December 14, 2015


When cruising, it is pointless to furl or unfurl your headsails while the sail is powered up in breeze. It is important to make furling as easy as possible on your system (whether manual or electric/hydraulic). Therefore, to furl while sailing upwind you must ease the sheet until the sail partially flogs. This is not great for the sail material, and if you lose control of the sheet the flogging can become dramatic, risking a blowout.

Thus, when you are preparing to furl it is best to steer so that the wind and sea are well aft of the beam. Then, when you ease the sheet the headsail will sit lazily behind the lee of the mainsail and furling becomes much easier. Ideally you should ease and furl at the same rate in order to make a neat furl.

If you plan on only partially furling the sail as the wind comes up, then I have another recommendation. After you bear off to furl the sail and have the desired amount of sail rolled up, and while you are still sailing off the breeze, you can effectively pre-sheet the headsail to its upwind position while the sail is not carrying a load. From your racing days you might recall the difficulty of sheeting in an over-eased headsail after a mark rounding by presheeting we avoid this drama. Once pre-sheeted and after heading back up on the wind, you can make minor adjustments.

These habits save the sails, they also make for a safer and less pressurized maneuver as you are sailing upright
and off the wind while doing the work. And while a little distance is lost – don’t forget we are cruising!

For more infromation on cruising sails contact Ullman Sails Newport Beach