Above is a great shot of the Marten 49 SUMMER STORM on her delivery back from racing in the Caribbean. This shot of a racing boat on the ocean is beautiful and inspiring. It also offers a great teaching moment for cruising sailors who own modern boats designed with non-overlapping jibs instead of overlapping genoas. Boats without genoas are easy to handle because jibs tack easier. But the weakness of a genoa-less sailplan is when the boat is reaching. High aspect sails twist open and de-power as soon as the jib sheet is eased. To solve this problem, check out this racing trick that works for cruisers.
In the picture of above, notice the short pole set to leeward. It is a reaching strut that diverts jib outside the lifelines to open the slot between the main and the jib. It also allows the main to be eased without getting backwinded. Sheeting the jib with the strut allows the jib to stay effective at wider wind angles. By running the sheet through the strut, the clew of the sail is not only moved away from the centerline of the boat, but it is also prevented from raising up. When the clew raises up, the upper part of the sail twists open and luffs. By being able to ease the jib out without twisting open, the jib can be used effectively for a wider range of wind angles.
The reaching strut is controlled by a block and tackle restricting the height of the strut’s outboard end. There also is a fixed length foreguy to keep the strut from being pulled back into the shrouds.
We all know that the wind shifts and if you are sailing a set course and the wind goes forward enough that the clew of the jib is too far outboard, the jib can be trimmed closer the boat’s centerline by rigging a second sheet that leads directly from the clew of the jib to the normal outboard lead position on the rail. Now the jib can be trimmed with load on both sheets to position the clew anywhere between the end of the strut and the rail of the boat. At that point the strut is acting as a traveler. The photo below shows sheeting the jib with two sheets so that the clew of the jib is inboard of the strut’s end.
SUMMER STORM originally added the reaching strut because the IRC Rating rule allowed its use. But this year the rule was changed, putting too harsh a penalty on their use. So now, SUMMER STORM’s reaching strut is used for deliveries only. Using the strut with her Spectra tri-radial cruising jib makes the sail much more effective, which means the boat gets from point A to point B faster without having to use a spinnaker. This is just one more example of racing gear trickling down to the cruising community.