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 Ripped my main sail...

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
canadiansailorkid Posted - 06/20/2021 : 09:24:23
So... mistakes were made!!! Let's me broadcast mine to the internet for judgment! Maybe someone will learn from my mistakes! Who knows its possible!

1. Had passengers on a day that I should've had Crew.
2. 20-25+Knt winds with substaintial gusts.
3. Forgot the storm jib so I struggled with a 110% jib before I decided to drop and switch to just a main like I should've done from the start.
4. Incorrectly reefed the main
5. Fought old weathered lines which constantly fouled up
6. Inexperience with this particular boat and its set up


dropped sail, motored in with my perverbial tail between my legs.

Lessons were learned, and nobody was hurt (except my ego)

We will see what the sail makers estimate is on this old sail now that it resembles Pac-man like shape.

12   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
redeye Posted - 08/08/2021 : 14:40:49
so.. when i got my boat the topping lift was gone and I sailed it for a few years till....

not my sail pictured above but it looked like this... ripped from the back edge very dramatic loud rip and the boom dropped..

So the whole time I'd been sailing without a topping lift my leech was closed causing more weather helm and reducing twist in the sail. It causes a lot of heeling which could be converted into forward motion. And less drag by the rudder.

so yes its a bummer to hafta drop the mast and add one ( Catalina Direct has them ) but it really is a nice addition to sail shape and handling ... lots less pumping the tiller in the gusts and reduces the tension to the leach of the main.

and like Dave said.... the other good part is being able to raise the boom up out of the way when at anchor.. never hafta worry about hitting your head on the boom...

<< No need for the multi-part configuration Redeye shows >>

not sure what Dave is referring to, maybe the line to my outhaul, or the cheek block shown with the aft reefing line.


My topping lift is a line from the top end of the boom to a block at the end of the topping lift wire, back down to another cheek block on the boom ( the other side of the boom that is pictured ) and to a jam cleat with fair lead in it.

oh... and you might look at some Soft Shackles... Anyhoo.. it looks like you are having a Great time! Cheers!

That is a beautiful picture of your beautiful boat!
dmpilc Posted - 08/07/2021 : 13:00:39
I run the topping lift on our C22 through a small swivel block at the end of the boom, then forward to a lance cleat, 3/16 - 1/4" line. Works great. On the C-25, I took the wire part of my C22 halyard (when I changed to all rope) and shortened it so it stopped about 2' above the boom, ran a 1/4" line from the boom up to a block added to the wire, back down through a small swivel block on the end of the boom, then forward along the boom about 3'to a cleat. Been so long, I can't remember if I used the other lance cleat. The remaining piece of wire halyard was shortened to about 18" and became a pig-tail for the smaller headsail to raise it up to see under it. that worked well, too.
Stu Jackson C34 Posted - 08/07/2021 : 11:09:11
Dave's right why ever disengage your topping lift?
Stinkpotter Posted - 08/04/2021 : 20:45:59
Wow--that's a deck-sweeper (155?) genoa. The clew on my 130% was a lot higher. But I didn't race (except when another boat was on the same tack within sight).

The topping lift should be a priority. If you need to reef on the fly, it holds your boom while you do it, and it's "always on" when you douse the sail. No need for the multi-part configuration Redeye shows--if you want to raise the boom, you can just push it up and re-set the lift, as I occasionally did for cockpit headroom when not under way. For that, a small block and a fairlead jam cleat on the boom can suffice, and a stopper knot can establish your setting for sailing. I got fancier, but I rarely adjusted it--mostly just kept it set so it was barely slack at full hoist.
canadiansailorkid Posted - 08/04/2021 : 19:22:05
The sail was old (could be original!) and has been sitting in sail bags for what I assume was a lot of years. It is likely just a crease that turned into fabric fatigue and possible a very small tear started. Then snow balling into a full blown rip!

The invoice from the sailmaker was $200CAD, which I thought was more than fair.

Needless to say I was out sailing again in no time, only breaking smaller items this time. This past Sunday I had 2 smaller snap shackles break from metal fatigue. One on my genoa down haul, and the other that was connecting my boom vang to the boom. The vang shackle looked like the set screw some how backed out, and bounced in the water thus causing it to let go. The Genoa downhaul was kinda my fault as I had hooked it on the sail and then to forestay. I was missing a hank there and wanted to keep the bottom of the sail tight to the forestay. Dumb move because the shackle wasn't meant to be partially side loaded like that. I'm gonna be able to write a fat book with all my mistakes when I'm old!

Below Picture: A little too much sail but 2 min earlier I was in a dead calm. Strange winds that day but it makes for a cool photo! the genoa got a little wet...

Originally posted by redeye

got a topping lift on that rig?

Nope I just got the pig tail... I know, I know...

redeye Posted - 08/01/2021 : 15:10:32
got a topping lift on that rig?

Steve Milby Posted - 07/22/2021 : 05:24:14
It's hard to isolate the cause from photos, but I suspect the cause was a manufacturing defect. The sailcloth doesn't look like it's old or sun damaged. The tear is straight, not ragged. Take an old piece of cloth for an example. You can make a small cut in one edge and then tear it in line with it's weave, and it will tear easily and in a fairly clean, straight line. If, however, you try to tear it diagonally, across the bias of it's weave, it will be very difficult to tear it, and it will be a very ragged tear. Accordingly, wherever the sail will be under a heavy load, a sailmaker should either cut the cloth for that panel on the bias, to ensure it's strength, or reinforce it with an extra layer of cloth. I'd guess from that clean, straight tear, that the sailcloth tore along the weave. The tear followed the line where it was reinforced.
Stinkpotter Posted - 07/21/2021 : 20:47:17
Originally posted by JohnP

...My boom has a line holding the gooseneck fixed in position.

John's "boom downhaul" from the sliding gooseneck to a cleat that is typically attached in the bottom of the mast slot, must hold the gooseneck from rising too far as you tension the reefed sail. If the gooseneck rises too far under halyard tension and the mainsheet is holding the boom-end down, the leech starts taking all of the tension, as it appears yours did. Do you have a downhaul on the bottom of the gooseneck, and do you leave it set while relaxing the mainsheet somewhat as you set your reef? And do you have a topping lift from the mast-head? The pigtail from the backstay is an accident waiting to happen.

Your list suggests lessons learned the way most of us continue to learn similar ones. The ones involving judgement are more important than those involving rigging, and it looks like you've learned them. In those conditions, an upright motor tour may have been all your "passengers" needed--sailing in a blow can be distressing to non-sailors.
JohnP Posted - 07/21/2021 : 08:44:01
When I reef the main, I set the reefing lines with the sail down on the boom, and then raise the main as high as it will go. I do not raise the boom more than an inch or so when it is pulled up by the sail. My boom has a line holding the gooseneck fixed in position.
canadiansailorkid Posted - 06/22/2021 : 09:35:03
Originally posted by dmpilc

...Just guessing, likely mistake was tying the small reef lines in the middle of the sail tight. They are meant to gather up the loose material, not take the strain of wind on the sail above the reef points. The two reef points along the luff and leech of the sail (the two larger reinforced grommets at the edges of the sail) should handle the stress. Maybe also, it was just fabric fatigue...

In fact, the smaller middle reef lines were never tied up around the boom yet with all the loose sail material. It probably had had little consequence as it would've torn regardless as it ripped above those grommets. I'm leaning towards fabric fatigue.

I was pointed into windward with the motor running, I hauled the main halyard and raised with the 2 reefs already in place, the downhaul on the luff grommet, and the outhaul on the leech clew grommet. I went to remove the topping lift and sheet-in when I realized that the boom was sitting a lot lower then it should have been while reefed. It was low enough that I was concerned for the possibility of hitting people sitting in the cockpit. I thought that I had not fully hauled the halyard but both the halyard and downhaul were taught. When I was inspecting this situation is when I heard the rip (maybe 5 seconds of observation). Then immediately shifted into re-installing the topping lift and dropping sail to minimize the damage.

The outhaul was somewhat on an 45 degree angle rather than straight down (although I think it is correct to have some angle), which I believe contributed to the boom being so low when reefed. Almost like the leech of the sail was longer then necessary or the leech side reefing clew was in the wrong spot (very unlikely). I have yet to get it to the sail maker advice. (there are very few in Canada, mine is 1.5-2 hours drive)

Does anybody end up raising your gooseneck stopper slug up the mast when reefing? seems odd that the sail hung as it did prior to ripping.
Steve Milby Posted - 06/21/2021 : 13:41:24
Been there and done about all of that, as have many of us. It looks like a good sail and a sailmaker should be able to repair it. They'll have to rebuild the batten pocket, which will cost more than if the batten pocket wasn't involved, but it still shouldn't be too bad.

Don't let the pressure of guests cloud your judgment. If weather is too rough to sail, tell them it's too bad the weather didn't cooperate, and you hope they'll come back when it's nicer. Suggest any local alternative, like antique shopping or visiting a historic site. Maybe the conditions will abate after a couple hours.
dmpilc Posted - 06/21/2021 : 12:26:53
So sorry you had this trouble. Just guessing, likely mistake was tying the small reef lines in the middle of the sail tight. They are meant to gather up the loose material, not take the strain of wind on the sail above the reef points. The two reef points along the luff and leech of the sail (the two larger reinforced grommets at the edges of the sail) should handle the stress. Maybe also, it was just fabric fatigue.
My policy on shortening sail was to reduce the headsail first, then reef the main. If I knew it was going to be strong winds, I might start off with a reefed main and jib. I never had or needed a storm sail.
Hindsight is almost always 20-20. I've gone out in strong winds with inexperienced people, never again!

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