By Oliver McCann
Full-length battens have many virtues for cruising sailors, including better shape-holding, more longevity, and easier sail handling. The sails last longer because the full-length battens prevent flogging (the violent snapping back and forth that occurs when tacking, reefing, hoisting or lowering the mainsail).
As conventional sails flog, the sailcloth breaks down, especially at the front end of the battens where the leech of the sail “hinges” back and forth. Flogging is the prime culprit in sail wear-and-tear, ergo, full-length battens are an attractive option. However, as full batten mainsails help from a performance and durability perspective, their added stiffness and rigidity can make them more difficult to raise and lower compared to a traditional short batten sail.
UK Sailmakers provides two specific solutions for this and other sail handling challenges, allowing short-handed sailors to manage their mainsails with relative ease.
First, we overcome much of the luff slide friction that full battens generate by adding a Tides Marine Strong Track system. The Strong Track is a one-piece, low-friction track that slides up into the groove or track in the back of your mast. When installed, the mainsail will hoist easily and drop the instant the halyard is released because the track is extrude out of a super-slick UHMWPE plastic. Here’s a video on Tide Marine tracks:
Second, we provide our well-engineered Lazy Cradle to contain the sail as it’s lowered and dropped. The Lazy Cradle, when attached to your boom, creates a well into which the sail will fall when lowered. When combined with lazy jacks, this Lazy Cradle zippered sail cover neatly flaks and stows the mainsail with little effort. Here is a link to our photo album of some of the Lazy Cradles we have delivered to customers with a variety of boats.
Third, is the addition of an electric winch to aid in raising the mainsail. While an expensive solution, a powered winch can make all the difference when raising a heavy main. UK Sailmakers can recommend riggers who install or retrofit electric winches. An electric winch handle option is a more affordable alternative to an electric winch.
There are other solutions to managing mainsails, including in-boom furlers, and in-mast furlers, both of which are far more expensive than the Tides Track and Lazy Cradle combination. We can offer guidance for these systems as well.
Don’t hesitate to ask us how we can help you better manage not just your mainsail, but all your sails with less effort. We at UK Sailmakers are dedicated to providing our customers with the best sailing experience.
And, if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of full-length batten mainsails, click on this link: https://www.uksailmakers.com/cruising-main-construction-options/full-batten-main