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pistonhanks silver

Doublehanded racing was growing in popularity for over a decade. With the interruption to big boat racing caused by the worldwide pandemic, doublehanded racing has taken off in popularity because of the requirement to social distance. UK Sailmakers has embraced this trend with gusto by developing a range of not only sail products to support the unique needs of short-handed sailors, but also is in an advisory role, helping our customers to adapt to what for many is a new paradigm in sailing. In fact, we have created a new section on our website dedicated to doublehanded articles and videos. You can find the page in the “How To” section of the site, or just click on this direct link. The following is the latest article to be posted to the page.

This article was written by Swedish sailor Federico Garofalo, who publishes a blog called VELOCE SAILING (, which focuses on single and doublehanded sail racing. Federico writes, “The purpose of my blog is to showcase my journey to become a competitive, non-professional racer; to encourage amateur skippers to get out on the water and race their boat — whatever that boat might be. In fact, my boat VELOCE is not a racing-machine; she is a 15-year-old 32-foot “production” yacht that is sailed by a self-confessed nerdy and passionate amateur.”

In times when roller furling technologies become ever more alluring, VELOCE has gone back to traditional jib hanks. The Jeanneau Sun Fast 32i came equipped with a Facnor R130, which used to be Facnor’s racing system. It consists of an aluminum double-track foil, drum, base attachment kit, top swivel and halyard deflector.

After cruising VELOCE for two seasons and racing one season I came away with the following thoughts about roller furling.

  • Great for coastal cruising and lazy daysails. Unfortunately, I suffer from “trim paranoia,” a common ailment for racing sailors trying to daysail; it’s hard to “just” lazy along the coast.
  • Great in and out of harbor… if only I didn’t sail with horizontal battens.
  • The halyard has sometimes wraps itself around the forestay when unfurling. Of course, I end up not noticing until the time to furl in came and the wind picked up!
  • I have never sailed with roller reefed headsail. The sail shape is bad and produces bad chafing spots on the foot and the leech. Besides, the sail gets terrible looking wrinkles when roller-reefed.
  • With the sheets hanging two meters above the foredeck, there is no option to jibe the spinnaker with dip pole technique.
  • The spinnaker head often gets stuck between the mast and halyard deflector, which creates the imaginable panic of a spinnaker that cannot be doused.
  • Sail change is just too painful
    • First, with vertical battens, it is not realistic (doublehanded or solo)
    • With roller battens it is possible as the battens are horizontal. Changing to or from a light genoa is ok. To and from a heavy jib however is just an impossibility with the sail blown and washed overboard all the time.
  • Without bowman keeping tension on the luff, the luff-rope has a tendency to slip out of the foil track when hoisting. Often getting stuck and nearly impossible to pull down again. Can you imagine that alone aboard?


One of the advantages of having a hanked-on jib is the ability to reef it and end up with a well shaped sail. An optional zipper system allows the reefed lower part of the sail to be rolled and then zipped up neatly as show above.

  • Obviously, resolving a bunch of the issues above.
  • Sail shape. Others have explained this better than I ever can hope to.
  • More luff length, which is where most of the upwind power is generated.
  • Leaving a space between foot and foredeck is a great source of induced drag due to pressure equalizing under the sail rather than at the leech. Without a furling drum, headsails will sweep the foredeck.
  • Foil and drum weigh about 10kg (22 lbs), distributed mainly at the bow and aloft. All the wrong places.
  • More effective sail changes, with less potential problems. I expect more sail changes and therefore better overall performance.
  • Jibs with hanks can be reefed, which is a huge advantage for fast area reductions. What a dream to reef headsail solo and keep mainsail area downwind… This was of course possible with the foil as well, however 1) friction in the system, 2) unattached luff and 3) loss of furling possibility made it a no-go.
  • Here I believe the philosophies of less-is-more and KISS (keep-it-simple-stupid) is the way to go. Less that can go wrong. Easily inspected stay.
  • I just think it is so cool to look at the bow and see a heap of sail canvas under a flying spinnaker, rather than a rolled sausage!


wichard hanks 1
brass piston hank 1

Soft hanks are light and, well of course, soft. However, since there will not be a foil on the stay, hanks don’t really need to be soft. Besides, I find soft hanks difficult to open with wet and cold hands, especially with gloves. So no soft hanks for me.

The choice is there between piston hanks and Wichard snap hanks. I am quite used to piston hanks and never tried the “one-hand hanks” from Wichard. My sailmaker has however scared me with nightmare stories of sailors getting either a flying spinnaker halyard or lazy guy “hanked”. That thought was enough — piston hanks it is.

As a bonus, the forestay is in perfect condition. It is a 7mm dyform wire with a toggle and turnbuckle.

I am looking forward to try out the new arrangement! Once the new headsails are delivered and tested, an article is sure to follow. Stay tuned.

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