Reefing a balance lug sail

I had to write this information out for my Friends at Really Simple Sails (RSS) who make quality but excellent sails for the GIS and Oz series of boats.  These sails may fit other types of boats too.

One of the advantages of a balance lug sail is reasonably easy and efficient reefing.  I put together a guide on how we do it on Storer Boats.  it is a useful method to consider as it is faster than tying individual reef points.  It will suit John Welsford’s SCAMP, several traditional Humber Canoe Yawls, Bolger Martha Jane, Pheonix 3, Piccup Pram and many others

We don’t really believe in traditional reefs with individual reef ties in the body of the sail but choose a faster method that is less likely to damage the sail if something lets go.  Like most of my good ideas, it is stolen.  In this case from Ocean Racing.

Note that with larger boats it is best to set up the main reefing lines before you go sailing.  We recommend this with the forward end of the reef with small boats too as it keeps the crew in the bow for a much shorter time, whereas the aft end can be sorted out with a length of line in many boats rather than needing fittings on the boom.

The full article and description for the diagram is down this page about RSS on Duckworks.  It also has information on a nice way to store the sail on the spars singlehandedly.

Reefing a lug sail


2 thoughts on “Reefing a balance lug sail

  1. Great ideas. Cautionary note: I’m a doctor and met a woman patient who had a bunji cord snap while working on a backpack. The hook caught her eye and she made medical history. Wear goggles or a motorcycle helmet — something to protect yourself if you have any hooks at the end of the bungi cords — or use use non-stretching rope.

    • Good point Stephen,

      In this case the tension is not so high and there are no hooks … all done with knots. And evein if it did break, it passes through so many intervening eyelets and under and over the boom that it will just slacken in place.



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