Roller reefing main is functional!
Everything works just like
we want on the std 26M main. It will hoist without feeding and reef just by pulling
the roller line. It will roll up all the way. First boats will be delivered
within 2 weeks. We are waiting on only the stainless steel furling drum. Price
is still uncertain, depends on assy time and cost of production parts. This option
will have more labor than the plastic one originally designed but the plastic one showed
some wear after a short time. The steel parts are no more than plastic because we
don't have to buy an expensive mold. Long term will be plastic with some type of
wear pad of steel.
4/05/07 The latest thing
is a furling mainsail:
There are several furling
mains on the market at this time. Notice that none are on sailboats that promise any
sailing performance. The in-mast furlers limit use to vertical battens or no battens
at all. On a boat with large genoa and small main, maybe so, but with a powerful
mainsail this would hurt sailing performance. Never mind how bad it would hurt a
rotating mast setup. Thus we are limited to in-boom type. One company makes
one that is only about $7,500 including the new mainsail with very little roach and flat
shape. We don't want to try a main with small roach. Our boat has a large
roach mainsail needed for any fractional rigged sailboat. When we get this mainsail
furler done there will not be any loss of sail area, sail shape or construction. The
performance will be the same as before or it will not be sold. Further the reefing
must have a good shape, that includes tight outhaul and flat shape. Some older
furlers lose outhaul tension as furled/reefed which causes an increased fullness just what
we don't want. That must be why they call them furlers and not reefers. I am
going to call this a roller reefing main from now on just as a reminder of the goal.
One other hard to reach
goal is quick trailering. It must not take any longer to rig than the present
mainsail and boom. We will gain a couple of min time by replacing the boom bolt with
a fastpin so we have only two min to attach the reefer. Tough! We can build in
the mainsail cover with the roller reefer, add a topping lift. The reefing must be
done from the cockpit, not the deck. Final rolling could be done from the mast area
of deck and the mainsail cover just zipped up. The main could be raised from mast
area but it would be better if raising could be done from cockpit.
Here is what we have made
so far: Plastic parts mockup that work just like above. I think it is the only
roller reefing system for a main that actually works in all areas listed above. I
will be sailing this after the stainless steel and aluminum parts get here. This
will go on my race boat before being sold to public and it will not hurt the
sailing. This is really going to improve our sailing enjoyment by making it
easy. Just motor out to clear water and pull lines to unroll the main, reef to suit
if needed. Sail and when done just pull the reef line to role up the main, don't
even go up on the deck. Pull a zipper on the mainsail cover when back to boat launch
and pull a couple of pins to remove the rolled up main still in its cover. Lower the
mast and drive away.
We now have some of the
aluminum parts, have modified the mainsail and will next test sail the roller
reefer. The mainsail now has one full length batten and one other batten
modified. The shape is exactly like the standard mainsail, same area. It will
hoist more easily than standard main and will rollup about half of the sail in an
eyeblink. Still needs some work on the final rollup. The reefed main
looks exactly like the reefed standard sail. We will put this on my race boat
and sail it awhile.
2003 First sailing of
This testing took place
before the introduction of the new M and is old news..
The first time she went in
the water, it was in Newport Beach behind Roger MacGregor's house, she was just a shell of
a boat with no interior. Roger, Tom, Clay and I paused after the launching to admire
her bright blue hull, black and white deck and that noticeably taller mast with the new
deep section. The mast raiser was not yet designed so Tom and Clay just shoved it
up. I am too old for that having raised masts on MacGregors by the hundreds when I
was the Trail N Sail dealer in New Orleans back in the 70's and 80's. The forestay
hooked up about in the center of travel, sidestays the same. No changes needed at
this time. A 30 gal drum of water had been bonded to the hull about 6" above
the floor to represent the liner and furniture weight. She floated within 1/2"
of the designed "no ballast" waterline. The first thing tested was
stability with no ballast. We pulled her over with the jib halyard ( don't use the
main for this) to past 90 degrees before instability. Roger decided on some
permanent ballast to have some reserve on the production boat with ballast tank
empty! The rudder heads will have to be raised so the stainless steel does not touch
the saltwater at rest. Ballast valve opened to time the flooding of the tank.
Four minutes later the check vent shows full and she now floats level with the black
waterline stripe. The aft mast support must be wider to accommodate the
larger section of the rotating mast (that's right, a rotating mast with fixed spreaders,
another MacGregor invention). It turns into the airflow for less drag and more
forward force. We are testing a Merc 50 four-stroke Big Foot on this one. More
on speed tests later but the Merc black color matches.
It was late in the day,
light wind and with no lighting system we didn't want to test the Harbor Patrol, so we got
little sailing done. Wind was too light for much but we sail anyway.
Track positions seem good, the mast rotates some of the time, we tighten stays, loosen
stays, etc. This boat tacks from almost a standstill. We can't tell much
else in this light air. Roger wanted to see her under sail and jumped off onto the
dock. with his camera. We sailed back and forth behind his house for photos in the
light of a dying Santa Ana (that is a strong hot breeze from the desert bringing some dust
to give wonderful golden sunsets). One day sooner and we would have had our
breeze! Look to the next brochure, these photos are going to be pretty.
Modifications are needed
on some of the rotating parts and day one is over. Tom and Clay pull her out of the
water and back to the factory for changes.
Day two, breeze and more
This time we got what we
wanted. Fri. morn it was blowing and I went down to Newport Beach to meet Roger to
launch the 26M for some sailing. We start the day off waiting on some new stainless
steel parts and the new helm seat. Tom and Clay try out the new mast raiser and
wider rear support ( scratches the mast and more work needed), launch the boat and have to
run back to the factory to give out checks to the production workers. I motor to
Roger's dock just as he arrives. We are pretty excited about the first trial
in a breeze. We don't even start the Merc, just raise the mainsail and shove
off. This boat tacks at will under main only, even gybing at low speed against the
wind when most boats will just head up. I have never been on boat with better
behavior. The mast does not rotate when gybing, more design work for Roger. He
will add 1/2" to the spreader pivot to give more leverage. Test with less boom
vang force and traveler lowered ( yes, it has a traveler). That helped. We add
the genoa. The boat is fast and we sail down the bay on a reach, out to the ocean,
it is getting late and we beat back up the bay. Now there is too much wind for the
genoa but we push it with main eased out to the end of the traveler. The main has
too much draft and will be replaced with a flatter sail. Back at the dock, Roger is
pleased. The first boat with a liner and full interior will be ready in two weeks so
the test mule is done for. This one will never sail again ( I always wanted to say
Day three, first boat off
the production line
There have been Many
changes from the "mule" but from the outside she looks the same. For the
first time in two decades, the interior is not black and white. The liner is light
cream/tan with tan cushions and carpeted sides. We now have a rich and plush
interior with 5" thick cushions more like a couch than a trailerable sailboat.
The cabinet is polished wood, doors with trimmed edges, all really good looking. My
wife Judy is with us today and Roger busy at his computer designing the head door and
production hatches. He'll join us a 3:PM. After launching, Judy, Tom, Clay and
I sail around in light air. We move the clew shackle around on the self-tending jib
to get sheeting angle needed. This will be a cool option if we can get the
trim correct. Tom and Clay get off at the dock, Roger is waiting and off we go
again. We sail away from the dock, no motor, and start testing the self tacking jib.
Roger and I love this option but some new hardware will need to be invented.
The jib tacks very quickly and takes all the work out of going upwind. It still does
not trim perfectly, if we could just invent battens that would roll up. How about a
removable batten or two, if you are racing stick in the battens or for daysailing leave
them out so the furler will work, too much work? The mast will rotate
when tacking and sometimes when gybing. Maybe the vang should be attached to the
deck, not the mast. That was tried but didn't work as well as before. Mast
raising side wires could be used to rotate but then it won't be automatic. It is now
dark and Roger is done for the day, Judy and I decide to motor around Newport Harbor and
see the Christmas lights and decorations. This must be the most beautiful place on
earth. The Four-stroke OB is quiet enough to remind you of sailing and we ride
around for hours.
I can't tell much of a
story about this day because Roger MacGregor did it all himself. He sailed her with
genoa only in a breeze to test the no backstay concept. If a fractional rig will
stand up with genoa only, it is pretty strong so he did it just to test. He says it
is plenty strong and we go to no backstay on the production boat. Good.
That was just a
test. The main adds additional support and replaces the aft loading of a backstay.
Sailing with genoa only is not advised on any fractional rig, with or without
backstay. Control of boat is marginalized and the rig is much weaker, the
headstay will sag making the genoa too full, could go on and on but don't do it.
This was my last day to
sail the M alone and I just did it to verify the rotaotional mast rigging. The mast
will now rotate each and avery time, jibing or tacking. The mast raiser is
wonderful. Rogers best one yet. It sails great and is ready for the
market. Just give me some boats to sell. I'm keeping the first one for
myself. Anybody want to buy a 14 year old 26D with a lot of mods including the new
rotating mast, spinaker, full race gear, new white paint, too much gear to list. The
self tacking jib is on the back burner for now because a genoa is needed for light wind
and the best way to make the self tacking jib work is with a 75-85% jib only usable in
breeze. You guys in the North Atlantic and San Fran will just have to wait a little
while. This has been fun and my thanks to Roger, now I'm going to Catalina to enjoy
my new M.
Day Six, the 26X vs the
Tom (MacGregor's plant
manager) and Audrey(one of my racing crew) were in the 26M and Bernadette(another of my
crew), my son Jeff and I were in the 26X for the power part of the test/race. We'll
switch boats when sailing begins. Clay(MacGregor's manager of the fiberglass
production of the boats) was driving Roger's personal M70. Roger and Mary Lou
MacGregor were managing and filming the production from the big sleek 70 foot
MacGregor. The 26M is to be Roger's personal boat and has a new coat of bottom
paint, a speed disadvantage. The 26X has no bottom paint. Both boats and Merc
50 hp OBs are brand new. The X and M blast back and forth in front of Roger and the
camera. Speed taken using GPS on both boats up to 21 knots with breeze/waves and
18-19 against. Surprise! They are even. Over and over, we drag race
from standing start to top end with no speed difference. The M however does
not carry the bow so high and pounds less with less spray. It is a better ride which
was expected from the slightly more rounded hull. Roger orders "full ballast
tanks". The M now pulls up on a plane better with much less bow rise and goes
faster by 2 Knots. Roger shouts over the radio " Mike, get out of the way, I'm
filming the M".
After an hour if that, he
orders "Go behind the jetty and switch boats". Now we're talking.
Tom jumps on the X with Jeff and Bernadette and I get the M with Shelia (another of
my race crew) and Audrey. We put sails on the boats on the way out. Jeff is on
the deck and has sails up long before me but we get there. Roger motors by and says
"catch up Mike"! The M is much faster. Both boats are luffing main
occasionally with plenty of wind and we sail right through the X's wind. This boat
will sail. I knew that all along. The breeze is up now and most of the rest of
the day wil be tight reaching at top speed as I lose the walkie-talkie overboard.
Lots of film/digi dots are spent on the M flying by the X. Clay motions with both
hands up and down. That must mean lower sails. We roll up the genoa, lower
main and head back in from 3 miles out. Both of us power at 12-14 mph past
the 70 foot race boat ( not very often done ) and wait inside the jetty. Clay pulls
up alongside the X and Mary Lou jumps on the X to film and direct. Back out into the
ocean for photos of the M racing the MacGregor 70. This time, I lose on each point
of sail but sometimes by not much. I really hate losing a sailboat race.
Roger shouts " tight reach" and Tom motors the X just abeam of us while Roger
sails through our lee. He then fires up the diesel and circles us for another
run. We do this 5 or 10 times, then the same from the other side. Clay again
motions lower sails, we are motoring back to the dock. We are 6 miles out and the
water is now rough and we will take some spray but Roger must know that I will beat him
back to Newport Beach.
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