ for everyone and will be very hull/rig/initial tenderness dependent. Some boats might end up sluggish in a 2nd reef through a wider/lower wind range, hence the  predominant use of the 1st reef. Some boats might be more tender and actually perform better(round up less) with an earlier reef.

Every deal is different and a lot depends on hull/rig/conditions/crew/racing/cruising, but having a target wind range that matches your hull/rig/sail complement is the key to any reefing strategy. 

The ol 'reef early reef often', and 'its easier and faster to shake off a reef than put one in'...are worth their weight in gold.

 

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, P_Wop said:

Make the second reef a really deep one.  When you don't need it it's lighter than having three.  But when you do, it's good to get really tucked down. 

And if you're seriously going offshore, get yourself a trisail and storm jib, and practice setting and using them.  A torn mainsail or a broken boom can land you in a whole pile of crap.  A trisail may help you out of it.

You're slipping Wop you forgot to mention the S&S Swan 65 underneath all of that. :D

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17 hours ago, P_Wop said:

Make the second reef a really deep one. 

I just did some back-of-the envelope math....

My 1st reef pulls out about 43 square feet of my nominally 205 sq-foot main, leaving me with about 80% of the full area

My 2nd reef pulls out an additional 37 square feet, leaving me at about 60% of the area

My 3rd reef pulls out an additional 44 square feet, leaving me at about 40% of the full area.... that's a deep 3rd reef!  

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When I had new sails made a year ago, I had a reef put into the jib.  I absolutely love it.   When beating, I reef the main at 18 apparent, then the jib at 25, then a second reef in the main at 28.   Reefing the jib is incredible at keeping the boat balanced.  It is much better than putting a second reef in the jib in these conditions.  I can keep top speed without effort.  A couple of photos of reefing the main and the jib.

06-13-20-439.jpg

 

05-31-20-692.jpg

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2 hours ago, sledracr said:

I just did some back-of-the envelope math....

My 1st reef pulls out about 43 square feet of my nominally 205 sq-foot main, leaving me with about 80% of the full area

My 2nd reef pulls out an additional 37 square feet, leaving me at about 60% of the area

My 3rd reef pulls out an additional 44 square feet, leaving me at about 40% of the full area.... that's a deep 3rd reef!  

This. 

How has this thread been able to go so long without talking about numbers?

Your reef is not the same as my reef, I can tell you that. Would be helpful if we include;

- Type of boat (displ, planning, fully crewed vs shorthanded, do you have more than 1 main?)

- Expected conditions (Thames river vs SF vs NZ)

- Percentage of reduction that each reef provides

There's no wonder many people don't use their first reef, usually it's too short to make it worth it. Same reason many don't go to the 2nd, maybe that one is too deep and have other ways to depower.

So, on my previous 4ktsb;

- 16k displacement, very much non planning so at some point didn't matter how much area you have you are just going to break something

- Shorthanded, don't want to have an 8% reef as it's too much work for my lazy ass to put down my beer for little change

- Sail in the PNW (either 2kts or 20kts most of the time)

With that in mind, I had two reefs put in.

First one at 20% reduction that would make me faster at ~12kts (remember, shorthanded, so no rail meat), and absolutely needed it at 16kts+ or I would die. 

Second reef at 40%. ..because racing regs. Never used it, would rather be at the bar at that point. 

For my NEW boat (fuck yeah...), It will be a much different story. No idea yet where my reefs (or how many) will be on my sail(s) (both reefable main AND hank on jib), until I go and sail her, collect data, and see where I need them. 

Although I'll have one reef at 40%+ for sure... Because racing regs. 

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25 minutes ago, Floating Duck said:

- Type of boat (displ, planning, fully crewed vs shorthanded, do you have more than 1 main?)

32' LOA, mid-80s plastic classic 6ksb, ~9800 lbs displacement, main is 36' luff, 10.5' foot

Puget Sound, so as you say, 2kts or 20kt, with the occasional extra sportiness closer to the strait (or in a winter southerly, like Tuesday night...)

Usually single-handed

main.jpg.aa5758b1a5a079981e5d163deaee453c.jpg

 

 

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1 hour ago, Floating Duck said:

How has this thread been able to go so long without talking about numbers?

Great point.

Since it's not a fancy square top main I assume I'm safe treating the main as a perfect triangle for this discussion.

Going with that assumption my one reef is at about 20% reduction.

Is 40% pretty standard for the second reef point?

It's rare for me to be out with much rail meat.

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23 hours ago, knurd said:

How often do you use your second reef?

I have a Tartan 28 with a single reef point in the main. I usually reef around 16 knots and if it's 25+ I go out another day. Summers in Boston generally aren't that windy.

I'm wondering if I'm missing out by not having a second reef point.

Realistically I'm day sailing 90% of the time and racing the other 10% but the forced lack of activity due to Covid right now has me planning a couple weeks of coastal cruising and a couple of distance races for next summer.

In the two seasons I've owned the boat I haven't missed the second reef but I'm wondering how fast that would change if I did more cruising or a couple overnight races.

 

  I rarely see more than 25 true, and have one deep reef. I had an older main with two reefs but never used the second reef so didn't have a main  built with two again. We reduce head sail often and that usually does it on our 33 ft boat.  At times, when feeling lazy, in 20 ++  I sail jib only depending on the point of sail etc.

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Boat is 37ft and 7000 kilos. Non planing. 7/8ths fractional rig with bendy mast.

What hasn't been mentioned is sailing for different purposes / with different people on board. Racing, with competant crew, we didn't need to reef until mid 20s knots. Would start to round up at high 20s gusts.  More backstay and flatten the main as wind gets up.

Cruising with family, we'd go for 1st reef at 14 knots and second reef at 18 knots sustained (apparent wind speed, reefing later downhill of course). Only dropped about 1/2 knot boat speed, but stood the boat up and kept everything nice and calm. Sailing overnight with family we used the third reef a few times in 20 ish knots - particularly if I was sleeping and my wife was on watch.

Actually, our reefing process was normally than my wife would put them in on her watch and I'd shake them out again on mine. She isn't much of a sailor, but can tuck in a reef like no-ones business. (I set the reefing lines up with dyneema for low friction, and used single line reefing with everything obviously marked. Halyard on one cabin top winch, reefing line on the other)

 

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