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A small tear or a complete blowout to your sails? Cork-based UK Sailmakers will be on-site at this week's O'Leary Insurances Sovereign's Cup Regatta at Kinsale Yacht Club to carry out sail repairs for the 62-boats competing in the biennial regatta. 

Barry Hayes and his team will be aiming to keep customers in the game this week and racing wherever possible. 

The sail repairs cut off time is 5 pm each day at Kinsale Yacht Club. 

Call Barry Hayes 087 7112312 or email [email protected]

 

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As the racing season is underway, this new and improved IRC calculator from UK Sailmakers Ireland is just the thing you need for your season ahead.

Just type in the boat name and TCC number of each boat in your class.

Then you will see how much time you give each boat and they give you in your class on the IRC Rating

So you can see in real-time on the racecourse your place in the race.

A graphic of the new and improved IRC Calculator for the 2021 season. Click the link below to go to the calculatorA graphic of the new and improved IRC Calculator for the 2021 season. Click the link below to go to the calculator

Click to go to the IRC Calculator on the UK Sails site

Have a fantastic racing season.

UK Sailmakers Ireland

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Barry Hayes from UK Sailmakers Ireland explains which slab reefing system is best for various situations.

With an eye towards optimizing the boat for the way you sail it, you can opt for different reefing options. Finding the right combinations can be difficult if you have a standard headsail set up. With only a change out option on the headsail. But there are ways around this as well.

Over the past few months, I got many emails asking about different systems and how they work from the articles posted here in Afloat. But one area I got a lot of questions about was headsail slab reefing and how it works. Can it be done on a current headsail? Yes is the simple answer. But you need to find out what system is going to work best for you.

Here is a short view explaining the different setups and how they work.

following on from these articles which explain other systems:

Many sailors are aware how quickly and efficiently reefing your mainsail will help you get your boat back under control when the wind picks up. Tucking a reef and shaking it quickly can be easy once your boat is set up properly and you have practised. If taking a reef doesn't depower you quite enough, and you don't have a roller reefing genoa, you'll need to change to a smaller headsail, which can be a lengthy and cumbersome task – especially for doublehanded and singlehanded sailors. To help shorthanded sailors reduce headsail area quickly, UK Sailmakers Ireland offers jibs and genoas that can be slab reefed as a way to quickly get the boat back under control

Just like slab reefing a main, when reefing the headsail, you lower the halyard, attach the reef tack, re-tighten the halyard, and then trim the sheet. To simplify your life as the wind gets up, we design these headsails with the reef clew height so that the sails will sheet to the same track position as when un-reefed. Finally, either tie or zip up the unused lower part of the sail and continue to sail.

Roller reefing is a compromise that reduces sail area at the expense of sail shape. The distorted sail shapes created by roller furling are not very aerodynamic – there are wrinkles, the draft moves aft. The luff curve and most of the broad-seamed shape is in the front of the sail, which is removed during roller reefing. On the other hand, with slab reefing, you don't lose the sail's designed shape. During slab reefing, the whole sail is lowered a meter or more and if the sail has horizontal leech battens. They are not affected by the process.

In this photo, you can see a Uni Titanium J 109 Headsail with a reef. This is a Zip foot. Which for a narrow J109 bow is a lot easier to shake the reef in and out with a non-overlapping headsail. We normally make the reef clew and tack with a soft shackle to save time and weightIn the above photos, you can see loft dog Layla with a Uni Titanium J 109 Headsail with a reef. This is a Zip foot. Which for a narrow J109 bow is a lot easier to shake the reef in and out with a non-overlapping headsail. We normally make the reef clew and tack with a soft shackle to save time and weight 

In the catamaran sequence in the video, you can see how a zip reef is easily put the jib on a 24-foot Streaker cat. The sail is dropped, the sheets are moved from the clew to the reef clew, and then the foot is folded up, and the reefed part of the sail is rolled and then zipped away. UK Sailmakers Ireland can build in a zipper system for sails that will stay reefed for long periods of time. Finally, the sail is raised, and the zipped-up section can be seen at the bottom of the sail. To shake the reef, lower the sail, unzip the rolled-up section, re-attach the jib's tack, move the jib sheets and then re-set the sail.

The reefed part is rolled and then zipped away with an integral zipper systemThe reefed part is rolled and then zipped away with an integral zipper system

Hanks are not a requirement for reefable headsail, but it does make it simpler. The last sequence of the video shows a sail with luff tape being reefed on a Sweden Star 37. The sail has a tack take-down line that goes from the reef tack through the tack shackle and then back to a winch in the cockpit. As the halyard is eased, tack line pulls the reef tack to the tack fitting. Once the reef tack is set, the halyard is re-tensioned. Then the sail is sheeted in. you can see how the sail keeps a perfectly smooth, flat aerodynamic shape.

To learn more about reefable jibs and genoas, contact UK Sailmakers Ireland at our numbers below

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland

There are times in your boat-owning life when you need to step back and evaluate your vessel's set-up. With an eye towards optimising the boat for the way you sail it, you can opt for different sails, winches, running rigging, nav systems, and even headstay options. Finding the right combinations of these options can be a daunting task, and it helps to do your homework before putting a credit card on the counter of the nearest marine supplier.

In recent articles, I've covered a number of boat set-up options ranging from sail selection to headsail and mainsail systems. This article addresses a simple but critical matter – selecting the right Gennaker handling systems. There are a number of alternatives available, and, as you would expect, each has its pros and cons. Here's a look at the three most commonly used options for setting and retrieving a spinnaker:

Furling Gennakers

Furling gennakers are all the rage these days for cruising boats. They come in different shapes and sizes with a number of furling options. The main three are: top-down furling with a cable, bottom-up furling with a cable, and cableless gennakers. Sails with either of the cable furling options can be hoisted before leaving the dock and left up while sailing making life easier.

My preferred option is a top-down furling system with a cable sewn inside the luff of the sail. This clearly is the best option for bigger boats giving you the most control over the sail. The mid-girth of spinnakers using top-down furlers can be the same length as the foot of the sail (SHW 100 %), yet you still get a very tight furl. This system will never fail or get a twist in the sail--you can have confidence in getting a complete furl every time.

Top-down furling gennakers are perfect for offshore, long-distance cruising as you can leave the furled sail in place for long periods of time. You may want to consider adding UV covering on the leech and foot of the sail for added protection from the sun while furled.

An XC 45 with her Top-down Furling Code D Gennaker going upwindAn XC 45 with her Top-down Furling Code D Gennaker going upwind

Bottom-up furling gennakers

These can also be a good option and are the perfect blend of performance and value for money. The set-up is similar to the top-down furl except that the sail simply furls from the bottom to the top. To get a very tight furl, the mid-girth has to be smaller than for a top-down sail (SHW 60 % of the foot length) as you can't furl the roach onto the cable. Both the actual furler unit and the cable can be less expensive than those needed for top-down furlers, as here you're just furling it onto a spectra rope. This is a popular option for catamarans as they don't need a large cruising roach.

Cableless furling gennakers

These are the latest variations these days. These sails furl onto themselves without a cable. This is, as you can imagine, is a little tricky. The cost that would have gone into adding a cable to a spinnaker is redirected to building a more significant luff structure for the sail that does the same job as a structural cable. These cableless Gennakers are a lot lighter and you can have a larger sail with mid-girth that's SHW 75 % of the foot. Note, however, that you can run into issues trying to furl the sail and that the furl you can get from a cableless furling gennaker is not as tight as cable alternatives...imagine a furled cable gennaker is at thick as your arm and the furl of a cableless spinnaker would be thick as your leg. This system works well on small boats that don't need the structural loading in the luff.

Oceanis 35 Top down furling Code D gennaker with a cable in the luff

Having the right type of furler for these systems to work is critical. It needs to be top-down with a ratchet lock on it. It also needs to take the working loads of the system.

Ubi Maior makes the best furler on the market and it works every time.

FR100RWM -under 30 foot.           FR125RWM under 40 ft.         FR150RWM under 50 Ft.

The advantages of a top-down furling system. Is it can be set before leaving the mooring. With a structural cable, you get a perfect furl every time no matter how windy it is. This system can be used by just one person from the cockpit.

Here is what Stephen McCarthy has to say about the system he uses on his XC 45 Nadie here in Kinsale.

Purchasing this boat was part of my retirement plan. With a view towards shorthanded cruising, the choice of sails and how they could be handled was important. Having a non-overlapping jib, it was obvious that the boat would struggle downwind, especially in light airs.

We decided we would go with a Code D top-down furling gennaker with the Ubi- Maior Furler. This was one of the best decisions we made about this boat. We fitted a 2/1 halyard to get proper luff tension which is important for the system to work properly. We then led the furling line to the cockpit for safer shorthanded operation. The furler is fitted with a snap shackle to a fixed eye on the bow making it easy to change sails.

From a practical point of view, it is easy to set up your sail plan before you start sailing. One of the safety features of the Ubi-Maior Furler is its rachet which secures the Code D Gennaker so it does not unexpectedly open.

It is hard to describe the feeling you get as the boat sails along, fully powered-up in less the 10kts of wind. Autopilot on, Code D gennaker up, full main, relaxing in the cockpit--life does not get much better. I have no doubt that without these sails, the engine would be getting a lot more use, which defeats the whole purpose of buying a sailing boat.

Stasher® Dousing Socks

Stasher dousing socks have been the mainstay for 90 % of cruising boats for many years. There are a few primary models available with the ATN stock being the most popular. The ATN is a little heavy with a fibreglass collar at the neck that, if you're not careful this can damage and scratch the inside of your boat. The racing stasher like ( attached photo ) has a flexible collar. In my opinion, this is a good option for both racers and cruisers. The sock can be used safely offshore and at night as it can be pre-hoisted before setting the sail and the continuous line allows you to hoist (set) and lower (douse) the sail from the foredeck. Note, this line needs to be tied off when its open and the sail is in use. With this easy-to-use system, you can have a standard-sized gennaker with 100% mid-girth. And, you should have no real issues gybing spinnakers set with a Stasher as long as you keep the control line clear.

Stasher socks are always hoisted and dropped to leeward making it easier to control how they open and close.

StasherStasher

The advantages are they are relatively inexpensive and simple to use. No matter how windy, you can stow the sail away.

The disadvantages are that Gennakers using dousing socks can't be left up when not in use. And you can get a spinnaker wrap when closing the sock if the sail is not full when you close the sail.

Read more about the Stasher on the UK site here

It should also be noted that some of the most successful offshore doublehanded racers use dousing socks. Here's what Rich du Moulin, five-time winner of the doublehanded division of the Newport to Bermuda Race, says about using his stasher:

As a doublehanded boat, we always use the dousing sock with our spinnakers. Not only do we use socks for the sets and drops, we also use it to snuff the spinnaker when we gybe in breezes over 18-20—once the main is across, we re-set the chute. In the 2002 Block Island Race, I was sailing my Express 37 LORA ANN doublehanded with Peter Rugg aboard when a white squall whipped through the fleet just at dusk. Suddenly we found ourselves in a sustained 60-knot blow with the spinnaker up. Immediately, we were knocked down with our top spreader about 6-7 feet out of the water; the wind wasn't letting the boat right itself. As the wind continued to blow, Peter crawled forward along the windward side of the deckhouse. He grabbed the retrieval line of the dousing sock and slowly (it was hard work) started to capture the spinnaker that was lying atop the water. Finally, when he had managed to get the sail about half inside the sock, the boat popped back onto its feet. We hadn't taken any water so we were ok and the squall had passed. We turned back downwind, raised the sock again, and continued to race. Reportedly every boat in the race with the exception of one was knocked down by that "invisible" squall. I'm really glad we were using the dousing sock. But, having it was not enough. We had practised using the dousing sock—not necessarily for this situation—but we knew how to keep the retrieval line clear and free of knots for any situation that came up.

Stasher sockStasher sock

Racing Spinnakers

When the Racing Rules of Sailing's prohibited throwing anything into the water, the age-old methods of using rubber bands or yarn to stop a spinnaker became a thing of the past. Today, new techniques have been created with attached permanent "stops" to the luff of spinnakers. Many of today's standard racing spinnakers use either an integrated zipper or a bungy system allowing you to hoist a "stopped" sail with nothing going into the water. The zipper system works well for bigger boats, but can be difficult to use on smaller boats given the limited space below to stretch out the sail to bind it. The bungee system is easy to use, it can be done on deck, the stops open quickly and can be used on both big and small boats.

Takedown systems for racing sails have also come on a long way, too, with 6-second string drop systems becoming more commonplace. These are normally used on boats 40' or larger as you need the mechanical advantage of a coffee grinder to make this system work effectively (although the IC 37 has the retrieval line manually retracted by a crewmember). These dramatic-to-watch takedowns are simple in concept but need all the mechanics to work properly to be successful. Basically, a retrieval line is attached to the belly of the sail and led down the forward hatch and then aft being connected either directly or indirectly to the pedestal winch. Once the grinders have taken the slack out of the retrieval line, the command is given to go for the drop, the tack and sheet are fired simultaneously as the grinders wail on the retrieval line. As they take down line starts running to the hatch, the halyard is fired and, ideally, the sail is pulled into the forward hatch.

The timing and choreography of all these movements must be carefully practised and timed. These string drops look very slick when they work but can be a disaster when they don't.

The advantages of this system are it is lighter than cables, reinforced luffs, or dousing socks, it is the fastest retrieval method, and set-up costs the least amount. The disadvantages are you need a full crew and coffee grinders to use this system.

Jelik RP 76 with her UK A2 Gennaker String drop systemJelik RP 76 with her UK A2 Gennaker String drop system

How you set and take down your gennaker will depend on whether you're racing or cruising, if you're in flat waters or offshore, and how many hands you have on board. In all cases, you should practice your set/drop options in calm, light conditions so you're ready to face whatever conditions that may develop. Practice, contact me if you have any questions about this article. I am sure we can help you!

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Barry Hayes from UK Sailmakers Ireland explains which system is best for various situations

There are times in your boat-owning life when you need to step back and evaluate your vessel's set-up. With an eye towards optimising the boat for the way you sail it, you can opt for different sails, winches, running rigging, nav systems, and even headstay options. Finding the right combinations of these options can be a daunting task, and it helps to do your homework before putting a credit card on the counter of the nearest marine supplier.

In recent articles here, I've covered a number of boat set-up options ranging from sail selection to headstay set-ups and roller furlers. This article address what may be a simple but critical matter – the best way to attach the luff of the mainsail to the mast. Here's a look at the primary mainsail attachment/handling systems with some perspective on each. I hope this helps you to set-up your boat to meet your needs.

Let me start by describing the three basic methods or systems to attach the luff of a mainsail to a mast. The first is external luff cars that slide on a track attached to the aft side of the mast. The second uses slides, or slugs, attached to the luff that slides up and down in an internal track on the back of the mast. The final one is inserting into the mast groove a bolt rope sewn onto the luff of the sail. Each has its pros and cons, as you'll read.

Overview of decision-making criteria

There are five basic factors to consider when selecting a mainsail handling system:

  1. Cost – this is always a factor.
  2. Control of the sail as it is raised and lowered – is the luff "captured" or not. Non-captured systems require more hands to raise and lower to prevent the sail from ripping or blowing away – it's the same differences with raising and lowering a headsail that has hanks vs one that fits into a luff foil.
  3. Ease of raising and lowering the sail.
  4. For captured systems, the height of the stack when it is lowered. This can be a factor when it comes to attaching/removing the halyard and putting on the sail cover.
  5. How critical is the aerodynamic factor?

Luff Cars

XD main carbon racing mainsail with luff slidesXD main carbon racing mainsail with luff slides

Luff cars are one of the two methods of "captured" luff attachment, and luff cars are the preferred systems for offshore cruising and doublehanded sailing. In all these systems, cars are permanently attached to the luff of the mainsail, and they get mounted onto a track, which is attached to the aft side of the mast. These cars can be either simple slides or with captured ball bearings, and the configuration of the actual slides will vary if your sail has any full-length battens. The cars for the forward end of full-length battens are heavier and, in some cases, incorporate internal batten tension systems.

Harken, Antal, and Ronstan all make quality car systems that all do the same job but in different ways. Each has a track mounted to the exterior face of the mast. Harken and Antal produce a combo racing track that takes slides and luff tape. These are the preferred option for boats racing inshore and offshore. Most boats go with Antal slide as it's the less expensive and easier option (no ball bearings).

Antal uses metal and Teflon slides put on a track making it hard to lose them. With Antal, the stack height on the mast is low. For Ronstan and Harken, the cars use ball bearing, which, at times, can be problematic. If one of the cars breaks, you can lose the bearings. Harken now has captive ball bearing cars which are easy to take off the mast. Both have relatively higher stack heights.

Most sailmakers prefer not to use headboard and carriages as they add weight and drag aloft. Headboards and carriages reduce the sail area while increasing the stack height. We normally now just web the sail onto the head car to make it easier and simpler while reducing the stack height considerably. All these systems need their own track to be fitted to the mast.

Ocean runner 111-ft maxi with Harken 32mm split-track system to lower the stack height on the 307 sq metre Dacron mainsailOcean runner 111-ft maxi with Harken 32mm split-track system to lower the stack height on the 307 sq metre Dacron mainsail

Another interesting luff car system is the Strong Track manufactured by Tides Marine. Rather than having to screw/bolt an external track onto the mast, the forward side of the Strong Track is a continuous protrusion that you can slide into the luff groove in the back of your mast and sets there permanently. The track itself is a one-piece UKMW insert with matching slides and batten receptacles designed for smooth, long-lasting operation. These cars slide up and down so smoothly.

The advantages of luff car systems are that they capture and control the sail, and they make it simple to hoist and drop the sail. Theoretically, both evolutions can be done from the cockpit with no one forward. Also, when reefing, you never lose the luff out of the mast. The disadvantages are that it takes more time to install/take off the main; every slide must be taken off individually.

PRO TIP: When lowering a mainsail with cars, have someone at the mast alternating the luff folds of the luff port and starboard. This will make flaking the sail much easier, will lower the stack height, and will make putting on the cover easier. For larger boats, it can be easier and faster if a crew member uses a climbing harness to flake the sail from a higher position as it is lowered.

Skywalker is a Jeanneau 42 with XD Carbon sails and racing lazy cradle with Rutgerson 1525-11 and plastic A014 slidesSkywalker is a Jeanneau 42 with XD Carbon sails and racing lazy cradle with Rutgerson 1525-11 and plastic A014 slides

Here, I'm talking about plastic slides attached to the luff that are inserted into the slot on the back of the mast. These are a good option for coastal cruisers and one-designs. They're also the most common system used and are very cost-effective. When using slides, you don't need to add an external track, they are light, and the stack height is really low.

There have been some cool developments with plastic slides over the years, including All slip low friction slides and, perhaps the best option, Rutgerson slides. The Rutgerson slides actually have wheels on them, making them the slide with the least friction – a good thing when raising and lowering sails. They do increase the stack height a bit, but they are worth the price for their ease of use. Both the All slip and Rutgerson slides can be added to an existing system. This is relatively affordable to do and will make your cruising life a lot easier.

There is also an internal slide wheel car system from Selden, but you may need to change the mast making that car system expensive.

The advantages of luff slides are that they are quick and simple to install and replace; they are the most cost-effective mast attachment system. The disadvantages are that they can break under load and can stick inside the mast when hoisting and dropping the sail if they are too loose inside the groove.

PRO TIP: Always have a bunch of spare luff slides on-hand to replace one should it break.

Luff tapes

in this video from onboard Jelik in Samui, Thailand, you can see how hard it is for a Maxi to hoist a luff tape mainsail. They need to get the mainsail into a halyard lock, with eight grinders hoisting the 160 sqm Uni Titanium mainsail.

Most racing boats use a system where a luff tape/bolt rope, ranging from 7 – 12 mm, is inserted into the groove on the mast. It's the most common system used currently. Due to the elimination of the gap between the mast and the luff of the sail itself, aerodynamically, this is the best set- up. In IRC, you lose nothing on the foot length of the sail as you do with mainsail cars. That said, this is the most difficult way to hoist and drop a sail as 1) you have to hoist the whole sail into to a tight groove in the mast, usually requiring someone to feed the sail into the mast and another on the halyard, and 2) when you lower it, you need someone to control the sail, so it doesn't get blown over the side (the opposite of a captured system).

You also can have an external slot/track on the mast to accommodate bolt rope. Harken and Antal tracks mounted on the back of the mast work best, making it easier to hoist and drop the sail. But they add weight to the mast.

The advantages if this non-slide system is that its lightweight, very cost-effective, and it's the best aerodynamical set-up. The disadvantages are that it's easy to tear the luff rope.

It is clear to see how smooth the luff is on this luff tape J 109 uni Titanium carbon mainsailIt is clear to see how smooth the luff is on this luff tape J 109 uni Titanium carbon mainsail

Hoisting, you need to control the loose sail as it's lowered, and there is the possibility that the luff tape can pull out of the groove easily if it's not the correct size.

Talk to us about which system is best for your boat. Just because you have one set-up currently installed, it may not be the best option for you and changing systems is done routinely. Regardless, sail safely and sail with confidence.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Barry Hayes from UK Sailmakers Ireland explains which system is best for various situations

There are times in your boat-owning life when you need to step back and evaluate your vessel's set-up with an eye towards optimizing the boat for the way you sail it. Because each boat is unique in its own way, you can opt for different sails, winches, running rigging, nav systems, and even headstay options. This article reviews the primary headstay alternatives (furlers, foils, and hanks) providing perspective on each to help you make sure your boat is set-up in the best way to meet your needs.

Furlers (club racers/offshore)

Headstay furlers are a highly attractive option for many sailors, especially cruisers, but are also fixtures of many one-design boats. They make setting and dousing the headsail very simple, but there are some drawbacks, too.

The two best furlers currently on the market are the Harken MKIV furler and the Fracnor low deck furler. They both sit as low to the deck as possible, making it easy for the sail designer to have a standard IRC foot round (7 % of LP) on the sail, so the endplate effect isn't compromised. Both these furlers are convenient to use and you can have a great racing headsail shape with them.

The key with both systems is that they make it easy for spinnaker sets and drops. It's a simple furl and unfurl from the cockpit, reducing the chances of a mix-up with halyards and so on. These furlers can make the spinnaker drop and set super quick.

With these furlers, you can easily have instant reefing, too. Most sail designers can design vertical reefs into the headsails which makes moving to a J2 or J3 headsail just a simple furl. Note, however, the sail's shape can get distorted if you don't have a foam pad built into the luff for big overlapping headsail. But most non-overlapping headsails use a Cunningham webbing at the reef point which they can snug up making the luff smooth.

With furlers, one tends to set the halyard tension and walk away; but the easy way to keep an eye on that is to have a mark on the forestay and luff of the sail when you're happy with the shape (see the mark on the forestay in the photo below in the J109 Outrajeous). When you hoist the sail the next time, raise the halyard until the two marks align and you're all set.

J 109 Outrajeous with Uni Titanium headsails and S2 spinnaker
Sail changes can be slower with a furler as you have to unscrew shackles at both the top and bottom of the sail rather than just open halyard and tack shackles. Harken makes a head and tack high-load shackle which makes this disconnecting simple and fast.

While furlers have all these advantages, there are some disadvantages, too:

When furling, you can get halyards wrapped into the furl if you're not careful. This can be prevented with a strop between the head of the sail and the head unit of the furler. This lifts the furler up to the correct height so you won't get halyard wrap.

Also, racing sails left up on a furler while not racing will get UV damage unless you add a UV cover. These covers now come in many forms including a paint that lasts a long time and comes in many colours to match you sail.

J109 with light weight carabiner hanks on the luff of the Unit titanium sailsA J109 with lightweight carabiner hanks on the luff of the Unit titanium sails

Hanks (soft and piston), offshore and one-design

Hanks are a must nowadays for offshore or shorthanded sailing, they make sail handling easier as you have full control of the sail. Because the hanks constrain the luff and prevent the sail from falling over the side when in the lowered position, you always have control of the luff of the sail setting or dousing. You also don't need to be on the bow to drop the headsail. You can open the halyard and drop it, so no one has to go forward at a spinnaker hoist. You can sort out the headsail after the kite is set and running.

Soft shackles are the most used racing hank as they are light and easy to replace, but they can be hard to open when wet, cold hands, particularly with gloves on. The next option for hanks is the high load alloy carabiner. Both the soft shackle and carabiners come in small and large sizes for different size sails and ease of use. However, the traditional piston hank is the most widely used.

Pro tip: It's always good to have extra soft hanks and carabiners onboard just in case.

50mm soft shackle and a 70mm carabiner A 50 mm soft shackle (above) and a 70 mm carabiner (top)

The disadvantages of hanks include:

It takes longer to change a headsail as you have to manually disconnect the old hanks and then reconnect the new ones. Theoretically, you can hank on the new jib below the first hank of the old sail, before lowering the old one, but may be difficult if the jib halyard is very tight. Most sail designers make the hanks on headsails with more carbon so they last a bit longer. Also, piston hanks need regular attention (lubrication) and they are heavier than soft shackles.

An X35 D-Tox with there XD carbon sails with a Harken carbo foilThe Dublin Bay X35 D-Tox with XD carbon sails with a Harken carbo foil

Headsail foils (racing)

Tuff luff and Harken Carbo headstay foils are the most common systems on the race track. Headsail changes are easy and fast. If you're not sure which headsail you want to use at the start, you can plug both into the feeder pre-start and pick which one to use as you go into a sequence. Foils make for fast sets/drops. You can open the halyard just as your setting the spinnaker so the airflow fills the kite early. Upwind, you can do tack changes, making a midrace sail change simple.

Setting your pre feeder to the right height and making sure it is working perfectly is critical to the system. You also can get foil protectors that go over the foil to protect it when running gennaker sheets over it.

The Uni Titanium headsail preloaded in the Harken Carbo foil. With the Fraculator clipped on. The Unit Titanium headsail preloaded in the Harken Carbo foil. With the Fraculator clipped on.

The disadvantages of headstay foils are:

They are more expensive than a simple rod forestay and hanks. Also, the top of the luff tape can get frayed over time, making it harder to get the sail into the feeder. Cutting the luff tape at 45 degrees and melting the tape seals it making it easy to insert into the foil again.

The foil also can get damaged from halyard shackles near the head of the sail allowing the head of the sail to come out of the foil mid-hoist. Drilling a 7mm hole in the aft side of the foil (luff tapes are 6mm) allows you to get the sail out without needing a screwdriver! Finally, your bow person needs to anticipate potential sail changes and then determine which halyard/groove you're going to use when hoisting. This prevents halyard from getting twisted as well.

XP 44 with a Harken carbo foil and a First 50 with a Furler. Both Unit Titanium headsail. The XP 44 has horizontal battens. The First 50 has Vertical battens for furling. There are no compromises in sail shape in both set upsThe XP 44 (foreground) with a Harken carbo foil and a First 50 with a Furler. Both have Uni Titanium headsails. The XP 44 has horizontal battens. The First 50 has Vertical battens for furling. There are no compromises in sail shape in both setups.

In conclusion:

You need to select the headstay system for your boat based on the type of sailing you do and the type of sails you have. Headstay foils are is best for inshore club racing and advanced level racing. Conversely, furlers are best for offshore/club racers and cruisers who don't need headsail changes all the time and can take the slight shape hit for easy of handling.

Soft shackles and hanks are best for offshore and one-design as you normally are staying with one headsail for a long time and you only change if you really have to.

If you have questions on what style of headstay system is best for your boat, contact your nearest UK Sailmaker loft to get your answer.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland

Barry Hayes of UK Sailmakers Ireland (in conjunction with Jenny Howells of the RORC Rating Office) explains the main difference between a flying Jib and an IRC flying headsail 

The main difference between a flying Jib and an IRC flying headsail is the flying Jib is non-overlapping and measures in as a headsail (Headsail Area HSA). The flying headsail (flying sail area FSA) is a small, flat and overlapping code zero which is a new sail type in IRC. 

The flying headsail is a code zero development and has very little to do with a headsail as it's measured as a spinnaker/genoa. As big boats and double handed boats developed their offshore sails over the past few years, particularly now that there are more foiling boats, a hybrid sail was developed with the code zero as the starting point. The new sail measures somewhere between a code zero and a genoa. This sail didn't fit in any rating rule and was rated as a headsail if under 75% mid girth so was heavily penalised. IRC now has moved to include it in their measurement rule. So boats can use the sail offshore and have it rated.

Flying headsail

You can see from the above photo the size of the sail in basic area.

The flying headsail is flatter than a code zero, more or less the shape of an overlapping genoa 1. The sail has a positive roach and the luff also projects forward a little off the straight line, but the clew is below the boom level. When you're reaching, you can ease the boom down without it running into the flying headsail sheet. It's normally sheeted behind the keel, but not on the stern of the boat. Normally, the best spot is next to the genoa winch. It must be tacked forward of the forestay and it's always a top-down furling sail as you need to furl the roach away and get a tight furl. It's also normally left on the bowsprit furled up so it need a clew strop and Velcro clew patch to keep it furled.

The measurement rule for the sail is complex. This adds a lot of new measurements to the IRC rule. Below you can see the different measurements needed to calculate the area of the sail. You need to measure it both as a genoa to determine area and as a spinnaker to determine the mid girth ratio, under the rule so the measurements are clear to IRC and they will know how the sail is set. Notably, the sail is set forward of the forestay, it's overlapping the rig, and has between 62.5 and 74.9% mid girth.

Flying Headsails
Headsails and Flying Headsails

21.7.1 Headsail area (HSA & FSA) shall be calculated from:

  • HSA = 0.0625*HLU*(4*HLP + 6*HHW + 3*HTW + 2*HUW + 0.09)
  • FSA = 0.0625*FLU*(4*FLP + 6*FHW + 3*FTW + 2*FUW + 0.09)

The sail is mainly used between 65 and 125 degrees AWA, so it doesn't go upwind or downwind. It is mainly used for reaching. Moreover, it's excellent on foiling boats with reaching struts or whisker poles who can sheet the sail outboard away from the mainsail. This really opens the slot between the main and the flying headsail. As the boat speed increases, this sail just gets faster and faster as your AWA comes forward. Like a blast reaching genoa in old money.

For most IRC racing boats, this sail is a considerable rating hit and would not give you bang for your buck. The points increase would not be worth it. If you're foiling, sail in a lot of apparent wind or have reaching struts, however, then this sail is worth it as it overlaps the rig and is only slightly smaller than your code zero. So, for boats like Fast 40s and Open 40s, it's an excellent option because they can get their AWA forward quickly and build on that with this sail.

For most IRC boats the flying jib (non-overlapping) is still the best option as it's the same size as your headsail and can be flown off the bowsprit. It's still "free" on IRC and can give you an extra knot plus upwind or reaching. The flying jib is still the way to go for most IRC boats being flat, easy to furl and you can leave it on the bowsprit.

In this photo, you can see the shape difference in the three sails: flying jib, flying headsail, and code zero. You also can see how flat the flying headsail is compared to the code zero. This flat sail would not give most IRC cruiser racers the power needed working upwind in light air which the code zero totally does. Also, the same applies to the flying Jib. It's a lot flatter and doesn't overpower the boat upwind over 10 kts., allowing you to sail at high angles.

Flying headsail Shape shotFlying headsail Shape shot

In conclusion, if you're racing ISORA or in the bay, stick with your IRC flying Jib and code zero. But if you're a fast or foiling boat, or perhaps doing a long offshore race including a lot of reaching, the flying headsail is probably worth the money!

IRC rules 2021 and related advice is here

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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We would like to wish all our customer a very happy Christmas and a prosperous 2021.

In such a hard year, we would like to thank everyone for all the support and most of all the staff and people who helped with all the PPE over the summer.

We are busy in the loft servicing all your winter service sails and all the new sail orders you ordered over the autumn/winter.

We are really looking forward to seeing the new projects on the water 2021, with some new ideas and designs.

We are stunned to see the huge support for our newly designed holdall and tote bags.

We were delighted to see how much people are ordering the new designs, and it's certainly been keeping us busy over the winter months!

From everyone at UK sailmakers Ireland Happy Christmas.

McWilliam Sailing Bag

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Small fathead mainsails, where the roach of the sail is increased due to a considerably wider head of the sail, are starting to pop-up on the racecourse and they are proving to be a winner. Getting extra sail area on your boat can be really hard without taking a big rating hit, but increasing your crane size will give you that extra bit needed without too much out-of-pocket cost or dramatically affecting your rating.

Some yacht designers are already doing this in their new designs like the J/70 and J/88, for example. These are a great example of a boat getting extra area without having a very tall mast. To get the same amount of power while also reducing tipping weight and decreasing drag aloft.

Ratings

The extra area gained is only from the top quarter of the mainsail, in the photo below you can see the pink line.

The extra area gained is only from the top quarter of the main sail, in the attached photo ( FH2) you can see the pink lineextra area gained is only from the top quarter of the mainsail

This means that the only rating change is on the MUW measurement which only moves out a tiny bit. Your headboard increases from 0.15 m out to 0.45 m or larger depending on the crane size you can add. This is a very big increase in sail area which is almost free at the top of the sail from a rating perspective.

Design

In this photo, you can see the drag off the pin head main which is considerable compared to a slightly fatter head mainDrag off the pin head main

The extra area makes a marginal speed increase upwind but it does reduce drag a fair amount. In the photo above, you can see the drag off the pin head main which is considerable compared to a slightly fatter head main. Importantly, the airflow sticks to the top of the sail longer creating less drag and generating more lift.

This bigger mainsail really comes into its own downwind and reaching. Off the wind is where the fathead main can be of most effective! The draft at the head of the sail will move slightly aft as you twist off the sail. But it also allows you to open and close the leech of the main quickly—letting you power up the boat or dump more quickly as the sail twists more.  See the photo below.

Off the wind is where the fathead main can be of most effective!Off the wind is where the fathead main can be of most effective!

Mast

Normally, increasing the crane size from 0.15 of a metre to 0.4 is a big structural job. You will need to check with your mast builder to see if it can be done. The primary area to consider is the mast's bend characteristics, which will change, making the luff curve of the main slightly different. As the crane increases and applies more load on the top of the mast, it bends more while also applying a lot more load above the forestay. You will need to confirm your forestay can take the additional load. The side plates of the crane will move further down the sidewall of the mast to try and take this extra load, but it's best to check with your mast builder to ensure you don't break the crane off.

The primary area to consider is the mast's bend characteristics, which will change, making the luff curve of the main slightly different

Halyard

With a fathead mainsail, it's important to add a 2:1 halyard. This allows the head of the sail to articulate and not point load on the sheave. It also balances the main going from a beat to a run as the very top corner of the mainsail luff tape is pulled away from the mast on a beat. The 2:1 halyard will take this load and balance it out so there is no point loading, pulling the head of the main into the mast at all times. The mainsail designer will move the head ring aft to allow for this.

Conclusion

Adding extra area to the top of your mainsail will give you extra power, less drag, and a more efficient mainsail. However, it's totally dependent on your mast builder saying it is possible and practical. Trust me, it works really well on most modern yachts.

dding extra area to the top of your mainsail will give you extra power, less drag, and a more efficient mainsail

So, if you need some power and you're all maxed out, look up the answer is in front of you.

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Racing a J/109 in IRC has its compromises because you're sailing with asymmetrics, you're limited to certain angles and only so much boat speed is generated both up-wind and down. While living in Hong Kong, I raced the J/109 Whiskey Jack in class 2. This is an extremely completive class dominated by three A35s and other boats such as Sunfast 3600s, an X-35 and a 34.7. We had to sail our arses off to do as well as we did.

The owner of Whiskey Jack wanted to see how he could improve his J/109 to be more competitive. Realising he probably would have to leave some of the boat's one-design components in the rear-view mirror, he contacted UK Sailmakers Ireland having seen what we had done with J/109 ratings in Ireland. To get an overall evaluation of the entire boat (including sails, rig, set-up, etc.) I got onto Kevin Dibley who I have worked with a lot at Dibley Marine. Over more than a few cups of tea, we checked out all aspects of the boat to see where we could improve upwind and down.

J109 Whiskey Jack Racing in the St James Place China Coast Regatta 2020. Photo: Guy NowellJ109 Whiskey Jack Racing in the St James Place China Coast Regatta 2020. Photo: Guy Nowell

We set for ourselves three objectives: 1) increase her upwind boat speed, 2) improving her pointing ability and  3) to reduce her IRC rating. Not a small assignment!

We started by considering how to improve her upwind VMG. We set out to reduce the wetted surface area of the boat while maintaining the waterline as much as we could. To achieve this, we looked at reducing the internal weight in the boat; but we also looked at the external weight and what could be done there.

To get the internal weight out, we replaced as much of the loose furniture as we could with lightweight carbon foam boards from ZLXC. The carbon boards were cut down to match the floorboards and painted in white non-skid. Next, we went to work on the exterior of the boat. We started by replacing the original aluminium mast with one made of carbon manufactured by Axxon. Swapping out for a lighter mast saves us a lot of weight and, importantly, the reduction in tipping weight would keep the boat upright. The set-up of this mast would be exactly the same as a standard J/109 mast apart from one small aspect…the material from which it was made and the masthead crane.

J109 Whiskey Jack - the original aluminium mast with one made of carbon manufactured by Axxon Photo: Guy NowellJ109 Whiskey Jack - the original aluminium mast with one made of carbon manufactured by Axxon Photo: Guy Nowell

Having reduced the hull and mast weight by a significant 200 kg, we set out to optimise her upwind performance. We started by focusing on a power-to-weight ratio so that the boat would perform at her optimum rating at 8-12 kts, the typical wind speeds in HK. Reducing the 140 % overlapping genoa to nonoverlapping headsails gave a big reduction in her rating, but we then had to make sure she could still perform. The worst thing we could have done was to create a scenario where we left the boat terribly underpowered. But using the "twist" designed headsail that we developed in 2019, we found we were able to achieve the optimum pointing angle and balance upwind. That met one of our objectives. We then added UK Sailmakers carabiners on the headsail luff to make the hoist and drops faster to get the asymmetric to set quicker and stay up longer.

Carabiners were added to the headsail luff to make the hoist and drops faster and to get the asymmetric to set quicker and stay up longerCarabiners were added to the headsail luff to make the hoist and drops faster and to get the asymmetric to set quicker and stay up longer

We had made major strides at this point, but we weren't done yet. We worked further on the balance of the boat while focusing on getting the maximum drive out of the mainsail roach. We ended up increasing the crane width on the mast so we could align the girths on the mainsail. The mainsail maintained its luff curve but increased the J/109 girths, and the head of the mainsail became a lot wider (0.4 m), made possible by the larger masthead crane of the new mast. This was key to reducing drag and increasing the power at the top of the rig. We were able to do this while maintaining the balance of the boat and its increasing pointing ability by adjusting the rake of the mast.

A deeper running asymmetric with an area of 111m², slightly larger than the J109 Class standard was used for Hong Kong’s light airsA deeper running asymmetric, slightly larger than the J109 Class standard was used for Hong Kong’s light airs

Given the lighter airs in HK, we designed a deeper running asymmetric with an area of 111m², slightly larger than the J109 Class standard. The new kite, combined with the reduced wetted surface area and a new fat head main, allowed Whiskey Jack to sail deeper and more square than the other asymmetric boats. She was able to creep away downwind at a lower and faster angle than her opposition. With the reduction in rating from 1.028 down to 1.019, the boat now enjoyed a massive reduction in rating while increasing her boat speed upwind and down. Whiskey Jack went on to clean up at this year's China Coast Regatta in HK.

The boat now is superbly balanced and sails higher and faster than she ever did and she does not heel as muchThe boat now is superbly balanced and sails higher and faster than she ever did and she does not heel as much

The owner went on to say after his victory: "The most significant differences in my view were the change to the carbon mast, the new Titanium sails from UK Sailmakers and a well-tuned rig with an appropriate mast rake. The boat now is superbly balanced and sails higher and faster than she ever did and she does not heel as much – i.e., I can sail the boat flatter than before – that gives the extra height and speed in my view.

Once again, UK Sailmakers put together a team of experts to make a boat faster, easier to sail, and a better experience for the owner. What more could anyone ask for?

Published in UK Sailmakers Ireland
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Irish Fishing industry 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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