Reefable rigs.

Question about reefable rigs - who’s done it, can it work and how is it done???
i saw doug make referance to it and it’s got me thinking.
We’re not at any top competition standard where we sail, we’re just kicking around our marina trying out new things at the moment and i’m not sure if i need to make 3+ rigs. I don’t mind the extra mast that’s not doing anything at the top and i like the idea of making as few sails as possible! I was thinking of putting 3 reef points in my main and maybie trying a reefable headsail. Roller reefing headsails loose all shape as soon as you reef but hanked headsails can be reefed downward (new tack and clew) and keep their shape nicely. has anyone tried it? do RC’s need to reef at the same ratio’s as full scale or have people found you can carry more jib longer?
sorry probably too many questions there but any help/opinions greatly appreciated.

I like my swing rigs. Disconnect sheet and pull out #1. Put in #2 and connect sheet. Not legal in most classes. Lot of top weight in a reefable rig right where you don’t want it. Doug 84" for the F-3 weighs 8 oz. I have made a a 102" for my Nightmare that weighs 7 oz. and it is twice as stiff. It is not cut down yet. That would be about 5-3/4oz. for 84". Swing rigs are prone to nose dives as the wind picks up. Multiple rigs can be made quick change. I mainly work on light air rigs. Hawaii has the strongest winds in the US but not at our pond. I have a wind guage up all day and we average 3mph. There are some violent rouge gust but I have always run an “A” rig and just luff when a gust comes. I study our pond and do the math. I do not get beat. No, twice in two years when I did not cover and tacked and hit a terrible header both times and got beat by my old boat at the finish. My boats are the lighest and have the most sail area and the least wetted surface. Don’t let my competitors read this. I stay one step ahead. I give all the help I can. They don’t listen. Except one and he buys all my old boats. I am making him a new one now. I hope it is not better than mine. No I hope it is better. I like the competition. I have a new one narrower than his. I am great in light air. I need a heavy air boat but the winds are scarce and unpredictable. I have a Venom but have never put on the “B” rig. Ranting getting off topic. Sorry.

Sodium, all the boats I build except America One(which uses one rig thruout the range) use a reefable rig which saves the cost of multiple rigs and is extremely easy to use. On the F3(foiler) the rig is reefed like this: first reduce the main by removing the upper mast piece, lowering the main and rolling the sail to the reef point. The reef point consists of a tab sewn to the sail at a the tack and clew plus four round velcro tabs that hold the sail in place when reefed. I only use one reef point on the main.
The next reef level is to remove the jib and move the mast forward.
I’ve found that trying to reef an rc jib is extremely difficult given the material used and the shape of the sail.Different combinations can be used; for instance: the jib can be removed and the main moved forward first, then the main can be reduced.
I use the same basic reefing system described above on the S50 monohull except that the jib has never had to be removed.
Also key to making this system work is .5" wide double sided velcro to hold the sail onto the mast so that the sail can be easily lowered. A wire runs thru the luff of the sail with notches cut that allow the velcro to go around the wire.The wire is terminated in a loop at the reef point and from there on down is spetra line.
This system has been in use for years and is simple ,works well and allows just one rig.
It is important to note that this system is used on strict one designs; everybody MUST reef at the same time. On development class boats multiple rigs may be a better soltion since the whole rig can be specifically tailored to a specific narrow wind range. Much more expensive but probably faster…
Reefing works very well in the boats I use it on and could be beneficial on many different boats.

Doug Lord
–High Technology Sailing/Racing

To the best of my knowledge no one who races r/c yachts “reefs”. This is because one of the major advantages of “model” boats over full size is the ability to easily and quickly change entire rigs. This allows one to have materials and sail shapes for each rig that perfectly match the conditions to be sailed. You also can have very smooth sails withoug zippers or velcro or other reef points.

If you care about speed, I would strongly recommend that you take the time and build the extra sails. The difference in the material choices for light and heavy air alone will make a huge difference.


It is the same way in the real world. I mean you don?t see AC teams reefing there sails. Basically it?s because reefing is a compromise. You get a lower cost for sails, but you sacrifice sail efficiency.

So sodium you have to ask your self what you want; low cost, or high efficiency?


Yeah i knew it was a compromise to reef sails rather than change down obviosly it is much better to change rigs ie the AC’s and 18foot skiffs in australia can carry 3 different rigs also. When i get to a compettitive standard i will deffinately build a couple of rigs but at the moment i’m still learning how to drive a rc let alone win the nationals. And it’s a long walk out our peir with a boat,keel,transmiter,A rig,B rig,esky etc… I’m running out of hands quickly as you can imagine.

my rig is marblehead height 3/4 frac swept back. was thinking of making the main reef down to the hounds (main head board at forestay height) or maybie make a main that size and swap over. could this be a bit too much?

Doug: when removing the headsail completely how far must you move the mast foreward? i considered this but thaught weather helm could be a real problem. also how do they point with that rig?


I think you might be overlooking the obvious. Just use a C-rig to start out. When you go walking out your pier, all you should have is the transmitter in one had, and your boat in the other. Put the boat in the water, and don?t touch it again till the batteries are almost dead. Once you have mastered the basics, then you can concentrate on getting every last ounce of speed out of you boat.


Sodium, on the foiler with the jib removed the mast only moves about two inches forward. Because it is heavy air when that is done pointing is actally better than if I tried to leave the jib in place.
The ratio of full mainsail area to jib area is about three to one plus; the higher the jib is as a proportion of total sail area the further you may have to move the mast.
Multiple rigs can be more efficient esp. in development classes but very ,very costly compared to shortening sail.
Reefing is a cost effective solution that works well-give it a try!

Doug Lord
–High Technology Sailing/Racing