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Consigli di Rod Stephens: VELE
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1. Battens: These are almost invariably too light for the three lower pockets, and too stiff for the top pocket. The best arrangement is a more or less indestructable considerably tapered glass fibre batten for the top that is very flexible, at its inner end. The center battens can be well-tapered wood, or glass, should be a lot stiffer, but still have some taper. The lower batten should be generally similar, but should be glass fiber particularly in conjunction with roller reefing, so that when it is rolled around the boom, it will not suffer damaging distortion.

2. Leach Lines: These generally create an unnecessary requirement for more corrective work. They need adequate provision for adjusting and securing. They should be sized in keeping with the job they are intended to do; and the length should be reasonably controlled to save the need of cutting at the time of trial; and the attendent need for heating to prevent the line unlaying. No sail, with the exception of spinnakers, should be without leach lines; and these lines should be used to prevent undesirable flogging, which seriously wears the stitching, as well as making it more difficult to trim, and steer the boat effectively, not to mention problems sleeping below in a breeze.

3. Sail Stowing: There is a standard complaint about sail stowage, as it is much easier to sell a boat with more staterooms, and berths; but big headsails are still necessary to make the boat go. All of this points up the desirability of learning to fold the sails, generally by the foot, flaking them down, and then rolling them, either from the luff or the leach; but rolling very tightly indeed, and then cinching it tightly to hold or even reduce the size of the roll, prior to putting it in the bag. When this is done, the sail occupies less than twenty-five per cent of the volume an unfolded sail requires; and, with little practice, it is pretty easy to do, and it is certainly worth it, to let you enjoy what space you do have below deck, and help you find the sail you may be looking for when you are in a hurry to make a change.

4. Head Pennants: All headsails, which arc more than five per cent or six per cent short of the full hoist on the luff, should be fitted with appropriate head pennants; and in the case of a storm jib there is frequently a tack pennant, combined length of the fully stretched luff, plus the head pennant; tack pennant (if there is one) should be about five per cent less than the overall length of the headstay. The pennants should invariably be shackled on; but the shackles should be moused, so an over enthusiastic crew member will not remove them; which simply causes unnecessary confusion. The reason for urging the use of the shackle is that it is then very simple to have a head pennant either shortened or replaced with a longer one; whereas, when they are spliced into the sail, the whole sail must be taken ashore, and the pennant can only be removed by cutting it out.

5. Mainsail Stops: The final step after any type of sailing will be to furl the mainsail, for which adequate sail stops are needed. The best thing in the world is to have them really long; and have them all the same. They should be synthetic, so they will dry more quickly; and there should be a full set of spares to replace those that blow away or that may be used for other purposes. In conclusion, it is hoped that a review of the points mentioned will remind all involved of fundamentally easy ways to accomplish really worthwhile improvements. Certainly, there are many many more items of a generally similar nature that will fall in the same category; and obviously the best time to think them through is before the work to which they relate has been accomplished.

Rod Stephens,
Problem Areas, in: Yachting World Annual, 1973, pagg. 43 e segg.

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