I found this to be an interesting and informative posting,... http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f122/is-a-furling-main-safe-when-singlehanding-175698-18.html#post2352480
Great thread with lots of differing opinions and personal views. Some more strident than others but nevertheless interesting. Some of the opinions seem to be based on theory and not real world experience but are mostly worthwhile reading and considering for their diversity of views.
I realise that this thread has probably run to its logical conclusion but I thought it would be valuable to at least make the following information easily available to all who may venture this way in the future seeking information on furling main sails.
I attach a link to the ongoing SSCA Equipment Survey dealing with main sail furling / reefing and the overall analysis HERE
I attach a link from that same survey of all the opinions expressed by owners who actually sail with the type of equipment that they are commenting on HERE
It is quite a long read but very interesting and revealing and it is very germane to the extensive discussions that have been going on within this thread.
The one take away message for me is that there are failures in all systems from the simple to the more complex. All systems work flawlessly for some sailors yet other sailors have monumental problems with these same choices of equipment.
Probably the major difference here is that the operators of the various types of systems are the one thing where it is impossible to compare like for like.
No one system is right for every sailor with their own particular situation given the the inherent differences in the individual and indeed where they sail and in what they sail.
And for an interesting comparison I add the link for the analysis of those sailors who sail without an in mast or in boom furling system HERE
When one compares the Breakdowns/Unit and Breakdowns/Year data for both the in mast units and those with battens/sliders it shows that there is a slight difference but overall the reliability is within what most (but not all) sailors would be prepared to accept for the perceived advantages that each system provides. (Please do not turn this into a mathematical argument about percentage increases or decreases).
What is obvious and revealing is that generally whichever system you choose they are mostly realiable and that is good news for all of us.
We are lucky to have so many choices to suit our own personal situations and budgets.
Now let's get that mainsail furled away neatly.
Thank you to the SSCA for compiling all this information and much more.
There is lots of useful information on equipment and systems of all types HERE