Members' Online Book: Sail Handling Made Easy, Chapter 26 of 31

Your Mainsail Is Your Friend


I’m currently working on a chapter in this Online Book on how to specify the right number of reefs and how deep they should be. It’s a surprisingly complex subject.

As I was thinking about, and researching for, that chapter, it struck me that many sailors have de-emphasized their mainsails. In some cases to the point where the main is the first sail to come down when the going gets tough and often does not even get set in the first place.

I guess this trend is understandable because of the advent of reliable and easy to use roller furling on headsails, but it’s also a mistake and potentially dangerous.

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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