Reefs: How Many and How Deep

Sail Plan Orginal Mac scaled used sails 2.tcd

How many reefs should we have and where should they be positioned?

Generally, whenever this comes up the debate quickly centres on how many reefs are “best”. Two, three, or even four. But if you really think about it, that’s a backwards way to approach the decision. A better order is:

  1. What is the smallest amount of sail area we need for the type of boat we have and the sailing we plan to do?
  2. Only after we have answered that, can we think about how large we want each reduction to be (granularity).

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Meet the Author

John Harries

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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