News Home Cruising Australia Cruising USA Cruising Canada Boats for Sale Sail-World Racing Photo Gallery FishingBoating
Video Gallery Newsletters : Furling Genoas: What you need to know

Furling Genoas: What you need to know

'Furling headsails - furl them away and forget about them?'    .
Today, a majority of boats have furling Genoas, hence as a sailmaker I am daily asked about these. I would like to give some broad basic tips on this subject to give thought about this basic ‘work horse’ that often we furl away and forget about.

This sail by definition has to work in varied conditions; the design shape is necessarily a compromise and the cloth choice conservative. In a previous article in these pages I discussed cloth choice through a notion of adjusted modulus, relating cloth resistance to load. With furling genoas the sail has a variable geometry and hence a more complex load to apparent wind curve. As the wind builds in strength the load increases until the point where the sail is furled, the adjusted modulus value then stabilises as an increase in wind basically corresponds to a similar decrease in surface.

Naturally loads are concentrated in the corners of the sails and most importantly in the head of the genoas. Head loads are a factor of the angle between the luff and leech amongst other things. There is often a lot to be said for a Yankee cut for a cruising foresail where head loads are shared over a great surface, the sheeting angle is less critical and the helmsman gains visibility.

Head and tack patches have to be flexible for furling purposes but extend down the leech and along the foot to maintain some corner reinforcement when furled. A number of customers ask for reef patches. These are logical though I feel that well designed tack and head patches make these almost redundant. I am never really happy with the extra weight on the leech and the inertia of the patch, the wear this creates and the distortion in sail shape.

Clew patches however must be large in dimension, close to 12% of the sails length in any direction. We are making more and more sails with soft clews rather than pressed rings. I think that these are safer, they avoid unnecessary damage to masts; spinnaker poles stocked up the mast and crews heads! A soft clew is either a webbing or rope loop spread throughout and sewn into the clew. This makes for a well supported smooth patch. On a similar note the head and tack of the sail should be finished with webbing as a flexible attachment. If possible the sail should be lashed to the furling gear with a spectra line removing the shackle, which is often a cause for corrosion and extrusion damage.

Easy and convenient -  .. .  
Most furling genoas now have some form of device to maintain sail shape when furled. Obviously as the sail is not flat when furled the volume in the sail is not absorbed and the sail becomes fuller with each turn of the drum. Rope or foam luff’s are tapered generally well studied shapes that increase the furling diameter at the height of the extra material. This rolls in more cloth with each furl. If the material is placed in proportion to the sails draft, sail shape should be maintained with furling. The choice of which system is an open question, I quiet often find that it’s somewhat cultural with the Anglo-Saxons preferring a rope luff.

The dimension of your sail is dictated to by the rig. The sail should obviously set well when unfurled. One should avoid that the leech does not sit on a spreader tip. As sailcloth basically shrinks unless seriously under built or of poor quality the luff length can be close to the maximum unless there is a need to lower the head to avoid the leech hitting the upper spreader or to open the head angle. If a shorter luff is chosen it is wise to use a rope or webbing head strop to avoid halyard rap.

To ensure a correct sheeting angle when furled one should remember when ordering a sail that the clew basically rolls up along a line perpendicular to the luff. An approximate car position is on a line extended through the clew from a point roughly 60 up the luff. Do make sure that the sail geometry fits when furled.

One issue when the sail is furled is how to adjust the leech line. With a Yankee type sail the leech line can be run back down the luff. Of course halyard tension has a major affect on leech line tension whether brought back down the luff or not. Good halyards on any boat are not a luxury. Some genoas have the leech lines ran along the foot of the sail to a spot low enough to get to and away from the luff so that the adjustment system is not furled around the furler when sailing. This works to a certain degree though generally the foot tension is inadequate to support a tensioned line.

I have avoided discussion on cloth choice as I feel that this is a subject non specific to a furling Genoas and was treated recently in these pages.( See Sail-World story ) Sail shape is determined by material, cut depends upon it as do longevity and shape retention. Furling a Genoa or folding one into a bag both can damage a sail though not in the same way. Many laminates are more damaged in a sail bag than anywhere else. Sailcloth will however be the key to your sails functionality, so buy in relation to your desires, needs and budget.

UV degradation however is predominantly a problem for furling genoas. An acrylic cover protects the sail well. A sock can be excellent if you can take the time to use it. Otherwise an acrylic UV cover on the sails foot and leech has good UV protection qualities though should also cover the tapes and webbings. There is a lot of skill involved in placing a UV cover on a Genoa. It should stay smooth and not bellow. It should not deform the leech of the sail, though the very weight of the acrylic cloth will always affect sail shape, and more so on smaller boats. Lighter clothes exist, they often give lesser UV protection and tear more readily. Sticky back clothes or glued UV covers often deform the sail with time when the glues shrink in the heat. Changing a glued UV cover can be a nightmare. Some heavy laminates have successfully integrated a Tedlar film. This protects the cloth though not the stitches, tapes or webbings. On a few larger sails we have recently developed a painted UV cover. This idea has been considered by Northsails Nevada and laboratory tests ran. This can be initially the best protect and still very good even if the paint flakes. With Northsails CapeTown we have worked on additives to an acrylic UV paint continuing the earlier work done within our group and we and our customers that have wanted to try this idea are delighted with the results. We continue to work on this project.

We have another exciting project that will be in full use sometime this year during the Mediterranean Big boat regattas. The basic plan is to use America’s Cup type inflatable battens on a full girth blade with a pressure valve ran to the clew and within reach of an air line. The sail will then be unfurled and the battens blown up. Current test models can accept up to 120psi. Obviously once an air source is available nothing stops us from building an inflatable luff system as well.

Furling Genoas have made sailing more accessible and probably safer. Though simple or often even ‘push button’, a number of important decisions need to be made so that your furling Genoa is efficient and long lasting.

Andrew Dove is Area Manager for North Sails, based in Guadeloupe.

by Andrew Dove, Area Manager for North Sails Caraibes


Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

6:40 AM Fri 10 Oct 2008 GMT

Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Sail-World Cruising News - local and the World

The new application from PredictWind for Mac and PC is revolutionary for accessing weather data when offshore. Accessing GRIB files, Weather Routing, GMDSS forecasts and Satellite Imagery is now a simple task with the unique and user friendly interface. ... [more]  

The 29th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) set sail today bound for Saint Lucia following a delayed start due to strong winds locally in the harbour of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria yesterday. For only the third time in the rally's history, the decision was made to delay the start, initially planned for 12:30 on Sunday 23 November by 20 hours. ... [more]  

We set out for the summer cruise from a harbour in northwest Scotland. There were three boats out of the normal four. The fourth was somewhere to the south of us, and had promised to catch up if we waited for a night in the anchorage behind the island at the end of Loch Hourn. ... [more]  

Some dogs were born for the water, others less so. The key to boating with dogs, says Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), is taking it slow and making safety number one. ... [more]  

A North American tale but the same applies world-wide. Steffen Schmidt wanted to move his sailboat from Seattle to Rhode Island. Schmidt was not unfamiliar with hiring boat transportation services, and had done it once before with no issues. But this time was different: the boat was delivered in Wickford, Rhode Island with its mast gashed and mangled; the prop and cutlass bearing damaged. Then pro ... [more]  

Atlantic Odyssey skipper Nicolas Hauzy had to be evacuated from his yacht on Saturday evening after he broke his ankle in rough seas. Nicholas was attempting to fix a fault in the hydraulic steering when the accident happened around 1200 GMT on Saturday 22 November. ... [more]  

ARC 2014 - ARC start delayed by World Cruising Club
ARC 2014: Strong winds blowing through the harbour of Las Palmas have caused ARC organisers World Cruising Club to announce a delay to the start of ARC 2014. Whilst the front that has brought 4 days of heavy rain squalls to Gran Canaria is passing through, locally strong winds make it unsafe to manoeuvre boats in the harbour. ... [more]  

Reporting this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, an international team of scientists describe how they were surprised to discover that the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains show little sign of erosion, and that its saw-toothed towering crags resemble the modern ranges like the European Alps or Rocky Mountains. ... [more]  

Clear the Decks! by Paul Shard, Bahamas
Twenty-five years ago when Sheryl and I were building and outfitting our first boat, 'Two-Step', a Classic 37, we tried to imagine sailing her in a storm. We did a lot of research about storm tactics and as a result we designed the deck layout so we could handle most tasks from the cockpit and bought heavy weather sails. ... [more]  

The world’s largest sailing media group,, held its first continental group meeting at the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) this week. METS is the world’s largest B2B Marine show and this year it had a record 1358 exhibitors and more than 21,000 Marine industry representatives. ... [more]  

On Monday 17 November, an impressive line-up of speakers at 13th International Sailing Summit shared ideas and best practice from around the world, demonstrating how the sailing industry can change to increase and retain participation, through innovation, technology and cultural changes. British Cycling has seen its membership grow by 567% since 2005. ... [more]  

Extinction risk not the answer for reef futures by ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies
Coral and reef fishes are not like pandas and tigers, and the extinction risks they face are much lower. Leading coral reef scientists in Australia and the USA say there needs to be a new approach to protecting the future of marine ecosystems, with a shift away from the current focus on extinction threat. ... [more]  

ARC+ fleet sets sail for Saint Lucia by World Cruising Club
The ARC+ fleet got underway in good conditions on November 19th as they set out on Leg 2 of the ARC+ from São Vicente in the Cape Verde Islands to Saint Lucia. Conditions at the start were excellent with a NE wind of around 10 knots blowing across the start line. ... [more]  

Sail safer with these 'landfall light' secrets by Captain John Jamieson, Florida
Imagine sailing toward the coast, with landfall just over the horizon. Your GPS signal has been weak and unreliable. You strain your eyes to pick up the light that marks the entrance to the safe harbor ahead. What three sea-tested sailing tips can you use to keep your small sailboat and your sailing crew in safe water? ... [more]  

The Mediterranean Sea is a destination area that many people aspire to visit. ‘The Med’ as it is often known touches the coastlines of a number of countries and is an attractive area for holidaymakers due to the wonderful climate and welcoming people. Sailing The Med is a dream for many boating enthusiasts and the waters hold many exciting adventures. ... [more]  

Garmin Ltd has announced a new line of scanning transducers designed to accommodate any calibre of mariner, from the casual cruiser to the professional angler. Supporting both the newest lines of Garmin echoMAP and GPSMAP chartplotters and multifunction displays (MFD), this full array of thru-hull and transom-mounted transducers are a valuable addition to any vessel. ... [more]  

Rhode Island is the second most densely populated stateun the USA , and its 420 miles of coastline are crowded with homes and businesses, residents and tourists. The increasing rate of erosion and sea level rise, and the effects of coastal storms and flooding, are making the state’s coastal landscape ever smaller. ... [more]  

The Marion-Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race, Inc. and event host the Harraseeket Yacht Club announce a cruising yacht rally from Maine to Marion in advance of the 2015 Marion-Bermuda race. Called the M2M2B, the rally will be an enjoyable and convenient way for Maine-based yacht skippers to sail from Maine to Marion, MA as they stage their boats for the 2015 Marion-Bermuda race. ... [more]  

Spinnakers and Parasails flying, the 34 Atlantic Odyssey yachts crossed the start line off Arrecife bound for Martinique some 2700 miles away. Although Sephina, an Australian Lagoon 400, crossed the line first, she was a little ahead of time, so the first boat in fact to cross the start line correctly after the 12 noon starting gun was Gazel Rebel from France, a Pogo 850. ... [more]  

The last arrival of the World ARC fleet into Richard’s Bay marked the achievement of the 21 yachts crossing the Indian Ocean! A challenging crossing, particularly for the last half of arrivals included key equipment failures. 'Everything looked fine until Roger noticed a crack in the boom. We had broken the boom!' – Free & BrEasy ... [more]  

Doyle Sails New Zealand will once again be exhibiting in the Superyacht Pavilion at the upcoming Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS), running from 19-20 November in Amsterdam. Our stand will be in its usual spot in the main hall - stand 10.715 - and we look forward to welcoming you to the show. ... [more]  

ARC 2014 Opening Ceremony - With one week to go before the ARC 2014 fleet leave Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia, crews from across the world marched and danced behind their national flags in a stirring parade around Las Palmas Marina. ... [more]  

Although he is the oldest Skipper in ARC 2014, Manfred Kerstan from Berlin certainly doesn’t show it and is all set to enjoy his 20th ARC to its fullest. Over the years, Manfred has embraced the real spirit of the ARC, and is a stalwart presence at social functions and seminars, talking to participants old and new about all aspects of the rally. ... [more]  

Whilst waiting for the ARC+ fleet to arrive at their mid-Atlantic stop of Mindelo, on Cape Verdean island of São Vicente, you easily realise the excitement which is bubbling around the Marina, in the government offices and in bars and restaurants. ... [more]  

Nothing ever bad happens in the rally, right? If you read the daily news stories over the years, you’d certainly think so. But despite what I sometimes think of as the ‘propaganda’ that we post in the news and features during the 1500 (and I’m myself responsible for producing it), I feel we ought to focus at least occasionally on some of the more unfortunate realities of ocean sailing. ... [more]  

Sailing allows us to travel long distances with relatively low carbon emissions, but the reality is that all yachts burn diesel for motive power and to generate electricity. Conscious of this impact, ARC organiser World Cruising Club has teamed up with local non-profit forestry organisations in Gran Canaria to develop and sponsor a carbon offset project. ... [more]  

Expressing continued grave concern over piracy off the coast of Somalia despite a sharp decline in attacks, the Security Council has renewed for another year authorizations, first agreed in 2008, for international action to fight the crime in cooperation with Government authorities. ... [more]  

During the last two weeks we have received the details of the boats for the provisional entry list in the World Odyssey Race (see list below). Unfortunately we were forced to recognise that too many of those who have expressed an interest in sailing in the World Odyssey Race would do so on yachts which may not be suitable for the rigours of a circumnavigation in high latitudes. ... [more]  

Falcon, the 80’ Cookson, did the expected and beat the rest of the fleet to the BVI. The ex-America’s Cup training vessel, now a tricked out cruising yacht, sailed the course in just over seven days, arriving Monday night around 9pm. 'We had the perfect passage,' said the yacht’s owner Cary St. Onge. ... [more]  

With 75% of the ARC fleet now in Las Palmas, the docks of the Muelle Deportivo are populated with boats of all shapes and sizes, from multiple manufacturers and sailing under the flags of 22 different nations. The range of boats is as ecclectic as the crews on board with examples of almost every kind of ocean cruising boat available represented amongst the ARC 2014 fleet. ... [more]  

The notice of race has been released for the Antigua 2 Falmouth 2015 event, run by Sailing Rallies. Due to demand from boats at the end of the Caribbean sailing season wishing to return to the UK, this new event has been launched to give sailors a suitable high quality event. ... [more]  

Oceans of Hope, with a working crew of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), has arrived in New York City, USA, on the latest leg of the 33,000-nautical mile global voyage. During the six-day stopover Oceans of Hope will be berthed at North Cove Marina, in lower Manhattan and people with MS will be invited to take part in two days of sailing on the 14th and 15th of November. ... [more]  

Spirit of Tradition by Terri Hodgson
The prospective new owner of the old Bluenose 24 had two objectives to satisfy in the hunt for his new yacht: the boat had to be beautiful and classic AND it would serve as an ornamental anchor in front of his Muskoka cottage. Stuart Cotrelle came to Gordon Laco, a friend, sailor and supplier of finer boat hardware and accessories, with performance specifications of the yacht he wanted to buy ... [more]  

Tropical storm-like conditions in Malta and Sicily as Medicane hits
ARC+ Cape Verde fleet slows, more wind expected tomorrow
Top 20 cruising realities no-one talks about!
Busy schedule begins for ARC crews in Las Palmas
Slow progress in the Caribbean 1500 fleet
Crystal Blues finds good medicine in Penang
ARC+ Cape Verde sets sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Destination: Balmy Brentwood Bay and peaceful Tod Inlet
Safety and enjoyment order of the day in Marina Lanzarote
First ARC Bahamas boats make landfall in the Caribbean
First arrivals of World ARC fleet enter Richard’s Bay, South Africa
No room for complacency in Gulf of Guinea
250 kilos of cocaine seized from UK-bound yacht in joint operation
North American Rally to Caribbean - Greater than the sum of its parts
New Rayglass ProJet on duty at Auckland Airport
Caribbean 1500 fleet are getting their sea legs
The reliability of C-Map electronic charts in the Arctic
Know your charts and sail clear of deadly rocks and reefs!
ARC+ Seminars Programme commences
Ride of a Lifetime: PWC Adventure on the Ottawa River Waterway
World ARC - Sailing south of Madagascar to Richard's Bay, South Africa   
25th Caribbean 1500 heads to sea   
29th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers ready to set sail   
New study finds oceans arrived early to earth   
World Cruising Club’s second ARC+ event off to a great   
Caribbean 1500 - More German Bier and the start of the Seminar Program   
A light on the horizon   
Could this be the knot that never fails?   
Clock running on countdown to the 25th Caribbean 1500   
San Juan Island, an engaging destination   
Cowes breakwater construction programme - Phase completion imminent   
Where is the Deepwater Horizon oil?   
OceansWatch hard at work in the Solomon Islands   
Do you have the proper fire extinguisher onboard?   
This low cost 'line saver' could save your yacht!   
The Christmas Caribbean Rally is on its way!   
Coral-Current Connections   
Caribbean 1500 - German Bier, trick-or-treat and safety checks   
Oceans of Hope - A Sailing Sclerosis Project   
The very useful skill of buoy hopping   

For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News  

Switch Default Region to:

Social Media





New Zealand

United Kingdom

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World






Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text


Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery


Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery





Privacy Policy



Cookie Policy



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph, contact the photographer directly.
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT