The mainsail is the workhorse
of your boat's sailplan. Because
the mainsail is up virtually all
the time, its fabric must be light
enough for sensitivity in light
air and tough enough to withstand
the extreme loads of high wind.
The mainsail must have an airfoil
shape that covers the range of
wind strength you sail in, it
must drive the boat on all points
of sail (not just to windward),
and it has to maintain its airfoil
shape when reefed. Finally, the
mainsail fabric must be as supple
as possible for easy handling
by shorthanded cruising crews
- the stiff fabrics favored by
racing sailors can be a nightmare
cruising boats differ in size
and type, and their owners differ
in the way they use their boat,
we offer a number of panel layouts
(each available with the batten
type of your choice) for cruising
mainsails. While there are no
hard and fast rules, each panel
layout is best suited to certain
size boats and primary uses.
tried-and-true panel layot
for small to mid-size boats
and all types of cruising.
Fabrics for crosscut mainsails
are well proven, low stretch,
and available in many weights.
for small to mid-size boats.
The vertical cut eliminates
load-bearing seams along
the leech edge. A good choice
for battenless or in-mast
for boats over 40 feet.
The tri-radial design keeps
stretch to a minimum and
allows lighter cloth to
be used in the low-load
center sections, and heavier
cloth in the high-load corners.
for mid-size to large boats.
Radial design allows "step
up" cloth weights -
heavy along the leech area,
lighter along the foot and
for smaller, performance
cruising boats where less
stretch than a crosscut
panel layout is desired.
Also well-suited to battenless
or in-mast furling systems.
type of battens should you get?
Here's a quick rundown. Conventional-length
battens are easy
to handle when hoisting and
furling the sail, but long-distance
cruisers find them susceptible
to chafe and point-loading of
the sail at their inboard ends.
battens give superb
sail shape and stability to
the mainsail, but they require
the installation of battencar
sliders or tracks, and care
must be taken when hoisting
and furling the sail. A Battenless
mainsail is zero-maintenance,
but about 15% of the mainsail's
area is sacrificed due to the
that must be cut into the leech.
Note: We cannot supply full-length
because they exceed the allowable
length for shipping.)
How many reefs should you
get? A general rule is: Weekend
sailing = 1 reef; Coastal
Cruising = 2 reefs; Bluewater
Cruising = 3 reefs, or 2 reefs
and a mandatory storm trysail.