Topic : Loose-footed or not?

Having re-read all the various threads about mains, I am none the wiser as to the advantages/disadvantages of loose-footed versus non-.  I think that I understand that with a thirty year old boat and ali spars, loose-footed is the traditional answer.  But when did thinking change and what is now considered 'best' practice?

Also, my current loose-footed main of indeterminate age (like me) fits top of mast slot to fixed gooseneck and to full extent of outhaul without being unduly stretched. Does that mean it's totally b*gg*r*d, or is that a feature of the cut?

Posted: 06/07/2005 15:11:53
By: Bill (3076)
I don't know what the theory behind the difference is, but i use my outhaul on a loose footed main and it tightens the foot so's the sail may as well not be loose footed...

Posted: 06/07/2005 18:45:28
By: Ben 3451
The idea behind the loose footed sails is partly to do with the extra "free" - i.e. unmeasured area the lovely sailmakers can cut into the bottom of the sail.  That way when you're off downwind you can knock off the outhaul and hey-presto, your sail just got bigger.

Also I would imagine that fitting tracks to carbon booms (in fact fitting tracks to any boom) would increase the cost somewhat.

Posted: 06/07/2005 20:41:03
By: Jon
Loose footed was developed for fully batten mains and for gathering spinnakers when dropped. It also saves weight where its not needed. Its also handy for when you broach on bigger boats .It doesnt trap water .

Posted: 07/07/2005 08:22:04
OK, so that confirms what I thought I knew.  So what does NeilAncientG mean in the thread 'Hints Please for Newcomer to Merlins' when he says:

'Most of the mains were loose footed in original form- that might cause some problems.' ?

Posted: 07/07/2005 08:59:23
By: Bill (3076)
Loose footed mains give a better shape to the lower part of the sail when eased away offwind, the extra area if a biproduct the real benefit of this area in speed terms is negligible as I've stated its the sail shape that is improved.  As others have said it first came back to prominance back in the 60's with cats, other development classes Int moths/cherubs were there to. But it was basically baned in the majority of classes which took many years to change. Likewise on offshore yachts it was banned under the IOR & then CHS rules until the mid 80's
when a more light minded approach came in, then as previously mentioned crews started to drop there chutes in over the boom via the lazy guy or if you were really smart with the lazy sheet on a gybe drop! And before anyone feels the need,yes 12mtrs did this first & no you don't want to try it on a Merlin!!
Note 2. Yes your mains to big & most likely buggered! you should have 50-75mm spare beyond the black bands mast&boom. Checkout the secondhand list , All the best, Barry.

Posted: 07/07/2005 09:13:22
By: Barry Watkin
Bill The biggest problem is ,if your outhall cleat decides to let go while going upwind with a loose footed main . Funny to watch ,but not so good when your doing a winter series.

Posted: 07/07/2005 10:05:43
Put a knot in it to stop it going off to far!

Posted: 08/07/2005 22:11:57
By: Barry Watkin
nots in  ends of ropes   mmmmmm

Posted: 09/07/2005 08:43:53
Having started Merlin sailing at Up River YC in the mid 80's with the hottest National 12 fleet in the country at the time, I looked at their loose foot mains with envious eyes, marvelling at the way the large amount of un measured sail area appeared off wind when the outhaul was dumped.  

Looking to optimise the power they can get from their two sails, so to the Twelves, the outhaul is a crucial control for the reaching legs. Just because we have a kite doesn't in my view mean that we should ignore this control, although a lot of people appear to - if the twelves think it is fast to play the out haul, then who am I to argue. Personally, I play it all the time and have the control led to the thwart.

Other, less kind people, have suggested that sail makers can charge the same for a loose footed main which is easier to make, so encourage their use. Whilst it may be true, it is probably a saving of pence, and I suspect, therefore, irrelevant.

Mostly, I guess, when we used alloy extrusions for our spars, it came down to fashion. Now we have carbon booms, and the addition of a track adds cost and weight, I suspect there will be no going back -loose foots are here to stay, and Hurrah to that , I say.

Posted: 10/07/2005 22:44:01
By: The old trout


To Reply, please join/renew membership.

Owners Association

Developed & Supported by YorkSoft Ltd


Merlin Rocket Owners Association