August 20, 2012

The Genoa Staysail - Secret Weapon?

By Erik Shampain

In the last few years I have learned more then I can remember when it comes to sailboat racing. One thing that keeps coming back is this lesson:  Genoa Staysails can add speed to a lot of boats.

During a sail development program for a local Santa Cruz 50, we started to incorporate a Genoa Staysail into the inventory. With these ‘lighter’ boats that carry the apparent wind forward, the Genoa staysail proved more efficient than a spinnaker staysail in all conditions except true running conditions. We discovered that we could carry the Genoa staysail efficiently under the Code Zero, the #1 Genoa (when the outboard lead is used), the 1A Spinnaker and the 135% Jib Top! We witnessed speed gains of over a half of a knot.

Given the results of our testing, I started to use a Genoa Staysail on my Hobie 33. We even used it on shorter legs of the Hot Rum Series in San Diego like the last leg of race 3 under our Code Zero. It gave us enough speed to win overall and beat much faster boats. I believe we were the only boat to fly this sail! We saw the knot-meter increase by one to two-tenths after hoisting the Genoa Staysail. While this may not seem like much, it is a large percentage of the overall boat speed on a smaller boat.

Now consider larger, high profile race boats.  If you look at some of the 24-hour Monohull speed records, you’ll notice that the majority of these boats did not achieve their records with spinnakers, but with smaller jib tops and Genoa staysails. Check out this video of the Volvo 70 ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ during the 2005-2006 Volvo Ocean Race:

 Here are some more of the technical benefits of the Genoa Staysail to consider:
  • Because the Genoa Staysail is generally smaller and flatter then a traditional spinnaker staysail, it doesn’t affect the trim of the sail behind it or take away its wind.
  • The Genoa staysail actually accelerates the wind through the slot between then main and the sail in front.
  •  It provides balance to a boat that has a lot of ‘weather helm’ in heavier reaching conditions.
  •  It moves the apparent wind forward as it flows through the mainsail. Thus the ‘apparent wind’ has less of a desire to push the boat over, which actually will have the effect of increased righting moment.

It is free sail area. It is easy to use. It is relatively inexpensive. Why don’t you have one?

Contact Ullman Sails Newport Beach for more information on these speedy sails.
Written by Erik Shampain – Ullman Sails Newport Beach / One Design Coordinator