Yacht Racing - Reefing
( Originally Published 1911 )
REEFING during a race, except for a squall, is not a possible thing to do among the modern boats and win. If you attempt to reef, somebody else will lug their sail, and you cannot make up for lost time unless it blows a hurricane and your opponents are completely overpowered. There are, however, many kinds of so-called patent reefs whereby pulling a line on either side of the boom, with long reef points attached to it, you can reef your sail. Then there is the roller boom that revolves, and the sail is rolled up on it to any extent you wish. I have seen all the various schemes in action and have tried out a great many, but the, drawbacks and disadvantages are far in excess of any good you may derive from their use. Ordinary stops, or eyes, and lace lines are better than anything yet discovered.
The reef should always be tied down be-fore starting, remembering that it is much easier to shake out than tie in.
The quickest reef to shake out is the reef tied down with a lace line which goes under the sail on the boom, and through an eye in the sail round and round, the reef earings, of course, being of the ordinary sort. To shake out a reef of this sort, take a knife and cut the lace-line in two or three places along the boom, thereby freeing the entire sail in between its outer points ; this being done, cut the earings on each end and hoist away on your sail. This entire work can be done in thirty seconds and the boat kept going along, practically losing nothing, whereas if the sail is tied down with the ordinary points it means that every point must be untied, and if you happen to find a square knot among them, it means cutting the point.