Like Kent I don’t have a wealth of experience to make judgements on. But for my pennyworth here are my experiences.
On my previous boat, Jeanneau 37, I was persuaded to have my new mainsail with short vertical battens to increase the leach area. From the start the sail would jam until I recognised what Kent does – watch carefully when furling the mainsail to ensure the battens are absolutely vertical to the slot. The jamming, which I experienced again furling in very heavy weather, did stretch the leach of the sail. In part the sailmaker was to blame for not inspecting the mast slot which was quite narrow due to the plastic inserts which protected the sail fabric. The other bit of blame goes down to my lack of experience in boats and sails at that time.
Amels have a much more generous slot and I have yet to hear of a sail ever getting stuck when furling. I have great faith in mine.
We bought our Santorin in the Med and sailed it back to Wales for a refit. We crossed Biscay very comfortably in 40 knots of wind on the stern quarter with a furled genoa. We subsequently cruised the West Coast of Scotland in heavy weather. The boat was brilliant, but the genoa did not furl well. It had no foam luff and therefor many creases after the first couple of rolls. This did affect its windward sailing.
In the Cape Verdes a fellow cruiser took some photos of us under full sail, and I was alarmed at the shape of the genoa. Every panel was stretched and the sail no longer a smooth curve!
However the material was still very sound and we crossed the Atlantic with 7 of the 13 days under poled out genoa and ballooner. We had used the ballooner down the Moroccan coast for 3 days. We don’t reef at nightfall at all on the boat as it is so easy to reef whenever required (we sail just the two of us). We did get 35 knots blow up one night and just furled the two headsails down to almost pocket handkerchiefs and ran downwind till the wind died down in the morning.
In Trinidad last season we had a new Genoa made. Ullman sails looked at the main and mizzen and said they were good for a few more miles, but replaced the leaches which had stretched a bit – they do get the most wear. He advised us to have a 135% genoa which I wondered about, but in the end decided to go with (plus a foam luff).
This has been wonderful in the Caribbean. Sets well, reefs well. Most importantly for us ( a cruising couple) we can see forward under the genoa much better without constantly having to stretch out over the rail to see ahead.
We haven’t had the opportunity to use twin headsails again in the last 3 years, so I can’t make any comment there.
My only advice is to consider your sailing plans (including crew). How much do you want to sail fast (ok all of us do) vs comfortable cruising? How much downwind sailing will you do. (only 50% of our Atlantic crossing allowed the twin headsails, and none since then).
One question to ask is do you have room to keep your old genoa – the shape of it doesn’t matter downwind. We didn’t have the space on our Santorin so it had to go.
A final point, from a cruiser perspective, unless it blows a force 4 and above we generally end up sailing motor assisted, but at 70 years old dancing on the foredeck now only appeals with the right music and in a decent anchorage!
Good luck with your decision!
Ian and Linda
Ocean Hobo SN96
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