When NOT to use full length battens?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Grant Nelson, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    The AC has allowed full battens since 1988.

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  2. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    This is nonsense. Most of the boats out sailing using full battens have rigs that were "not designed and built for them."

    I agree with most sailmakers to use two or three full upper battens and normal battens for the remainder of the sail.

    On smaller boats, say up to maybe 35 feet, you can use a simple bolt rope luff. The inner ends of the batten pockets have cups, normally with the tensioning device located there.

    If your mast is set up for slides there is hardware for that.

    When you get to a larger boat you might need to have track and cars for the luff.

    I have sailed on many boats with full battens (upper two and all, bolt rope and track/car types) and have never had any of them jam. Listen to your sailmaker's recommendation.

    So, to answer the initial question, don't use full battens if you are not planning to use the correct hardware for the application. Of course, this goes for every system on your boat.
  3. Grant Nelson
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    Grant Nelson Senior Member

    Wow, interesting discussion, and as always with sailers and designers, a lot of different views.

    Indeed my original question was based on designing a new rig, so retrofit issues are not relevant for my case.

    The main down sides seem to be weight aloft and increased cost.

    1. I would be curious, for a new design, what the weight and cost difference would be with a short battened sail.

    2. The issue of extra maintenance came up. Is that true? Everythig I read said at least the wear and tear on the sail was significantly less, and so the sails last longer. I assume with the right track and slides, there will also be no additional maintenance. Am I missing anything.

    Overall, it looks like, if costs and weight are not a problem, that full lenght battens, certianly in the top 2 or so slots, is always a good idea. Does everyone agree? ;-)

  4. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    I think you will find that the weight difference of having the two top battens full is almost nothing.

    The cost should not be a great difference. You are talking about the cost difference of longer battens and the inboard cup/tensioners. Of course this could change based on the size of the boat you are talking about. How large is this boat?

    On my new main with 2 full length upper battens the sailmaker quoted it that way to begin with, since it is pretty much the standard way to go now. The other 3 battens are not full. This replaced my previous main that was full battens top-to-bottom, and that full batten sail replaced a main with no full battens at all. All three configurations have fit the same mast with no modifications.
  5. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Paul B. : I know you want to win an argument, but claiming that most boats that have full battten mains were not designed for them is strectching the truth to the point of breaking it.
    The problems I've seen in retrofits, are for example the loosening of the forestay each time you tack. Also, a very fast and coordinated crew has to work the backstay.
    Another problem is that to keep the main flat downwind so the battens don't wrap aroung the shrouds, the vang needs a lot of tension. Dacron sails get stretched out of shape pretty fast. Also, the compression in the mast and boom can break the mast, specially while jibing.
  6. bistros

    bistros Previous Member

    From a small performance boat sailor's perspective, full battens emerged as a way to put more sail area up higher into better wind, increasing aspect ratio, while also enabling "automatic" depowering when coupled with a suitably flexible mast and standing rigging.

    Backstays, reefing and most cruising considerations were never on the radar of Australian skiff sailors and British high performance designers.

    Julian Bethwaite created a high aspect ratio, high horsepower rig for Grand Prix 18 foot skiffs that could automatically depower in gusts by using a highly flexible fiberglass top mast section. A lot of fully battened designs were done as (lack of consistent) roach measurement in development classes allowed much more sail area while still keeping inside the legal specifications of the class.

    Using a fully battened design in a multi-purpose keel boat design is something I'd consider carefully, as the performance gained under a few specific conditions may be outstripped by adding more crew sail handling jobs, fewer reefing options and higher expense.

  7. jmolan
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    jmolan Junior Member

    http://books.google.com/books?id=nO...wAA#v=onepage&q=larry pardey mainsail&f=false

    See if that link works. It is a chapter on a true cruising mainsail.

    Also I recieved this from the designer of my boat. John Marples is no stranger to what make a boat go fast either:

    The dimensions for your mainsail are; cloth wt. 7.25 or 8.0 oz., Luff 35.2', foot 12.2', Leech 37.0', area 215. The most critical dimensions are the setback (mast to tack cringle distance) and height of the tack and clew cringles. The roach "plus" should not exceed about 12" to avoid conflict with the backstay. If loose footed ( no boom attachment - always my choice) then have the sailmaker put a "D" ring at the clew. That is a stronger attachment.

    Our mainsail for the Pacific cruise was battenless, with a slightly hollow roach. After 2 years and 20K miles, it looked like new - no chafe, no failures. It was loose footed with a D ring and without a headboard. It had a smaller area than the battened main, but it could be dropped on a downwind course, in heavy wind, without hanging up on the spreaders. I prefer battenless mains for that reason.
  8. Steve W
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    Steve W Senior Member

    Steve Dashews boats always have huge roach of course supported by full battens but unlike multihulls they also have backstays,the interesting thing is that they arrived at it by a mistake by a sailmaker,they put up a new sail and it had way more roach than it was meant to and overlapped the backstay by feet,they decided to give it a try anyway and found it sliped through ok so they just sewed strips of uhmwpe around the leach and then it worked great so he kept using maxi roach.
    This is a timely subject as im due for a new main and am looking to do a roller boom so will probably use full battens without any car system.I have just posted a bunch of questions on another forum looking for input from f boat owners as their settup is very simple but i need to know how well it works for them.
  9. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    I don't want to win, or even participate in an argument. But someone has to step in when someone like you simply makes things up. You seem to do this often. You should learn to sail before calling me a liar.

    Most keelboats I have sailed with full battens have NEVER had any issue with loosening of the forestay during a tack (loosening is actually beneficial when it is light and/or lumpy, the reason we make sure not to trim on the runners too quickly in racing boats). The thing you can't seem to understand is in monhull keelboats there are more pinhead mains that fit nicely through the backstay that have a full batten for the upper two battens than there are fully top-to-bottom battened sails. My boat, for example, has a pinhead main with two top full battens and it tacks and gybes through the backstay with no more effort than a sail without any full battens. There are thousands of sails out there just like it, most on boats that started life without any full battens.

    What boats have you sailed where the forestay has loosened on each tack?

    Some of us who know how to sail do actually use the vangs on our boats, regardless of whether our battens are full or not. By the way, the vang's purpose is to control twist.

    By battens?

    Please tell us ONE instance where a mast was broken by the force of battens!
  10. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    What are the added crew handling jobs?

    What do you think there are fewer reefing options? I don't see why a sail with full battens in it can't have just as many reef points in the same places as a sail without full battens.
  11. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    I really don't believe that's true.: its certainly not the case in any of the southern hemisphere development classes. Large roaches etc came decades after fully battened rigs. Take this late 50s photo (taken in New Zealand)
    from sail world as an example. http://www.sail-world.com/photo.cfm?NID=64860&Pid=74857

    I'm not prepared to comment on ballasted boats, but I would say (with about 34 years of personal experience behind me) that the quality of information on this thread as regards rigs on dinghy sized boats is not great. I have not owned a boat that retained a short batten main sail in all that time.
  12. Paul B

    Paul B Previous Member

    Even 25+ years ago we used to put low friction tape on the batten pockets of Hobie Cats where the batten pocket would touch the shroud when running. This prevented any damage to the sail.

    Today you can go to the McMaster-Carr website and order some great teflon tapes with super adhesive for any part of the sail that you want to slide by the backstay, no need to sew in any UHMW strips. The stuff is actually made to line automated production line chutes, so it is made to take a lickin'.
  13. bistros

    bistros Previous Member

    You have to live here to believe it. Snipes, Lightnings and Wayfarers abound and there isn't a B14, Tasar or Cherub to be found. Since you live the southern hemisphere and apparently haven't had to watch 1930's boats drift around the lake as the biggest fleet, your comments only apply locally.

    Enforcing ancient fleet solidarity and killing off new high performance boats is a revered art form and popular social event here in North America. It never fails to amaze me that the most active I-14 fleets in North America are here in Toronto, Ottawa and New England - and the midwesterners are still sailing Flying Scots, Thistles and Buccaneers. I sail out of the largest club in the area, and there is more Dacron here than laminates.

    The main sail roach measurement issues I was referring to was particular to the I-14s - they only recently agreed upon roach measurement standards at the last worlds in Sydney if I recall correctly. We've got everything from One Design 14s to B5s at our club and you can quickly see the sail area progression over time as you look at sails laid out on the ground. My thesis about development classes growing sail area & aspect ratio using full battens is pretty well borne out by the range of boats I see here.

    Be glad you live in a modern part of the world where skiffs aren't thought of as tools of the devil for crazy folks. You are lucky!

  14. Steve W
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    Steve W Senior Member

    Paul,while the adhesive backed tapes may last a while on smaller boats before peeling off im thinking that on serious offshore boats like the Deerfoot etc they are using something more like Ski/Snowboard base material which is what we used on my sons boat as the roach overlaps the backstay by over a foot, this as well as a flicker works fine as long as there is breeze, a pita in the light tho.

  15. Zed
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    Zed Senior Member

    I have full battens on slugs, no issues with binding or wear. I think one hell of a lot is down to how the sail is constructed, angle of battens etc.

    In the past I have used a fully batten main on a masthead rig not designed with them in mind, again on slugs and again no issues with durability binding or wear.

    They are heavier...

    Performance was better, light air was better, better heavy air performance, easier reefing, less flogging, easier handling (with jacks)... all in all there was not much negative to pick on...

    The only Caveat is that the sail maker is good & experienced with them.... (should not be an issue these days!)

    ...but that is JMO.
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