Having sailed on so many different boats with roller furling mains, Dutchman systems, lazy jacks, Stackpacks etc. we had a very strong preference for the Dutchman system with a full batten mainsail and Harken batt car system. Six years of sailing Ventana and seeing all the newer roller furling systems has convinced us nothing better has come along.
From my experience and from hearing of my friends going aloft in 30 knots at night to cut their entire mainsail from head to tack when it jammed, I do not think roller furling mains are a good idea. In mast furlers will get old and won't often receive maintenance attention and will break at a bad moment. ( I realize there was a time when many said the same thing about roller headsails which we now consider fairly foolproof).
Also a full batten main sets much better than any roller system possible. The Harken batt cars reduce friction and make raising and lowering the sail nearly effortless. We can raise the main to within a few feet of the mast head by pulling hand over hand from the cockpit. The last few feet are done on the self tailing winch. Raising our main does not involve any more effort than is required to crank out a furling main and the full batten main has much better sail shape. When it comes time to reef it takes less than 2 minutes to reef safely from the cockpit . To drop the sail completely we simply release the halyard clutch and allow the sail to come down neatly with the Dutchman lines gathering it. After dropping the sail we need not touch it until we straighten a fold or two as we put on the sail cover. Both reefing and dropping the sail are much easier with our system than with a furling system and there is virtually no chance of it getting stuck- always a possibility with furling systems. The only advantage I see to furling mains is that they are infinitely reefable and were I concerned about this I would add a third reef point in my main.
We have experienced a problem with halyard cafe as have many IP owners. The cause seems to be a design problem at the mast head of the Isomat spar where the halyard which is fairly recessed into the mast rubs against the support gussets welded onto the mast head. The problem is made worse going downwind with the sail off to one side. As the main stretches over time it also gets worse. We have recently installed a swivel block on the backstay tang. This pulls the halyard directly aft out of the mast so it does not chafe the gusset. We have seen others use fairlead fittings on the mast just outside of the sheave slot.
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Rig and Sail Modifications
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