R 22

Rhodes 22


Headsail Luff Pad

I have just finished my first season with the FF2 and the GB 175%. The 175% takes some getting used to. It is a BIG sail with a low foot. Sheeting angle is very difficult to achieve with much of it reefed. I thought (think) I would also want a smaller jib although I had no conditions this summer on LIS that warranted it. Changing sails on the FF2 is not that convenient, as you have to untie the halyard from the drum, attach a messenger line to it and then lower the sail, reversing the procedure for raising the new sail and tension it from the downhaul.

It all depends on the conditions you're likely to sail in. For variable light winds typically less than 10 knots with the IMF main, you really need the area of the 175%. More wind and you'll be reefing, which is not very satisfactory with the 175.

Dave Walker
s/v Windswept

My experience with the 175 last year was similar to yours, but I had a few extra problems with furling and keeping the luff tight on the OEM furler. In addition, I think I lost a lot of efficiency close- hauled because a significant portion of the sail is actually producing thrust in the wrong direction when it was sheeted tightly. With a smaller sail, there is much less rearward thrust.

At any rate, I used an older 170% this year, and was happier with its performance characteristics and pointing in heavy air. However, that sail is not in good enough condition to warrant modification. It is also nice to have that big sail for reaching in light air.

I understand the problems changing sails on the FF2. Unfurl, attach messenger line, lower, disconnect, raise the new sail, disconnect messenger line, tie off the halyard, tension, attach sheets. That beats the snot out of lowering the MAST, and pulling the old sail off of the furling tube, though!

I'm going to take the sails up to a sail loft (Sailors Tailors) this weekend. From talking to the guy on the phone, it sounds like he will recommend modifying the 175, but I'll have to wait and see.

It'll probably cost about $150 to modify the sail, commpared to $900 for a new 150%. Add to that probably $150 for Sailcare and I have $300 for the sail instead of $900. Good choice if it will meet my needs.

I think he has some strongly held opinions. From my conversation with him today, I've discovered that he:

  • 1) hates foam luff pads. (says they are only necessary if the sail is poorly cut to begin with, and they screw up airflow)
  • 2) prefers Dacron UV cover over Sunbrella (is too heavy and bulky; Dacron is cheaper, lighter, rolls better, and doesn't shrink)
  • 3) thinks the recommendations from CDI for webbing at head and tack are only because so many people don't know how to set grommets properly (but he is happy to do it, if I really want it.)

So, I'm going to have him look at my old 150% too, and see if he could cut it down for a heavy air sail. I still need to decide how far down to have him cut, however. I was thinking a 110% could still reef to about 80-85%, but that would still leave a big gap from 110 to about 140% or so. I don't think I would ever change a sail to fit that size, anyway. I'd probably just suffer the sail shape of the larger sail, or go ahead and use a little less sail than I could otherwise get away with.

Anyway, I'm still looking for input, and appreciate yours. Thanks.


I think you want to get another option here and maybe run not walk here. Luff pads are all but standard/recommended on 120% and plus (gets the belly out when reefed).

Sunbrella is the UV standard that everyone measures against and I always see grommets reinforced and why grommets??? I used to see loops sewn into the luff tape bailed onto the furler. Maybe I am off base here, but I am left scratching my head and wondering if this is like a window salesman panning Anderson?

BTW, call GB. They are using CDI's now and should be able to get you a new or "better" used sail here.


Yeah, I agree with your point about a second opinion. Always important. I'm sure I will need a luff pad. Even if he is a genius and can cut the sail so it doesn't need a pad, my 175 is already cut and it needs one. Also, my 175 already has Sunbrella UV cover on the leech, so that isn't up for being changed, either. The sail itself is in good condition, aside for the need for re-resining and modification to fit the CDI, so I don't see any point in replacing it unnecessarily.

My other large genoa (170) has a Dacron UV cover and it does roll much better and sags much less than the one with the Sunbrella cover. I think he has a good point. Of course, there are 2 downsides to a UV inhibited Dacron cover: they don't last as long (good for the sailmaker because he gets the maintenance business) and they don't look as pretty. They get gray and dirty very quickly. Anyway, I already have one. All I need him to do is install the boltrope and the pad.

But, if I can find a new or a used 150 in as good condition as mine for a similar price or less... even better.

On the other topic of size, now that you've had a smaller genoa and a jib for a season... how do you like them? Do you ever use the 90%? Thanks for the reminder about second opinions.


Excuse my ignorance but what is a luff pad. You see I am still using training wheels.

04 Nov 2000

A headsail is not cut flat like a bed sheet, but with a "belly" in it. When you roll it up on the furler, the end will be tight but the center will be loose, producing a "lousy" shape when reefed. What the luff pad does is add a pad in the center, to make that part a larger circle and take up the sail faster to compensate for the "belly".

05 Nov 2000

OK, what's a foam luff pad & why do you want one?

There is a difference between the optimum airfoil shape for light air & heavy air. Light air sail shape needs to have a more extreme curvature than a heavy air sail shape. Sailmakers call this more extreme curvature "deeper draft". The ideal roller furling genoa would have a deep draft shape when it is fully rolled out & a progressively shallower draft shape as the sail is rolled up for use in stronger winds. The foam luff pad on a roller furling sail is currently the best technology to achieve this progressive reduction of draft as the sail is rolled up.

Seen from the side, the foam luff pad looks like half of a long skinny ellipse sewn into the leading edge of the sail (i.e. the luff). It can be literally made of a single layer of closed cell foam sewn into the sail or it can be also be made from several layers of heavy sail cloth. All it really needs to have is extra thickness in the middle section of the luff. To work properly, the roller furler must have independent upper & lower swivels & the middle part of the luff must be firmly attached to the furling tube. OK, when this sail is completely rolled out, it has the proper deep draft shape for light air. As the sail is rolled up, the middle part of the luff is attached to the furling tube & is thus forced to roll up with the furling tube while the upper & lower ends of the sail are attached to independent swivels & do not roll up as fast. The foam luff pad sewn into the middle portion of the luff gets rolled up 1st. Its extra thickness adds to the effective diameter of the furled sail as furling proceeds. Since the middle portion of the luff has a bigger diameter than the ends, the middle part of the sail gets rolled in faster than the ends - i.e. the deep draft portion of the sail cloth is rolled up proportionately faster than the rest of the sail. The sail shape becomes progressively shallower draft as we roll up the sail, exactly what we want to happen for sailing in stronger winds. Pretty cool eh? When you combine this technology, with the inherent strength & lighter weight of the latest generation of composite sailcloth & the latest radial designs, you get an integrated roller furling foresail system that is simply light years ahead of the OEM factory roller furling foresail. The composite sailcloth & bi-radial construction enables the sailmaker to computer design the desired sail shape into the sail - not only when completely deployed in light air, but also as the sail is furled up & wind loaded.

A word of warning, the high tech sailcloth & roller furler is more expensive to purchase & the composite sailcloth does not last as long as straight Dacron. It is also not as idiot proof to sail with as the standard system. Allow me to explain:

With the standard roller furler & foresail, poor furled sail shape & sailcloth distortion under heavy wind load combine to function as a sort of "safety valve" against helmsman & sail trimmer errors. The top half of the sail distorts under the load of a wind gust & permits most of the wind's kinetic energy to spill off without causing much heeling &/or thrust. This results in the standard rig being pretty much immune to a knockdown no matter how badly the crew screws up. Upgrade the genoa to the system described above & it's a whole different ball game. The sail's construction & the super strong composite sailcloth have the designed sail shape locked in & it won't significantly distort right up to the point of sail cloth failure. In the hands of an expert crew, this means the kinetic energy in a gust of wind is instantly converted into thrust that causes the boat to surge ahead. The boat seems to "squat" in the water as the bow starts to climb up it's own bow wave. It can set you right down into your seat. Its great fun & a rather additive experience! However, if the crew screws up, the sail will not "save" you by distorting & spilling wind. If the helmsman doesn't bear off &/or the sail trimmers let the sheets fly at the proper moment in a heavy gust, then the boat will be knocked onto its side faster than you can say, "Holy shit!" If you are not willing to pay strict attention in heavy air, then do not install this system on your boat. However, don't be surprised when you see more & more of these sails & roller furlers out on the water. You'll usually be observing them from behind, get used to it! This is mature, well proven technology that really really works.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
19 Apr 2002

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